Unless you're planning to hunker down at home until your child is in Kindergarten, you're going to need a good stroller to get you and baby from point A to point B. Today's stroller selection is more versatile and assorted than ever so it's a good idea to educate yourself on the pros and cons of each style. You may buy one stroller that suits all your travel needs or you may find you need several different types to work best with different activities.
First, think about where you live and how you imagine a stroller coming into play. If you live in a city where subways, buses and cabs are an everyday mode of transportation, you'll want a lightweight, compact stroller that folds quickly. If you take long walks or jog, it's best to look at strollers with large air-filled tires. Rough terrain like snow, grass, or rocky areas will be best navigated with the help of large wheels.
Strollers for 1
Standard stroller - Many strollers could fall into the "standard" category from those weighing 11 lbs. to more heavy-duty models weighing 35 lbs. Most likely, every retailer you visit will place different strollers into the "standard" category. It could include lightweight strollers that are just a step above an umbrella stroller or sturdy, heavy-duty strollers or even strollers that can be accessorized with separate components like bassinets.
Travel systems - Ah, the travel system. Parents love travel systems because the guess work is done for you. A travel system includes an infant car seat, a car seat base and a stroller. The car seat fits in the car seat base and the stroller so parents can easily move baby from one to the other. And parents don't have to guess at whether the pieces will work together - they know they will. Most choose to keep baby in the car seat, and lock it into the stroller until baby is a little bigger. Some strollers in a travel system have seat backs that can fully recline and leg holes that can be closed off to make a carriage. Some travel systems are lightweight and easily stored while others are heavier . They certainly have their convenient features, but some may be bulky and difficult to slide into trunks.
Seat -carrier frames - Parents who want the benefit of a travel system without the bulky stroller will find a seat-carrier frame an excellent choice. These frames have no seats at all. They're designed to hold your infant car seat, and not much else, so they're compact and easy to maneuver. They're also inexpensive because your car seat is doing double duty. Only downside is, once baby outgrows the infant car seat, they've also outgrown the seat-carrier frame.
Jogging strollers - Having a baby doesn't mean giving up your morning jog. Jogging strollers are three-wheeled strollers that feature hand brakes, and non-swivel or lockable front wheels that are great for jogging, but not for maneuvering. These are ideal for serious joggers or off road walkers thanks to the large, air-filled tires that create a smoother ride on all surfaces. A wrist strap should be attached to your wrist and the stroller at all times when you're running with a child in the strollers. The appropriate minimum age for a child to ride in a jogging stroller is still up for debate. Many manufacturers suggest the child be 8 weeks or older, but medical consultants recommend children be at least 6 months of age and able to sit up and support their heads for the potentially jarring ride. Jogging strollers tend to accommodate heavier children and are therefore expected to have a longer life. You can even find double and triple jogging strollers with weight limits of 100 to 150 lbs. Jogging strollers can be large and bulky and many require removing the front wheel to get them in your trunk.
Double Strollers and More
Side-by-side stroller - Perfect for kids who are about the same weight, like twins, side-by-side strollers are another option of the double stroller. Each seat in the side-by-side stroller has an independent recline mechanism so both kids can be adjusted to their comfort levels. These double stroller styles go over curbs more easily than tandem models and some even accept infant car seats though some brands limit it to one seat only. While you can use a side-by-side stroller with children of different sizes, it may pull to one side due to the uneven weight. When folded, many models take up twice the space of a single stroller, and some parents worry whether they'll fit through all the doors they may encounter on their outing.
Sit and stand stroller - These unique and versatile double strollers can be used like a tandem stroller or the back seat can be removed so an older child can stand for the ride. Both seats generally feature cup holders and canopies and many models will accent an infant car seat in both seats. Sit and stand strollers have full frame construction to meet the weight capacity required, so they weigh from 26 to 33 lbs. They maneuver and fold the same as a tandem stroller.
Multiple child stroller - When you've got a whole flock to keep track of, you'll be thankful you have a multiple child stroller. Engineered to handle the additional weight, multiple child strollers can hold up to 160 lbs. They offer the same basic features as a tandem stroller or side-by-side stroller, but have room for three or four children. Most multiple child strollers are quite heavy and don't fold as compactly as smaller strollers. They can be difficult to get in and out of trunks.
Restraint system - Look for a 5-point harness that will secure a child more firmly and do a better job than a 3-point harness. Most are made of think nylon webbing. Also, check that the buckles won't be easily manipulated by a child.
Wheels - A good rule of thumb is: The larger the wheels, the easier it is to maneuver over curbs and rough surfaces. Most strollers feature swiveling double wheels in front for easy steering. These wheels will usually lock into a forward facing position for rough terrain. Three wheel strollers usually have a non-swivel front wheel for jogging.
Leg holes - Leg holes are required for carriages and strollers designed for newborns or young infants. Leg holes are designed to prevent slipping. Manufacturers use mesh or fabric shields or hinged, molded footrests that raise and clamp over the leg holes. Strollers with leg holes that cannot be closed should not be able to fully recline.
Brakes - For a stroller that might be moving at fairly high speeds, a touch brake works quickly and effectively. Most jogging strollers have hand-activated brakes near the handles for slowing down at a fast pace. Brakes on both rear wheels are the safest and nearly every stroller is equipped with these. Many require activating a tab over each of the rear wheels to lock brakes in place.
Canopy - It's important to protect baby from harmful UV-rays and rain so a canopy is an important stroller feature. Some are simple pieces of fabric between two wires while others pull down to shield almost the entire front end of the stroller. Reversible canopies will protect baby from ahead or behind.
Handlebars - The quality of the handles are usually indicated by the price of the stroller. A cheap umbrella stroller, for instance, will probably have a simple plastic coating over the hands while a more expensive, heavy-duty stroller will have thick, cushioned handles. Adjustable handlebars are a great feature to keep all stroller drivers comfortable, but not many strollers have them. Umbrella strollers nearly always feature two separate handles , and therefore will require two hands to steer. Strollers with single crossbars allow for one-handed steering.
Folding mechanism - Look for a one-hand open and fold mechanism. It'll be no problem opening the stroller with one hand while the baby's in the other arm. The best strollers will fold compactly in seconds, and it's also nice to have a stroller that will stand upright after it's folded.
Trays - Trays can be a real lifesaver when you've got a hungry tyke on your hands. They're even better when they've got a cup holder. Trays should be removable or easily folded out of the way so you can get baby in and out.
Boots - Some strollers feature protective leg coverings or "boots" that snap over baby's legs for warmth. A must-have for those who spend a fair amount of time outdoors in the colder months.
Shock absorbers - If your stroller doesn't have air-filled tires molded from foam that offer a smoother ride, look for shock absorbers. These covered springs or rubber pads will help create less turbulence for baby.
Fabrics and upholstery - First and foremost, your stroller should have fabrics that are easy to clean. You'll want to be able to spot clean spills on a day-to-day basis and you'll want something that's machine washable for more serious cleaning. Removable seat pads are a good feature, too.
Baskets - You'll use that basket under the stroller more than you think. They vary by size so choose one that has room for a diaper bag at the very least. Check that the basket is easily accessible even when the seat is reclined and always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for storage. Overloaded strollers can fall over, and no one wants that.
Now that you're equipped with the ins and outs of all your options, we hope you'll find it easy to find the right stroller for you and your baby. Happy travels!