April 21, 2015

FIAO 1.5 Transporting The Twins - Time To Upgrade!

We're going to revive my little FIAO series (read here) and address something I've been dreading and kind of thought we had wrapped up months ago. When I was pregnant I spent a hefty amount of time researching how the heck I was going to actually get out of the house and have a life with twins. There were so many factors I needed to consider, not the least of which was making it easy as possible to travel with two tiny babies but also making budget friendly but quality choices that would be worth it in the long run. Talk about trying to find a needle in a haystack.  I'm back after 9 months of use and ready to review and update our choices!

Before knowing they were twins I planned on buying a really nice convertible car seat that would last forever and a decent stroller for the first few months before I got comfortable carrying and wearing him or her. Two babies meant infant bucket seats to make transporting two as easy as possible and a double stroller, ideally one that car seats connect into at least for the beginning. We opted for a side-by-side double that our infant car seats clicked into but would last until the girls were older. We also had two bases for each car. Back in 2014 the entire package cost about $500, split between seven of our amazing friends and family members who graciously gifted them to us.

Although it wasn't love at first sight thanks to a hefty learning curve with opening, closing and navigating, we were really liking our choice with the Graco FastAction Fold Duo. We still love the Graco Snug Ride Click Connect 30 car seats. The girls do not cry in the car ever and who knows if that matters but they only just got too heavy to carry all together at the same time at 15 lbs. I can still do one at a time but it's getting up there.

Best part about this stroller - seeing my girls!
The stroller was perfect when they were small and we needed to go to the doctors or Target. The car seats click in relatively easily with practice, the baskets are big enough for a diaper bag for twins, a blanket and a few other small items.  Closing it really is easy but opening it is like a balancing act and near impossible in the wind and snow or a really rainy parking lot. You will figure it out though and do it well in a few weeks.

They say it's the size of a standard wheelchair, so it should fit through doors that are handicap accessible which you think is all of them but I swear not all doors are created equal and even the ones where it should fit are tough to get through (unless it's a double sliding door, hence all the trips to target). The angle and the incline matter too. This isn't an affiliated link so I'm going to be honest, it's a pain in the ass. And, because the wheels are plastic it isn't great to push on walks, does not do well on grass and is bumpy sometimes even on smooth concrete or in a store/Target (ahem).

Our main issues started in the last month or so when it was warming up and the girls were sitting up. I am not carrying the girls to and from anywhere in the car seats since the ensemble is way too heavy. One of things I loved about the stroller was that they faced me while in the car seats, but now that they sit they can't see me at all. And I can't see them at all without stopping and leaning over. They are getting freaked out even while I talk to them, and I know it's a phase but it's making walks and shopping trips really difficult. Also, the visors are too short (maybe it's them, but still) so the sun is always in their eyes. Since they'd rather eat than wear their sunglasses or hats that's creating an issue too.
Looks cozy but that was a BUMPY walk!

We really started looking into tandem strollers when I was getting anxious over the stroller fitting through doors and not going places I wanted to, like the gym, restaurants or the library. And then there was the lovely issue of them getting their fingers caught on a door frame while I'm paying attention to lining it up just right to squeeze into a door by half an inch. It almost happened leaving the doctor's office last month and ever since we haven't gone out much. That's been fun.

Viv approves!
I thought about getting two umbrella strollers and latching them together or a twin jogger but really did not want to spend or ask family to help with a $700+ stroller. A local woman listed the Contours Optima on facebook for $225 and I asked my parents to get it for the girls for their birthday. That afternoon my dad showed up with a Contours Options Elite (which I'm pretty sure is better and it's new!) Thanks Papa T!

So does Jules!
So far it is perfect! First, it's beautiful. We got the teal color and the girls love to stare at the zig-zags in the canopy, which expands huge but even on the regular setting blocks out majority of the sun from their faces. We took it for a walk and it steers and handles beautifully. I have mastered opening and closing it and I don't feel anxiety over doing that in a parking lot in the rain. It addresses the door issue since it's the width of a single stroller and the length is great. It doesn't feel like a double stroller at all and the girls a

ren't squished! Also, there's no one sitting underneath anyone else.

Love that they can see me and each other!
Look at those canopies!
There are seven seating configurations, including a car seat adapter that works with our car seats if we need to use them again. They can face me, face out or face each other. It has rubberized wheels with absorb bumps and it fits through my front door which is crazy since my house is like 200 years old and was apparently built by very small people. It has a weight limit of 40 lbs./seat and while I can see how the seats don't have a ton of wiggle room for bigger kids I am hoping we won't be using it that often by that point. At the rate they're going they'll be 40 lb. 1st graders so they damn well better be walking. If they're not, the seats and footrests are adjustable and when it's folded up it only takes up about 3/4 of the trunk in my Hyundai Elantra.  All in all it's everything we wanted and it's awesome!

We are going to store the side-by-side in case we need it for some reason and then sell the car seats, bases and stroller together as a package since we think that's one of the really great parts of this stroller.  It has good, quality car seats that fit right in and in a way that both babies can see you all the time. One without the other doesn't make much sense. This is unless you have a Double Snap & Go, which is what we should have gotten in the first place. Twin moms who are reading this - Trust me. Everyone is right. Buy one now.  I didn't and I regret it 9 months later.  We will use the money to get the girls their new car seats, which is a whole different ball game. I don't even know where to start with that one right now! Luckily we have six inches and 15 lbs. left before we max out our cute little car seats!

I am so excited to have this great new stroller in time for nicer weather and so grateful to have such an amazing support system of family and friends who are helping us through this journey. I am humbled by the amount of love my babies receive every day from the people who mean the world to us.  We are truly blessed.


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