Living With Strollers

That's Noah riding his "motorcycle," wearing his "motorcycle hat." Why? Because when strollers take over your living space, they become toys. (That's actually the super-cool new Quinny Moodd. Love it.)

I started my year-long stroller testing extravaganza for Babble.com, in case that wasn't clear. Anyone who knows me is aware of the stroller season, except this one will last straight through November. (The Fed Ex guys are thrilled about it, naturally.) So each season I'll check out the newest strollers on the market (and share them with you like this), and then compile all of my research into two comprehensive features: Babble Best Strollers 2012 and Babble Best DOUBLE Strollers 2012. The best of the best, depending on your budget, location, style, etc.

I get hit up for stroller recommendations a lot. Like, a lot. From friends, strangers, my doctor. I honestly don't mind chatting about them (I'm living and breathing strollers right now!), and you can expect at least three stroller demonstrations if you step foot inside of my apartment. But it's a complicated subject, depending so much on your lifestyle and unique needs.

Do you live in a city, where your stroller is your car? How big is your car's trunk? How much storage space do you have at home? Are you lugging it up and down stairs? Are you planning on having kids close in age? Do you have an older child? How much are you willing to spend?

And even then there are specific make-or-break issues, like a big oversized undercarriage basket, a cup holder, the ability to attach a riding board for older kids, etc. Features that are more important for some than others.

(How cute are these little testing recruits, Griffin and Cole?)

My advice is this: Really assess how much you'll be using your stroller, and for what kinds of activities. It's honestly worth it to spend a little more on a lighter-weight, all-purpose stroller that grows with your child from infancy through toddlerhood (and some even convert into double strollers!), rather than wasting money on a couple of different low-end strollers that are difficult to maneuver and end up breaking. Also make sure you try them before you buy: Weigh down the stroller while you wheel it around. Test out how easy the brakes, buckles, and recline are to use. Make sure your extra tall husband doesn't kick the frame as he walks. (Or you can just leave all of that up to me.)

Also: Craigs List is your friend. People always want to unload their baby gear, usually with plenty of mileage left.

Take a look at the newest 2012 strollers to hit the market — some are crazy expensive and tricked-out, while others are much more affordable. (And don't forget to search for 2011 models that are starting to go on sale now!)

Also don't forget to enter the big Chicco giveaway I'm featuring on Being Pregnant — a new stroller, car seat, play pen, and high chair!

What are some of YOUR favorite strollers? Least favorite strollers?