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:
- Shop when you have plenty of time; don’t rush the decision.
- Make a list of what’s important and take it with you.
- Don’t compromise, there are plenty of places to buy strollers and it’s worth the wait to get the right one.
- 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.
|Compact and Umbrella||Lightweight, easy-to-fold portable stroller||Keeping in the car and traveling||Light 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 standard||An ordinary stroller: a baby seat on wheels||Everyday use||Light 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|
Front and back
|Similar to a single stroller but adds a second seat behind the first||Everyday use for two or more; or for one baby plus lots of supplies and shopping bags||An absolute necessity for any family with two or more little ones; or families with one who are planning on adding another baby soon||Can 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|
|Similar to a single stroller but adds a second seat alongside the first||Everyday use for two or more||An alternate to the front and back double; best advantage is that both seats fully recline||My be too wide to maneuver through store aisles, crowed places, narrow sidewalks or some doorways (Measure before purchasing.)|
|Triple-plus||Specially made strollers with three or more seats||Everyday use for three or more little ones||Necessary for any family with triplets or three very close in age||At 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|
(Single, double or multiple)
|A sturdy stroller with large tires||Jogging, fast-walking or strolling over bumpy terrain||Great for moving fast or covering rough ground such as grass, gravel or sand||The 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 systems||A combination of infant car seat and stroller base||Everyday use of the car seat portion for the first three to six months, everyday stroller use thereafter||One purchase covers two needs; car seat snaps securely into stroller||They 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 buggy||Ideal for newborns and younger infants||Allows baby to recline to a horizontal position; can also be used as a mobile crib||They 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 stroller||A less expensive alternative to a travel system; A good choice for disabled children in specialized car seats||Light and super compact; folds totally flat||Not 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/stroller||A car seat that has stroller wheels and a handle that retract into the carrier unit.||Everyday use for the first three months||Helpful for families who travel frequently by plane, bus or train||An odd-looking stroller; baby sits very low to the ground; no storage; works only with an infant seat|
|Non-stroller options||Alternate choices, like a sling or front pack to compliment your stroller, or to use exclusively during the early months.||Everyday use for young babies||Lightweight, easy to bring along, comforting to baby; keeps both hands free, but baby close to you||Difficult 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.