If you're like most new parents, a stroller is a must-have on your baby gear shopping list. Unfortunately, as you've probably realized after doing a bit of research, baby wheels tend to be big-ticket items.
However, before you cross a certain stroller off your list just because it has a high price tag, consider these three ways relatively pricey strollers can be used for much more than simple single-child strolls, making them well worth the money.
Have the stroller double as your at-home baby bassinet. Convertible strollers, which transform from infant buggies to toddler prams, may actually be more frugal than you think. In fact, the stroller bassinets that work on such models can often serve as a baby's sleep time bassinet, whether you put the bassinet directly on the floor or on a specially designed bassinet stand. By using your stroller bassinet this way, you can skip spending money on a special small place for your newborn to sleep, like a stand-alone bassinet or a co-sleeper.
For instance, the bassinet that comes with the roughly $730 Uppababy Vista "has been tested and approved for overnight sleeping," according to the manufacturer's site. This means that you can "detach the bassinet and carry your sleeping infant anywhere." And like Uppababy, Peg-Perego, the maker of the roughly $600 convertible Peg-Perego Skate stroller model, sells a bassinet stand that allows parents to use its stroller bassinet "anywhere."
Elsewhere, Britax, the maker of the about $400 B-Ready convertible stroller, says on its site that its bassinet "provides a comfortable location for your child to sleep in your home or on the go with the B-Ready stroller."
Transform the stroller into a double, or even triple, stroller. Another plus of convertible stroller models is that they can transform into double strollers if you buy an optional second seat. In other words, these models can grow with your family, and likely save you from having to shell out money down the road on additional strollers. Convertibility from a single to a double is " an amazing feature because it saves you money," says stroller review site Stroller Envy.
Use the stroller for jogging. It turns out that at least some of the pricier everyday strollers on the market are also perfectly fine to use when jogging, meaning you can skip buying a separate jogging stroller. Uppababy, for instance, says that while the Vista is not a traditional jogging stroller, if you lock the front wheels, it's fine to jog with it.
In addition, some of the so-called all-terrain strollers can work as both everyday carriages and jogging strollers. The roughly $400 Bob Revolution SE, for instance, comes with a swiveling front wheel that can be locked during jogging. Meanwhile, in its stroller buying guide, Consumer Reports notes that if you're not a serious runner, "an all-terrain stroller whose manufacturer has approved its use for running may be a better all-around choice.
To be sure, whether it's safe to use a specific stroller for all of the functions described above will depend on the exact model, so you'll want to check with the manufacturer before you use it as a nighttime bassinet or on a jog. Plus, if you don't envision yourself using a stroller that much, having a need for a bassinet, or having multiple kids close in age, then you may be better off going for a less inexpensive model.
But here's some more good news: You don't necessarily have to pay full price for an expensive stroller. When new models come in, you frequently can find good deals on the previous year's models, which may only differ from newer models colorwise. My go-to baby gear book, Baby Bargains, suggests looking for sales online and checking out eBay, where retailers may be cleaning out old overstock.
In addition, another bonus of going for a more expensive stroller model is that the fancier brands tend to have more resale value, according to Baby Bargains. This means that you may be able to sell your stroller when your kids grow out of it, and recoup at least some of your investment.
Finally, another way to save money on such models is to buy them used. Just make sure that any used stroller you're considering buying is in working order, meets current product safety standards and hasn't been recalled (or if it has been recalled, that there's a repair kit to fix the problem available).
What are other ways you've made pricey strollers worth the money or scored deals on them? What are your favorite stroller models and why?
Jennifer Saranow Schultz, formerly the "Bucks" blogger for The New York Times and a reporter at The Wall Street Journal, shares daily hints to help make parenting easier and cheaper at HintMama.com, on Twitter at @HintMama and on Facebook at Facebook.com/HintMama.
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