By: Amber Strocel
I still remember my first visit to a baby store when I was expecting my first child, almost 12 years ago. I walked in feeling excited and optimistic. I left the store 90 minutes later, empty-handed and overwhelmed. There were so many choices and I had no idea where to start. So, I changed my approach. I became methodical, examining one purchase at a time. First on my list? A great stroller. It was one thing I knew I needed, and I wanted to get it right.
Types of Strollers
The first decision when you’re buying a stroller is what type of stroller you’ll need. You may eventually purchase more than one, but for starters think about what you will be doing most often. Here are the common types.
These are your basic, multi-purpose strollers. They usually have four wheels and a basket, fold easily, and have reclining seats. Features like sun shades, trays for your little one and cup holders are common. Most will accommodate car seats as well. Prices vary widely, from basic models to designs with all the bells and whistles.
Pros – These strollers that will work well for most purposes from newborn to toddler.
Cons – Standard strollers may not work as well for specific purposes like jogging or traveling.
Travel systems come with a car seat and base. You can easily install the base in your car and move the car seat between your vehicle and stroller. Typically, the standard full-size strollers can be used without the car seat. However you can also buy stroller frames that can be used only with a car seat, but these will not work as stand-alone strollers.
Pros – This is an economical choice because you’re getting a car seat and stroller with your purchase, and it’s very easy to use.
Cons – These strollers are often a little larger and heavier than other strollers.
These strollers are lighter weight and use inflated bicycle-style wheels to deliver a smoother ride. They typically have three wheels and can navigate bumpier terrain than other strollers. Some will also accommodate car seats.
Pros – These strollers work well for active mamas and their little ones.
Cons – Inflatable wheels can deflate. Also, these strollers may not fold as quickly or compactly as other strollers.
These are super lightweight strollers – some weigh under 10 pounds. They fold down to a very small size and are typically quite affordable, although some more fully-featured options will see you setting out a little more money. Most do not work with newborns – your little one needs to be able to support their own head first.
Pros – Lightweight, compact, easy to fold and affordable.
Cons – Typically don’t come with many options, don’t accommodate car seats and are not appropriate for newborns.
Double (or more) Strollers
If you’re expecting twins, or you have a toddler who still needs a stroller, you’ll be looking for a double (or even a triple) stroller. There are tandem options (one little one sits in front of the other) as well as side-by-side models to choose from. One quick note – while tandem strollers may seem sleeker, side-by-side models typically score higher for maneuverability.
Pros – You can stroll with more than one little one at a time.
Cons – These strollers are bulkier and more expensive, and can be much more difficult to maneuver out in the world.
Stroller Buying Tips
Once you’ve decided what type of stroller you need, it’s time to make the big decision. Here are our top tips for buying the right stroller:
· Take a test drive (or four). Try out strollers in the store. Fold them and unfold them. Make some hairpin turns. Make sure you try a range of models, just for comparison.
· Think about who will be using the stroller. If you are 5’2” and your partner is 6’2” you will want a stroller that is comfortable for both of you.
· Consider what options you will actually use. A basket is super-handy but I never used my rain cover. However, your mileage may vary! Think about where you go, what you do, and what you take with you.
· Will this stroller fit in your car trunk and your entryway?
· If you’re really in love with a stroller that’s outside of your price range, sleep on it and really think about whether it’s worth the expense.
· Ask where you will be in a year or two. Most strollers can grow with a baby from newborn to toddler. Will this model still fit your needs down the road?