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How To Choose the Right Baby Stroller for You

Picking the right stroller is no easy task. Here are our tips for choosing the best one for you.

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Strollers are a lifesaver in many family lives: They're a chance to easily transport a child through a big city, get exercise on the paths of a suburb or keep a child from getting overtired during a busy trip. Not knowing how to choose a baby stroller for the occasion can leave you frustrated with a hard-to-maneuver contraption that takes too long to fold up or weighs too much to carry up a flight of stairs.

Sometimes you get what you pay for, but sometimes the best baby stroller is actually an inexpensive, simple stroller. That's why it's valuable to decide how you want to use your stroller first and then shop within those parameters. With these thoughts in mind, you can choose the stroller for your baby registry that will make spending time outdoors with your child feel easy and extra special.

Read more: Best Baby Strollers

Things to consider when buying a stroller

The best way to get the value you want out of a stroller is to consider the five main metrics before you shop since the options available can be overwhelming if you don't know what kind of stroller you're looking for.

Child's age span: If you're shopping for an infant stroller that you want to last through their preschool years, you should pick a different type than if your child is already 30 pounds and easily hops in and out of a stroller. Some folks really like the bassinet style for their newborns, so consider whether you'll need a different stroller when they get bigger and no longer want to lie on their backs -- many of these strollers do convert to older-child shapes. 

Integration with car seats: We'll talk more about this, but if you want your stroller to connect to a car seat, you'll need a different style than if you have a separate car seat from your stroller.

Size and weight: Physical volume matters if you have a small car but want to transport the stroller. If you use the stroller in contexts where you sometimes have to pack it up and carry it, it's worth thinking about how heavy you want it to be since a few pounds difference changes how much you'll sweat.

Ease of use: A particular stroller might have a complex, multihanded fold-up process or a reputation for wheels that are hard to lock or unlock. Most of these details come from comments from reviewers since manufacturers want to highlight how easy their products are to use, but they're still worth considering.

Style: Some beautiful strollers are made with luxury materials, and if you'll feel amazing pushing that beautiful stroller, go for it. Check each stroller's description and specs for the list of materials as you narrow down your choices. Comments will sometimes mention if the stroller stains easily or is easy to wash.

Lastly, factor in any special circumstances, including whether you'll be going over rough terrain or running with the stroller and whether you want a stroller that can move multiple children. 

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Types of strollers

The stroller types you're likely to encounter fall into the following five categories, though there are combos, such as a multichild car seat carrier travel system. 

  • Full-sized stroller
  • Mini, light or umbrella stroller
  • Double or multi-child stroller
  • Jogging strollers
  • Car seat carriers and travel systems 

Full-sized stroller

The most basic concept of a stroller, full-sized strollers, usually have sturdy wheels, room for storage in the base and the ability to close them up for ease of storage. They may have a conversion possible from the standard upright seating position to make them more comfortable for smaller babies that aren't sitting up on their own. 

Things we like

  • These are typically designed to be comfortable to push and easy to clean.
  • Available in a wide variety of prices.

Things to consider

  • They can only hold one child.
  • Can be too bulky or heavy to transport on travel.

Mini, light or umbrella stroller

The basic umbrella stroller is a plastic or metal frame with a hammock of fabric strung over it, allowing it to fold up and weigh barely more than an umbrella while taking up very little space. Modern mini and light strollers have more bells and whistles, but they're characterized by a simple, lightweight design and a fold-up strategy that helps them fit into compact spaces.

Things we like

  • They're great for transport around a city or on a trip.
  • Particularly good for toddlers and preschoolers who may hop in and out of the stroller.

Things to consider

  • They tend to have less sunshades, storage or cupholders.
  • Harder to use with a small baby, since most have an upright seating position.
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Double or multichild stroller

These strollers allow two or more children to sit or perch on the stroller. The basic double stroller has two side-by-side seats, but modern innovations include strollers that click in an infant carrier, have a typical toddler seat and then have a little standing platform where an older child can ride along with a parent pushing them. 

Things we like

  • Every child likes having a place to ride when they're tired.
  • By virtue of their size, these strollers often have great storage space for the busy multi-child parent to carry less.

Things to consider

  • They often need a larger vehicle to transport even when folded up.
  • Sometimes they have a limited lifespan if one or more older children stop wanting to ride in the stroller soon after the youngest starts.

Jogging stroller

Jogging strollers are a subset of full-sized strollers with a more shock-absorbing, tire-like wheel system. While they are marketed for joggers, they are admirably suited to rough or uneven terrain. Even on a flat surface, they may help keep a baby from feeling every stick and pebble, jolting awake during a nap.    

Things we like

  • They help active parents maintain their lifestyle.
  • Your child will stay comfy even on bumpy sidewalks.

Things to consider

  • No jogging is recommended until the baby is at least 6 months of age.
  • It's harder to find a lightweight or compact jogging stroller since the suspension and big wheels are part of the goal but also part of the heaviness.
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Car seat carriers and travel systems

Car seat carriers and travel systems refer to combination systems that allow the infant-carrier style of the car seat to click into the car and then disconnect and click into a stroller frame. Families like the ease of not pulling the baby out of the harness to transition to stroller from car or car from stroller. Travel systems expand on this often by clicking an infant carrier into a full-size stroller that works for the child when they outgrow the carrier itself.

Things we like

  • Save money and maintian efficiency by buying one travel system rather than a separate stroller and car seat system.
  • Sleeping or comfortable children don't have to be roused to move from car to stroller (or vice versa).

Things to consider

  • Infant carriers are often rated for a higher weight limit than you might expect but children don't always feel comfortable in them all the way up to the weight limit.
  • Car seat carrier frames may lack some of the features of other strollers, like storage or cupholders.

Features to look for in a stroller

Some features that are present in many strollers but which can be particularly helpful even if you haven't considered them individually include:

Storage: Strollers with more space in the base for you to drop in a diaper bag can be more convenient, though you may have a larger, heavier stroller as a result.

Cupholders: Because it's nice to sip some tea while you walk! You can also easily store your child's cups and bottles.

Canopy and sunshades: You want a shade that won't make a child feel penned in if they're older but can easily be moved and used if a child is small and sensitive to full sun.

Suspension and sturdy wheels: while smaller wheels can be helpful for keeping the weight and bulkiness down, they sometimes get damaged or make the baby feel every bump.

Harness style: Consider how your child will be fixed into the stroller since some wiggly kids are better off with the full five-point harness than with a simple three-point one. 

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How to make your stroller safe

Keeping children safe in a stroller starts with reading the stroller's directions thoroughly enough to catch any warnings. When you first see the stroller you want to buy in person you'll want to explore any pinch points where a child might get a finger or toe caught in while the stroller is operating. Make sure these spots aren't in reach or are covered up. Using the harnesses available is key. Recognizing if your child has gotten big enough to wiggle out of part of the harness is also important. Finally, stick to the stroller's height and weight limits so that the stroller doesn't malfunction at an inconvenient time or hurt your child in the process.

Tips for buying a stroller

Because no single stroller can be everything to everyone, it's wise to figure out where you can compromise when deciding how to choose a baby stroller. For instance, if all the bells and whistles you want simply can't fit on a light travel stroller, consider buying a separate, ultra-basic umbrella stroller for trips. If you have your heart set on a specialty stroller, there are often used strollers for sale that can save you some money or get you access to additional usability.

That being said, be realistic about your use and the way the best baby stroller for you offers freedom and mobility: if you know that you'll be outside every day getting the much needed sunshine and fresh air, invest in a product with very strong reviews even if it is expensive. There is a solid resale market for strollers, so you can potentially recoup some costs by selling it after your children grow out of it.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.