Jul 05 2009

We went the cheap route with our stroller

This weekend, Shane and I went shopping for Johnny’s first (and maybe only!) stroller. We opted to avoid a bulky travel-system and went straight with a convertible car seat*. Even though the wind chill was -11 F the day we took our teeny 5 lb. 11 oz. newborn home from the hospital, I don’t regret our decision.

We don’t have extra space to store an infant seat that he’d probably grow out of in a month or so from now (if not already!), and we certainly don’t have space to store a massive stroller.

When out, we prefer to carry our son in our arms or in a sling. He seems to enjoy it! I know I do.

But we’ve seen that there are times when having a stroller would be especially handy.

For example, today I have a doctor’s appointment (just a checkup, no worries). Though I could try and hold him, it would be way easier to have a safe place to set him.

We tested a few floor models at Babies R Us. I knew I wanted an umbrella stroller, as they are the most compact. Some had storage options below the seat; others had cup-holders. Some had 5-point harnesses, higher upper weight limits, and reclinable seats.

For a moment, I eyed the fancy Maclaren Volo*. Ah, what a fancy umbrella stroller it is. I knew I could get it on eBay for about $85, too.

Still, that’s more than we needed to pay for our purposes.

We turned our attention to the cheapest umbrella stroller in the store. At $20, it even had a sunshade.

Say we use the stroller a dozen times. That’s more than $7 per time for the Volo, but only $1.66 for the cheapie.

We opted for the $20 stroller. We reasoned that we didn’t think it would get that much use, and that this model would be fine for our purposes.

I hope it doesn’t fall apart on us — replacing it would make our initial cheap decision more costly.

If I thought about it sooner, we could have tried to find a decent used model at a thrift store, yard sale or consignment shop. Oh well, missed that boat.

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16 Responses to “We went the cheap route with our stroller”

  1. We bought a cheapo stroller that’s being well used by a 4 year old and hasn’t broken anything yet. (We never used it when she was a baby however.)

    BTW, we had an infant seat; she didn’t grow out of it until she was 6 months, and then only on height. With him starting out so little, it would surprise me that you think he’d only last a month in it. Also, how’d he fit in the convertible? The one we bought when she was big enough for one says it would fit a 5# baby, but at 6 months, she was on the lowest settings for the straps. No way would a 5# (or even a 15#) baby have fit in it safely!

  2. Don’t worry about your $20 stroller. I still have mine 5 years later that I bought for my daughter.

    My only regret is a bought a hot pink one, because it was only $20. I thought it would be gone by now and we just adopted a little boy. He has been forced to ride in the hot pink stroller a few times. :)

    I have used several stollers…this by far is my favorite and used the most.

  3. We skipped the baby carrier seat as well. We got the evenflo triumph convertible seat and havn’t regretted it ever.

    But we didn’t get a cheap unbrella stroller because in the times I’ve ever used one like for my first child and other kids, they hurt my back something awful. So we had to get a stroller with tall enough handle. But we still wanted something light like an umbrella stroller. We ended up with a peg perego that weighs 9 lbs. And even though it costs about 150 bucks, it’s being well used like almost daily now at 9 months. But yeah if height wasn’t an issue, would have been all over a cheap stroller. LOL.

  4. We have two cheapo umbrella strollers. One we’ve had for about 2.5 years and the other we’ve had for 6 months. we use them A LOT. They are both great, no problems what so ever. I love that they can stay in the trunk and we can still get other things in them. We don’t use them much for long walks because we have the double jogger, but for walking around the mall, and dr appointments and when we go camping they get used all the time, or if we’re going somewhere and needing to walk around town etc. We’ve had no issues! oh, except this- do not fold up the stroller with both sides of the sun shade attached to it, it will bend the shade and make it useless! :)

  5. We’re going the same route as you – waiting a little bit before buying a stroller. I just don’t know what our lives are going to be like with a baby, to know what kind of stroller we’ll need/want. Will we stay home mostly? Will we still take walks a lot like we do now? Will I prefer the sling? Will my baby like the sling? What will work best when camping? I dislike bulky things, so I have a feeling I will want as small and compact of a stroller I can get! So we’ll see what happens in 9 months or so when we’re facing that decision. :-)

  6. With our oldest someone gave use a bulky, gently used stroller. I never used it, and sold it at consignment for $50.

    We only purchased a stroller, and a bucket seat when we were expecting our 3rd child. It was a blessing to have a safe place to put her away from the kids. She LOVED the stroller too, and we used it for a few hours every day. (walking to school, to the park, etc.) We got a Peg on super clearance for $100.

    I wouldn’t hesitate to use an umbrella stroller if the handles were a bit higher (we would both have to stoop too far).

    Just be aware that if the stroller doesn’t have a firm back support LOTS of use can be bad for the baby’s spine. (according to my chiropractor friend)

  7. @AnnMarie –

    He started out little, but he’s chunked out nicely! At his 6-month appointment, he was 18 lbs+ and 26.5″ long. When I said he’d last a month, I meant one more month from now, not 1 month old. Sorry for the confusion.

    I, too, was worried about how he would fit in our car seat. The TrueFit has an insert for little ones to prop them up a little higher. That did the trick! He fit in it quite nicely. We used the insert for a few months, then got rid of it and had the straps on the lowest setting. Now, they’re on the 2nd setting.

  8. Just to warn you, though! Just when you get comfortable, things will change – I have two and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten rid of something we never used to suddenly find it very useful to have! LOL

  9. We have a cheap umbrella stroller as well – I’ve rarely used it so far, but was just thinking it was time to start using it more :) I have to admit, though, the storage on the other umbrella stroller you linked there makes it tempting, but I doubt if I’d really use it enough to make it worth it.

    Though we didn’t get a travel system, we did get one of the bigger infant seats that go to 30 lbs and/or 32″ – and we’ve been really pleased with it. I hope it will last into her first year. (As someone above mentioned, I suspect height will be more of a concern than weight.) But it’s nice to know the convertible worked out so well for you! I only didn’t go that route because I was worried about the convertible seat fitting a newborn.

  10. Hi I wanted to comment regarding your stroller I to have used all sorts of strollers through the years and finally with my last child sucked it up and bought a Maclaren and have been so happy I did. The back support in that type of stroller is awesome. I am not saying you have to buy a Maclaren however it might be worth it to at least check out a midrange one with better back support.

    An amazing website that I have used to order my strollers from as well as some friends have ordered from is albeebaby.com and they have free shipping to.

    Good luck.

    Congratulations on the move and getting settled in.

  11. I’m a bit of a stroller addict, but I totally understand the benefits of an umbrella stroller. I’m sure it will serve it’s purpose, and you can always upgrade if you find you need a few more features to make Johnny more comfortable. If not, you’re good to go!

    By the way, these thing are remarkably sturdy. I doubt it will fall apart unless you use it excessively (in that case, you’ll have gotten your money’s worth anyway!).

  12. Interesting! I’ve gone with the larger infant seat and the frame stroller and I’ve loved it! Libby is on the small side so I know it’ll fit her at least a year if not more. We will be on the hunt for an every day stroller and I’m going to start looking on craigslist and resale stores. But it’s good to know so many people have been happy with the basic umbrella stroller.
    I will be curious to see how you like the nonadjustable handles as you seem to be on the tall side. I know that was a big priority for my SIL’s.

  13. Stroller handle height was a big issue for me-we ended up with a $40 umbrella stroller (Chicco) and it is great. We keep it in the trunk, and use it all the time. It does have a more solid back, and can recline a bit with two simple zippers.

    Happy strolling!

  14. I’m really liking your blog, by the way. Thinking frugal is near and dear to me.

    We mostly carried our little (huge) guy (30 lbs by 6 months) around in slings and wraps for the first year or so, and then started taking little jaunts in an ultra-cheapo umbrella stroller: $8 at Big Lots! I thought we wouldn’t use it very much, but it turns out our son, now 2, loooves it.

    At the time, $8 was all we had to spend, so I don’t regret it. The handles are too short, and fancy it ain’t, but really the only one who complains about it is my much shorter SIL. My husband and I deal with it just fine, and it’s holding up well. Having it be compact was a necessity for our little apartment, as well.

    I’ve been thinking about this, though — if we have another kid, should we upgrade to a higher-handled umbrella stroller? I’d like to stick with the umbrella design for space issues, but I’m wondering if a step up in quality would be worth it, especially if we can get a grandparent to spring for it… The frugal part of me says to just keep making do, and the babywearing advocate in me says not to waste precious money on strollers. Ah, decisions. ;)

  15. Hey HoboMama!

    Upgrading to a double stroller might be a good idea, depending on the age of the oldest child. I guess it depends on how much he likes riding in the stroller and being worn.

    At the very least, you could put your oldest in the stroller, wear your newborn, and put your diaper bag for 2 in the seat for the second child.

    Then again, if your oldest child is old enough not to need a stroller, you could just carry on as usual.

    I guess it just depends on your specific situation and preferences, ya know?

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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