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The Perfect Stroller: Does it exist?

My mother bought me a big, cheap stroller that I hate. I hate the look, the bulkiness, the weight, and that it is so hard to maneuver. I have used it for five months while researching lighter weight strollers online. I love the ones with the ability to plug in your iPod and the all-terrain ones (we live near the beach). But now I have grown so accustomed to my multi-cup holder, SUV of a stroller that I find it hard to downsize. I love all the room to store shopping bags, but it’s missing those nice features I crave. Is there any middle ground here? – Stroller Snob

Dear Stroller Snob,

Sure, there’s a middle ground. But are you asking for middle ground or perfection? As far as we know, there is no design-your-own-stroller company, in which you choose the features you want from the ground up and receive a custom stroller on your doorstep. Hmm, that actually sounds like kind of a good idea. Investment opportunity, anyone?

But there are so many stroller options available in the wake of the baby boom; you should be able to find one that satisfies a majority, if not all, of your heart’s desires. The combination of lightness, sturdiness, and maneuverability you’re seeking will narrow the field quite a bit, but if you’re willing to shell out some cash, you can probably find those three traits in a single machine.

Your question brought up what we’ve found to be a fundamental parenting conundrum: the tension between the desire for independence (traveling light) and for preparedness (massive cargo storage below, tunes above). The umbrella stroller is as close to freedom as a wheel-pushing parent can get, but it offers little room for luggage. And it most definitely will not cross all terrains with ease.

The other extreme is what you’ve got now, where you could throw the entire nursery on board, as long as you don’t mind struggling shoving it up the block or into the car. You may be able to find the kind of maneuverability and amenities you seem to be looking for in one of the lighter all-terrain models, starting at around 18 lbs or so. And if it doesn’t have quite everything you hope for, you can always pimp it up with gadgets you buy elsewhere. They’re not as streamlined as built-ins, but if function is what you’re after, they’ll work.

Some parents go for a two-stroller solution; a cheap umbrella stroller for quick jaunts; and a comfortable all-terrain number for napping, beach trekking, and complicated weather. This can be the best of both worlds, but realize you may find yourself often longing for the stroller you left at home.

Your best shot at finding a stroller that will work for you is probably doing what you’re doing right now. By which we don’t mean asking our advice, we mean going through your wish list and hate list and getting a solid idea of what you’re looking for. Then, if possible, try to get into a store for some test-driving. If you really are a stroller snob (and even if you’re not), you’ll probably make the best decision after actually laying your mitts on those handles and taking a spin through aisles of crib bumpers and nipple pads.

Even if the stroller is billed as maneuverable it may be a bad height or angle for you, making that maneuverability a pain in your back. Some online stroller depots have an 800 number for more intensive interrogation of features. You’re probably not going to find the perfectly firm, cozy, convenient, lightweight heavy-duty goldilocks-baby-bear-bed of strollers. We know lots of people who love their strollers, but we don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a single complaint. Come to think of it, that might be true about their kids, too.

Have a question? Email beingpregnant@babble.com

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