When it comes to baby gear, there are so many options these days that it's easy to become overwhelmed. One of the toughest things for me to research was strollers, because it turns out there's so much more to them than just the basic function of whether they're able to carry a baby from one place to another. First and foremost, I recommend having a stroller that lets you pop the car seat onto it, so you'll never have to wake a sleeping baby transferring him between the stroller and the car. You will obviously want something that steers well and rides smoothly too, but you might also be looking for something that folds up compactly, can be opened and closed with one hand (while you're holding Baby in the other), and is lightweight enough that you don't have to send up an emergency flare for help every time you want to get it in or out of your car.
At least, those were all the things I was looking for in a stroller. Also, I didn't want it to cost several hundred dollars. It sounds like a lot to ask, I know, but we found all that--and more!--in a hand-me-down stroller that was pretty much just a wheeled frame for a car seat. We're using the Graco frame, which retails for about $75, but there are a handful of similar stroller frames out there as well. (Make sure the one you choose is compatible with your car seat, since you want Baby locked in there safely.) They're low-profile, sturdy, and the fact that they're gender neutral makes them the perfect thing to hold onto for additional children, whether yours or someone else's. I recommend it to all parents-to-be.
Aside from all the great features listed above, I also really like how easy air travel is with the stroller frame. Our best discovery was that if we hold the baby in a carrier and then check his car seat with our luggage, we can then use the empty stroller frame as a cart to hold our carryons, which can get a little (A LOT) out of hand if you're the type to pack a ridiculously massive just-in-case diaper bag for a short one-hour flight. Ahem.
The stroller frame will be useable as long as your baby is in his infant car seat, and after that, you can jump back into the crazy world of stroller research having a better idea of what you're looking for. If you use your stroller for shopping, having a big storage basket is great. If it's for running or hiking, a good jogging stroller will make all the difference. If you only need to go a few blocks to the park, a cheapo, no-frills umbrella stroller will be more than enough. And, hey, maybe you'll have a kid who hates being strapped into a stroller and prefers to walk, in which case you can save the money you would have spent on a stroller to buy some extra patience, because, holy cow, toddlers take FOR.EV.ER to walk anywhere.
What kind of stroller do you have for your baby? What do you love about it?
Image via ToyRUs.com