How to choose the best stroller: Part 1

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By Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns

A stroller is an important investment and one of the more expensive baby items you’ll purchase. You will likely use it thousands of times, so take time choosing the right one.

Let’s start with an overview of the options here in Part One of a two part series that will help you decide which stroller will be best for you.

Rules for successful shopping 

Here are the basic rules for successful stroller shopping:

  1. Shop when you have plenty of time; don’t rush the decision.
  2. Make a list of what’s important and take it with you.
  3. Don’t compromise, there are plenty of places to buy strollers and it’s worth the wait to get the right one.
  4. Don’t purchase a stroller online unless you first try it out in person.

Types of strollers

There are a variety of stroller designs. Here are the main types and important factors to consider.

 

TypeDescriptionUse forBenefitsNegatives
Compact and UmbrellaLightweight, easy-to-fold portable strollerKeeping in the car and travelingLight and easy to carry or tote; great for very short trips (such as picking up an older sibling from school)Usually they don’t fit a newborn nor a toddler – best for the 4 month to 18 month range; not sturdy enough to carry a baby, diaper bag, and other carry-alongs; less room and less comfortable for the baby than a standard stroller
Single standardAn ordinary stroller: a baby seat on wheelsEveryday useLight enough to pick up, yet has every feature you need;May be too big to carry easily in a smaller car or to travel with
Double standard;

Front and back

Similar to a single stroller but adds a second seat behind the firstEveryday use for two or more; or for one baby plus lots of supplies and shopping bagsAn absolute necessity for any family with two or more little ones; or families with one who are planning on adding another baby soonCan be cumbersome and heavy to fold and lift; tough choice for twins or two young children because usually only one seat reclines fully for naps
Double standard;

Side-by-side

Similar to a single stroller but adds a second seat alongside the firstEveryday use for two or moreAn alternate to the front and back double; best advantage is that both seats fully reclineMy be too wide to maneuver through store aisles, crowed places, narrow sidewalks or some doorways (Measure before purchasing.)
Triple-plusSpecially made strollers with three or more seatsEveryday use for three or more little onesNecessary for any family with triplets or three very close in ageAt nearly 5 feet long these are a challenge to maneuver; pushing uphill is difficult; not all seats recline; tend to be short on storage space; very expensive
Sport (jogger)

(Single, double or multiple)

A sturdy stroller with large tiresJogging, fast-walking or strolling over bumpy terrainGreat for moving fast or covering rough ground such as grass, gravel or sandThe tri-wheel system makes it hard to steer and turn the stroller; young infants don’t fit the seat well and older children often resist the reclining position of the seat; not easily transportable
Travel systemsA combination of infant car seat and stroller baseEveryday use of the car seat portion for the first three to six months, everyday stroller use thereafterOne purchase covers two needs; car seat snaps securely into strollerThey tend to be large and heavy; the car seat is usually a rear-facing infant seat (for a baby up to 20 pounds); some stroller seats don’t fit an older baby; a baby in the seat is much heavier to carry than a baby in your arms but still parents tend to overuse the carrier
Carriage (Buggy)A basket- type traditional buggyIdeal for newborns and younger infantsAllows baby to recline to a horizontal position; can also be used as a mobile cribThey don’t stay newborns very long – by three or four months of age most babies have outgrown a carriage.
Rolling car seat base (Mobility base)A frame that allows you to use your car seat as a strollerA less expensive alternative to a travel system; A good choice for disabled children in specialized car seatsLight and super compact; folds totally flatNot a smooth ride; difficult to steer; not as stable as a regular stroller; works only with infant seat (birth to three months) or custom frames for specialized seats
Convertible carseat/strollerA car seat that has stroller wheels and a handle that retract into the carrier unit.Everyday use for the first three monthsHelpful for families who travel frequently by plane, bus or trainAn odd-looking stroller; baby sits very low to the ground; no storage; works only with an infant seat
Non-stroller optionsAlternate choices, like a sling or front pack to compliment your stroller, or to use exclusively during the early months.Everyday use for young babiesLightweight, easy to bring along, comforting to baby; keeps both hands free, but baby close to youDifficult to use for extended periods when baby gets heavier; no storage

 

Check my next column for a discussion of specific stroller features and guidelines for making your final decision.

Elizabeth Pantley is a mother of four, grandmother, and author of the bestselling book, The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns plus 8 other books in the No-Cry Solution Series, which helps Moms and Dads through all key stages of parenting.

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