Finding the best stroller is a real challenge. The market is overflown with various models at different prices which start at $50 and go up to thousands of dollars. So before you start looking for the one and only stroller for your child, you’ll have to consider your budget first.
In this comprehensive and detailed guide on how to choose and buy the best stroller, you will find answers to a plethora of questions that might ever arise. We at Caring Parents’ Choice have tried our best to provide you with the deepest insight into this complicated topic as we ourselves once faced the problem of choosing strollers for our kids. We have consulted experts, talked with parents and got acquainted with lots of reviews and a range of opinions to compile the abundance of information in one post. And we are sure that after reading it, you will definitely know what you want and make a final decision.
Newborn to 6 Months
Some strollers are intended for use only at a certain age of your baby. Until kids are about 6 months old when they already can support their heads and sit, they have to stay in a fully reclined position when in a stroller. Experts state that the “lie-flat” position is good for the baby’s spine and hips development and reduces the risk of SIDS. So you’ll need this kind of stroller with a bassinet or a car seat carrier to support the head and the neck of your infant. You can also top the baby buggy with an infant car seat to put up the travel system.
6 Months and Older
When your baby has mastered the skill of sitting up, he/she is more eager to look around, play, and discover the world. And here the choice of the correct stroller for your needs is also vital. The deciding factor in choosing the best stroller for baby is answering the following question: are you taking cabs, busses, or subways, or traveling by car?
If you use public transport, you will definitely have to stop your choice at a lightweight, compact but sturdy stroller which can be quickly and easily be folded and unfolded. You might want to consider an umbrella stroller, or a lightweight baby travel system. Also, you may opt for a car seat carrier frame but it is fine only until your baby reaches his/her first year.
If you drive or use cabs, you have to make sure the stroller can easily fit either the backseat or the trunk of the car. If you live in the countryside or suburbs and travel by car, you may find it easier to buy a stand-alone stroller compatible with the child car seat or a travel system. Some parents prefer to have both – either of these two and a lightweight umbrella stroller for short trips to the park and traveling.
Before you really decide what stroller is right for you and your baby, you’ll have to answer a range of questions:
#1. What kind of roads are you going to stick to during your walks with your baby?
Is that the smooth pavement of the city streets or rough terrain? Perhaps, you’ll use the stroller on various surfaces like sand, grass, or gravel? Then you need to opt for all-wheel suspension and bigger wheels that will absorb the shock. Among the all-terrain strollers, you might want to look through such options as Cybex Priam3, Stokke Trailz, Bugaboo Fox, and Nuna MIXX.
#2. When are you going to use it?
Are you going to set out on walks with the stroller often or is it needed just to transport the baby from the car to your home? Certainly, your level of activity has to influence your choice of a stroller.
If you are going to hit it up, you might want to look at jogging strollers that are suitable for any terrain, have large air-filled tires, and are bigger than regular strollers. Such models as BOB Revolution Flex, Thule Urban Glide, and Bumbleride Indie are the safest strollers for running.
Some parents choose jogging strollers for everyday use, and if you really like their look and features, why not? However, keep in mind they are bulkier and heavier because of the size of their wheels.
#3. Where are you going to store the stroller?
Will you leave it in the garage or fold it and leave it at the door of your apartment or house? Are you going to take it with you often (and it should fit the trunk of your car)? Before you buy one, you will have to be aware of the stroller’s dimensions when both folded and unfolded.
#4. How big storage basket will you need?
Do you need to carry toys, groceries, snacks, a diaper bag, or other baby stuff with you when going for a walk with your little one? If that’s the case, you will definitely need a stroller with substantial storage space underneath, like the Bugaboo Donkey2 or the UPPAbaby VISTA.
If you carry everything with you in a diaper bag or backpack, you might want to look at strollers that weigh less due to not so sturdy frame and smaller wheels and have less storage space.
What to Look at When Shopping for the Best Stroller?
- The frame must be sturdy and feel solid. Inspect it carefully and avoid flimsy frames.
- Determine what weight is appropriate for you. Try to lift the stroller both when folded and unfolded and carry it around a bit.
- Fold and unfold the stroller with both hands and then with one hand. Parents sometimes need to carry the baby and adjust the stroller at the same time. It would be perfect if you can easily do it with one hand.
- Check whether it is easy to adjust the backrest.
- Check whether the harness can be fastened and unfastened easily. But it shouldn’t be too easy for a baby.
- Check whether the swivel lock mechanisms and brakes are easy to use. Walk around the store with the stroller and make sure your feet or legs don’t touch the wheels.
- Make sure the handles are comfortable.
- Check whether the stroller is easy to maneuver. To do this, put something heavy in the seat, e.g. a handbag, and walk around.
- Inspect the storage space underneath the stroller. Is it big enough to host baby stuff, such as a diaper bag, toys, mom’s backpack, or a bag of groceries?
- Check the dimensions and make sure the stroller fits the trunk of your vehicle.
- Check the warranty term and certification. There are strict federal safety standards, and all U.S. sold strollers have to meet the requirements. You can also look for a Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association sticker on the stroller, which means the model is certified and meets the federal requirements as well as additional requirements by the JPMA.
Top 5 Features the Best Stroller Should Have
- Good, quality wheels. Big and sturdy wheels won’t get stuck on bumpy terrain and will last long.
- Safety features. The stroller has to meet safety standards and conform to all the safety requirements.
- Storage. It is impossible to go for a walk with a baby without taking loads of baby stuff with you just in case. A large storage basket is what will make it easy to walk around.
- Canopy. The baby has to be protected from sun, wind, and rain, so an adjustable and extended canopy is what you should be looking for. Some strollers come with clear and ventilated windows to keep an eye on your kid and allow more air into the stroller.
- Quality and washable fabric. You know it’s impossible to keep the stroller clean all the time as babies do make a mess with all those crumbs, sandy feet and hands, etc. If the model comes with easy-to-wash fabric that can be taken off pretty easily, you will be able to keep the stroller in good condition for longer.
6 Types of Strollers You’ll Want to Have a Look at
#1. Traditional Stroller
It is a good investment as an all-purpose full-sized stroller. It will be a perfect fit for babies from the newborn age till toddler years as it is more durable and sturdier for any ‘riding conditions’. Lots of models on the market come with amazing features and good characteristics, so your baby’s ride will be comfortable and joyful.
- Convertible design which helps the stroller grow with your child;
- Opportunity to attach an infant car seat;
- Comfortable, padded, and wide seat that can almost fully recline;
- The baby can be seated rear-facing or forward-facing;
- Good tire suspension that helps absorb shock on bumpy roads and sturdy tires;
- Lots of storage space;
- Telescoping handlebars that suit any height;
- Big canopies for better protection from wind and sun;
- Accessories, such as a snack tray or cupholders.
The Not So Good:
- These strollers are bulky and heavy, so if you are planning on using public transport, attend small shops, climb up and down stairways, etc. you’ll feel this stroller is pretty tough to deal with;
- If your place is not that spacious, they may be a pretty tight fit.
#2. Travel System
A travel system combines a baby car seat and stroller making it a very convenient option for parents who constantly use their vehicle. When your baby starts sitting up on their own, you may want to use the stroller without the infant car seat. In some all-in-one travel systems, there are seats that recline to an almost flat position, and it can be used for an infant who still cannot sit up. The best travel system stroller is a great choice for parents who want to use it when the baby outgrows their infant car seat. Also, there are different types of travel systems that will suit almost any need: lightweight, jogging, and full-size.
- The first and foremost benefit of a travel stroller is that you can attach an infant car seat to the base either with or without an adapter and move the sleeping baby from the car to the stroller easily without waking them up.
The Not So Good:
- Can be bulky;
- The baby outgrows their infant car seat much sooner than you might think;
- If you have another car, you may need to purchase one more car seat or its base to use it there.
#3. Lightweight (Umbrella) Stroller
A lightweight stroller is the best compact stroller that can be easily folded and unfolded, transported hassle-free, and these are perfect for traveling and quick trips around the city with a baby. Also, they are extremely easy to handle and maneuver.
- These strollers were designed to be lightweight (under 15 lbs), portable, and easy to use. Some come with a comfortable shoulder strap that allows carrying it when folded;
- Most umbrella strollers have such great features as an expandable canopy, built-in cupholder or snack tray, good storage basket, and partial seat recline.
The Not So Good:
- They won’t be okay to use for newborn babies;
- Some models don’t have enough seat support and suspension;
- Many umbrella strollers don’t provide a convertible option, so if you have a second baby soon, you might need to buy one more stroller.
#4. Car Seat Carrier
It is a wheeled frame to which the baby car seat can be attached after it is removed from the base. If you are going to move your baby in and out of the car often, this is the best choice for you as they are lightweight, convenient, and compact. However, they usually don’t provide such additional features as storage and cupholders. Some manufacturers of infant car seats also offer car seat carriers under the same brand.
- Car seat carriers are compact and lightweight, so they are a favorite thing for parents who drive a lot. Babies can be transitioned in and out of the vehicle fast and easy;
- Some models can host several babies.
The Not So Good:
- They are usually meant for short-term use till your child outgrows their infant car seat;
- Car seat carriers don’t provide such extra features as storage and cupholders.
#5. Jogging Stroller
These strollers are perfect for those parents who are on the run. They have bigger air-filled wheels, a front wheel that can be locked into a fixed position for convenient runs or swivel for mere walks, and better suspension to absorb shock and bumps.
- A comfortable ride is provided by perfect wheel suspension when you run, jog, and walk on and of the trail;
- Some models are compatible with car seats;
- Among other benefits are such features as a big storage basket, reclining seat, 5-point harness; hand brake, telescoping handlebars, and wrist strap.
The Not So Good:
- They are wide, heavy and may be difficult to assemble;
- Such strollers can’t be folded as compactly as umbrella strollers, so they won’t fit tight spaces.
#6. Double (Twin) Stroller
Double strollers can be side-by-side and tandem. When two seats are placed side by side, it makes it easier to maneuver a stroller that accommodates two kids of around the same weight and height. In tandem, kids can either face each other or sit one after another, and the child in the back can be lifted a bit higher and is able to see over the child that sits in the front seat.
- If you have two kids, managing one stroller is obviously a benefit;
- Big storage space.
The Not So Good:
- Double strollers are heavy and bulky, and many are pretty challenging to maneuver;
- If kids of different weight use a double stroller, it may pull to one side;
- Due to their dimensions, it may be difficult to squeeze a double stroller through doorways;
- Some models have little legroom for the kid in the back.
What stroller will be right for me?
Before making the final decision and buying a stroller, you will have to consider three things: family size, lifestyle, and cost. Do you have one or several kids? Perhaps you’ll need a double buggy. How old are they and can they be seated in one stroller if they are one year apart? Do you drive or use public transport? How often do you go out? Do you live in a house or apartment? Do you need models packed up with additional features for added convenience or they aren’t so necessary? Answering loads of questions alike will help you to figure out what to look for.
How can I be sure the stroller is safe?
Almost all the models of strollers sold nowadays meet basic safety requirements and standards, but there are also additional safety features you might want to consider:
– 5-point safety harness;
– Wider canopy;
– Deep seat recline for decent baby naps;
– Absence of sharp edges and hinges;
– Good brakes that are easy to use;
– If you are purchasing a travel system, make sure all the pieces can be easily put together.
Also, don’t forget to check the safety ratings of the stroller you are about to buy.
What do I have to consider when shopping for a stroller?
Strollers are worth from $50 to $1,000, so you should make an informed decision when buying the best stroller for your baby. Just answer the following questions to get the whole picture for yourself:
– How long will it be used?
– Where will it be used?
– Do you need it to be newborn-friendly?
– Is it easy to fold and unfold?
– Is it heavy and bulky for your needs? Or do you need a more lightweight option?
– Will it be easy for you to use?
– Do you need the all-in-one or will you prefer having both a full-sized model for everyday use and an umbrella stroller for short trips and family travels?