Since this category has the biggest ticket items, I’ve given you a few options for each. I don’t want to overwhelm you with details, so I’ll keep it brief. Just know, you can always text me with questions if you want more details.
Thanks for sharing your updated preferences. Since you’ll be buying a jogging stroller next year, I’ve removed those options. I’ve also revised your recommendations for strollers that look similar to the Nuna and UPPAbaby strollers, but within your price range. As I mentioned on our chat, if you’re interested in the luxury brands and are willing to forego a bigger basket, then lightweight strollers can be a great option for you. I’ve included them below.
CYBEX Eezy S + 2 Stroller, Lightweight Travel Stroller ($299.95): The Cybex Eezy S+2 is a lightweight stroller, that's pretty solid. Cybex is a German brand that's gaining more popularity in the US. It's seat can be reclined fully flat, meaning you can use it with your newborn from birth and don't need to buy an extra bassinet. It also has suspension on all wheels for a smoother ride and comes in really nice rich colors (not pictured in this link, but it's also offered in a beautiful beige/black combo). Downsides are that if you want to use it as a travel system, it's only compatible with a Cybex Infant Car Seat and the storage basket is a little small.
Joolz Aer ($399): The Joolz Aer has all-wheel suspension giving it a super smooth ride and only weighs 13.5 lbs. It also has a carrying strap, travel bag and can fit into the overhead bin on a plane. This stroller is compatible with many car seats, including the Nuna, Cybex and Clek car seats.
UPPAbaby Minu ($399): If you want to stick with UPPAbaby, they have a lightweight stroller called the Minu. It's packed with a lot of full sized features like one hand fold, all wheel suspension, large canopy and basket. You can also attach an infant car seat to it to make it a travel system. This stroller also has a carrying strap so when you fold it up, you can carry it on your shoulder comfortably since it’s less than 15 lbs.
Evenflo Pivot Xpand Modular Travel System with SafeMax Infant Car Seat ($323.49): This convertible stroller is a great value for the price. It has an adjustable handle bar, large storage, large canopy, and a wide range of configurations. Also, remember when I said you need an Infant Car Seat to use with a stroller? Well this stroller comes with an infant car seat that has a base with an anti-rebound bar for extra safety! The downsides? It doesn't offer the premium materials, all-wheel suspension or tires of the premium strollers like Uppababy or Nuna. As a result, the biggest complaint from parents have been around faulty tires.
Since you want to create a travel system, I’ve updated the car seat recommendations to include only infant car seats. These car seats are compatible with at least one of the strollers recommended above. If you care more about the stroller, I recommend choosing the stroller first then selecting the car seat that is compatible with it.
Cybex Aton 2 ($279.95): If you’re looking for the car seat with one of the best crash test ratings (per BabyGearLab), I’d recommend the Cybex Aton 2. It has a load leg that provides extra support to reduce downward rotation in a crash. It’s also lightweight at less than 9 lbs.
UPPAbaby Mesa ($$299-349): If you want the UPPAbaby Minu stroller, I’d recommend the Uppababy Mesa. It’s 10 lbs and is also offered in a non-toxic naturally flame retardant wool fabric.
You mentioned that you’re not sure of what type of carrier you want yet. Here’s a quick guide to share some more information about the different types and what to consider. Since you’re unsure, I’m recommending three carriers to look at first (two wrap and one soft-structured). Since you’re willing to splurge, some parents get a wrap for the early months to have a more natural skin-to-skin babywearing fit and then transition to a soft-structured carrier when your little one is bigger. Carriers can also be a big style statement since you’re wearing them almost like a fashion accessory. If the pattern is really important to you, I can definitely share a few more options that really make a statement. LMK!
Solly Baby Wrap ($65): The Solly Baby Wrap is your classic wrap (one long piece of fabric). The biggest difference across all the brands offering wraps is the material they use and their colors/patterns. Some are thicker fabrics with less stretch, others have a lot of stretch for a more natural snug feel. I like to recommend the Solly wrap because it's made from a silky soft stretchy fabric that's breathable. They're also offered in beautiful neutral colors and stripes that will go with any outfit. Since your little one is due in October and you're in the midwest, you might want to get something thicker for the colder months. But at the same time, if you're inside with the heat running or if you tend to run a little hot, you'll probably want the more breathable fabric.
Baby K'tan Original Baby Wrap Carrier ($49.95): I like to recommend the Baby K'Tan wrap because it's ready to wear. Tying a baby wrap can be intimidating and even frustrating the first few times. The Baby K'Tan is great when you want the snug-fit benefits of a wrap, but don't want to tie the wrap. The biggest downside to ready-to-wear wraps is that they're sized (vs. one size fits all). However, it looks like you and your husband are similar in height so you might be able to both use the same one!
Colugo Carrier ($135): For a soft-structred carrier, the Colugo Carrier is one of our favorites. Colugo is a new direct-to-consumer brand that is parent-owned and designed. With soft-structured carriers, the most important things to look for are carrying positions and fit. The Colugo Carrier is great because it offers front inward-facing, front outward-facing, and back carry positions. It's also super lightweight and has really fun colors and patterns. Our favorite feature is the magnetic clasps - trust, it's a huge lifesaver when you're putting in your little one by yourself. Other popular carriers that offer similar features are the Baby Bjorn One and Ergobaby Omni-360, but they both run closer to $200. There's also other soft-structured carriers that are more affordable or have different patterns, but they don't offer all the carrying positions.
There are so many options with diaper bags. I’ve put together a wide range for you to look at (across price and type) that meet your gear style preferences (polka dot, stripes, color). Average price of quality diaper bags are ~$75-100, whereas more designer/premium options can get you closer to $200. The world is your oyster here, so let me know if you’re looking for something specific (maybe a polka dot tote, or striped backpack) and I’m happy to find exactly what you’re looking for.
Another option is to take your favorite tote and add a diaper bag insert to keep things organized. If you want to go this route, let me know what size your tote is and I can give you some suggestions for organizing inserts!
I've updated the options below based on your revised preferences - more black / gold.
QIMIAOBABY Diaper Bag Backpack ($29.99): Backpack diaper bags are popular because they keep your hands totally free. I chose this one because of the polka dot design and great price. It also comes with a travel changing pad, bottle holder, and stroller straps. I do want to call out, that even though it has great reviews overall, some of the negative reviews state that they lack high quality zippers.
Skip Hop Grand Central Diaper Bag ($89.99): This is your classic diaper bag with lots of storage and thoughtful compartments. It also comes with a travel changing pad. Skip Hop is a well known baby product brand with high quality travel gear.
Ju-Ju-Be Be Light Tote Diaper Bag ($50): I added this simple tote in case you're looking for something simpler and less bulky. It has a cool geometric pattern that you might like.
Skip Hop Mainframe Messenger Bag ($89.99): Simple sleek black option if you want a messenger style bag.
Skip Hop Greenwich Diaper Backpack ($99.99): Faux leather option if you want a backpack style bag with rose gold hardware.
7AM BK718 Diaper Backpack ($80): 7AM offers a sleek diaper backpack with key accessories.
Herschel Baby Strand Sprout Tote ($99.99): Herschel also has thoughtfully designed unisex diaper bags and backpacks. Including the Sprout bag if you want a tote option.
Let me know if you have questions or want more recommendations!