Buying a stroller is like buying a car; It’s a big investment of money and time, and can sometimes feel like more of a hassle than it’s worth. Part of that time investment includes doing your research, looking at your options, and even taking strollers for a test drive if you can. We can’t help you with that last one, but we have put together a handy, comprehensive stroller-buying guide for first-time parents, so you know how to pick a stroller that will keep your little one comfy, happy, and safe.
Questions to Ask When Buying a Stroller
Before you even start online or window shopping, ask yourself the following logical questions:
- Who will be using the stroller?
- Where will we be using the stroller most?
- What kind of weather will we be using it in?
- What kind of storage space do we have for a stroller (in the house and car)?
- How much weight can I handle?
- Do we want one that you can fold up with one hand?
- Do we want all those extra features, i.e. a place for drinks, storage basket, peekaboo window in the canopy, adjustable handlebar?
- How long will we be using this stroller?
- What’s our budget?
As you’re perusing the different stroller types (detailed below) and brands, keep these questions in mind so you choose the stroller that offers the features you’re looking for and meets your parenting lifestyle.
Types of Strollers
Which stroller to buy for the baby depends on how many kids you have (or are having), what features you deem necessities, your parenting lifestyle, and, of course, your baby budget. Here are the six basic stroller types and the general good and bad information of each:
- Standard or Full-Sized Strollers: Standard strollers are the bigger, more durable strollers, which also means they’re bulkier and sometimes harder to maneuver. This stroller type always has a padded seat that reclines, and most offer storage space under the stroller and a sunshade. Some let kids face forward, others toward the stroller pusher and some let you switch between both. Most standard models include all the nifty features parents want and will grow with your baby through their toddler years.
- Lightweight or Umbrella Strollers: Like their name suggests, lightweight strollers are designed with portability and traveling in mind. Weighing around 15 pounds or less, they’re easy to carry, push and fold. Their only downfall is they don’t have all the bells and whistles you may want, they don’t have a lot of padding, and while some have car seat adapters, most are made for kids 6 months and older.
- Jogging Strollers: Made with sturdy tires (two in the back and one up front) and a lightweight frame, jogging strollers are great for active parents and provide a smooth ride for all parties. They have good storage, reclining seats and most are compatible with car seats. But they’re also bulky, so they don’t move through stores or apartment buildings well and aren’t the most compact when folded up. And if we’re being honest, unless you’re already an avid jogger or walker, don’t think just because you buy a jogging stroller that you’ll turn into one overnight (speaking from experience here).
- Car Seat Carriers: These have a basic frame to hold your infant’s car seat, and usually the car seat of your choosing. They’re pretty inexpensive, easy to use and convenient (you won’t wake the baby up when they fall asleep in the car!). But most only work with infant car seats, so your baby will outgrow this stroller quicker than you think.
- Double Strollers: If you’re having twins, and you only want one stroller, this is your only option. You can either get a tandem stroller, which has one seat in front of another one, or the side-by-side stroller. The first can lack leg room for the back sitter, but the side-by-side is harder to push through doors and anywhere around crowds.
- Travel Systems: This option comes as a standard or jogging stroller and allows you to carry an infant car seat. You can either get a car seat and stroller combo or find one with an adapter. Travel systems are usually bigger and heavier, but you can find some lighter-weight ones and sometimes you can save money when you buy the combo of a car seat and stroller.
How To Pick a Stroller That Matches Your Personal Style and Lifestyle
In today’s society, we’re all about looks. And that’s OK—it’s human nature to want things that look nice. But when it comes to your baby’s new wheels, there’s a lot more to look for than trendiness and fashion.
No matter the wheels you put your baby in, safety comes first. Today’s strollers should meet basic safety requirements — You want one with a five-point safety harness strap that’s easy for you to secure and unbuckle, but not for a child, and also has reliable brakes. Examine the frame to make sure there aren’t any sharp edges or places small fingers and toes can get stuck in.
2. Ease of Use
Can you easily lift the stroller in and out of your car? Will it even fit in your trunk? Do you have to walk up flights of stairs to your apartment? Will you be traveling a lot with it? Is it easy to fold and unfold? Can you maneuver it with one hand? Is it too big to walk through doorways or store aisles? Is the fabric machine washable or can you just wipe it clean?
The answers to these questions will let you know if your stroller choice will be easy for you to use.
Think about what else you’ll be carrying besides your baby. A large basket under the seat is great for a diaper bag, purse and grocery sacks. But what about your phone, keys, drinks and snacks? Cup holders (for your drink and a sippy cup) and small storage spaces for holding keys and phones might be nice to have too.
An adjustable canopy is a necessary feature if you’ll be going on sunny walks or will ever get caught in the rain and wind. Canopies keep your baby protected from UV rays and all weather elements.
5. Newborn Ready
You don’t want to wait until your baby is 6-months old and sitting up on their own to go on walks or family outings. Find a stroller that either has a padded, reclining seat or lets you attach your car seat or bassinet so you can use the stroller right away. If it has the latter, make sure that when you attach the carrier it easily and securely locks in place.
If you’re looking for a stroller that’s suitable for your newborn, safe, comfortable and has all the needed features parents want, check out our 180 Reversible Stroller. It is lightweight but sturdy, can be folded with one hand, and is easy to maneuver. It has a large under-the-seat storage basket, a hidden back storage pocket, an extended sun canopy, reclining seat and is compatible with Chicco and Graco car seats. Our reversible stroller gets its name from perhaps its coolest feature—the reversible handlebar that lets baby either face you or away from you with one simple click.
A stroller is one of the biggest and most expensive purchases on your baby registry, which is all the more reason to take the proper time and research to ensure you choose the right one.