Favorite Baby Gear: Strollers & Car Seats
One of the things I’ve noticed since becomming a mom, and it started during my pregnancy, is that babies come with a lot of STUFF. I’ve never felt like more of a consumer in my entire life. There are gadgets for every scenario in life and it can cause a lot of stress to know what you really do and do not need as a first time mom (because marketing would like you to think you need everything, and that’s just not true).
Since we do live in a city where space is a premium we were very picky and choosy about the baby stuff that we wanted in our home. We really believe that babies grow and develop perfectly without all the stuff. We tried to keep our footprint to a minimum in terms of thinking through the purchases to gear that we would really want and use and that fit OUR lifestyle. Keep in mind that every family needs to do what feels right for them and I’d start by thinking about where you live, what your life looks like (are you in and out of a car all-day or live in an urban place where you will walk a lot?), what your budget looks like and also what you care about in terms of materials (for example, we went with all organic for Emmy’s sheets, bedding and blankets since she’s immersed in them for 12 hours a night).
Baby gear is the topic I probably get asked the most about these days so I thought I would start a series where I share my favorite baby gear by category. Again, this is what is working for us and our baby and where we live, our budget, our child, our parenting philosophy, yada yada yada…so keep that in mind!
Before I start I just want to say that baby gear can get overwhelming and expensive and a trick I’ve learned a long the way is that most things that only get used for one simple phase can be bought second-hand in great condition to save you money. Early on I joined a few local “buy & sell” baby groups in my area on Facebook and it has been really helpful for trying out new products or purchasing things that we’ll only need for a short time second-hand. I have also been able to sell new, like-new and gently-used items we no longer need to other local moms. Win win!
First up, we’re talking about strollers. A LOT of people ask me what stroller we have and I’d say that this is one of the areas you want to do your research. As far as strollers it was important to me to invest in items that were multi-functional so having a stroller that was also a travel system where our car seat worked with it was important to me to lesson the gear and maximize the use of each item. Quality and customer service were two other areas I researched and that all led me to my ultimate choice which fit the bill on multi-use, great quality, ease of use and excellent customer service in the event I needed a replacement part.
- UPPAbaby Cruz/Mesa Travel System and Bassinet – In NYC the UPPAbaby brand is a holy grail and I kept seeing it ALL over when I was pregnant. Every mom I asked raved about the brand, quality and customer service and after 16 months with the products I can confidently recommend them. I am SO happy with this travel system. From Day 1, Emmy fit snug and safely in the Uppababy Mesa Infant Car seat and I absolutely LOVED the ease of taking her from the car to the stroller base. Once she was a bit older (around 3 months or so), I started using the Toddler Seat in the stroller with the Uppababy Infant Insert and I could not recommend this enough. Babies spend a lot of time on their back in the first few months and I loved that the infant insert kept her snug and cozy but also had room to keep her head supported and not just flat to the back of the stroller. There are two-sides to the infant insert for different weather needs and we used this for about 6 months or so while she grew. Lastly, our Cruz came with a bassinet insert and this qiuckly became where she preferred to sleep overnight. I had the bassinet right next to my bed in the Uppababy bassinet stand (that doubles as a hamper longer term) and I loved that I had the option to take this on-the-go if needed. We ended up using the basinet for overnight sleep until we moved her to her crib, so definitely got our money’s worth there!
- UPPAbaby G-LUXE umbrella stroller – In keeping with my UPPAbaby theme, I went with their umbrella stroller because of how compact (and light!) it is, easy to fold, cozy comfy seat that reclines, great wheels for an umbrella stroller, large canopy for shade and nice size storage bin. Ems is a big stroller napper, even to this day, so this one perfect for us and the recline feature was very important to me. This stroller is pretty compact, however, it is not airplane overhead bin compatible, so if you do a lot of plane travel you may want to look at the BabyZen Yo-Yo which a lot of my friends LOVE. We travel with this stroller a ton and just gate check it right before we board and find that it’s super easy. If you do plan to travel a lot, I recommend investing in a travel bag or gate check bag just to keep your gear in tact.
- BOB REVOLUTION JOGGING – When it comes to TRUE jogging strollers, BOB is the best! I call this my “active” stroller because its the one I reach for when I know I’m having a VERY active day. Even before I had Emmy, I knew that I wanted a jogging stroller so that we could stay active together in our new life as a family. However, jogging strollers can be an investment for sure so I understand if this isn’t your first priority. A great way to try out one of these strollers and make sure that you really want one in your life and will USE it is to buy it second hand. Sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace allow you to buy gently used baby gear second-hand and this would be my recommendation. I can not say enough amazing things about this stroller. It is SO easy to jog with, has a great push and this specific stroller has two modes “walking” and “jogging” where the front wheel adjusts for more comfortable use. I love that this stroller keeps me active and would be great on a hike. I take it to the park regularly and the wheels have NO trouble at all on rough terrain like grassy hills and jagged sidewalk.
- CityMini GT Series – Lots of moms in my area love the CityMini JT Jogger, I see this stroller on the streets A LOT. This is a bit of a friendlier price point and has car seat adjustments to be used form day one. There was a brief period of time that Emerson was in a nanny share with our good friend’s daughter. When at our house, the girls (who were 4 months apart in age) used a CityMini GT Double that we bought gently-used secondhand off of a local mom’s group and ended up reselling once we no longer needed it. I LOVED this stroller so much. It was so easy and fun to push with both girls and it was very easy to manuever. The girls were VERY comfortable and I added a safety bar since Emerson was under a year old at the time. It almost made me want to have a second baby just to use the double stroller more often – haha!
INFANT CAR SEAT:
- Uppababy Mesa – For reasons mentioned above, we wanted a car seat that was SAFE, comfortable and multi-purpose. I love that the Mesa fit into the Cruz base so I could easily take her from the car to the stroller if she was sleeping. It also got her adjusted to the car seat early on since we had her in the Mesa as her stroller seat for the first few weeks while she was still teeny tiny. As soon as I switched her to the toddler seat with infant insert we stopped using it as a stroller seat unless she was sound asleep in the car and we need to run an errand. Emerson grew out of this around 10 – 11 months old, so I feel we definitely had a good run! I really love this
CONVERTIBLE CAR SEATS:
- Nuna Raava – Our EVERYDAY car seat – When Emmy was about to grow out of her infant seat I started to ask around and do some research on convertible car seat, the seat she’ll be in until she’s ready for a booster. The Nuna Raava came up across the board for safety and comfort and I have to say, it does not disappoint. We have Emmy rear-facing and as soon as we switched her she was so comfortable and happy in this car seat. I love it! It’s a bit of a splurge in price but I try to evaluate the use and longevity of the item and having a great car seat is something I felt confident investing in.
- Cosco Scenera – Our Travel Convertible Seat – Our first plane trip after Emmy switched to the convertible seat had me exploring options for a travel car seat. If you’re renting a car at your destination, you could always rent a car seat from the car rental company. However, we wanted something that we could take with us on the plane too. For a travel car seat you want to go for LIGHT and safe (of course!) and this one kept being recommended to me, hands down. After taking this to Colorado I can confidently say I love this for a travel option. We had it on the plane and Emerson hung out in it and even napped in there. Once in Colorado, we did several hundred miles on the road all over the state and she was safe and comfortable. It was also very easy to carry around and install – a win win for a travel gear item!!
A quick note about customer service. I live in Brooklyn where I use my strollers every single day and I am very hard on them. I’ve had to replace my Uppababy base after 15 months and since it was under warranty, Uppababy sent a replacement overnight and it was the simplest and easiest interaction. That alone was worth the investment and my stroller is like-new. So, I always recommend registering your baby gear if the company provides a warranty!
What stroller do you have/love? What other Baby Gear posts would you like to see (Carriers, Bouncers/Rockers/HomeGear, On-The-Go Gear, Sleep Essentials, Bathtime fun)?