I take back all the mean things I said about Graco: The Snugride Click Connect 40

Graco has done something wonderful–they have made an “infant carrier” style carseat that accomodates big kids!  The Graco Snugride Click Connect 40 has a weight limit of 40 pounds and a “standing height” limit of 35 inches. That’s huge!  Most carseats have a 22 pound/29 inch limit, or 30 pound/30 inch limit. Sure, there have been “convertible” carseats that accommodate newborns to five year olds for simply decades, but none of those had a base or handle.

This is breaking news, folks!

A base is critical. It makes removing the carseat with the *hopefully* sleeping baby a breeze. The handle–well, so you can carry it from point A to point B with one hand free.

The fact that the Snugride 40 is also compatible with a travel system is terrific! This goes hand in hand with that whole “let’s not wake a sleeping baby” thing that I’m always talking about. Put the car seat in the stroller and do you errands or take a walk or whatever.

There has only been two convertible carseats available in the United States that have ever done this before: the Orbit Toddler seat and the Combi Corroco. The Orbit is insanely expensive and the Corroco only fits in a single stroller frame–no options for double or triple strollers. Therefore, both are extremely limited. Neither had a handle, and the Corroco didn’t have a base.  Le sigh.

The fact that Graco has taken the challenge and NAILED IT is tremedous.  Congratulations, Graco.  Now just come up some sleeker, lighter strollers, please.

The Terrible, Awful, No Good “Full Sized” Stroller

Here’s why they are Terrible, Awful and No Good!

1. Heavy. The lightest full size strollers weigh about 20 pounds. The heaviest are closer to 30.  Compare that to the most tricked out of umbrella strollers, the Maclaren Techno XLR. With all of it’s bells and whistles coming in at only 17 pounds. Most umbrellas are between 10 and 15 pounds.

2. Huge. Fold it? Why bother! It’s still a g’normous size when folded flat.  The Graco Alano full-size stroller is 22″ x 36″ x 15″. The Aprica Presto Flat umbrella–which is car seat compatible, no adapter required, is just 11” x 41″ 13.5”. The UPPAbaby G-Luxe is only 8″ x 42″ x 10″.

3. Hideous.  Ok, so this is neither here nor there because there’s always someone who thinks a print is just adorable but I truly believe that this brown plaid is the saddest looking print available in stroller history.  The Baby Trend Monkey Around. Notice the dated style of this stroller–all full sized strollers look this way!  Might as well hand me the keys to the Dodge Caravan and my denim jumper to complete my ensemble.

So why on earth do parents keep buying these contraptions? Glad you asked!

  • They are available at B’RUS–which is the first place women drag their husbands when they conceive.
  • The vicious cycle of everybody-you-know-has-one. Break it now.
  • Cupholders. Yes, the one glimmer of redemption is that most full size strollers have two parents cupholders.
  • “They’re so easy to push.” Of course they are. You’re pushing it on the smooth surface of a B’RUS store without a baby in it.

Aprica Presto Flat                                            

UPPAbaby G-Luxe

 

After experiencing so many excellent strollers, I wish folks would do more research before buying!  But what I really want to know is how you bought your stroller–did you research or just pick up the first thing you saw? Was it a Terrible, Awful, No Good stroller?

7 Things that Make a Stroller More Expensive But Not More Useful

The Prissy, Silly Stokke, only $1099!

1. Adjustable footrests: If you’re concerned about dangling feetsies of your little darling, don’t be.  Kid’s really don’t care. By age two or three, your kid’s legs will probably reach past of the bottom of the footrest anyhow, so dangling is inevitable. Even so, high end stroller manufactures are adding this feature left and right–just don’t let it be the deciding factor when you’re purchasing a stroller.

2. Belly bar: Not only does the belly bar do absolutely nothing for you or your kid, it’s just one more thing to get around in order to situate your child in the stroller. If the stroller you’re considering has a belly bar that cannot be removed, make sure it has a ton of other advantages to outweigh this annoying attribute.

3. Hand operated parking brake: You’ve probably got your hands full most of the time anyhow. It’s actually MORE convenient to be able to use your foot to put on the stroller brake, so don’t be dazzled with bike-like hand brakes.

4. Bassinet: The stroller manufactures knew this would draw in the suckers like flies to honey.  The bassinet is so adorable. Just think of laying your adorable newborn down with her sweet little face looking right up at you. That’ll be another $200, ma’am. You’ll actually be more likely to use the car seat (you did pick a stroller that accommodates a car seat, right?). There’s no way you’ll wake up a sleeping newborn just to move him from the car seat to the bassinet. Oh, and did I mention bassinets are typically for just the few three months of a child’s life?

5. Color choices: I know it’s really cute that you can order the Orbit Baby in seven different neon colors but honey, it really does not matter.  I’ve noticed that lots of high end stroller manufacturers have tons of color options. Don’t be suckered in by the rainbow–focus on needs and then consider aesthetics. You’ll be much happier with a plain black stroller if it has the five key features than if it’s teal.

6. Seat that can be forward or rear facing: I know I’m going to get some flack about this one but hear me out. The car seat will face you. You’ll use the car seat with young babies.  Young babies will want to look at you.  Older babies will want to face away from you, looking out.  In the long run, a seat that faces you will just be another one of those features you rarely use.

7. The rain cover: I mention this not because I want your baby to get wet, but because many mommies wouldn’t take a baby out for a long walk if it was raining. The mommy would still get wet, and who wants that? The exception is, of course, urban mommies who walk every where. They definitely need a rain cover.  However, if you drive most places, you probably won’t get out the raincover for the short trips from the car to the grocery store–it would be too much trouble to get it out.

Should You Buy an All-Terrain Stroller?

An All Terrain Stroller

The vast majority of us don’t need an All-Terrain stroller. Considering they are heavy, cumbersome, and have those annoying air-filled tires that constantly have to be pumped, they’re just too much hassle unless one of the following phrases describes you:

1. I walk on the beach at least once a week.

2. I park my snow boots at the door.

3. My walks are across fields and through woods. Sometimes there’s a trail.

4. We live on a long, gravely road.

5. I have a walk a lot where I live–on bumpy roads, cobblestone, dirt paths–and baby gets bounced around a lot.

If you answer yes to one of these questions, an all-terrain stroller is a good bet you for.  In fact, the typical full sized or umbrella stroller will probably just keel over at the sight of you.  On the other hand, buying an all-terrain stroller for walking in the mall and around your paved neighborhood is like driving an Army tank to the grocery store.  You’ll be much happier with a sweet lightweight stroller that you can throw in and outta the car with a flick of the wrist.

All-terrains are available in singles and doubles, triples, and quads.  Some reliable names are:

  • B.O.B
  • Baby Jogger
  • Swinn–a budget friendly option
  • Bumbleride
  • Joovy–another budget friendly option
  • Mountain Buggy

Of course, you’ve got to review the five key features of a stroller before purchasing anything, so go ahead and check out that post.

As always, the search continues for the perfect stroller.

The One Question You Should Ask Before Buying a Stroller

Regardless of where you’re from, your parenting style or whether you say to-ma-to or to-MAH-to, there’s five key features to a great stroller:

1. Lightweight

2. Compact fold

3. Infant carseat compatible

4. Large sun canopies

5. Large and accessible basket

“Hey ‘rents! This totally doesn’t meet any of EclecticMothering’s Five Key Features!”

There’s only one question you’ve got to ask when you’re got the five key features covered:

Have I worn out a pair of running shoes or hiking boots recently?

Say what?

I’m serious. Have you, in the past three months, had to purchase a new pair of hiking boots or running shoes because you do so much running/hiking that you just plum wore out the pair you had before? Because if you haven’t, you aren’t a serious enough outdoor athlete to justify a jogging or all-terrain stroller.

Jogging and all terrain strollers are their own animal. It’s apples and oranges to compare a jogging stroller to a full sized or umbrella stroller. If you’re an avid hiker and need something that will take you and your babies up Mount Mitchell, you’re going to need air filled tires, excellent shocks, and a rain cover.  Runners need similar equipment, and typically prefer a slim frame. For everybody else in the world, the trouble of pumping tires and the extra bulk of large wheels is unnecessary.

Listen to me, Mama: I know you want to work that baby weight off. I know you’ve always wanted to “get into running”. You’ve probably already been down to B’RUS and thought “There’s a jogging stroller and travel system all in one.  I’m actually going to save money since I don’t have to buy two strollers.” But darling, that’s just horse manure.  It’s clunky. It’s heavy. It doesn’t have squat for a canopy.  But you’ve got rosy glasses on, thinking about how awesome it will be to fit back into your pre-pregnancy clothes. In truth, you’re going to be busy and tired and you probably won’t feel like exercising at all.

Let me tell you a secret: God is merciful. He knew you’d be exhausted by raising this kid so he deducted 500 calories off your daily intake of calories. All you’ve got to do is breastfeed. You’ll be back to your pre-preggers weight before you know it.

Now go look in your closet. Shoes can tell a lot about a person, so start getting to know yourself.

Quite Possibly the Worst Double Stroller in the World

The Kolcraft Contours® Options® Tandem Stroller, Ruby

The Kolcraft Contours Options Tandem

The worst double stroller in the world

Um, why are you so upset about a double stroller? 


This particular double stroller is everywhere. It pops up continually on Craigslist, it’s still sold on Amazon and listed on the Kolcraft website.  All the the minor advantages are magnified through good marketing to make it appear to be a great, budget-friendly stroller when it’s really the stroller from Hades.

But it looks so spiffy..

Let me break it down:

  • This monster weighs 48 pounds.  That’s embarrassingly heavy for Kolcraft, so they don’t mention its weight in the product description. Pop in a 32 pound 2.5 year old and a 20 pound nine month old and you know what you’re pushing? 100 pounds.  A hundred freaking pounds.
  • You have to take it apart to fold it.  That’s right–take off the seats, lay them in the car, then fold up the stroller and put it in the car. Oh wait–you need to put the stroller in first and then lay the seats on top of it. Just lay the seats in the gravel then. Now the seats are dirty, but at least they aren’t crushed by the stroller frame.  Oh, did you pull your back out trying to put that thing in the car? Why don’t you just leave the darn thing where it is and back over it. That would be fun.
  • At 52 inches in length, it’s too long to steer.  This mommy said: “The stroller was very awkward and hard to steer because of the weight of the 2 yr old in front.” This stroller is best used when you don’t have your kids with you.
  • It’s poorly made.  As another mommy said, “My child is 11 months old: One of the harnesses have broken, one of the seats are bent downward, one of the locks doesnt lock very good anymore and the tray broke off.” It’s not going to make it through the next kid, so there goes your “budget-friendly stroller.” It costs twice as much to buy two strollers, you know.
  • The seats are really short–another mommy reviewer said “Seats are SOOOO shallow and short- my 22 lbs baby just barely fits.” For all you self-righteous folks thinking “A bigger kids should be walking anyhow,” have you ever tried to do anything with toddlers? The second you grab one the other wiggles away to destroy something. Not conducive to grocery shopping, walking off the baby weight, or doing anything outside the house.

Amazon shows an average review of  4 stars. If it’s so awful, Miss Eclectic Mothering Smartie Pants, why do the masses love it?

Ignorance and some “free” accessories.

The Kolcraft Contours® Options® Tandem Stroller, Ruby includes a few features that parents really love: two parent cup holders, seats that can be faced forwards or backwards, a big basket, and an INCLUDED (not “sold separately”) car seat adapter.  With the average price tag of $250 new, this was a steal compared to the $660 Baby Jogger City Select that looks almost identical after purchasing all the extras. Reviewers ooh and awe over it’s “manueveablity” but that’s just because they’ve never pushed anything besides a Graco.

When the Contours Options first came out in 2000, it was revolutionary.  There were not many strollers that would accommodate multiple brands of car seats and certainly no strollers that had two seats facing the person pushing.  Walking and cooing at your baby without even taking them out of the carseat? Hot diggity dog!

But let me share a little story with you. Last year we went on an extended family vacation with my husband’s siblings and their families.  My sister-in-law had this stroller. To get it to the cabin, she actually had one of the other siblings carry the stroller frame in their car, since the frame and seats and the vacation luggage wouldn’t fit in the trunk of their sedan. Then, while we were at the cabin, the stroller and its accessories took up tons of space in their room, even while folded. When we went out on the town, my sister-in-law opted to take the Baby Bjorn carrier instead of the stroller just so they wouldn’t have to pack it up and get it out of the car because it was so heavy and inconvenient.  What should have been a relaxing walk turned into musical babies in which those two poor parents took turns holding the children while the other ate, walked, shopped, or tried to visit with family.

The purpose of a stroller is CONVENIENCE.  For my poor sister-in-law, the stroller promised much needed relief but failed to deliver.  Although this stroller might have filled a niche twelve years ago, there are far better options available and that’s why I believe all Contours Options Tandem Ruby strollers should be re-purposed as boat anchors.

PS–Kolcraft strives to produce affordable products with the best features and they do a pretty good job.  Over the past ten years they’ve worked out lots of kinks and produced the Contours Options LT that weighs a lot less but still has the accessories parent’s like.

Stroller Lust: The Search for the Perfect Stroller Never Ends

I’ve visited the chiropractor ten times in the past month.  It’s all this baby hauling–and baby gear hauling–that’s got my back out of shape. This had got me yearning after something lighter and smaller than my Britax B-Ready. My newest love?

The Kinderwagon Hop

This puppy is just 22 pounds, seats two kids and folds up teeny, just like a single umbrella stroller! Oh, how my arms ache for your svelte and delicate rods, so small and yet so useful!  Alas, the Hop is too blame expensive at $300 and just not common enough to fine on Craigslist. Maybe I should just move within hobbling distance of the chiropractor’s office.   It truly never ends, the belief that the next stroller will be….

The Perfect Double Stroller