I’ve owned my share of strollers…22 to be exact. I have owned Graco, Baby Jogger, Inglesina, Zooper, Baby Planet, Mutsy, Maclaren, Phil & Ted’s, and now the Micralite. Some have stayed in my stable for weeks and even months, and others have gone out the same day the UPS man brought them to my doorstep. No, this does not mean that I am crazy, but instead a dedicated Mom trying to find the right stroller that works; just like you! The revolving stroller door in my house has given me the inside track on the do’s and don’ts when it comes to strollers.

The list of strollers to choose from is endless for new parents. There are lightweight, full-size, all-terrain, joggers, twins/doubles, sit and stands, side by sides, triples, mid-size, tandems, and of course my least favorite travel systems. While the travel system can serve its purpose I feel most new parents buy a travel system simply because they are not given the opportunity to see what is available. And yes, the Graco Metrolite travel system was the first stroller I ever purchased for my son. Looking back?if someone would have pointed out to me that there was a whole world of strollers out there waiting for me to discover instead of the 5 or so brands at my local big box baby retailer; I would and could have purchased something different.

While a travel system may seem like the wonderful happy answer to your prayers it really is just a simple solution for many parents, and you most likely think this is what you should buy. The deal with a travel system is that you get a stroller and an infant car seat with a base for one low price, and that is really where the deal ends. Many new parents get hung up on the big baskets, snack trays, and parent cup holders that come with them when there should be more to your decision making process than that.

One place I think new parents fail to ask themselves when choosing a stroller is how will they actually be using their stroller. Here is a list of some questions you should ask yourself when choosing a stroller:

  1. What are you going to use the stroller for? Jogging/Running, Walking, Mall Cruising, Outdoor festivals, etc.
  2. What type of city do you live in? Urban, Suburbs, Country, etc.
  3. What terrains you will be pushing your child over? Grass, Sidewalks, Cobblestones, etc.
  4. Are you interested in a bassinet/carrycot option?
  5. What style stroller are you looking for? Lightweight, All-Terrain, Full-Size, 3-wheeler, Jogger, Twin/Double, Side by Side, Tandem, One that can accommodate a second rider, Snap n? Go, etc.
  6. Do you prefer one handed steering?
  7. What kind of recline?
  8. What type of wheels? Pneumatic, EVA, Plastic, etc.
  9. Color? Solids, Patterns, Sporty, Funky, Stylish, Designer

More stroller shopping tips:

  1. If you are going to jog or run while pushing your stroller it is not recommended that you jog/run with an infant under 6 months of age, and some argue children under 12 months because of the increased risk of Shaken Baby Syndrome. While many swivel wheeled air tire strollers can handle light jogging when the front wheel is locked; I recommend a fixed wheel with at least a 16? size wheel.
  2. Why use a bassinet or carrycot? The infant car seat was never meant to be used for long periods of time. There is research that shows your baby can develop breathing problems from the angle at which they sit in their infant car seat. It is perfectly safe for them to ride in the seat in the car, but definitely was not intended to be used in place of a crib or for somewhere to stroll around for hours while you shop. A bassinet or carrycot is one of the best options; however, a completely reclined stroller seat with an insert will work well too.
  3. Keep in mind things like footmuffs, parent consoles, snack trays, cupholders, stroller hooks, and liners can all be purchased separately from many different retailers.
  4. I am all for helping the environment and recycling, but?If you are buying a pre-owned stroller carefully inspect every inch of the stroller for defects, and check for things like 5 point harnesses, and if there have been any recalls before you purchase.
  5. If you are on a budget, yet want a fantastic ride for your little one; all kinds of deals can be found by searching Craigslist, Ebay, Consignment Shops, and different stroller groups found on many online resources. And if the sky is the limit don?t forget you can always import a great European Pram too if you can?t find something you like here. So?go online, do your research, be informed, and when all else fails call a Baby Planner!

Below you will find a list of some GREAT Stroller Manufacturers:

Adventure Buggy Company
Baby Jogger
Baby Planet
BebecarBOB Gear
GT Baby – I?coo & Rock Star Baby
Kelty Kids
Mountain Buggy
Orbit Baby
Peg Perego
Phil & Ted?s
Silver Cross America

Miscarriage can be a very difficult thing to talk about.  Even more, it can be one of the most difficult things a woman has to face.   Statistics show that 20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage – meaning they terminate before the 20th week.  Some experts say that the percentage can be closer to 50% if it includes early miscarriages that happen before a woman realizes she is pregnant.

I know first-hand how difficult a miscarriage can be as I suffered through one almost 2 ½ years ago.  Here’s my story:  My husband and I arrived at my obstetrician’s office for our first sonogram.  We watched the screen.  I could see it – my little baby and the little blinking speck that was the heartbeat.  No matter how many pregnancies you have I don’t think you ever tire of that miraculous site!  I was filled with joy.  My joy was soon hampered when my doctor told me that my baby was measuring a bit small for the due date.  Being pretty certain of the time of conception this confused me a bit.  My doctor said that he wanted us to come back in two weeks to re-measure and see how the baby measures at that time.  Two weeks seemed like forever!  Thanksgiving was right around the corner and my next sonogram appointment was scheduled for the Tuesday prior to the holiday.  On that Tuesday we arrived at the doctor’s office a bit apprehensive and a bit excited.  After all, maybe just maybe we could get a glimpse at the gender by now if things were measuring correctly.  I went through the routine of discussing my horrible morning sickness, having my blood pressure taken, and my urine checked.  Then it was back to the room for the second sonogram.  Here we go… I switched back and forth looking from the sonogram screen to my doctor’s face.  I kept staring at that darn screen.  Why were they having so much trouble finding my baby this time?  Where is that little blinking of the heartbeat?  I gave another glance to my doctor’s face as he turned to me to say, “We cannot find a heartbeat.  You’ve had what we call a failed miscarriage.  Your baby died but your body doesn’t know it yet”.  My thoughts started whirling.  I started crying heavy tears.  I wanted to yell, “Look harder! Look again!  Don’t stop looking until you find it!  It’s there, I know it’s there!”  How can this happen and I not be aware of it?  The doctor continued and said that he would schedule a D&C for the day after Thanksgiving.  Really? The day after Thanksgiving? I can truly say that nothing has ever quite rocked my world like the events of that day and the next couple of days to come.  How were we going to share this with our children at home?  They were so excited about another baby.  How do you explain this kind of thing to such sweet innocent children? Well you do it.  You do it because you have no choice.  I can’t even remember the exact words that I said to them.  I do remember the two older boys crying.  I remember the younger of the two of them asking me, “Why did the baby have to die?”  I had no answer to that.  I had miserable morning sickness all throughout the Thanksgiving dinner.  Man, my body really didn’t know what was going on, did it? I went in for the D&C the next morning.  Awakening from that procedure knowing the pregnancy was officially over and my baby was officially gone was almost more than I could bear.  I went home and rested in the days following.  My husband and I cried together a few times.  Each day following the loss seemed full of sadness.  A few weeks later I had phoned my aunt who is a midwife to ask her how much sadness was “normal”.  I told her the extent of my sadness and she assured me that what I was experiencing was the normal grieving process for the loss I had experienced.  My heart was broken.  I had lost something that was not possible to get back.  A child.  A baby that I had loved from the first moment of the knowledge of my pregnancy.  He was to be a namesake to my father-in-law whom we just lost a month prior as the doctor confirmed that I was carrying a boy.  I can’t explain the depth of the pain.  I truly feel this is one of those times that unless you go through it you can’t possibly understand it.  I chose to openly deal with my grief.  I decided that it was okay for me to miss my baby.  I also decided that we would take measures to remember the baby that we lost.  We went ahead and gave him a name.  At Christmas we placed a cross, which had his name painted on it, on the Christmas tree.  On my original due date for him I wrote him a letter and placed it in a frame with his first sonogram picture which hangs at the end of our hallway.  My family and I decided to remember him lovingly as the son, brother and grandson that he would have been had he come full term.  We let ourselves love him and remember him freely.  This is how we chose to deal with our grief.  It never gets “easier” but loving him freely has helped me get through the grieving process.

I learned a lot during this process that I may have been blind to otherwise that I think would be helpful to share.  First of all, a lot of well-meaning people say a lot of things that they believe will make you feel better.  These comments may include:  “It just wasn’t meant to be”, “at least you have other children”, “It was just nature’s way of dealing with a baby that had a problem”, etc.  Unfortunately, none of these comments make you feel better.  In fact, they can make you feel angry.  There really isn’t a “right” thing to say.  Just being there for someone without saying anything is probably best.  Also, allow yourself whatever time you need to grieve.  You are grieving a loss and the mourning process may not only mean sadness but also anger, guilt, and depression.  It is important to stay in touch with your doctor and discuss your feelings with him/her as they may need to give you a referral for therapy or suggest a bereavement group.  Also, if you feel commemorating your baby, giving he/she an identity and a memorial of any kind – even if it’s just an ornament on your Christmas tree, do so.  Everyone deals with grief differently and that’s okay.

If you’re familiar with baby planners, you know that they offer services to expectant parents as they prep for baby’s arrival: Baby Registry, Nursery Design, Personal Shopping, and Nanny Sourcing to name a few. You may not be aware that they offer a variety of help for after delivery as well.

Looking back, how I would have loved for someone to have prepared meals delivered to my door once we returned from the hospital! Or to help me get my birth announcements out! My first child was over three months old when I finally got around to sending announcements. The thing of it is that I’ve always been an organized person, but I didn?t expect to need a Master Plan just to get a shower in each day, forget finding time for a project!

Enter the baby concierge who can help parents adjust to their new “norm” by offering some direction and assistance. She has expectations of what your potential needs may be, and is ready with a list of local contacts to meet them. Baby planners can find classes or breastfeeding resources in your area, run errands, baby proof your home, teach you how to make and store your own baby food, etc. This help can be priceless to someone who doesn’t have family nearby to lend a hand or whose friends can’t offer advice because they don’t have young kids. Some baby planners are even available by phone or email for a period after the baby is born to field questions on baby products or to provide you with research on various topics like vaccinations or sleep issues.

Best of all, whether you plan ahead or the need arises suddenly, whether you need help with it all or just with say, baby proofing, a baby planner can help. Most offer set packages or the opportunity to design your own.

Preparing for a new baby and all the details therein can be a bit overwhelming. Add the fact that the preparation includes a sibling (or more), and the stress level can increase very quickly. Here are a few tried and true tips I have found to be beneficial in helping siblings cope with a new baby. As with anything, keeping in mind your child?s age and personality will be key. 

· Sharing the news of your pregnancy as early as possible to allow your child(ren) to get used to the upcoming arrival is a good idea. Of course you may want to make sure that you are out of what you may feel is the ?danger zone? of the first three months before doing so. But giving them time to process the information and get used to the idea is the way to go. 

· Introducing the baby while still pregnant will allow your child(ren) the opportunity to talk to him/her. The more they are getting to know the baby while it is still in the uterus the more they will feel already acquainted when the baby arrives. Informing your child(ren) that the baby can hear their voice and that it may respond with kicks or movement is also very exciting for them. 

· Taking your child to one or more of your doctor?s visits will build excitement as well. This is especially true when hearing the heartbeat or seeing a sonogram. Seeing and hearing the baby will add to the realization that it is really there and on its way. 

· You may or may not choose to find out the sex of your baby. Doing so can also be a great way for your child to become acquainted with the new little one. Along with this comes naming the baby. Letting your child become part of the baby-naming process is fun for them. When we were in the process of naming our last baby each member of the family chose about five names they liked and all of the names were put on the fridge. We would review each other?s names and comment on the ones we liked. It was surprising how we really agreed on the names we liked. Children feel important when involved in these kinds of details. 

· Bringing out pictures of your other children when they were babies and talking about how excited you were when they were on their way makes them feel special too. They come to realize through your stories that you went through a lot of preparation and excitement when you were expecting them as well.

· Preparing your child(ren) for what to expect when you go to the hospital for the birth of the baby will be important as well. This is especially true for younger children who could be afraid when mommy and daddy rush out of the house to head for the hospital. Let them know what is going to happen and who will be looking after them if they are not going to leave for the hospital when you do.

· Once you are home with the new little one you will want to let them help you out as much as possible. Little ones love to bring you a diaper when needed or help bathe the baby by pouring little cups of water over their arms and legs. Little things mean a lot to them when they feel they are helping to care for the baby. This may mean a little more time to complete each task and a little more patience on your end but it really does pay off. 

· Do try to spend one-on-one with your other children whenever possible. Make the most of these times and let your child know how special and loved they are. It is important to capture these times as often as you can.

· When discipline problems arise ? and they will ? do handle them with consistency and just as you would before the baby arrived. It is imperative that your children see that, new baby or not, their behavior must remain in check. 

· Most of all, relax. Children sense tension. And tension can breed more tension. Try not to overreact. Try to let your other children touch, hold, and play with the baby as much as they want. After all, this is their way of bonding. Don?t be afraid that they will break the baby. Babies are pretty resilient and they love the attention of their brothers and/or sisters.

You can have a happy home and happy children. As with most situations, preparation is the key.