Monday, January 28, 2013

Medela Harmony Product Review

I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed my babies. What I didn't know before my daughter was born was how much work it could be. I didn't realize how long it could take to learn to latch on, how sore mastitis and thrush could be and that there was a learning curve for positioning a nursing cover in such a way that I could see my daughter while keeping us covered from the world. It hasn't been easy, but it has been very worthwhile. One of the things that has made it easier is my medela harmony breast pump.

Medela Harmony Manual Breat Pump
As I have said before, I researched many items before my daughter was born. Every item on my amazon registry (which is the BEST place to do your registry, since you can use any shops on the web) was carefully researched and chosen. I had decided that a tried and true medela double electric pump-in-style was the way to go. I could pump both sides at the same time at work and it came in a trendy bag for transportation. It had great reviews. However, no one bought it for me. I looked at used pumps but even those were expensive for my budget. I had heard that some insurance companies will pay for breast pumps, but mine wouldn't. A friend gave me her used medela swing electric single pump and an unused medela harmony that she had been given at the hospital. I needed to get new parts for the medela swing, since it was used, so I opened the medela harmony instead.

Just by taking the pump apart and looking at the engineering I could tell that it was brilliant by design. Every piece makes sense. It is very easy to take apart and clean. Boiling water can easily sterilize each piece. The pump can be used with other standard bottles, including the evenflo glass bottles that I already have. It is compact enough to throw into the diaper bag and take with me and I can use it in the car because it doesn't require electricity. The pump is also quiet to use- much quieter than the electric pumps I have heard. There are two different ends to the pump handle. The shorter end causes shorter quicker pulls to bring down the milk, and the other end works with longer pulls to effectively express the milk. I find that the harmony pump is effective and quick to use. My pump has a softfit breast shield, which medela no longer makes. I have read that Pumpin' Pal makes an angled breast shield that fits the pump and is very comfortable to use as well.

I remember the day my milk came in. It was my fourth day in the hospital and every time
my daughter would latch on she would end up overwhelmed and choking. She couldn't nurse until the milk slowed down. I would pump off the first ounce so she could effectively nurse.

When my daughter was just a few weeks old, I had an allergic reaction to something I ate and I was rushed to the health center for a shot of prednisone and a shot of benedryl. I was also given a prescription for benedryl to take over the next few days, but unfortunately, I would not be able to nurse during that time because the medicine would go right into the milk. I was so thankful to have a stash of milk already in the freezer. My daughter never went hungry and never had to resort to *fake milk* to fill her belly. I didn't want to lose my milk supply, so I continued to "pump and dump" until several hours after my last dose of medicine.

Later in the summer I had a clogged duct that turned into mastitis. I had heard of mastitis in cows, but I had no idea how miserable it could be. It was so hard to nurse my sweet baby girl. I could let her touch my chest with her hands at all. It was like fire and it extended up my chest nearly to my shoulders and to the sides under my arms. Just a brush of my arm caused pain to spread and take my breath away. I tried hand expressing in a hot shower. I tried massaging out the clogged ducts. I nursed and nursed and pumped and pumped. Eventually I had to get an antibiotic at the health center to help me kick the infection. Unfortunately, the antibiotic caused us to get thrush. Thrush is nasty yeasty stuff. Mastitis is painful, but thrush is more annoying. I only noticed pain when my milk was coming in when she would nurse. She had white patches in her mouth and a nasty rash on her bum. I continued to pump to keep my milk supply stable, but I didn't keep the milk. I was afraid that the yeast would survive freezing and re-infest us later. I am not sure if it works that way, but I already had quite a stash in the freezer, so again, I did the "pump and dump" routine. We used lots of acidophilus and good hygiene to battle the yeast, but eventually we got some medicine from the doctor as well.

When I went back to work in the fall, I never ended up getting the pump-in-style and after giving the medela swing several tries I didn't really use that either. I found that the medela harmony was faster, smaller, quieter and easier for me to control than the swing was. I bring it to school and pump in the middle of the morning, about the time my daughter is taking a bottle at home.  I bring home the milk and put it in the fridge for her to drink the next day.  I am not storing as much milk now as I had been, mostly because I have more than she will ever use and I am pretty sure that most of it will be wasted. When flu season hit this small town with a vengeance, I was very careful to nurse her often and we were blessed to have only a touch of the lighter symptoms.

I very highly recommend the medela harmony pump. It runs about $24-$37 on I don't think I will ever need another pump.

It is important to note that I did not recieve any products or compensation from Medela for this review. I am not in any way affiliated with Medela. The opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Double Stroller Dilemma

I have recently been doing some extensive research for a friend on double strollers. I am a big fan of the side-by-side strollers I have seen, but after talking to her friends about strollers, she was decided to limit her search to tandem-style strollers. After hours and hours of research, I am not sure that there is a truly perfect double stroller in existence, for any price.

Contours Optima tandem from Kolcraft

For those of you who are new to the world of double strollers, a side-by-side stroller is just that - the two kids sit in seats directly next to each other. A tandem-style stroller has one child's seat behind the other child's seat. Sometimes a tandem-style stroller has the back seat higher than the front seat, to allow both children to see out. This is called stadium seating.

Mountain Buggy Duet
Both styles have advantages and disadvantages.
A side-by-side double stroller is easier to maneuver, and most (if not all) double jogging strollers opt for this design. A side-by-side can usually turn on a dime and the two children can see and interact with each other. This style stroller may have one canopy over both children, or each child may have his or her own independent canopy. Foot rests vary similarly from stroller to stroller. Some have three wheels and some have four. Most seats also have independent reclines, so one child can sleep completely flat and another can be sitting up straight. Usually a side-by-side stroller can accommodate one infant car seat (usually with the use of a car seat adapter), but two won't fit together, which is something factor in if you have twins. Some also have the ability to use a removable bassinet or two to convert the stroller to a more traditional carriage-style double stroller. The biggest factor in a side-by-side stroller is usually size, namely width. Can it fit through a standard doorway easily? Is the folded stroller small enough to fit in my car? Can I easily heft the folded stroller into my trunk? Is the stroller too light to be stable? Is the storage basket big enough, and accessible? All of these questions are valid concerns to consider when beginning research.

Kolcraft Contours Options
A tandem has it's own set of pros and cons. A tandem stroller should fit through even the most narrow doorways, though a tight turn on the other side might make entry impossible. With a tandem stroller, you and your children won't take up the entire aisle in a store, but making the turn at the end of the aisle into the next one might be a challenge if your children are heavy. In general, tandem strollers are harder to maneuver. This might be due to the narrow handlebar and long length of the stroller. The adult doesn't have the control that would come with a wider handle. Another issue that comes with the seat positions is fighting over seats. A child that gets put unwillingly in the back seat may kick the back of the front seat or play with the front canopy if there is one. Some strollers require that the heavier child sits in a certain seat. The child in the back may also have a harder time seeing out of the stroller. This is something to consider if you plan to take this stroller to the zoo or other places where children will need to see things from the stroller. Most tandem seats have a limited recline, if any. Tandem joggers are sparse. Most tandem strollers have smaller wheels and therefore the ride (and push) is a little rougher than other styles. Some tandem seats can be turned around to face the adult pushing the stroller. This is a really cool feature. Also, many tandem strollers can accommodate two car seats, which means a lot to parents of twins. Some single strollers have an extra seat that can be purchased later to convert a single stroller into a tandem. These are intriguing to me.

Baby Jogger City Select

Joovy Caboose Ultralight
There is also the fairly new stroller-and-a-half as an option for two children. Usually there is a standard-looking seat in the front of the stroller and a board in the back for a child to stand on and ride as the stroller is pushed. There is also usually a basic seat in the back for the child to sit on if he or she so chooses. That seat generally faces the adult pushing the stroller. Some have an optional forward-facing rear seat that can be used until the child is big enough and reliable enough to stand on the back or sit on a small platform with a 2 or 3 point strap harness. This is an appealing option for many parents, but you do give up some things. For example, if you recline the front seat, there is no room for the rear child to sit. The canopy or canopies tend to be much smaller. I think there is the potential to develop this concept into a great stroller but I'm not sure that it is currently available.

What do I personally look for in a double stroller?
  • I want versatility...I don't want to have four different double strollers, I want one that can work in many situations.
  • I want a tall seat and high weight limit. I want to be able to put a tired 5-year-old in the stroller when she is tired of walking and let her rest.
  • I want both seats to have the option of a flat or nearly flat recline and a very upright position as well.
  • I want a compact fold. The stroller needs to fit into my trunk.
  • I need to be able to lift it myself. I do not need it to be ultralight, but I need to be able to get it into and out of the car myself, and carry it into the shed. I want my stroller to be sturdy, so if it needs to be a little heavier to be sturdy, so be it.
  • I want really big canopies. We have very fair skin, and I strongly dislike sunscreen.
  • I need to be able to walk with a long stride without kicking or stepping on the stroller.
  • I want it to still be easy to maneuver with one child alone - in case the other one decides to walk. That most likely means a side-by-side stroller.
  • I want a smooth ride/push. We live on a dirt road, and the stroller will see a lot of rough terrain, as well as occasional smooth terrain. I may not jog, but I do walk fast.
  • Front wheel(s) can swivel for smooth walking or be locked into place for rougher terrain.
  • I want a solid parking brake.
  • I want good visibility for both children.
  • I want the ability to put my brand and style of car seat on the stroller securely (even though I most likely won't use this feature).
  • I would like the stroller to fit through the doorway at the grocery store and the door to our porch and our shed (so I don't have to fold it every time I put it away).
  • I want decent and accessible storage space for a large diaper bag and for other items as well.
  • Price. I need the stroller to be a wise investment.
Bumbleride Indie Twin

There are also many features that I'd like but wouldn't necessarily base my decision on. For example:
  • included bumper bars that can swing away and be removed completely
  • peek-a-boo window in the canopy. A magnetic closure would be my preference since it is quiet, and some way to hold it up out of the way.
  • included rain cover
  • included tire pump (if one is necessary)
  • one-handed recline on the seats (a strap recline can be put at any angle, but a bar recline can be adjusted easily to one of many set positions. I'd still prefer the bar recline for the convenience factor).
  • easily adjusted harness - it is nice not to have to completely re-thread the straps to use the seat with a larger or smaller child
  • adjustable footrests
  • good customer service availability, in case problems should arise
  • automatic locking mechanism when folding to keep the stroller closed for transportation or storage
  • height-adjustable handlebar
  • removable and/or machine washable fabric
  • included newborn head bumpers and seat padding
  • accessible storage for keys, cell phone, i-pod, nalgene etc. for the parent without stopping
  • easily removable rear wheels
Ultimately, you have to pick a stroller based on what your priorities are and what kind of a lifestyle you intend to lead. If you live in the city, then maybe you need a stroller that can easily pop up onto a curb, and has room for shopping bags and a cup of coffee. The luxuries might mean a lot to you if you are using it often in situations like this. If you jog every morning, maybe a fixed-wheel jogger is the way to go for you and the little luxuries don't mean so much. Then you can really narrow your search and compare more productively. I really don't think that there is one perfect stroller that suits everyone. Someday I intend to make several comparison charts. Maybe by the time I am ready to purchase my own double jogger I will have a better idea of  which one to get for my family, or a way to afford the stroller that has it all!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Nuk Orthostar Pacifier Product Review

I wasn't a fan of pacifiers until I became a mother. I saw many kids who were three or four-years-old and totally dependent on their pacifiers and I didn't want that to be my child. On the other hand, I also have seen kids in middle school who still struggle with thumb-sucking. It is much easier to take a pacifier away than a baby's thumb. 

Shortly before my sweet baby girl was born NUK came out with a new pacifier made completely of silicone. There are no plastic pieces, so it is completely safe. Available in blue, green, pink and purple, these pacifiers are one piece and completely flexible. It won't leave marks on her face and even if she ends up sleeping on it, it is soft and just squishes. I can put it right in boiling water to sterilize it and there is nowhere for "gunk" to hide. It is so easy to clean!I am glad that it is easy to clean, because the silicone does attract dust and hair if it gets on the floor!

The nipple is orthodontic and soft. The pacifier is shaped to fit under her nose, and there is definitely a top and bottom to the pacifier, as you can see in the pictures. There is also a tab with a hole that can be used to secure the pacifier to a strap. We keep one pacifier hooked onto the car seat which we can then hook onto her clothing if we are away from home and need it, and we have one that is loose in her crib for her to find and use if she wakes up and feels that she needs it. At two months old, we were able to lay our sleepy girl in her crib with a pacifier and she could put herself to sleep without complaint. That is such a blessing!

We don't let her have her pacifier all the time. She can have it in her car seat and she knows it! She always looks for it when I strap her in. She has a pacifier in her crib for sleeping. We give one to her if she gets noisy in church or other situations where we need her to cooperate quietly. I filled a few of her pacifiers with water and froze them for teething, which worked well. As she soothed her gums the ice would slowly melt and it was such a small amount that it didn't matter. Oh, and every now and then she needs one for comfort, especially when I am not around to nurse her. When we put her in her life jacket for the first time she didn't like how much it separated us, and the pacifier made it easier for her to handle.
I am glad we made the decision to use pacifiers in moderation, and we plan to wean her off them sooner rather than later. She currently uses the 0-6 month size and we will not be getting the next size up, so eventually the suction should break and she should begin to lose interest. If you have been checking out pacifiers, take a look at the NUK orthostar next time you are at a local department store. It costs right around $4 for a 2-pack and it just might be a worthwhile investment for your family! We love ours!

It is important to note that we bought the pacifiers ourselves and are in no way associated with the NUK company. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Why I started this blog

I love doing research and comparative shopping. Before I found out that I was pregnant, I already had done extensive research on cloth diapers, baby carriers, and many other baby items. When I hear about something that piques my interest, I want to know everything about it. I read pages and pages of amazon reviews and many blog posts. Because we live in such a remote area, I am usually unable to see or touch most items, so I search for detailed pictures and descriptions to help me make my decisions.

I hope to provide readers with more details about products than most reviews provide. I want to show detailed pictures of fabric and details that otherwise would be lost in a written description. It isn't all about product reviews, but that is certainly important. I am curious about many other things too. For example, I love to research things like SIDS, immunizations, baby wearing, cloth diapering and living a more healthy and natural lifestyle. This blog is a place to organize and compile information. My goal is to share what I have learned with my readers, rather than to convince you to embrace my viewpoint.

Thank you for reading!

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Before our sweet baby girl was born, I was very curious about vaccinations.  Should I vaccinate or not vaccinate? I tried to do my research, but where does one even begin? Everyone seems to have such a strong opinion about it, one way or another. 

The first book I read was from a friend. Even the cover was scary. The book was a compilation of stories from parents and doctors about the drastic effects and fatalities caused by vaccinations, and what happened when they tried to expose "the truth". The book focused on each vaccine, its history and contents and what it can do to a child's body. It downplayed the diseases being immunized against and centered around the adverse reactions of individuals. I was sure, after reading that book that I would never vaccinate. After all, any parent who loves their child would never willingly inject formaldehyde and antifreeze into their sweet baby, right?

Then I was talking to a doctor about my thoughts and decisions and she recommended a book by Dr. Offit, the creator of the rotovirus vaccine. The book focused on immunizing every child for the sake of the greater good. I was told the grizzly details of each disease and how quickly each respective vaccine had nearly eradicated it until a rumor started that thimerisol in vaccines causes autism. The book felt like an info-mercial for vaccinations. When reading this book, I was left wondering why the only ill effects of the vaccines would be rashes or fevers. It seemed suspicious. Polio is pretty scary. So is pertussis.

What is a mother to do? It seems you have to choose between injecting poison into your baby or letting her get a horrific disease. What is a "good parent" supposed to do, when both options seem so dangerous? Who could I trust? Doctors? Other parents? Scientists? Vaccine manufacturers?

I started doing research for myself on the CDC website. On that website, they list the vaccines, the contents of each vaccine, the vaccination schedule, laws and purpose for each. I was shocked to see that the information from both of the books I had read appeared to be true, while still being slanted toward pro-vaccination or anti-vaccination. It seems that even if you do immunize your child, there is no guarantee that they won't get the disease in question, but if you immunize, he or she will definitely be injected with chemicals that are potentially quite dangerous. I printed off some charts of vaccination ingredients for my own use and continued my research.

I was back to square one.

It was around this time that I stumbled across the book Dancing cats, silent canaries, by Dr. David Denton Davis on  Intrigued by the description, I ordered the book. It was a fantastic read, and I highly recommend it. What Dr. Denton states is that while there is a lot of good that immunization has brought to our country, there has not yet been enough research to really test their safety. He recommends keeping things as natural as possible in the home and lifestyle. He wants parents to weigh the risks and benefits and make their own decision, but waiting at least a year before administering any immunizations. The book addresses SIDS, autism, immunizations and more.

We have decided to wait to vaccinate. After she is a year old, we will pick and choose which immunizations we will get for our sweet baby girl. After all - she is in God's hands anyway. I don't have to put her in a bubble or panic if she eats dirt. God is good. We don't have to make the decisions about everything now, and the research will continue. We will update as we do vaccinate, if we do.

What have you decided?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Babybjörn Babysitter Balance Product Review

Even before I was expecting, I was researching to find the items I wanted to use with our baby. One of the items that I really wanted was a bouncer that could fold flat for storage and that was baby-powered rather than battery-powered.

Babybjörn's bouncer fit my criteria and more. We purchased our babysitter balance in Black/Pinstripe. My husband and I like the fact that it doesn't look "babyish" but instead blends into the decor of our house. The pinstripe bouncer is actually quite classy. My daughter is just under two-weeks-old in the picture above. She couldn't bounce herself yet, but it was a comfortable place for her to be when I took a shower or did other things around the house. Generally I prefer a baby carrier for working around the house, but I had a c-section with my 11lb baby girl, followed by significant hemorrhaging, so it was very painful to carry her for the first few weeks. Because the bouncer is designed to have the baby sit in the bouncer rather than hang by his or her crotch, my daughter fit right into the dip in the seat and I didn't have to worry about her slumping to the side at all.

One of my favorite features of the Babysitter Balance is its ability to be washed. I did purposely pick a darker fabric for the bouncer, just in case of stains from blow-outs, but I don't think it was necessary.  The entire cloth piece quickly and easily unhooks from the frame and can be machine washed. Ours has been washed many times and still looks new.

The 100% cotton fabric is also reversible, both the main piece and the crotch piece. The crotch piece attaches to the Babysitter's fabric with two toggles and a button. The toggles and button are hard enough to undo that a baby won't accidentally unfasten them, but easy for an adult.

The Babysitter Balance has three different angles of recline, and a flat fold.  The frame of the Babysitter balance is sturdy and simple in design. To fold the bouncer, pull up on the angle adjustment piece and pull the red lever so that the metal bar can slide past it. The pictures below show you the bouncer in its most upright position and its flat fold.

The non-skid pads on the bottom of the frame keep our wood floors scuff-free and keep our sweet baby girl from scooting across the floor as she kicks and bounces. When she was young, I would put the entire bouncer on the kitchen island (which of course you are NOT supposed to do) so she could see me as I prepared meals and washed dishes. It is important to note that she was not able to bounce the seat herself yet, so she was in no danger of scooting off the edge of the island. Now I keep it right on the floor when she is using it. The weight capacity is a huge 19 lbs for a child using it as a bouncer (with crotch strap), and 28.6 lbs for a baby who can sit up and walk independently (using the bouncer as a chair without the crotch strap)! Notice the photograph of the tag that is located inside the fabric part of the bouncer.

The bouncer is 15" wide at its widest point, and the seat is roughly 13.5" wide.
The base is 31.25"long. From the seam in the seat of the bouncer to the top edge is 20" and the foot drop is nearly 9". In its most upright position (without the baby in it) the top edge of the bouncer is 25" from the ground. The middle position makes it 23" and the lowest position makes it just under 21". When folded, the deepest point is 4.25" across.

Now that our baby is older, she doesn't like reclining in the seat and often she forces herself into a more upright position. I do still use the bouncer for her while I shower, and she tolerates it even though she wants to be mobile. The hair on the back of her head was rubbing off (from the crib, car seat and bouncer, I'm sure) so I put a soft cotton t-shirt over the top to see if that would help. It didn't. We no longer use the t-shirt in the bouncer.


 You can buy a toy bar from Babybjorn that attaches to the seat and a cozy cover for after baths and such. There are also universal toy bars that do work with this bouncer, as seen on This bouncer is an investment, and it is on the higher end price-wise, but it really is a wonderful, minimalistic but functional piece. I do highly recommend this bouncer to parents!
I bought the Babybjorn Babysitter Balance myself and I am not in any way affiliated with the Babybjorn company. The opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Joovy Zoom 360 Product Review


Our family lives on a dirt road in the western mountains of Maine. Any stroller we intend to use here needs to be an all-terrain stroller. We have very fair skin, but I am leery of sunscreen, so a large sunshade is essential. After doing weeks of research, I found the Joovy Zoom 360.

Sweet Baby Girl, 5-months-old, almost 6 months, in the Joovy Zoom 360

The Joovy Zoom 360 is a sturdy all-terrain jogger with a swivel wheel that can lock for jogging or use on rougher terrain. It has many of the features of a high-end jogger without the high price. It comes in blue, red, and black. I chose black. Assembly was quite simple and I completed it myself within 20 minutes, including opening and unpacking the box.

This stroller weighs in at 26.8 lbs. It is not a lightweight stroller by any means, but with 6061 aircraft grade aluminum and large air-filled tires, it is very sturdy and can be easily maneuvered with one hand, even on grass. It also easily folds, but can't be accidentally folded. To fold it, you lift up the flap (under your child's legs), push the red safety latch button out of the way, and pull on the red cord. It has a very compact fold, especially for a full-size jogger, as shown on

The 600D fabric is durable and feels like it will really last. The black does show the dirt, especially dried mud splashed up from puddles, but it can be wiped away with a damp washcloth.

One thing I specifically look for in a stroller is room to grow. The foot rest is far enough away from the seat that my daughter will be able to fit comfortably in the seat for several years without outgrowing it. It is sturdy metal with drainage holes, unlike many of the cloth footrests available on comparable joggers. The straps for the 5-point harness straps are adjustable; both in length and position, but the shoulder straps are wide enough that at 5-months-old, my daughters tended to have one strap always slip off her shoulder (show above). I think padding on the strap could have prevented this, but as she grows it becomes less and less of a problem. There are two lines of reflective stitching on the straps, which is a bonus if you plan to use the stroller on the road, especially at dusk. The buckle is simple for adults but hard for children. The seat is very wide. For a younger baby, I recommend either purchasing an infant insert or going with the car seat adapter. I rolled up a few blankets around my daughter to keep her centered and secure. The weight capacity for the stroller is 75lbs, which is a very large child. My 9-year-old tester was able to sit comfortably in the seat, but he could not use the canopy because the seat-to-canopy measurement is only 20”. The seat sits up enough that a child can see out without leaning forward, yet it also reclines for a small child. The strap recline requires some force to adjust the seat more upright when a child is buckled in the seat and leaning back. A bar recline would be easier. There is no bumper bar or snack tray for baby, but there are two mesh pockets in the seat for baby.
fully reclined seat

While it is not recommend for use with babies under 3 months of age, Joovy now offers a car seat adapter for Graco, Chicco, and Peg Perego that makes this stroller newborn-friendly (I don't have one yet). Please don’t ever jog with an infant under 6 months old! When reclined, there is a breathable mesh panel at the child’s head which allows for good air flow. To block the sun or wind, I just hang a blanket over the back. Again, because the seat is on the shorter side, a tall child may not be able to use the reclining seat comfortably because his or her head would be against the mesh.

The Joovy canopy is AWESOME. I like that it is so strong and very adjustable. It also stands up very well to the wind. The full sun coverage is one of the main reasons I picked this stroller. It has two reflective strips on the front. The clear plastic peek-a-boo window is large and sturdy. The fabric flap can stay closed with Velcro or be rolled up with a toggle. I would prefer a quiet magnetic closure to the Velcro. I have read complaints that shorter parents are unable to see the front wheel because the canopy is so large. At 5’7”, this has never been an issue for me. I have always been aware of the terrain in front of me, whether I look over the top of the canopy or through the peek-a-boo window.

to remove rear wheel, pull this tab
The 12.5” locking swivel wheel is very easy to lock and unlock. It doesn't shake when I jog, though I mostly use it walking anyway. I use this on our dirt road and on trails in the woods (with the front wheel locked) and the stroller goes right over rocks, roots, and small stumps without a problem. It even handles well in snow and mud. The 16" rear tires are great and make for a very smooth ride. The suspension is nice and springy. My daughter will sleep in the stroller as we glide over a variety of terrain. The air-filled tires help with that smooth ride. When the weather gets cooler, I do find myself topping off the tires with air before use, but it is very easy. I appreciate the fact that the wheels are easily removed, especially the rear wheels. Even with the wheels on, the folded stroller fits in the back seat of my Honda civic, but if I need some extra space, the wheels pop right off.

Storage on this stroller is great. The basket on the bottom is large and it says it can hold up to 5 pounds. I have never weighed the items I generally carry in the basket, but it must be at least that much weight. The back of the seat has a fairly flat mesh pocket that can hold up to 3 lbs. There are 2 mesh pockets on the sides in the seat for the child to use. There is also an included parent console that attaches to the handlebar with four Velcro straps. I like that it is not permanently attached and that it is included. I am careful to line up the Velcro exactly so it doesn’t come in contact with the foam of the handlebar. The cup holders are neoprene and large and deep enough for Nalgene bottles. The center compartment has a zippered cover and is large enough for my phone, digital camera, and keys with room to spare.

The handlebar is not adjustable, which is a bummer, but it is padded with foam and is a good height for me (5'7") and my husband (6' 1") and my sister (5'4") to use comfortably. I would have appreciated rubber on the handlebar instead of foam, since many of the foam handlebars I have seen on used strollers show significant wear. The runaway strap is attached to the bottom of the stroller, where the storage compartment is, which is great because it won't tip the stroller over if I fall down and the stroller gets away from me. The strap has Velcro to attach it to itself around the handlebar for storage. I do worry that the Velcro could destroy the foam on the handlebar if it is not lined up properly, but it hasn’t been a problem yet. Kicking the frame won’t be a problem, even for taller parents! Joovy has designed the Zoom 360 with a brilliant linked braking system that is triggered by a red lever on the inside of the right wheel. There is no horizontal axle directly connecting the two back wheels, with means there is more space for strides and for basket access.

The INCLUDED rain shield has come in handy already. I don’t tend to walk in the rain often, but since it came with the stroller, we tried it out. It is very easy to use. There is Velcro to attach the cover to itself around the stroller, and I was pleased to see how well it fit and how easily it could be attached and removed. It works great with rain, wind, and snow. There is a flap that opens in front (with velcro to hold it up) or velcros in place to keep out the weather. Notice the vents in the sides.

The tire pump is included and there is a spot to Velcro the pump into the basket below the seat. I had a hard time figuring out how to follow the directions to get the pump to work because the tube is stuck into the other end of the pump and I couldn't find it. Pictures would have significantly helped me, so I'll be including some. The tube isn't screwed in, it is the brass-looking thing on the end that you can grab well enough to pull on, and then it comes right out and screws into the opposite end of the pump. It works very well and in no time my tires were ready to go. It would be nice if there was an air pressure gauge, but I can't be too picky I suppose.

This stroller glides along, and can be easily pushed, turned, and stopped with one hand, even on grass or on a hill. Granted, my daughter is still very young, but I have tried it with larger children as well and have been impressed. I highly recommend this stroller. I wish they made a double version.

It is important to note that I bought the stroller myself. I am not in any way affiliated with the Joovy company and the opinions expressed are my own.