How To Choose A Baby Stroller
A modern-day guide for the expecting mother.
Deciding which baby stroller to buy isn’t just about cost. Yes, strollers are one of the most significant purchases you are going to have to make for your new baby. But, you will need to consider other factors, including safety and comfort, that affect both you and your baby.
And, as with all the other baby equipment new parents need, there is a massive range of different strollers from which to choose.
You’ll use a stroller for more than walks in the fresh air. From now on, you’ll have a baby in tow, and strollers will help you maneuver stores, serve as a back-up feeding chair, a place to nap, and it probably needs to be portable and store a lot of baby gear.
A new baby brings a world of new responsibilities and experiences. Finding a stroller shouldn’t add to your stress. This guide on how to choose the right stroller will highlight some features to look for so you can focus on what’s best for you and your baby when deciding on your new stroller.
How Much Should You Spend on a Stroller?
The short answer is that there is no exact amount that you should spend on a baby stroller. Prices start from under $100 and climb from there. You need to decide the features you need in a stroller before you can look at how much it will cost.
One thing a lot of people don’t realize is that a stroller isn’t only for your child, it’s for you, too. Consider this: on average, children use strollers until they’re three years old. So, when you are thinking about buying a stroller, you need to make sure it will fit your needs and those of your growing baby over that time.
You will have to keep it clean and do the actual pushing. Do you want one that you can take on a jog? Does it need to fit into your car? Maybe the pavement or surface conditions near your home aren’t consistent. Perhaps all the above.
And advancing baby ages require different baby stroller features. A stroller for an infant must support them while they cannot move much on their own, whereas a stroller for a toddler must contain the active little one and maybe entertain them.
Be aware that more comforts and conveniences mean higher prices, but you shouldn’t shy away from the idea of buying more than one.
Stroller accessories will also cause the price to rise, and different types of strollers will cost more than others. For example, families blessed with twins or triplets (or more) should expect to spend more than those with just one bundle of joy.
However, you shouldn’t assume that spending more money will buy you a better stroller. It’s natural to fall into the trap of style or trend over substance and end up paying much more than necessary. Of course, the first thing you should be thinking about is safety. You can buy all sorts of strollers with additional bells and whistles, but if they leave your child vulnerable, then you should avoid them.
What to Look for in a Baby Stroller
Aside from lifestyle, there are particular features you should think about when deciding on which kind of stroller you need.
- Adjustable handlebar –an adjustable handlebar will make pushing the baby stroller more comfortable for people of different heights.
- Amortization –infants are extremely delicate, and a good amortization will reduce the jolts and shocks your child feels.
- Brakes – most baby strollers come with brakes, but the best ones lock all the wheels at the same time.
- Canopy – protecting your child from the weather should be a top priority. A good canopy will be breathable but waterproof and fold away easily.
- Certification – all quality baby strollers have a Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification and carry one of their stickers. The certification means you can be sure the stroller’s features are as safe as possible.
- Frame – depending on the material used, the majority of your stroller’s weight may come from the frame. You want it to be as light as possible while still being durable because you’re likely going to fold and lift it for transport.
- Reversible seat – while not necessary, many strollers come with reversible seats. Most infants ride facing backward, but the world around toddlers amuses them.
Refine Your Search by Family Size
You’ll find more variety in single strollers because most parents are looking for a stroller for a single baby. These range from portable, multi-functional compact baby strollers to jogging strollers to heavy-duty versions designed to carry much more than just your child.
Even if you only have one child, it could be worth thinking about purchasing a double stroller. Families are always growing, and if you are planning on more children in the not-too-distant future, then your current baby may still need a stroller when the next one arrives.
If your first thought is that it might look strange to be pushing around a double stroller with only one child, don’t worry. Many double strollers easily convert into singles—not to mention the additional space you’ll have to stash more baby accessories and gear until you need the extra seat.
While it is possible to find baby strollers for more children typically, they max out at three seats. As you might expect, triple strollers are rarely compact. They are always bulky, so you will need to find ample space to store them.
Triplets are very rare. In America, only 1 in 1000 pregnancies produce three children, so many triple strollers accommodate babies of varying ages.
What Are the Best Baby Strollers to Buy?
Car Seat Combo
Many baby strollers are not suitable for babies under six months old, but you will still need to take them out and about.
Car seat combo strollers, or travel systems, consist of a frame and seat that can be separated. The seat serves as a car seat, then clicks into the stroller as the stroller seat. Many carriers work with multiple brands of car seats.
Since the seat fits into a car, you have one less piece of baby equipment to buy.
The downside is, since combo strollers serve two purposes, they can often be quite weighty. And once your baby outgrows its car seat, the carrier will become redundant.
Even though travel systems double as baby strollers and car seats, that should be the extent of their use. They are not suitable for use around the home or for extended periods of sleep. Many manufacturers recommend a maximum use of two hours at a time for car seat combos.
Lightweight Umbrella Strollers
Like their namesake, umbrella strollers contract to a more compact size when not in use. Coupled with their lightweight frames, they are ideal for travel. These lightweight strollers often include carrying straps, adding to their portability. So, if you need to carry your baby, you can put the stroller on your shoulders and carry your baby on your hip.
However, since umbrella strollers are sparse on features, they come with caveats. They offer less support than other types of baby strollers, and their design is better suited to older children who can hold their heads up. They also lack any suspension, so they are not especially useful on long journeys or rough terrains because they are not as comfortable.
The lack of features does have one benefit, though. Umbrella strollers are cheap compared to other kinds of baby strollers.
Travel strollers are usually viewed as the best all-around strollers, striking a balance between traditional and umbrella strollers. They offer greater support than umbrella strollers while staying relatively lightweight and easy to fold into compact shapes.
Despite this, they retain some of the features of bigger strollers. Travel strollers often have large sun canopies and spaces to store items.
They also come with air and foam-filled wheels and limited shock absorbers and suspension. While you won’t be able to go running on dirt tracks, you can still use travel strollers on rougher terrain, and your baby will be much more comfortable than in an umbrella stroller.
Keeping in shape with children can be difficult. Since you always need to keep an eye on them, it can be hard to find a moment to get a bit of exercise in. Joggers are great for the parent who wants to keep active—you get exercise, and your baby gets fresh air and a change of scenery.
Joggers have a unique design comprised of three wheels with air-filled tires that help them reach higher speeds. Along with suspension and built-in shock absorbers, they keep your baby safe and reduce impact when traveling over rough terrains or mounting curbs.
Other features include higher handlebars than other baby strollers, which aim to prevent you from bumping into them when jogging. However, despite their maneuverability, the extra features tend to make joggers relatively heavy and bulky.
You should also bear in mind that taking your baby on jogs isn’t recommended for at least the first six months. So, while you may plan on going for a run with your child, many of the features on joggers aren’t the kind you want on strollers for newborns.
Fixed vs. Swivel-Wheeled Strollers
One of the primary considerations to make, if you choose to buy a Jogger, is whether to go for a model with a fixed or swivel front wheel. Each type has a different composition and is suitable for different uses.
- Fixed-wheel joggers are longer from front to back than other types. The fixed wheel improves stability for the more serious runner. Strollers without a front fixed wheel, are not recommended for use above a quick strolling pace, as they may be liable to tip.
However, with the front wheel fixed in place, turning becomes more difficult. To maneuver around corners, you will need to apply pressure to the handlebar and physically lift the front of the stroller.
- Swivel-wheel joggers are more multi-purpose than their fixed-wheel counterparts. This kind is more useful as an everyday baby stroller, but the front wheel can usually be fixed in place to improve stability and allow for higher speed runs.
They also often come with storage compartments, as well as removable seats than can be fitted as car seats.
Different Strollers for Different Ages
As adorable as newborn babies are, they don’t stay that way for long. While each stage brings its unique joys, it also brings different needs. Bigger and stronger babies require different features in baby strollers.
Some baby strollers are more suitable for all ages than others, so careful shopping means you may only have to buy one.
The First Six Months
For at least the first six months, your baby won’t be able to sit upright and support its head, and the stroller must accommodate this. Many baby strollers aren’t appropriate for babies under six months old, as they lack support.
A stroller for a newborn needs to be able to hold your baby’s head up and fold flat so that they can lie down when necessary.
Six to 18 Months
Six to 18 months is when you can consider using different types of strollers (at this age, you will be able to take your baby on runs, and a jogging stroller might be useful). With your baby sitting upright, you will want a lot of support and cushioning to keep them safe and comfortable.
18 Months and Beyond
From here, you can start looking to the future. By this point, your baby is becoming a toddler and is much stronger, so support is less of an issue. By this time, your child will be walking and using the stroller less and less.
You might use an umbrella stroller for this stage. If your child decides that they want to walk, an umbrella is easier for you to carry than a stroller until your child tires and is ready to be pushed again.
What Should I Look For When Buying a Baby Stroller
The Internet is full of reviews and reports of baby strollers and features a stroller for a baby should have. However, some are more trustworthy than others, and those are the reviews you want to guide your baby stroller purchase.
Consumer Reports is a non-profit organization dedicated to testing the safety of all types of products. Since 1936, they have offered reviews based on scientific experiments and were key in the implementation of seat belts in cars and research into the effects of smoking. Of all the reviews online, Consumer Reports are among the most reliable and non-biased.
Their reviews of baby strollers are incredibly comprehensive. Starting with the basics, they tell you what you should be looking for when testing out strollers for yourself—from what to expect to safety ratings to useful reminders, like checking the warranty.
Beyond that, they have also tested countless kinds of baby strollers and written reviews explaining the main pros and cons of each. Whatever kind of stroller you are looking for, Consumer Reports is a useful place to start.
Their tests cover practical use, not just stroller construction and features, which will help you to decide which kind you will want, or whether the type you have settled on will best fit into your lifestyle.
Amazon reviews offer a different, but equally interesting and useful perspective for anyone looking to buy a baby stroller. Consumer Reports cover all the scientific and practical basics, but their tests cover the relatively short-term. Amazon reviews are typically written by customers who have tried them out in their day to day lives.
Amazon reviews do come with some downsides, however. First, they sometimes only give reviews of the service given by the vendor. While it is good to know whether the stroller you are buying will have prompt delivery, that isn’t generally what people are searching for when reading the reviews.
Another problem is that they aren’t always unbiased. Vendors can pay for professional Amazon reviews and even pay people to buy, then review their products, so the review appears from a verified purchase. These can vary in quality and aren’t always easy to spot, though there are methods you can use to spot the fakes.
Despite this, Amazon reviews are still an invaluable resource when looking for a baby stroller to buy. The sheer volume of the reviews makes them useful. If there are negative features to a stroller, you’ll see them consistently highlighted in multiple reviews.
There are countless baby stroller manufacturers, and each one will have a website. Unsurprisingly, these will be among the most biased places you can find information on strollers.
The best way to use these is as a starting point on your baby stroller search. If you have bought other pieces of baby gear that you are happy with, check the manufacturer’s website to see if they also make strollers. You should find the stroller specs there, and if you are worried about manufacturer accountability, information on their policies should also appear on their website.
However, you might not be able to buy the actual stroller from the manufacturer’s website. They may only point you to their vendors, but this arrangement may be advantageous to you. Finding the brick and mortar stores selling the one you are looking for means you can physically examine and try out a stroller before you buy it.
Flying with a Stroller
While there are countless joys you will experience from parenthood, flying with a baby will not be one of them. Babies can become restless and fidgety confined on a flight, and the change in cabin pressure often makes them cry.
These things are unavoidable, so it’s best to be properly prepared regarding your stroller to make boarding and offboarding as simple as possible.
Most airlines allow strollers as a free addition to your baggage allowance, but you need to check the policies of your airline. You are usually allowed to take a stroller through security with you right up until boarding, at which point the cabin crew will put it in the hold for the duration of the flight.
If you want to keep the stroller with you, you will need to make sure it fits with the airline’s cabin baggage regulations. Smaller, more compact strollers, like umbrellas, are recommended in this case.
While there are countless different types of strollers you can buy, they all have one basic function—getting your baby from point A to point B. Each one will have different features and lack others. But just because your stroller of choice doesn’t come with the accessory you need, that doesn’t mean you can’t add them on after.
- Phone holder – keeping an eye on your baby should be priority number one, but you might also need to keep an eye on your phone. Phone holders are available that clip to your stroller’s handle.
- Cupholders – With both hands on the stroller, you won’t have one to spare for your beverage of choice, so you might want a cupholder clipped next to your phone. You’ll also find cupholders for baby bottles and sippy cups.
- Toys – babies are curious by nature. To them, everything is new and exciting, but they will sometimes get bored. Many toys attach to strollers to keep your child entertained on the move.
- Extra hooks – your stroller can take more than the weight of your baby off your back. Look into extra hooks to carry your bags for you.
- Buggy board – if you have another child who has outgrown their stroller, consider buying a buggy board. These clip onto the back of your stroller to provide a place for your other child to stand.
- Stroller mittens – For colder climates, mittens that attach to your stroller’s handlebar are available. These save you from having to remove gloves if you need your hands quickly.
There are accessories for almost all your stroller needs out there. If you find yourself pushing your stroller down the street and realize that a gadget might help, a quick search will reveal a solution.
When Should I Buy a Stroller?
Now that you’ve learned the attributes of different kinds of strollers, the final decision is when to buy one. The reality is that it differs for everyone.
For a long time, it was considered bad luck to buy baby gear too early, but nowadays we can’t be too prepared or too well-equipped for a new addition. That aside, many strollers are not suitable for babies under six months old. So, if you have limited space, it may be wise to hold off until your baby is ready to use a stroller before buying one.
Another benefit of waiting, especially for first-time parents, is that you don’t know what your lifestyle will be like until your child is born. You could be planning on going for runs as soon as you can and buy a top of the line jogger in preparation. However, when the time arrives, you may find that that you need one that fits into your car more easily.
Strollers are among the more expensive pieces of baby gear you will need. If you are working within a limited budget and want to buy one before the baby arrives, it is worth keeping an eye out for sales and good deals. In this case, it would be best to purchase an all-purpose stroller to make sure that you cover all bases.
It must be confusing being a baby; you fall asleep somewhere familiar and wake up in a stroller, pushed around a shop. While babies are curious by nature, a stroller that makes them feel comfortable and familiar while keeping them safe is essential. Use this guide to help you choose a baby stroller, but take time to find which one will work for you at each stage of your baby’s growth and suit your needs.