Let me start out by saying, “Don’t do what I did!” When I had my first child almost eight years ago, I did not put any emphasis on buying a good stroller. I don’t think I even registered for one, and despite the fact that we received enough gift cards from Babies R’ Us to more than pay for a great stroller, we opted to use that money towards other things we thought were more important (probably diapers!).

Buying a stroller is an overwhelming process, to say the least. I would suggest starting your search with  Consumer Reports and by simply talking to professionals at stores like Babies R’ Us. If money is not a concern, you can always check out the latest models at trendy baby boutiques too.

The following is my story which offers some suggested brands and styles, and some to steer clear of. Regardless, hopefully my decisions – and lack of – will better help you in your stroller search.

Like I mentioned above, I did little research on strollers before Emily was born. I did look at some “travel systems” because it seemed like everyone I knew had one. But I never thought they looked user-friendly and I am not the kind of person who deals well with lots of buttons, snaps and instructions when I need something to work quickly and often. Luckily, I was able to borrow a Baby Trend Snap N’ Go stroller the whole time Emily was in her infant car seat. The Snap N’ Go (or similar model like the Graco SnugRider), in my humble opinion, should be on the top of every new mom’s must-have lists. Not only are these “frames” inexpensive, but they’re incredibly light, and a cinch to pop open, fold up and put in the back of your car. They also have plenty of room below for storage, and some even come with cup holders for mom!

Then when Emily grew out of the Snap ‘N Go, my husband’s sister passed a similar version of this Maclaren stroller. While we were grateful for the hand-me-down, not getting a more functional stroller was a huge mistake on my part. Maclaren is a great brand, and for convenience, this stroller was the ticket. Super light. Easy to fold and unfold. Not bulky at all in the back of a car. But the stroller we had was better for quick trips with the baby, or as a back-up stroller when traveling (it works great in aiports!). On top of that, it had no tray for sippee cups or finger foods. And for some reason, our stroller had no storage. Not sure if the lack of the tray and storage bin was because it was an old model, or a result of it being a hand-me-down. (The models on its web site look much more functional than what I had).

But the worst part of our stroller: Emily was constantly in the reclined position and I couldn’t adjust it otherwise. So as a result, she never became a “stroller baby” – something that drove me – and my mom – crazy because it was impossible to take her shopping – or anywhere in a stroller – for more than 15 minutes.

Then my son came along. He too used a Snap ‘N Go, and then we moved both kids into a Joovy Caboose stroller – our mode of transport for nearly two years and loved it.

What Do the Experts Suggest?

Obviously I am no expert, so I checked out what the authors of the latest Baby Bargains book had to say. They divide their stroller suggestions by lifestyles and conditions in which you live. Since none of us live in a bustling city like New York, Chicago or Washington DC, the categories that suit our lifestyles best include the Mall Crawlers and Green Acres (if your neighborhood has unpaved roads or no sidewalks). Plus they list stroller suggestions for moms who  exercise, those of us wanting to purchase a second stroller, and moms who need transportation for more than one baby. The authors 2012 suggestions – for all budget types – are listed below.

Mall Crawlers
Baby Trend Snug ‘N Go ($60)
Graco Snug Rider ($60)

Travel Systems
The authors do not recommend this type of stroller, but if you really want to buy one, they suggest Chico Cortina ($300).

Second Strollers
Budget Chicco C6 ($60) – also known as the “Capri”
Baby Jogger City Mini ($230)
Maclaren Techno XCR ($350)

Green Acres (or for all-terrain travel)
Jeep Liberty Limited ($150)
BOB Revolution ($390)
Phil & Ted’s Sport ($450)
Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle ($500)

Exercise Strollers
For walkers, they suggest inStep Run Around Ltd ($130)
For serious runners, they suggest BOB Ironman ($350)

Strollers for Two
Joovy Caboose Stand-On Tandem ($150)
Gracco Quattro Tour Duo ($225)
Kolcraft Contours Options Tandem ($250)

Side-by-Side Strollers
Jeep Twin Sport All-Weather Umbrella ($120)
Maclaren Twin Techo ($380)
Baby Jogger City Mini Duo ($450 – $500)

What’s your favorite ride? Tell us what you have liked – and disliked – about your strollers!