Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Product Review - Strollers/Travel Systems

Since I have more experience being a Dad, than I do being a runner. I figured I would spend my first product review post on something parent related. When I started this blog, I wanted it to be helpful to new parents. While I am no expert when it comes to raising children, it is an experience that allows you to learn something new every day. If I can pass along just a portion of this knowledge to someone else and if that information helps someone else make a better parenting decision, then I will consider my blog to be a success.

So for my inaugural product review post, I am going to spend a little time talking our experience with strollers and travel systems. Before Eli was born, we registered for baby shower gifts. We knew we would need to get a travel system. For those that do not know what a travel system consists of, there is a stroller, baby carrier, and car base. These systems allow you to carry your baby in a carrier that will easily attach to a car base to make a car set and also attach to a stroller. These travel systems are awesome because it allows babies to remain a sleep while being transported here and there. A sleeping baby is much better than a crying baby!
Anna and I decided on an Eddie Bauer travel system from Target. It was a very reasonably priced system with a gender neutral color. At least we thought ahead enough to plan for future children, if only gender-wise. Once Eli was born and we started using the travel system, we were very happy with our decision. The stroller fit nicely in the trunk of our car and it was very maneuverable.  The car base fit securely in car and it was easy to latch to the carrier.

Although we were initially happy with our travel system, we soon realized that we had a limitation. Since I was going to start taking Eli to my parent’s house in the morning before work, I needed to have a second car base in my car. We came to find out that Target doesn’t carry extra Eddie Bauer car bases. You could not even order them from Target online. After doing some online searching, I was able to find some bases, but the bases I found didn’t appear to be exactly the same as our existing one. I didn’t want to order something online that may or may not work, so we decided to just get a second inexpensive carrier and car base for my car. This caused a little extra work because I would have to leave my carrier at my parent’s in the morning and Anna would pick up Eli after work. Since my carrier didn’t fit in her car, she had to put him in her carrier and tote my carrier back to our house in the front seat of the car. So, my first pointer to new parents is to determine if you are going to need an extra car base. If so, make sure you buy a system that you will be able to find a second base easily.
We also picked up a walking stroller from a yard sale. We used the walking stroller when we were doing outdoor activities where the pneumatic tires made maneuvering easier. Since the carrier from the travel system didn’t fit the walking stroller, we had to wait until Eli was big enough to support his head well before we could use the walking stroller. So, the second point I want to make about purchasing strollers is to consider whether or not you want to use a walking stroller while your baby is still small enough for a carrier. If you do, then you need to look for travel systems that work with a secondary walking/jogging stroller.

Other than the second car base issue and the walking stroller compatibility issue, we were very pleased with our travel system. We used the stroller up until we were graced with another addition to our family. Once we knew we were expecting Coy, we realized that we needed a double stroller. More specifically we needed a double stroller that would tote a baby carrier. After searching for an Eddie Bauer double stroller that would work with our existing baby carrier, we came to the realization that we were going to have to invest in a new travel system. This brings me to my third point, if you are planning to have multiple children in the near future, you may want to check to seek if you will be able to get a double stroller that will work with your initial travel system.
Since we did enjoy having a walking/jogging stroller for Eli, we were smart enough to search for a standard double stroller (front to back) and a walking/jogging stroller (side by side) that would work with a single car carrier. We decided on purchasing the Sit N Stand Stroller by Baby Trend. Not only will this stroller accept a baby carrier, the second seat converts to a standing area. This will allow your larger child ride with a little more freedom (although Eli doesn’t know the stroller converts to this yet). The Baby Trend carrier will also work with the Navigator Double Jogging stroller by Baby Trend. We ended up purchasing this stroller too, so that we could continue with our family walks and other outdoor activities.

We have really enjoyed our Baby Trend double strollers. We used the Sit N Stand when we go places where there might be small doorways or crowds. This stroller is much narrower because of the front to back configuration. The Navigator jogging stroller is much wider and needs a lot of room. Even though it is much bigger, it is a lot easier to actually maneuver, thanks to it pneumatic tires. Another drawback to the side by side jogging stroller is that takes up the entire truck of our Honda Accord and it will not even fit in my Honda Civic’s trunk. There are narrower side by side jogging strollers on the market, but this was the only one that would work with our baby carrier. It will actually hold two baby carriers if needed.

Although we have really enjoyed our new double strollers, now we have a complete travel system and extra walking/jogging stroller in our garage collecting dust. You can’t take them to the mission or goodwill. They do not accept second hand car seats. We would really like for someone else to use the Eddie Bauer travel system because it is still in great condition. We attempted to sell it at a yard sale, but I guess we were asking too much because it didn’t sale. If you know anyone that could really use a travel system, we would be willing to part with it. We would like to help someone out that really needs the help.

So if you are a soon to be parent or you are in the hunt for a new stroller/travel system, please consider the points I made in this post. Hopefully you can avoid collecting strollers and car seats in your garage! Just remember to answer the following questions when you are shopping. Will I need a second car base? Will I need a walking/jogging stroller that accepts the same baby carrier? Will I need to get a double stroller in the future? I hope someone finds this helpful and I hope I haven’t turned anyone away from reading any more of my posts. I promise to not be so long with my future product reviews. This review actually consisted of multiple products in a single category. Anyway, thanks for your time and have a great day!

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