by Andrea Carter
Barely a moment passed. The maitre d’ looked from my spit-up stained shirt to my baby’s round face, peeking out from her Bugaboo Cameleon stroller, before he ushered us to our table. We had avoided a baby unfriendly reaction. Like most luxury items, parents may not need the Bugaboo, but if they can afford it, the stroller can make life more comfortable and bring a certain sense of style to parenthood.
When I received the Bugaboo as a gift, I hoped I was getting a good stroller with its $899 price tag, but I also suspected I had entered an elite club. A fellow Bugaboo owner confirmed this. She avoided talking about her buggy to non-owners for fear of eliciting stroller envy.
The Bugaboo was at the right place at the right time, lending to its image. In 2002, the Dutch company’s earlier and smaller model, the Frog, was featured on “Sex and the City,” and became the “it” stroller for celebrities and hip urbanites.
The stroller’s simple and elegant design is pleasing to the eye and emits an image of efficiency and control, even with a sleep-deprived mother pushing it. Viewed from the side, the stroller seat floats through space at a calm and even pace. The Bugaboo has a sleek design compared to the bulkier strollers. Its aluminum frame crisscrosses towards the ground with the seat attached above the nexus. The front wheel suspension and inflatable back wheels ensure a smooth ride.
Aesthetics aside, the Bugaboo has some snazzy options compared to the average stroller. The child can face either forward or backward. A driver can also turn the buggy into an all terrain vehicle by reversing the handle bar and pulling the carriage on its back wheels through snow, sand, or woods. The Bugaboo also accommodates ages from newborn to a toddler of about forty pounds. Parents often need to change strollers as a child grows. Included is a bassinet, which can be used in the first six months or until the infant reaches twenty pounds.
The Bugaboo stroller can fall short, however, if you don’t have the lifestyle to match it. Weighing in at twenty pounds (an average weight in the stroller world), it’s a challenge to lug it up the stairs to a third floor apartment, several times a day along with a baby and a sore back. Although the frame folds up flat, it is wide and will not fit easily in a corner. Those with the space to leave it assembled at street level in a garage or home entryway may find it more user friendly. The stroller seat, offered in a range of bright colors, is made with a thin polar fleece felt that attracts stains that do not wipe away easily. A chocolate drop left over from one of those late afternoon sugar fixes, experienced by nursing mothers, spent months on my daughter’s seat. Without easy access to a washer and drier, the stroller may look dingy after a week of toting a baby around.
The go-to baby stuff book, “Baby Bargains” states, “You’re kidding right? On design and style we give the Bugaboo an A, on value an F.” How much a parent values design and style will determine if the Bugaboo is worth it. I was grateful for my Bugaboo as I trudged through the Boston snow and clamored over uneven brick sidewalks this past year. The buggy makes these adverse situations more bearable. However, the high price may make more sense if the stroller came with a personal assistant/nanny and laundress to tackle those chocolate stains.