As you tick off the list of must-have baby gear, the stroller might give you pause. With so many styles, models, and price points available, how can you possibly choose one? Relax—we’ve got you covered. Buckle your seatbelt, raise the sunshade, and grab a sippy cup of your favorite drink, as we cruise through how to choose the stroller that best suits your needs.
List Your Priorities
You can check out your favorite blogs and ask your friends for advice, but the choice boils down to one thing: How do you plan to use your stroller?
• Do you plan to take long walks through downtown, hit the trails often, or simply use your stroller for short trips through the mall?
• Will you be out in different types of weather?
• Will you be using your stroller for travel and bringing it to the airport?
• Do you have a large trunk for storage, or is space a factor?
• Do you need a stroller to accommodate a growing family for years to come?
• Do you want to splurge, or are you seeking a budget-conscious model?
Consider these types of factors as you begin to explore your options.
Special Stroller Features to Consider
You may not need all the bells and whistles, but a few never hurt. Think about your desired features so you know what to watch for while shopping. Here are some options you might encounter:
• Snack trays for eating on the go
• A seat that reclines flat (or nearly flat) for naps
• A five-point harness for safety
• A canopy to protect from sun, wind, and/or insects
• A storage basket
• Locking wheels and sandal-friendly brakes for safety
• Removable cushion for easy washing
• A peekaboo window so you can check on baby on the go
• An adjustable handlebar for comfort
• A reversible seat
Types of Strollers
Like cars, strollers come in a range of models to suit virtually every lifestyle.
A typical standard stroller, though it comes in many variations, generally features a comfy seat that reclines virtually flat. Usually, babies face forward, but some models offer the option to face backward. Options range from basic models to top-of-the-line rides equipped with fancy features.
Our Pick: The Baby Jogger City Stroller (Mini GT Single) merges reasonable price with plenty of features. The three-wheel system ensures a smooth ride, the padded seat reclines nearly flat, and the seat can be machine-washed. It also boasts an adjustable handlebar and a hand-operated parking brake.
For quick trips, sometimes a simple lightweight stroller (aka umbrella stroller) is all you need. Generally, they don’t come with many features, but they fold up quickly, they’re easy to carry, and they’re small and compact so you can tuck them in virtually any closet or trunk. One caveat: Many don’t recline nor offer much head support, which means they are definitely geared to toddlers rather than infants.
Our Pick: The JOOVY New Groove Ultralight
Umbrella Stroller is only 14 pounds, but it offers plenty of extras that many umbrella strollers lack: cup holders, a zippered storage pocket, a shoulder carry strap, and the ability to recline nearly flat so even younger babies can nap.
If you’re going about your day with two little ones in tow, a double stroller might be your ideal option. Consider the ages of your children: Do you have twins, a baby, and a toddler, or simply a big kid who likes to rest those tired feet once in a while? Double strollers come in various styles, including side-by-side, tandem (front and back), and sit-and-stand.
Our Pick: Contours Options Elite Tandem double stroller offers a whopping seven seating configuration options, including face-to-face and back-to-back. Relatively lightweight, it accommodates two infant car seats (adapters are available at extra cost) and offers a smooth ride and plenty of storage.
Sometimes you want the whole shebang—a travel system that pairs a matching infant car seat with a stroller that carries it. Then, when your baby is too big for the infant car seat, the stroller is still suitable for years to come. Travel systems are a bit more spendy, but for good reason.
Our Pick: As travel systems go, the UPPABaby VISTA Stroller stands out. Designed for growing families, it can actually hold up to three children in multiple configurations. It comes with a bassinet and an infant car seat and offers sweet features like a rain/bug shield and generous storage space beneath.
These sporty strollers are sturdy enough to keep baby comfy while you get some exercise. Keep in mind these are generally made for babies 6 months and older and they’re not compatible with car seats. You’ll want to consider factors such as comfort for both you and your passenger. Look for a five-point harness, a reclining seat, reliable brakes, and safety tether to prevent runaway stroller situations.
Our Pick: The BOB Revolution Flex Jogging stroller accommodates babies from birth (with an infant car seat adapter and infant car seat) to 75 pounds. The locking swivel-front wheel makes it easy to navigate, while the high-tech suspension system and air-filled tires give baby a smooth ride.
Pro Tip: Take It for a Test Drive
You wouldn’t buy a car without first taking it for a spin—and if at all possible, you should do the same when you’re considering a stroller. Can you steer it easily? Is the handle a comfortable height (or adjustable) so you’re not forced to stoop over or reach too high? Is the harness easy to use? Is it easy to collapse and not so heavy that you can’t handle it comfortably? Does it have a spot to carry your essentials? Is it easy to clean? Don’t make a snap decision that you’ll regret for the next few years.