How to select a baby stroller
Whether you are a first time parent or having another child, the amount of buying decisions that you will have to make over the course of a few months can be mind numbing. From car seats to cribs, bottles to baby clothes, the list goes on and on. More than anything else, many of these types of products come down to personal preference.
One thing that really does deserves some attention and research is a new baby stroller. Unlike most other products, you will be carrying a stroller with you in your vehicle almost all of the time. You will constantly be unloading it, setting it up, breaking it back down and then reloading it back in the car.
Performing these tasks while dealing with one or more children, often times out in the elements, you can see the value in choosing a good stroller that meets your needs. In this article, we are going to talk about the different types of strollers on the market today.
Once you have decided on what type of stroller would best serve your needs, you can visit one of our in depth articles on that stroller for information on what to look for when shopping for that particular model.
Before shopping for anything specific, you really need to know what type of stroller you want to get. Once you have this nailed down, it just comes down to making a list of the strollers you like and selecting one based on personal preference.
The main types of strollers we will look at today include lightweight, full feature, double, jogging and travel systems. Let’s start off with the Lightweight models.
At some point or another, almost every family with a child will own a lightweight stroller. Most strollers in this group are known as umbrella strollers, since they fold up and have those rounded handles like an umbrella. The most important things to know about these strollers are that they are lighter than other types (weighing in at 15 pounds or less) and they fold up more compact then other models.
These types of strollers are great to keep in the car all the time. You do have a trade off with these strollers though. You aren’t going to find many extra features. You might have a storage area under the seat, but it probably won’t be easy to get to. You may have a small compartment up to for a drink and maybe to hold your keys, but you child most likely won’t have any kind of tray.
One other thing to remember is that if you have a habit of hanging your diaper bag on the handles, you really need to be careful with an umbrella stroller, as they are so light that they can tip over pretty easy. We couldn’t hang our diaper bag on our lightweight stroller until our son was around 18 pounds and we always have to take the diaper bag off before taking him out of the stroller (otherwise it will flip right over, as it has for us on dozens of occasions).
Even with these faults, these are really useful in quite a few situations and most are relatively inexpensive. If you travel a lot and are short on space, these are definitely the way to go. One thing to remember too is that there are exceptions to every rule. If you are willing to pay more, you will find lightweight strollers with many features. Some of these are nice enough that they can be your main stroller. From the time our son was 10 months old to his current age of 16 months, we have used a lightweight stroller as our main stroller. The only other stroller we use is a jogging stroller when we go out on rough terrain.
Full Feature Baby Stroller
The next stroller we will look at is the full feature baby stroller. For most families, either this stroller or a travel system will be one of the first things they purchase. These are the most common strollers you will see when you walk into a big department store. This is also the type of stroller where you will have the biggest selection, the most features and the biggest price range.
Since this is such a wide-open category, every single feature and characteristic of the stroller varies from model to model. As far as size goes, most are pretty similar. They are heavier then the umbrella strollers, commonly weighing in at 20 to 30+ pounds. Some models are now being made with aluminum frames, which helps to reduce the weight.
When folded up, they will usually take up about two to three times more room than a typical umbrella. Unfolded, they are usually around 50% bigger. This usually isn’t an issue at all as it really has no effect on usability. Its bigger size makes it more stable, so you won’t have any worries when hanging that diaper bag on the back. These strollers usually have better wheels and suspension, so you will have a smoother ride for both your baby and you as the operator.
As far as other features go, you can expect many standard items. These strollers usually have nice storage compartments that are easy to access. They also should have a child’s tray that can hold snacks and a cup, along with some type of tray for the parent that can hold a few cups and a storage compartment.
For the child’s area, you should expect a seat that reclines, possibly to an almost flat position. This seat should have either a five point harness or a convertible five point to three point harness for when the child gets older. You should also have a canopy that shades the seat and possibly moves forward or backward. This stroller should also have a good weight capacity, maybe 40 or 50 pounds. This means that you will be able to use this stroller for as long as your child needs one.
If you are looking for a double stroller, then you are one of those brave souls that are going to brave going out into the world with multiple children! We don’t have any great advice to offer you in that regard, but what we can tell you is that you will have many options when it comes to double strollers.
The first thing we might as well get out of the way is the size. These strollers are going to be big, require a lot of trunk room and they will be heavy to lug in and out of the car. However, if you are taking the kids out and about by yourself, then this really is the best option.
There are several types of double strollers available on the market today. These include the side-by-side, the tandem and the sit-and-stand. The side-by-side models are good when you have two children around the same age. Then tandem units, which place one child in front of the other, are great when you have two children of different ages. On some models, one of the seats can receive a car seat and lock it in. On other models, the rear seat folds nearly flat, so your infant can sleep.
The sit-and-stand models are perfect for an infant and an active toddler. With these models, an infant stays in the seat (or in a car seat that has been latched in) and the toddler has a platform to stand on and a bench to sit on. This allows them to walk for a while and then easily get back on the stroller. If you need a jogging stroller, you can also find several double jogging strollers on the market today.
We could go on talking about double strollers for another couple thousand words and we have, so if you want to read more about them, click HERE.
Many, many first time parents start out with a travel system. No other option offers the simple convenience of moving your child from the car to a stroller and back again. These systems usually come in a bundle with a car seat, one or two receiving bases that stay in the vehicle and a full size stroller.
All you have to do is place your child in the car seat while you are at home, carry him or her out to the car and it quickly snaps into its base. Throw the stroller in the back and off you go. Once you get to the store, pull the stroller out, unfold it, unlatch the car seat and lock it into the stroller. Lock the car and you are ready to go.
Once your child gets a little older, you can place him or her directly in the stroller, just as you would with a full size stroller. Most of the strollers that come in these travel systems could easily be classified as full feature strollers. They offer similar features, such as the trays, cup holders, storage areas and canopies.
These strollers fold up fairly easily, but still take up about 25 to 50% more trunk space than an umbrella stroller. You will also find that they are usually not quite as nice as a stand a one full feature stroller. Again, a lot will depend on how much you are willing to spend. Our family started out with this system and used it until our son was ready to graduate to a lightweight stroller.
So you’re ready to hit the ground running, are you? While they are called jogging strollers, many of the strollers that make up this group could also be known as all terrain strollers. But before we get into the features, let’s talk about size.
Most jogging strollers are big and heavy. Our jogging stroller weighs in at over 25 pounds. These usually have bigger wheels and take up even more space then a full sized stroller, typically taking up as much space as a double stroller. You will get a workout just putting the stroller in your vehicle and taking out again.
These strollers do have some really good features though. Many feature those big wheels, which make them great for going outdoors and for uneven surfaces. Our jogging stroller has 16” rear wheels. We have taken it on trails in the mountains, to the beach and everywhere in between. I can think of no other type of stroller that would have been this versatile.
These strollers usually have roomy seats and a good canopy that rotates multiple ways to help prevent wind, sunlight and rain from bothering your baby. You should also expect to have a tray for the parents to hold water bottles, keys and a cell phone. Many models also have a tray for the children.
Most jogging strollers also feature good suspension systems with a locking front wheel. I never knew how important a locking front wheel was until I took my son jogging for the first time. As soon as we got going, the stroller started to bounce, quite severely. Once I locked the wheel, the bounce went away and it was smooth riding.
Overall, these strollers are well built and very versatile. Just be prepared for the additional hassle of getting them everywhere you want to go.
Now that we have covered the different types of strollers, you should have a fairly good idea which one (or ones) would suit the needs of your growing family. For more information on any particular type of stroller, check out our other detailed articles on each of the categories mentioned above. You can find the links above or in the main menu.