Strollers for different families need to meet different criteria. A suburban family may need a very different stroller than an urban family. Since each person’s needs are unique, the stroller that they choose should fit their needs. If you have newborn, you may want a stroller that has a bassinet. Or, if you plan on running outdoors, you’ll need a stroller with lots of sunshade. Searching for the best stroller for your growing family is no easy task.
When looking at potential strollers, there are various pieces of criteria that you may care about. From one-hand folding, to capabilities on rough terrain, or even handlebar height, you will want to get the stroller that best fits your criteria. The following are criteria and features that parents most care about. Keep them in mind as you search for baby strollers.
Almost all strollers have the ability to fold and compact for easier transportation. Some strollers can be folded with one hand. Others require two hands to collapse it. A one-hand fold is more convenient as you can hold your baby in one arm and fold the stroller with the other. If you plan on folding the stroller frequently, this feature is probably more important for you. There are some strollers that have a self-locking system to keep the stroller closed. If a stroller lacks this feature, you will need to bend down and manually lock it, otherwise you run the risk of it not staying close. Another thing to consider is the compactness of the stroller when folded. Umbrella strollers are typically much smaller than your standard stroller. There are also some strollers that have the ability to self-stand when folded, which eliminates the need to prop the stroller against the wall.
One-hand vs two-hand Fold
This was touched on earlier, but some parents are looking for the one-hand fold option. One hand folding allows you to hold your baby in one hand and collapse the stroller with the other. This is handy since you may not always be able to put your baby down when folding the stroller. However, some parents may not think that this feature is necessary. If you are traveling, a one-hand fold can be useful for airports or when carrying luggage.
Ease of Use
No one wants a stroller that is difficult to use. Strollers should make your life easier, not give you a headache. Ideally, your stroller will be easy to push and maneuver around. The brakes should be easy to engage and disengage. And you may want the stroller to fold easily too. Basically, you want a stroller to work well and not make your life any more difficult than it has to be.
Maneuverability addresses how well this stroller rolls and how responsive the wheels are. If you need to be able to push this stroller through crowds or light spaces, you will need a stroller with easy maneuverability. Some strollers have a front-wheel locking feature that makes it easier to push on uneven surfaces. Usually, if a stroller has large wheels, it will roll easier. The three-wheel design is popular since parents can make tighter turns. You should also consider maneuverability on different surfaces. Some strollers perform best on paved surfaces. There are strollers that are also made for rougher terrain.
The size of a stroller can vary greatly. There are big and bulky jogging strollers, full featured standard strollers, tiny umbrella strollers. Depending on the context in which you will use the stroller, compactness may or may not be important to you. If you live in the suburbs, you may not need a super compact stroller since its primary use will be in the park, mall, or store. If you have a car, you’ll be able to just throw it in the trunk to transport it. If you live in a city, you may need a compact stroller to navigate through crowds and public transportation. If you have a small car, you may also need a more compact stroller. There are some super compact strollers that can be folded up and fit into an airplane’s overhead compartment. Depending on what your needs are, you may or may not care about a stroller’s compactness.
You don’t want to pay for a stroller that breaks after limited use. These days, the cost of a stroller can be exorbitant. If you are paying money for a stroller, you want it to last. The more durable your stroller is, the longer its useful life will be. This is important if you plan on using your stroller for years to come, or even with a second child. While your main stroller should be durable, you may opt to have a second cheaper stroller. Many parents choose to buy a cheap umbrella stroller to take traveling. That way, if the stroller gets beat up while on a plane or on your vacation, it’s okay. You will still have your primary stroller. Other parents want a very durable travel stroller so they can bring it with them on many trips. Your main stroller should withstand the tests of everyday use, but as for a travel stroller, that call is up to you.
The weight of the stroller may be a factor to consider. Depending on where you live and how you plan on using the stroller, weight may play into your decision. If you are planning on traveling a lot, you will need a lightweight stroller. If you live in the suburbs and will only need the stroller when going to the store or the park, weight may not matter as much. In the city, stroller weight can vary. If you plan on using the stroller for primarily walking, weight is less important than if you frequently use the subway or bus. Your lifestyle will dictate the weight of the stroller that you need. Umbrella strollers are the lightest, typically under 15 pounds. Whereas jogging strollers can weight up to 30 pounds!
The braking mechanism on a stroller can vary. Some braking mechanisms are comprised of two pedals, while others are one pedal. There are some brakes that are easy to use with flip-flops. Other brakes have indicators to show if the brakes are locked or not. Having good brakes can make your life a lot easier. If you live in warmer climates, you may want brakes that are flip flop and sandal friendly. With two pedal brakes, you need to make sure to lock both. Otherwise, the stroller is not properly secured. You want a good braking system for the stroller because it ensures that the stroller doesn’t accidentally roll away. For jogging strollers, you will need to consider whether or not you need a handbrake. Handbrakes are good for hilly areas as you can control the stroller as you descend.
PHOTO: CONSUMER REPORTS
The storage basket on a stroller is extremely useful. Parents can store a diaper bag and other essentials right on the stroller instead of having to carrying them around. If you decide to go shopping, you can put your purchases directly into the basket. This is great if you live in a city or go grocery shopping. If you are holding bags, you won’t be able to push the stroller! And, the larger the storage, the more useful it is. There are often weight limits for the basket. Some umbrella strollers don’t have much, or any, storage onboard. This can make it difficult to shop or carry things while you are out.
If your child is uncomfortable in the stroller, they won’t want to use it. If your child is content and comfortable, the easier your life will be! Features such as recline, sun shade, and seat padding greatly affect how comfortable the ride is for your child. Some strollers have additional comfort features, such as a footrest or mesh windows for ventilation.
The stroller recline can differ greatly depending on which model you choose. If you are planning to take the stroller on long days out, having a deep or full recline will allow your baby to take a nap while you are out. If a stroller has a full or near full recline, then you may be able to use the stroller as an on-the-go changing station. If your child never naps while you are out, this may be a less important feature for you.
The sun canopy help to protect your little one from dangerous sun rays. If you plan on using your stroller in warm weather, the sun canopy is essential for protecting your baby. If the sun canopy is not large enough, you may need to bring a blanket to protect your child’s legs from the sun. Some sun canopies have SPF 50 to further protect against UV rays. Another feature of some sun canopies is a peek-a-boo window. These are see through portions of the sun canopy that lets parents watch their children while pushing the stroller. It makes keeping any eye out on your little one easy.
PHOTO: BABY JOGGER
Having a smooth stroller ride is not only comfortable for the baby, but the makes the stroller easier for you to push. Chances are your baby won’t enjoy riding in a stroller when they’re constantly bouncing around. Things like suspension, the wheel size and material, seat padding, and maneuverability all contribute to a smooth ride. While most strollers are generally smooth on flat surfaces, bumpier ones can prove to be a bit more trying. A smooth ride can also lull your baby to sleep!
The suspension system on a stroller helps give you a smooth ride. The more rigorous the suspension system, the smoother the ride will be. Jogging strollers have fantastic suspension since you use them to exercise or push your baby off road. Some umbrella strollers may have no suspension in order to keep them lightweight. If you take your stroller onto a bumpy surface, the suspension will help you to maneuver it and make it more comfortable for your little one. There are some strollers who have only front wheel suspension or only rear wheel suspension. While this does improve the ride quality, it is not as good as all-wheel suspension. And conversely, some suspension is better than no suspension!
Car Seat Compatibility
The beauty of car seat compatibility is that if your baby falls asleep in the stroller, you can transfer them into the car without waking them up, or vice versa. If you have a newborn, they are too small to ride in a stroller without a car seat until they are a few months old. But with a car seat compatible stroller, you can start pushing them around right away. Car seat compatibility is useful if you frequently drive or take taxis. Keep in mind that the vast majority of strollers are only compatible with infant car seats and not convertible car seats. Typically, infant car seats can only be used up to about 35 pounds. Strollers that have a car seat option are called travel system strollers.
Adjustable handlebars are an important feature if the parents are very different in height. If one parent is 6’3 while the other is 5’, then pushing the stroller can vary in ease between them. Having an adjustable handlebar allows for user customization and increases comfort for the parents. Pushing a stroller whose handlebars are too high or too low can become annoying or even painful.
In general, you will want a higher handlebar height if you are taller. If you are shorter, then you may want a lower height. Some handlebars have adjustable height. The bar may swivel up or down to cater to your height. Other handlebars may have telescoping abilities. This may be a better option for taller parents who want to avoid accidentally kicking the stroller while pushing.
When you push the stroller, you will want a comfortable grip on it. This factors in a lot of different features. The handlebar height could affect how comfortable it is to grip the stroller. Some strollers have adjustable handlebars, which is good for customizing the stroller to your liking. Some umbrella strollers have two J-shaped handles. With these types of handles, it may be harder to push the stroller with just one hand. Also consider if the handles have any sort of foam padding to make it more comfortable.
When picking out a stroller, you may want to consider the accessories that come included. For instance, you may want a rain cover. If the rain cover comes with the stroller that may be a plus. You also want to think about the accessories that you can purchase separately. Having accessory options can help improve the overall usefulness of the stroller. However, adding accessories on separately can add to the total cost of the stroller. Some popular stroller accessories include: rain covers, sun shades, bug or mosquito nets, bunting bags and footmuffs, snack trays, cup holders, toy attachments, diaper bag straps, parent organisers, stroller travel bags, car seat adapters.
Ease of Assembling
Many strollers come disassembled in a box. When your stroller arrives at your home, you’ll be responsible for setting it up. While most strollers are relatively straight forward to assemble, some can prove to be more tricky. There are some strollers that come almost 100% assembled.
Ease of Cleaning
Babies are not clean. You are bound to experience spills and messes. With use, your stroller will become dirty. Being able to clean your stroller is important to many parents. With some strollers, spot treatment is the only way to clean your strollers. Others are much easier to clean – just take the fabric portion off the frame and throw it into the wash! And strollers are now made with a stain and water resistant fabric, which may help prevent stains from forming. Each stroller has different cleaning instructions. When something spills, you will probably appreciate strollers that are easy to clean.
When picking out the perfect stroller, you should keep the child’s age in mind. For example, if you are in the market for a jogging stroller, you should know that you cannot jog with a baby until they are 8 months old. You also need to consider the weight limitations on strollers. Typically, strollers can accommodate children from 6 months to 5 years. If you have an infant, you will need an adaptable car seat or bassinet until they are a bit older. Since infants do not have the strength to sit up, they cannot use a stroller on their own until they are older. They may also be too small for strollers, which is why you may want a stroller that works with car seats.
You may want to consider bassinet adaptability. Bassinets are flat baskets that a newborn can lay down in. Children cannot use a stroller without a bassinet or car seat until they are six months or older. For the first few months of their life, babies do not have the strength to sit up and putting them into a stroller that young is dangerous. While bassinets cannot be used with older children, a bassinet can be a good way to stroll your newborn around. Another alternative to a bassinet is an infant car seat. However, some strollers can accommodate a bassinet and not a car seat.
PHOTO: MIMA XARI
Does the stroller hold one child or two? This is important if you have more than one baby, or if you are planning on expanding your family. There are some strollers that begin as a single stroller, but have the ability to add and additional seat for a second child. Double strollers have two seats, usually one in front of the other, or side-by-side.
Forward or Rear Facing
As your child grows, they will become more comfortable with a forward facing stroller. But when they are younger, they may want to look at you as you push them. Some strollers have the option to be either rear or forward facing. Others are strictly one or the other.
If you are planning on jogging with your baby, you will need to invest in a jogging stroller. You cannot jog with a regular stroller because it does not have the appropriate mechanisms to keep your baby safe. Jogging strollers typically can handle more impact and uneven surfaces will still offering a smooth ride. They are designed to make it easy to exercise with your little one, and they make it safe to do so. There are some strollers that mimic the jogging stroller’s 3-wheel design, but they are just designed for a sporty look. Make sure to only jog with a stroller designed for it. Be aware that you should not jog with your baby until they are 8 months or older. It is unsafe to jog with a younger baby.
You might not always have the flattest surface to push your stroller. Grass, woodchips, and even dirt may cross your path at some point. Some strollers are more capable of handling bumps and other uneven surfaces. Typically, a good suspension system and larger wheels help you move though rough terrain. An umbrella stroller may not be the right choice if you frequently traverse over rough terrain. Also keep in mind that only jogging strollers are made to go off-road and on trails. You should not take a regular stroller onto extremely tough conditions.
Wheel size helps determine how easy the stroller is to push. Larger wheels make it easier to move, while small wheels are more difficult. Smaller wheels are far more compact, and you are less likely to bump into things. Outdoor and all-terrain strollers have big wheels to grip the ground and tackle uneven surfaces. If you try to take a stroller with small wheels onto uneven ground, you may find yourself struggling to push it. Usually, the wheel size on a stroller complements its usage, but it doesn’t hurt to keep that in mind. You can also think about the wheel material. Inflatable wheels are more cushioned and are better for rough terrain than plastic wheels.