Stroller Shopping Guide

A stroller is one of the most indispensable items on your shopping list for baby.  Facing the variety of options in the stroller market, a lot of parents are confused and lost.  Understandably, since there are so many styles available to choose from.  Obviously, safety and comfort (for both parent and child) are usually the priority when you purchase a stroller, but there are some other essentials you need to consider.  Ask yourself the following questions before you purchase a new stroller:

  • Life Style
    • Where you plan to use your stroller on a daily basis?
    • Do you walk on mostly paved surfaces?
    • Do you walk to get groceries?
    • Does your lifestyle already warrant the type of stroller you are looking at? (i.e. If you are interested in a jogging stroller, are you a actually a jogger, or do you just like looking like one?)
    • Do you drive or rely on public transportation?
  • Space Limitations
    • How much room do you have in your vehicle to fit your new stroller?
    • Do you shop is small shops and boutiques?
    • Do you go through a number of doors before you get home?
  • Child Age
    • How old is you baby now? Different ages often require different features in the stroller you choose.
    • Do you have more than one child, or are you having twins?
    • Will you be having another baby within the next 2-3 years?
  • Weight
    • How heavy a stroller can you carry if you have to climb any stairs or lift the stroller into the trunk of a car?
    • How much stuff will you carry in your stroller?  Child, diaper bag, groceries, your coat, magazines, etc…  Will the stroller that you are looking at be strong enough?
  • Height
    • How tall are you? Tall parents need to find adjustable handles to walk with comfort. They should also consider how much stride the stroller allows for when walking behind it.
  • Budget
    • How much do you plan to spend on your new stroller?

Type of Strollers:

Lightweight Strollers

Most lightweight strollers are less than fifteen pounds. They are great for traveling, since lightweight strollers are generally easy to fold, easy to fit in and out of your vehicle, and easy to carry. Keep in mind, to keep the weight down, the lightweight stroller will not have as many extra features as the full size stroller; however, it will fit you basic needs.  Lightweights are a usually a second stroller for many consumers, as they often do not recline far enough to accommodate a newborn.  Not to mention that when your infant is big enough to ride in a lightweight, you have probably had just about enough of lugging your full-size stroller around town. Be sure to look for a lightweight that is the complete opposite of your current stroller, like owning a sports car and a pick-up truck; one is great for the rough surfaces, but is bulky and heavy, while the other is small, quick, and light, but has no space for gear.  Also, consider choosing a reclining seat as this will give you baby more comfort during their ride and allow you to start using the lightweight stroller at a younger age.  A lightweight stroller usually accommodates children from six month to three years old (40 lbs).  Some models will accommodate infant carseats.  These strollers are generally made for only one child.

Full-Size Strollers

A full-size stroller is usually heavier and larger than the lightweights.  The size and weight are the price you pay for additional features such as bigger wheels, better suspension, reversible seating, more seat room, and adjustable handles. The full reclining seat feature allows you to use the stroller for your newborn without the use of a carseat. This is very important as many people are concerned with the health risks associated with keeping infants in carseats for extended periods of time. A full full-size stroller usually accommodates children from newborn to three years (40 lbs+).   Most full-size strollers will accommodate infant carseats.  Be sure that the seat that you want works with the stroller that you want, as not all are universal.  These strollers are generally made for one child, although more and more models are being developed with a second child accessory.

Travel Systems

A travel system is the combination of one standard stroller and an infant carseat. The infant carseat comes with the base, which usually stays in the car, so the parents can easily snap the infant carseat into the car without the hassle of doing up the seatbelt each time. The infant carseat can be used up to at least 20 lbs. Purchasing a stroller/carseat combo in one box guarantees the two items will work together, making the travel system a great start for busy new parents, as well as parents that are looking for great value with limited budget. One drawback to buying a travel system is that you are limited to the style of carseat that comes with the stroller, instead of mixing & matching a setup that works best for your needs.  One major advantage is the size of baskets these strollers afford; you can carry just about anything in them.  A travel system stroller usually accommodates children from newborn (often requires the carseat) to three years (40 lbs+).   All travel systems will accommodate an infant carseat.  These strollers are made specifically for one child.

Jogging & Active Strollers

An absolute necessity for the outdoorsy parent, the jogging stroller generally contains larger, sturdier wheels, a stronger frame, and all-terrain suspension.  The shock-absorbing suspension system provides the comfortable ride when you bring baby excise with you.  Springs, gas shocks, and air-filled tires will smooth out the bumps and reduce stress to your arms on long walks or runs.  The jogging stroller performs well on any surface. Go to the beach, jogging, even camping, the jogging stroller is a great helper in allowing active parents to enjoy their life style. Unfortunately, jogging strollers are generally the largest of all the strollers, and although light, they may prove bulky and hard to carry.  Most folks who purchase this type of stroller for their main stroller will buy a lightweight stroller as well.  Be sure if you are pushing over rough surfaces (grass, gravel, trails) you find a stroller that has a locking front wheel, or you will be wobbling everywhere you go.  Jogging strollers are suitable for children are 6 months and up.  Some may work sooner, but you should consider the impact that your exercise regimen will have on your baby.  Go easy on the young ones! Jogging strollers historically have not worked with infant carseats, but recently many manufacturers are creating attachments to accommodate both carseats and second children.  Please note that jogging-specific strollers will have a wheel larger than 12 inches.  Strollers with wheels smaller than this are not usually considered jogging strollers as the small wheels cannot roll very fast without wobbling and reducing stability.

Multiple Children Strollers

If you have more than one child, you may consider the double, triple, or even a quad stroller! There are two types of double stroller: the side by side and the tandem (front & back) stroller.  Side by side strollers are better for twins, since both seats will lay flat, and not impede the space of the other child.  Due to their width, side by side strollers allow for more storage, but may be a tight fit through some doorways and in small shops.  The fact that the stroller has the same length wheelbase as a single stroller, it will be quite easy to turn and push; although this may not be the case if your children are of drastically different weight, the stroller might pull to one side. Tandem style double strollers are the width of a single stroller, allowing them to pass easily through doorways and down aisles, but their extended wheelbase will definitely make turning a noticeable chore.  Tandem strollers allow for children of different ages and weights to be pushed easily, as the older child sits in the front, and the infant lays flat or sits up in the back.  Putting toddlers in the front can help quell arguments and hair pulling, and laying down the back seat creates a cozy nest for your newborn.  Basket space is usually maximized, but may be hard to reach due to the design of the stroller.  Most tandem style strollers can accept an infant carseat and some may even take two.  These strollers can be good for twins when used with carseats, but may become a problem without, since the front seat usually does not recline completely. Double strollers of any style are generally larger and heavier than single stroller, since the frames must support twice the weight.  But for the family on the go, there are also lightweight double strollers that fold up smaller and tuck away despite their large appearance.  Also consider that more and more single strollers are being designed with a second child in mind – there might be an accessory to turn your single into a double! If you have one younger child and a child that is already walking, you can also consider a “sit and stand” stroller.  Riding on a shorter wheelbase, the sit and stand stroller is more compact than the regular double stroller, your elder one can either sit or stand on the back of the stroller.  This comes in handy when they want to run free or just hold your hand, but gives you the option of putting your toddler on wheels when they run out of steam. Lastly, before purchasing a stroller, you may also consider about the accessory availability, such as child tray, cup holder, parent organizer, toy bars and more. Those additional features will bring more convenience for your daily basis. Additionally, storage basket space is also a necessity element before you make the purchase decision.