Buying a Stroller in NYC: 10 Must-Ask Questions
Buying a stroller just may be the most important baby purchase a New York City parent makes. After all, a stroller in NYC gets a serious daily workout as you take your tot to visit wonderful parks and museums, explore vibrant neighborhoods and use it as a makeshift grocery cart. Even if you prefer to wear your baby, your back will probably need a break at some point.
Since we NYC parents are incredibly hard on our strollers—pushing them over uneven sidewalks, jerking them up subway stairs, collapsing them every time we get on a bus or in a cab—we can't just go with whatever model happens to be in. We need our stroller (or, more accurately, strollers, since you'll probably start off with a heavy-duty model for your baby and then graduate to a lightweight umbrella stroller around age 2) to be able to accommodate our unique lifestyle. Having been down this bumpy road myself, here are 10 questions I wish I had known to ask before buying a stroller to use in NYC.
1. How easily does it collapse? If you ever plan on leaving your immediate neighborhood, you're going to need to collapse your stroller in order to get on a bus or in a cab. (Technically, strollers are supposed to be folded up on subways, too, but no one does that.) Try to collapse the stroller in the store using only one hand. Because that's what you'll need to do since your sleepy/squirmy baby will occupy your other arm.
2. How much room does it take up? Storing a stroller in a tiny NYC apartment can be quite a challenge. Take measurements so you can confirm that you have room to stash it. Just don't have enough space? An ingenious NYC mom came up with StrollAway, an over-the-door stroller storage hanger that works with most models up to 35 pounds.
3. How heavy is it? Most strollers are a breeze to push or haul up a flight of stairs when they're empty, but load it up with a baby, diapers, bottles, wipes, extra clothes and a week's worth of groceries and you'll realize that some are heavier than others. My husband and I actually brought a few five-pound sugar bags to the store with us to simulate weight.
4. Can you push it with one hand? You'd be surprised how often you need to do something else with your other hand, like hold an umbrella, use your cell phone or hold on to another child. I found out the hard way, some of the lightweight strollers are impossible to push with just one hand.
5. What accessories are available? Some, like cup holders, are nice but not necessary. Others, like a good rain cover, a cold weather muff and a newborn car seat attachment, are indispensable. I also loved our stroller's sun shade.
6. Can your kid nap comfortably in it? Some kids can nap sitting up but many prefer to lie flat. Make sure the stroller seat can easily recline. Some strollers even offer attachments that turn it into an old-fashioned pram though that's best for infants.
7. How safe is it? You can visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website to find out about stroller recalls and other important info. If you have a subscription to Consumer Reports (or know someone who does), it's an excellent resource for expert reviews, as is Baby Bargains.
8. How much storage does it have? Kids come with a lot of stuff, plus you'll undoubtedly use it to carry your myriad purchases. Make sure there's ample storage space.
9. Is there a place to hang a diaper bag? When my son graduated from a heavy-duty stroller to a lightweight umbrella stroller, I didn't realize it couldn't hold the diaper bag. So I ended up having to carry a backpack everywhere. Learn from my mistake!
10. What kind of wheels do you want? I found that bicycle-style tires gave the smoothest ride and were easy to bump up and down curbs. Unfortunately, they can also pop and leak. If you opt for an air-pumped tire versus plastic wheels, you may want to invest in a travel-size air pump. The company that manufactured my stroller sold one that clipped onto the frame, and it came in handy plenty of times. Another tip: Most bike shops have air pumps outside their stores. Go ahead and use them!
What other questions did you ask when buying your stroller? Share your tips in the comments.