The Era Of The Competitively Expensive Stroller

by Katy on December 3, 2008 · 16 comments


Photo courtesy of

The following is a reprint of a blog written in June. It is in honor of Greta and Bea, who just welcomed a beautiful and wise baby boy into their family.

Guess what? The Joneses had a baby. And boy, is their stroller cooler than yours!

Maybe they got an $900 Bugaboo or $350 Maclaren.  They might even have purchased the $1100 Stokke Xplory Stroller —  the it stroller sported by Courtney Cox and Heidi Klum.

Wait a minute? What was wrong with the $50 stroller that saw me through both my kids?


Something has shifted since I bought my stroller in 1995. My only considerations were maneuverability and a nice roomy under-basket. I certainly had no idea which brands my friends and neighbors had. It was a non-issue.

Things have changed.

My neighborhood is populated by left-wing hipsters who pride themselves on their individuality. But they too have fallen prey to ridiculously expensive stroller mania. The buggy of choice is the “Phil and Teds E3” stroller, which costs $400 before you add the $90 toddler basket-thingy.


Listen up parents, it’s time to stop the insanity!

It doesn’t matter if everyone else has a $500 stroller. You can choose to not play this game. You’re not in high school anymore. There’s no need to ape the purchases of the popular kids.

Strollers are super easy to find on the secondhand market. Try these sources:

  • Scope out the consignment shops
  • Surf Craigslist
  • Hit some garage sales
  • Mooch hand-me-downs from friends and family
  • Place a want ad for that coveted designer stroller

But whatever you do, don’t feel you need to keep up with the Joneses. They’re status-driven social climbers, most likely on the road to financial instability.

You, my friend, are a Non-Consumer! 

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeremy December 3, 2008 at 2:29 am

My sister had her first baby this last week, and I was pleased to see that they got most of their accessories from Freecycle. Baby stuff is one of the most obvious areas for sharing and hand-me-downs, since so much of it gets used for a matter of weeks or months.


Magdalena December 3, 2008 at 5:19 am

My mom objected to any sort of baby carrier. I used strollers (the hand-me-down kind) for my kids, and a backpack sometimes, but my mother hated to see babies parked in strollers, carriers, car seats and mobile baby-powered devices – walkers, bouncers, whatever. She said, “Hold that baby! You are supposed to carry your baby, not strap it down.” And babies were always given free range in her house – good stuff was put away. Her attitude was that if you can’t take the baby somewhere without causing someone trouble, that’s not a place to go. I see young mothers and fathers out with their babies at all hours and in all weather. What happened to staying home when you weren’t working? Some of this status stuff is because the parents don’t want to give up the mall life, and need a high-powered baby cruiser for their own convenience.


The Frugalista Files December 3, 2008 at 7:01 am

Some of my friends are having children now and they introduced me to the stroller wars. Tre competitive.


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl December 3, 2008 at 7:23 am

So true. And what’s up with needing to own 5 different(expensive) strollers?

Honestly, my most used stroller was my $10 umbrella stroller.


LeAnna December 3, 2008 at 7:28 am

I’m thinking about finally getting a toddler-style stroller for the spring when we start walking places again, because my little one won’t keep up with me and I don’t have the time to take an hour to go a mile. 🙂 But I never had a stroller for her for the first year or so. I used a sling, which I made myself, for a grand total of $16, and I’ll be able to use the rings and thread I bought to make another down the line for a friend. Paying hundreds of dollars for something you don’t even need? I wonder what their IRA looks like…where are the priorities?


thenonconsumeradvocate December 3, 2008 at 11:29 am

When I had one child I never used my stroller. I either had him in the front-pack or backpack.

When I had two kids, (2 – 1/2 years apart) I would stroller the toddler and front/backpack the baby.

The problem with umbrella strollers is that they don’t work well if you’re tall, as you have to hunch over to hold the handles. I’m only 5’8, but the umbrella stroller hurt my back.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Carol December 3, 2008 at 1:52 pm

I discovered your blog a couple of weeks back from the Simple Living website and have really been enjoying it.

I really agree with stroller status being crazy. When we got an outrageous quote for a new roof on our house, the quoter said that even a stroller these days costs $1,500. Maybe for you, strange man.

I have a 2.5 year old and a 4 month old baby. When we had our first, my sister gave me her Peg Perego stroller in great shape and I got an umbrella stroller as a gift. I hardly used the latter but the Peg was used almost daily, including through rain and snow, as I picked my son up from childcare in it. I was glad it was a sturdy, well-made stroller – I needed it to be. I also have a car seat stroller. I used it a lot too.

Now I have two young kids, I bought a used double stroller for $65, one that the infant carseat can snap into. I was reluctant to buy another clunky baby item, but it’s really been helpful to be more mobile and do errands as my husband often needs the car for work. So, to my surprise, each stroller except the umbrella has had its place for us and continues to be well used.

I have a sling and a trekker and I use them quite a lot – I’m into baby carrying. However, I suffered compression factures in my back a few years back and carrying baby for extended periods hurts, so the strollers really help. People may have reasons besides status or consumerism for having stuff. That doesn’t mean it has to be new, expensive or status-driven, especially in the baby market as there is an absolute glut of used stuff in this area.


Tara December 4, 2008 at 5:31 am

I have to defend the Maclaren which I got a bargain basement deal and it was had a 100 $ gift card so we spent 25 dollars out of pocket. We lived in New Orleans at the time and I put about 3- 5 miles daily on this stroller and have since used it for two other kids. If you ever have a problem Maclaren will replace parts for free or at a nominal cost. I plan on reselling and know I will be able to recoup at least 50 $. There is a huge difference in pushing a Cheapo Umbrella stroller and one of these. If I knew then what I know now I would have checked consignment stores. The strollers last and won’t end up in the land fill anytime soon.


Marj in Wyoming December 4, 2008 at 9:56 am

STROLLERS? Dating myself here, but, they were metal and dangerous with my babies. We did have a car seat. LOLOL A gift.


Viki December 4, 2008 at 1:01 pm

First of all – I have to say that I love your blog!

I understand that of course there are reasons for people needing to use to use stroller and such. But for me, all I needed was a carseat and a sling. The things I never bought or used were: a crib (we co-slept), baby wipes (water works fine), swings, bouncy seats, strollers (that was all me and the sling!). I used that sling on both my kids until my youngest was almost three. I miss it!


thepennypincher December 6, 2008 at 3:22 pm

Well, the ideal would be to buy a used but very high quality stroller. The umbrella stroller may be nice if you live in a region that has no snow, but in my neck of the woods going for a healthy walk will require navigating over snow and ice and through slush for months on end. This is a hellish experience with a cheap umbrella stroller. Also, in the summer, my wife and I like going for walks in forest trails. When we will have a baby, we would like to have something that will be good for going up trails over roots and rocks. I personally would prefer cutting back on everything else that people buy when having children (cribs, baby monitors, etc…) and get one good used stroller as it will be used every day for years.


WilliamB August 20, 2009 at 6:24 pm

If you walk a lot it’s probably worth buying a quality stroller. This could cost you in the low three digits; *not* $900.

If you run, there’s no way around the need for either very accommodating childcare or a good running stoller. More kids = more accommodating childcare or a bigger running stroller. I used to see a couple who ran together, she in training, he keeping up and pushing their three children. Very impressive.


Mommy of three June 2, 2010 at 9:28 am

There were a LOT of things I didn’t need with my oldest that were lifesavers with my younger two, who are twins. With less than three years between them, I would have been completely housebound without a double stroller and a few other items some parents in a different situation consider unnecessary. However, there are two things that I haven’t seen mentioned yet that I found completely unnecessary. One was a crib bumper pad–actually, crib bedding of any kind beyond fitted sheets. Babies aren’t supposed to have blankets or anything else that moves, due to the risk of suffocation–I kept their room around 70 degrees and put them in footed pajamas, no blankets necessary. The other item that my boys seem to enjoy now that they’re older that I think is ridiculous for a baby is stuffed animals, or really any infant toy. Stuffed animals, again, are a suffocation hazard in my opinion, and I haven’t met a toddler yet who preferred ‘baby toys’ to some wooden spoons and recycled bowls. A single child needs little more than love, but your life can be made a bit easier with a FEW well thought out equipment purchases if you have multiple little ones at the same time. A safe place to leave one toddler while you save another from climbing the drapes is a necessity! 😀


WalkingInWinnipeg January 8, 2013 at 7:49 am

I realize this thread is several years old, and likely no one will see this, but I will wanted to respond anyway.

For some of us, there are some very good reasons for buying an expensive (i.e. $500+) stroller. My wife and I live in an inner-city neighbourhood in Winnipeg. We walk almost everywhere, including to do our shopping. Cheap strollers generally have small wheels which cannot handle snowy sidewalks, and are very difficult to manoeuver on our uneven sidewalks (which are uneven thanks to the extreme freeze-thaw cycles that cause frost heaving). They also don’t have a lot of storage underneath.

We only own one car, so spending $500 more than the average person does to get a rugged “all-terrain” stroller with storage space underneath is barely the cost of one or two car payments. Having one of the big, fancy SUV-type strollers makes our life much easier. We also have a basic, lightweight $75 folding stroller to toss into the car, because loading the big one into our sub-compact car is an exercise in misery and futility.

Incidentally, our $650 stroller came free from a friend whose children have outgrown it. But given how useful it is, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy something similar myself if I had to. It’s not a fashion statement when you actually need it!


Katy January 8, 2013 at 9:16 am

It sounds like your stroller is perfect for your specific needs. My issue is buying for brand’s sake and keeping up with the Joneses.



Anne September 24, 2013 at 9:14 am

I am on baby number three and really see now that baby items are quite individual. I do a lot of walking and am 6′ 0″ tall. My husband is 6′ 5″. There’s no way a cheap umbrella stroller would work for us. That said, I got a smokin deal on my Maclaren and literally walked it into the ground. I just got a new stroller for my now 6 month old baby so we can run errands and exercise (it’s a Britax B Agile) and waited for a great deal. It will be well loved.

I think it’s helpful to borrow/try/ wait and see on big purchases. Certain items are really worth the cost but others you just don’t use (no matter what your neighbor or friend insisted she loved). I try to outgrow what I have before I upgrade- putting miles on a cheap stroller until I know exactly what features I want a need, learning to use every single feature on my point and shoot camera before I decide I need the dSLR. You are totally right- just because the neighbors have doesn’t mean you want and need it!

And one last on this long comment- baby wearing is the best! I made a ring sling too (aka Maya Wrap) and it has been the best baby item ever and less than ten bucks with rings from the hardware store and nice, inexpensive cotton from the fabric district in LA I got on a trip. So much better than the expensive bjorn everyone said I needed. I also splurged on an Ergo (super sale/price matched/ gift card) and I don’t regret it one bit.


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