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This month is highlighting a couple new stroller updates from Maclaren and Britax. Both these brands deliver quality products that don’t disappoint, and so these ever-changing improvements are welcomed! Let’s take a look at what’s coming out.

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Maclaren Mark II

This new little stroller came out, actually, in March. Called the Mark II, Maclaren has based the concept on their original umbrella stroller design back in the mid-1960s. The original weighed only 6 pounds, and the Mark II isn’t that much heavier; it weighs only 7.3 pounds, their lightest stroller ever.

Flimsy it is not, though. Engineers have worked on the original blueprint, adding today’s stronger materials to it to withstand the rigors of travel. The Mark II has a unique hexagonal frame designed to hold up to 55 pounds. That is amazing, considering how light it is!

Additionally, the large hood has SPF 50 to protect your child from the sun, a mesh peekaboo window to allow for air flow and a flip out sun visor for more shade.

The Mark II even has a small cargo basket to hold a few things to take along and for you parents, adjustable height handles in three positions!

Reviews, as few as they are right now, have been great. Comparisons have been made with the UPPABaby G-Lite, but the Mark II weighs four pounds less. Parents love the light weight convenience and the carry strap, since this stroller is used for both urban environments and for travel.

The Maclaren Mark II comes in four different colors and you can buy it from most major vendors for $195. This Maclaren stroller is intended for babies six months and older due to the seat having no recline feature.

britax-b-agile-4

Britax B-Agile 4

Following in the footsteps of Baby Jogger’s City Mini and the BOB Motion, this traditional 3-wheeler is now designed with four wheels.

The new B-Agile 4 has all the same fantastic features as the original 3-wheeled B-Agile such as being travel system compatible with Britax and other major brand car seats. The one handed quick fold is a major plus and the drawstring recline gives infinite positions for your baby’s comfort. Reviews say that the seat is roomy and the fabric is soft.

Parents appreciate the all-wheel suspension system, giving a smooth ride over those bumps, And the maneuverability is superb.

So, speaking of maneuverability: I expect that the B-Agile 4 will have the same one-handed maneuverability. The only difference, of course, is the weight. The current 3-wheeled B-Agile weighs 16.5 pounds and the new 4-wheeler is going to add 3.5 pounds, making it a 20 pound stroller. That is still not bad for a lightweight stroller!

What’s the price going to be? Britax lists on their site $279.99, which is about $30 higher than the MSRP of their three wheeler. The B-Agile 4 is going to be available exclusively at Babies “R” Us starting this month.

 

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Here’s a stroller that every sporty parent is going to love pushing around the neighborhood because it’s all about BMW. That’s right, the sleek German-engineered auto manufacturer has teamed up with Maclaren to bring you a first-class strolling experience. The new Maclaren BMW combines contoured design with engineering excellence.

What I like about this product is the understatement; you know that phrase, “less is more”? Key elements of a Maclaren stroller are redesigned exclusively for BMW and then the logo is added in tastefully selected areas that incorporate well into the overall look. Let me give you a brief tour.

Seat

The stain-resistant removable seat liner has been reworked to look and feel like the bucket seat of a BMW. It is a really sleek looking. The padded 5-point safety harness has the signature Maclaren heavy-duty buckle with the BMW insignia. While the seat has multiple recline positions, it does not lie completely flat, and is suitable only for babies six months and older.

Performance Features

This is, no question, a city stroller, but it is equipped with 4-wheel suspension to smooth out the ride. Five-inch hard wheels have the BMW look. The aluminum frame is sturdy, with a 55-pound carrying capacity, yet the stroller weighs just over 12 pounds. Reflective piping and red reflectors on the rear frame provide low light safety.

Weather Protection

I love the contoured sun hood with its sleek look. Tinted peek-a-boo windows on each side keep the sun out your child’s eyes. A zip-out mesh panel provides another peek-a-boo window and allows for air circulation. A rain shield is included with purchase.

Parent Amenities

A small storage pocket behind the seat provides a space for your wallet, keys or phone. The storage basket beneath the seat is standard Maclaren. It doesn’t hold much; you could fit a small diaper bag and a few essentials. The ergonomic handle bars are comfortable for adults with different heights at 41 inches from the ground.

Maclaren BMW Strollers

Maclaren BMW strollers come in blue, black or silver.

Customer Feedback

While new on the market, the Maclaren BMW has gotten 5-star reviews so far for sleek design and smooth handling. This is a luxury product, and a price that reflects that. This buggy retails for $385 and is not available in stores. If you like Limited Edition products, especially from Maclaren’s Object of Design series, you will love the BMW.

What do you think of the Maclaren and BMW collaboration?

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Bumbleride Indie - via Savvy Sassy Moms

When considering an umbrella stroller, obvious factors come into play: You want something that is light weight, compact and easy to transport.  Often times this is your second stroller for quick errands or for a special trip.

Many parents unfortunately choose a product that has shabby quality and it breaks down right in the middle of your Disneyland vacation.  A good rule of thumb is to budget at LEAST $60 to get something decent.

So that leaves the question – what about the higher-end umbrella strollers? What features and benefits are offered to justify spending $200 or more? Let’s take a look at the main factors.

1. Wheels & Suspension

High-end umbrella strollers have all-wheel suspension and larger wheels than their cheaper counterparts. A good suspension system gives your baby a smoother ride over rough terrain, think cobblestones or a boardwalk. Larger wheels, especially if made of softer rubber, absorbs bumps, too. Some brands use ball bearings in the wheels and this improves the steering, making turning effortless and one-handed, a real achievement with separate handles!

2. Plush Padding, Premium Fabrics

One thing for sure when your sits down, he or she’s going to be really comfortable. While quality products have cushy padding, at the same time, there’s full support. UPPAbaby G-series have some of the cushiest padding with REALLY soft liners.  Look for padded shoulder straps as well.

Then you’ll have a pop of color when walking down the sidewalk. Your stroller is likely to turn heads with a nice bright color, made of sturdy material that is not going to fade or wear down from weathering. In 2013, Bumbleride will incorporate a green technology into all their fabrics, utilizing 50% recycled material for exterior and 50% bamboo for the interior material.

3. Weather Protection

When you buy a higher-end umbrella stroller, a rain cover usually comes with your purchase. Rain covers are nice not only for rain, but for foggy misty days and for the wind.

Cheaper products will have a small, inadequate sun canopy, prompting many moms to buy a sun shade extender. You won’t need this when you spend a bit more on a better brand. You can expect a huge sun canopy with a visor that comes at least halfway down the seat. Below is the Joovy Groove, which has an amazing canopy that also ratchets down even more from the back  to block the lowest sun angles. Many of these brands have a peek-a-boo window at the top, too.

Joovy Groove

4. Sturdy Frame

A cheap umbrella stroller is rickety and clatters over the sidewalk. Often times it only holds about 30-40 pounds. Enter a quality-made item and the high-grade lightweight aluminum in the frame withstands a 50 to 55-pound weight limit. You should expect a well-balanced stroller that, even when empty, won’t tip back when you hang your purse on the handles.

Now the product weight varies from featherlight to rather hefty, up to 19 pounds. It depends on how important a very light weight is for you, but either way, you will be getting a well-made, sturdy product.

5. Ergonomic Comfort

Better umbrella strollers are actually comfortable to push. The handles are high enough for the tallest parents not to hunch over and even for most petite parents to feel comfortable with. The handles themselves are foam covered for a flexible grip. The high handles provide enough clearance to allow for a natural stride and you won’t kick the back.

Little extras that make baby more comfortable, too. A few higher-end umbrella strollers have a sling-type seat, with a hammock-like design; the Maclaren Volo comes to mind. But most of your choices will have a supported backrest. Look for an adjustable leg rest to prop up baby’s legs so they don’t dangle.

 

 What is your criteria when choosing an umbrella stroller? Would you spend more for these extra features?

 

IMAGES All images are courtesy of Bumbleride and Joovy. All rights reserved.

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No single stroller gives you everything you want and need for both you and your baby. Sometimes you have to buy an accessory or two for extra functionality and bring your buggy as close to perfection as possible.

In my years of writing stroller reviews, I’ve come across repeated sales for certain accessories that come up again and again. I want to share these products with you so that if a stroller you’re shopping for comes up short on a feature you need, you’ll now know that you can get an accessory for that!

And now, let me reveal the five most popular stroller accessories that parents swear by.

Car Seat Adapter

Some of the most popular and sophisticated stroller brands do not come as a travel system set with a matching car seat. Think BOB, Joovy or Baby Jogger. Instead, these brands offer either a universal car seat adapter or ones specialized for certain brands that attach to the stroller differently. Graco and Chicco usually have different car seat adapter designs.

When shopping for your stroller, make sure that you pay attention to the car seat brands it will accommodate, then plan accordingly.

Brands such as Britax and Peg Perego usually come with a car seat adapter as part of the purchase, but the adapter will only fit their particular brand. What if you have a different brand car seat? It’s important to determine if the stroller you want will accommodate the car seat you already have. Many stroller brands make adapters specific for different car seat manufacturers.

Stroller Organizer

This accessory has enjoyed huge sales for a couple of reasons. The first has to do with the popularity of umbrella strollers. Counted on for its light weight, convenience for around town errands and compact fold, the one thing this kind of stroller lacks is a large basket and cupholders. This is dearly missed by the adult pushing it around!

To solve this problem several universal organizers are offered that fit most umbrella strollers by velcro tying the ends around the handle bars for easy on and off when folding. Check out JL Childress, Munchkin or Sunshine Kids. The first and last are the most popular. Each has a big net bag that hangs down the middle to hold your child’s toys, diapers, etc. Then there are two cup holders on each end. More storage between the cup holders such as zippered pockets keep your cell phone and keys in a handy spot.

Famous umbrella stroller manufacturer Maclaren has its own universal organizer.

The second reason for such a high demand for organizers is that some strollers don’t come with a parent console. Again BOB and Baby Jogger come to mind. Britax, Joovy and some Graco models don’t have cup holders for parents, not to mention a place to put their keys.

It’s a great, streamlined look, but once parents take their strollers out, they realize that they sorely miss having this bit of extra storage and so they opt for a console.

Many brands make their own console accessories for both single and double strollers. Think Joovy, Baby Jogger, Britax and Stroll-Air. If you prefer to have a universal console, then Jolly Jumper is highly rated and under $20.

Travel Bag

With so many families with babies and young children taking to the air, bringing the stroller along has become necessary. But strollers cost a lot of money and we don’t want to greet them at our destination all damaged and broken. To protect our investment, purchasing a travel bag for your stroller is a good idea.

Some of these travel bags are quite simple, like the universal JL Childress Gate Check bags, for umbrella, double and regular strollers. You can get one for your car seat too.

Other brands such as BOB and Britax are custom fitted for their strollers and have extra touches like deluxe padding and rollers at the bottom for easy transport.

UPPAbaby has a unique program called TravelSafe, an insurance policy for your stroller. After buying the stroller bag, you register the bag and stroller on their website. If your stroller arrives at the destination with damage, then UPPAbaby will cover the cost. Worry free travel, courtesy of UPPAbaby!

Child’s Cup Holder and Snack Tray

Some jogging, all-terrain and umbrella stroller models do not have any bumper bars or child trays. Some have only bumper bars, which is nice for baby to hang on to, but we quickly miss having a place for their snacks and drinks.

Strollers like Baby Jogger, Britax and BOB have universal mounts where you can buy their snack tray and click it right in. Again Jolly Jumper has a nice canvas one with pockets for drinks. Snacks do better in a plastic container nestled inside the pocket. Carry You Siena Stroller Snack Tray has slightly better ratings and is the same price.

Another option is the Fisher Price Travel Care Snack Pod, featuring two cup holders, one for snacks, one for sippy cup. It has four star reviews and is the simplest of the three.

Head & Body Support Pillow

I remember when my son would fall asleep in his stroller and his little head would lean on the metal frame. I’d always have a towel or burp cloth to fold up and cushion his head. I didn’t know about head and body supports back then!

But for parents who have stopped using a car seat with their stroller, or who opt out of using a car seat with their stroller, baby still needs lots of soft, cushiony support for their heads and bodies. This is where these special pillows come into play.

By far the most popular is the Kiddopotamus Snuzzler Complete Head and Body Support. It has hundreds of reviews and is a 4.5-star rated product. Summer Infant Snuzzler is also a good choice and costs about the same. You might also check JJ Cole, as it is very well rated, too. If you just want some head support for use with the swing or bouncer as well as the stroller, then the Boppy Noggin Nest Head Support is recommended.

What is YOUR favorite stroller accessory?

These are the top five accessories that make your stroller as reliable as possible. There are lots of accessories out there that I didn’t get to mention. What is your favorite, can’t live without product you’ve added to your buggy? Share it in your comments.

Amy Tanathorn researches the best baby strollers at Stroller Envy, where you can read in-depth reviews for all the most brands and models including video demonstrations, product specs, photos and detailed descriptions.

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