Choosing a Stroller
Your stroller will
be a major purchase, but with some preparation you can avoid buying too little…
or too much! Should you invest in a travel system, or in a jogging stroller?
You’ll be glad you spent some extra time investigating the difference between
various strollers and their features.
A stroller is one of the most difficult baby products to
select. With some stores offering 30 or more models and prices varying from $15
to $400 or more, how does one find the stroller that is just right? Well, it is
challenging, but with this brief overview, you'll be a stroller expert in no
How Strollers Are Used
Wider wheels make
steering easier, but 8” should be the maximum!
Your first step is to consider how you'll use the stroller.
Then you can select the features and model within your budget. Here are some
common uses and the features that are most important.
Shopping (malls, department stores, etc.)
Storage is essential, so, if possible, you'll want to avoid
extremely wide (such as side-by-side) strollers, which are difficult to
maneuver between aisles and store displays. Comfort is also important, as your
child may spend lengthy periods of time in the stroller. To entertain your
child, you should look for a stroller with a snack tray or drink holder.
Walks around the neighborhood
Focus on comfort. You'll want a nicely padded seat and
wheels that make it easy to push. Extra-large wheels are nice, but not a
necessity; wheels six to eight inches in diameter will do the job just fine.
Family outings (zoo, park, sports events, etc.)
You'll need lots of storage, a good canopy for shade, and a
seat that's suitable for sleeping. Look for a durable stroller that is
comfortable for Mom or Dad to push. An adjustable handle or one with multiple
hand positions is a great feature for Mom or Dad's added comfort.
Compact fold and light weight are the most important
concerns here. Other desired features may vary depending upon the activities
planned for on your trip. Some parents purchase an inexpensive umbrella
stroller (see description below) for the airport and check a full-featured
stroller with their luggage.
You may want a more practical stroller for everyday use, but
if you want to speed walk or jog, you'll need a special stroller. Jogging
strollers are sold in stores that carry baby products, as well as many local
fitness and bicycle shops.
Types of Strollers
Here is a brief description of the types of strollers
available and the features they offer.
This inexpensive stroller has curved handles, like an
old-fashioned umbrella, and offers lightweight, compact basic transportation.
Durability is minimal, but prices range from only $15 to $30 (canopy included).
This one's a great value, but not much stroller.
This is a relatively new style that folds compactly and is
lightweight but also offers many features found on more-expensive carriage
strollers (see below). Amenities such as a reclining seat, armrest, canopy, and
larger wheels are common but not standard. Prices range from $40 to $100, but
durability, as well as features, is compromised at the lower prices. The fabric
seats typically found in these strollers are more comfortable than the flat
board seats found in most carriage strollers (see below). Storage is usually
generous. (Most car seat/stroller combination products use some variation of a
This style of stroller, the traditional style for the past
30 years or so, generally has a seat back that fully reclines to create a
"carriage" position. In contrast, convenience strollers typically
recline to about a 30-degree angle. Usually carriage strollers are heavier and
do not fold as compactly. Prices range from $70 to $150. A reversible handle is
common so you can see baby while you push. Most newer models have a feature - a
boot - that prevents baby from sliding through the leg openings when the seat
is fully reclined.
Car Seat/Stroller Travel System
These combination products allow you to attach an infant car
seat to the stroller. Most include an autobase for the car seat so that you can
easily move your baby from the car to the stroller and back without unbuckling
or buckling any belts. The system's great advantage is that you need not wake
baby unnecessarily, since babies often sleep in the car. Prices range from $129
to $229. Important features to look for include a permanent attachment point on
the stroller for the car seat so you don't lose the attachment hardware, a
canopy that fully encloses baby in bad weather, and a canopy window so you can
keep an eye on your precious passenger.
Jogging strollers are special-purpose strollers that are
great for jogging or speed walking but typically aren't practical for everyday
use. Storage, seat padding, and seat recline, among other things, are usually
minimal. You can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $400.
Tandem strollers (with front and back seating positions)
usually lack storage, but because they are narrower than twin strollers, they
offer better maneuverability around retail-store displays. Twin strollers (with
side-by-side seats) offer big baskets and allow either or both seats to recline
at the same time. Of these two types, twin strollers are wider and therefore
more difficult to get into tight spaces. Both are quite large when folded
(except certain European twin-style models), so be sure the stroller you want
will fit easily into your car.
Stroller Feature Checklist
- Wheel size: Bigger
wheels roll more smoothly, but with two double wheels on the front, eight
inches is about as big as you want for easy steering.
- Storage basket: A
wide variety of sizes is available.
- Reclining seat:
Either full or partial recline is typically satisfactory for an infant, but
make sure the seat reclines to at least 45 degrees (halfway down).
- Shade canopy
- Viewing window in
- Adjustable handle
position: This is for taller users or to accommodate both parents.
- Armrest for child:
This gives your child something to hold onto and is a great place to attach
- Seat back height:
Make sure the backrest is tall enough for when your child gets older.
- Car seat compatible:
The attachment points should be permanent, because extra parts may get
- Replaceable wheels:
Nothing takes a beating like stroller wheels.
- Cup holder: This is
a nice feature to keep your hands free to push. It is not designed for hot
suspension: Smooths out the ride, especially for sleeping children.
- Swivel locks: Lock
front wheels in place for easier steering or rough roads.