I have a confession to make. I own four strollers, but I only have one child, who is now 18 months old. You probably think I'm a bit extreme, but that's what happens when you don’t purchase the right one the first time!
The good news is you get a chance to learn from my mistakes. My first tip: don’t just choose the ‘best,’ ‘prettiest’ or ‘fanciest’ looking one. Think about your lifestyle. Do you travel often? Go to the mall a lot? Many strollers are large, so are you cramped for space? Are you living in a condo? Or do you have a small car? Have answers to these questions before you scout for a stroller.
Below, I've detailed my experience with each stroller I owned. Except for the first one, my husband and I saved up to buy these strollers, which cost around P20,000 to P30,000 each. Hopefully, what I have put them through can help you with your decision when you buy your first stroller.
TOO BULKY Stokke Xplory was my first stroller, a gift when I was still pregnant. At the time, it wasn't available in the Philippines, so it had to be imported from the United States (it is available here now at Mothercare).
What I loved: - The seat sits high so you could talk to your child at eye level. It also had interchangeable forward and rear-facing seating positions. - Came with a carry cot that was suitable for a newborn - Lots of storage including two baby bags
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What I didn't take into consideration: Manila was not a country like Singapore where you can walk to your local grocery, to the mall, and then walk back home; we are a car-dependent city. And, no matter how much we tried, we couldn’t get our Stokke Xplory and all of its gear to fit in our car comfortably (and we had a big car!).
It was a nightmare when I needed to commute. The seat needed to be removed to fold the bottom part of the stroller. I have no yaya, and so you can imagine how I handled setting up a two-piece stroller with two big baby bags and a baby all at once! After a short two months, we decided to ditch it and move on to an easier stroller.
OVERLOADED We were planning our first trip with our then 3-month-old to Singapore, our first time with a baby, and, boy, were we nervous! The first thing on the agenda was getting a travel-friendly stroller. After much digging, I decided on the Peg Perego Si Switch (purchased at SM). At one point, I could have sworn I had a love affair with this stroller.
What I loved: - Light - Folded and opened easily, acting as a ‘one-piece’ but it was technically a ‘two-piece’ because it had an interchangeable seat feature - Built-in bag hooks on both handles - Generous basket storage on the bottom!
At the airport check-in, the airline supervisor asked if it was ‘two-piece’ stroller. We replied no because it closes with the seat attached. When we demonstrated it, we were allowed to bring our stroller in until the boarding gate! It was perfect because I am the biggest duty-free shopper I know.
While waiting to board, I had the best opportunity to try out the built-in bag hooks. They were beyond amazing! The store staff tells you not to hang so much, but the Peg Perego has an extra feature that stops the stroller from toppling backward if too many bags are hanging on it, and it honestly works!
What I didn't take into consideration: This stroller went on 25 flights, strolled in the snow, rain, and wind, and supported so many shopping bags before it eventually gave up after almost a year of service. Some screws popped out, and it can be considered flimsy, compared to other strollers.
NOT FOR TRAVEL My son was nearing his first birthday, so he was running around and preferred to sit upright in his stroller more often. He was also taking longer but fewer naps during the day, which meant each rest counted. For me to stay sane, my son had to have a complete nap cycle, and if he woke up prematurely, it would be the end of me. I had to choose a stroller that put my baby's comfort while sleeping as the priority. After much research, I decided on the absolute gem that is, the Mamas & Papas Urbo2.
What I love: - Complete upright seating for waking hours - Big front wheels for better suspension and an easier ride during sleeping hours - Fabric hood was in an XXL size, and it had softer fabric lining on the seat - Lie-flat sleeping position for longer naps - Interchangeable seat feature so I could peek in on my sleeping angel.
What I didn't take into consideration: While Mamas & Papas Urbo2 was the business-class of all strollers, I was in an absolute rush to buy, and we forgot once again to consider stroller dilemmas when our traveling. For one, Urbo2 was bulky when it was folded (still not as bulky as the Stokke). But I loved this stroller so much that my husband and I refused to buy anything else until we could find the right travel-friendly stroller.
FOR THE WIN Mamas & Papas Armadillo Flip XT (Rustan's carried it) met our travel requirements. Mama’s and Papa’s had several travel strollers such as Sola2 model, which the salesperson insisted was the one I should buy. But I found the basket too small, the hood didn’t come down as much as the Urbo2, and it felt almost as flimsy as the Peg Perego.
I spotted the Armadillo Flip XT in the catalog. They had one available, and they still had to assemble it. When they finished assembling and demonstrating its features, I stood there speechless. If you are to buy only one stroller, for everyday and travel, let it be the Armadillo Flip XT!
What I loved: - Largest bottom basket I’ve ever seen in a stroller - Hood came in an XXL size for hiding little sleeping faces from lights - Quilted lining perfect for any weather condition - Interchangeable seat-facing options - Lie-flat sleeping position - ‘One-hand’ fold system and it’s so compact when I fold it that new mommy friends are always so astonished when they see it.
We use this stroller every day, and I can say I’ve found my happy in the Armadillo Flip XT.
At this point, allow me to add a few things fellow mommy friends told me about their bad experiences with other stroller brands not mentioned here.
- Watch out for strollers that are hard to maneuver when it's in a rear-facing position (the child faces you). - Don't buy a stroller if you need to carry your baby bag. - Sure, it can fit in the overhead cabin of a plane. But how easy could you fold it?
The selection of strollers available feels like it's in the hundreds. To narrow down your choices, decide the three to four features you consider to be non-negotiable. Mine was compact and lightweight, folds easily, ample storage space, and it allowed my son to be comfortable while he napped.
Don’t be shy to try out the stroller with your own child, or if you’re still pregnant, ask your friend if you can borrow her child! Ask questions. Take your time, breath, and do your research.