With so many to choose from, selecting the right stroller is no walk in the park, especially considering that you’ll use the purchase for years. To get it right, here’s the process I recommend for nabbing the right stroller at the right price. You’ll want to make sure you avoid costly mistakes, such as buying a discounted stroller that you end up hating and using it for five years because, well, you’ve spent the money and it was too late to return it. (Guilty!)
Start with the Snap N Go. Selecting a stroller, especially if you’re gearing up for a new baby and you have lots of decisions to make, can be overwhelming. So I say take the stroller off your shopping list for now and buy a bare-bones stroller frame, such as the Baby Trend Snap N Go, which retails for around $70 on Amazon. It will do the job until your baby outgrows his infant car seat (at about a year). Using a stroller frame with your baby’s infant car seat buys you time to figure out the type of next-stage stroller that best fits your new-baby lifestyle. You’ll know so much more about what you need in a stroller after being a parent for a while. You also don’t have to worry about being locked into a stroller that coordinates with your baby’s infant car seat from day one. The Snap N Go accepts Baby Trend, Britax, Chicco, Combi, Cosco, Evenflo, Graco, Maxi-Cosi, Mia Moda, Peg Perego, and Safety 1st infant car seats. Always use the safety belt to secure the car seat to the stroller frame and the infant seat safety harness.
Do your homework. When you’re ready to buy the next-stage stroller, ask yourself key questions, such as: Where will I use the stroller the most? In the city? In the suburbs? Does it fold quickly? It is light enough to lug up and down subway or bus stairs? Will it fit in the trunk of my car? And, of course, what’s my budget? Keep in mind that you don’t have to pay upward of $1,000 for a designer stroller like the Bugaboo Cameleon 3 to get a good set of wheels. You can nab a decent stroller for around $160 — and spend even less than that, depending on your needs. If you’re headed to the Disney World for the weekend, for example, a cheapie umbrella stroller will do the job.
These are the kinds of questions that can help you pick the right next-stroller for your situation. Once you have an idea of the brand or type of stroller you want, head to the baby superstore and take strollers for a test drive. Don’t just order one online — yet. Do the legwork.
Now, look for the best deal. Once you have a firm idea of the stroller you want (make, model), comparison shop to get the best price. Competitive sites such as BabiesRus, Amazon, Target and Walmart typically offer the lowest stroller prices and the most competitive discounts. Right now, BabiesRUs is offering 20 percent off all strollers.
“Like” favorite brands and retailers on Facebook and follow them on Twitter — two more ways to get insider deal info. Keep your eyes peeled for baby gear sales by checking your local newspaper’s circulars and signing up at the websites of your favorite baby-gear stores.
Troll online stores’ sales sections, too. That’s where you’ll find deals on strollers retailers really want to move. You might be buying last year’s model (at a deep discount), but many strollers don’t change much from one year to the next except for a refresh on the “fashions,” a.k.a. the fabrics and colors, which will seem new to you anyway unless you happen to be a repeat customer. To avoid paying top dollar, steer clear of strollers in this season’s hottest colors, typically marketed as “special edition.”
Don’t be afraid to haggle. When shopping for baby gear, I love mom-and-pop baby boutiques because those folks really know their inventory. They typically have leeway to offer on-the-spot discounts, too, especially if you’re a regular customer. Just be sure to ask, “Is that your best price?” Or, “I really love this stroller and notice it’s only 20 percent off. I’d definitely buy it right now if it were reduced a little more. Is that something you could help me with?” Don’t worry. You won’t be the first to pose such a question. In the world of retail, it’s done.
On the other hand, bargaining on the spot probably won’t work at your local baby superstore, but the salesperson might be able to tell you about an upcoming sale or other savings opportunities. At major, national chain baby stores, it never hurts to make friends with the salesperson — if you can find one.