Buying a stroller may seem like just another decision on the long list of baby-related choices you have to make, but you want to make sure your little one is toted around in the right carrier.
We’ve compiled a buying guide to help you identify the best stroller for you and baby. From the different types to the small details, we outline what you should look for in a stroller:
- Stroller type
- Safety and comfort
- Size and weight
- Timing your purchase
Strollers cart around your precious cargo, so it takes some careful consideration to decide which is the right one for you. There are several types, and each is designed for a specific purpose. Before you set your heart on a particular carrier, think about what type of stroller is best for you and your family.
- Stroller frames/car seat strollers: These carriers are designed so that a car seat can attach to the stroller frame securely. This type of stroller system allows parents to move baby from car to stroller without disturbance. Compact, lightweight and easy to fold, stroller frames are good for short errands, everyday use and traveling. Most stroller frames are compatible with car seats of the same brand. Or, if you want to purchase a frame from a different manufacturer, adapters are also available.
- Travel system: Great for parents always on the go, travel systems combine a car seat and stroller into one. These strollers also grow with your child, from newborn to toddler. Though the combo is great for everyday use in addition to travel, these systems tend to be on the bulkier side.
- Jogging: Jogging strollers are built for navigating rugged terrain, which is great if you enjoy hiking, running or other outdoor activities. These stroller types have large wheels, which make them bulky. They also have small storage baskets, which might make it hard to pack for baby.
- Double: Whether you’re toting around twins or kids of different ages, double strollers are good options for families with more than one small child. There are a few different types to fit your needs: Side-by-side, tandem and sit-and-stand strollers are the common models available. Double strollers are bulkier, so maneuverability is important to consider.
- Umbrella: Umbrella strollers are great for parents always on the move. Lightweight, compact and easy to fold, these work especially well if you’re traveling or live in a city dwelling where you’re likely to encounter public transportation and stairs. If you’re considering an umbrella stroller, make sure it has the proper harness required for your child’s age.
Safety and comfort
When buying a stroller, a top priority is keeping your baby safe. Infants need a four- or five-piece harness to keep them secure, whereas 3-year-olds need only a three-point harness to hold them in place. The stroller should have adjustable straps so the harness isn’t too loose or tight as your child grows.
Comfort is also something to consider, for both parent and baby. Some strollers come equipped with padded reclining seats and sun canopies to protect your child from the elements. Check whether a stroller has adjustable handlebars so that you can push it comfortably. Also, make sure you have enough space between the wheels and your feet so you’re not kicking the stroller while you maneuver it.
Unless you’re opting for a travel system stroller, make sure the stroller you purchase is compatible with your baby’s car seat, or see whether you can purchase an adapter that will lock in the car seat to the stroller chair. Babies up to a year old could slide around in regular strollers, which is why some parents prefer to keep infants in a car seat and attach it to a stroller.
» MORE: Best double strollers
A one-handed folding feature can make traveling with baby much easier. Some stores will let you test strollers before you buy, so try folding the carrier if this convenience is important to you. If that isn’t possible, look up videos to see the stroller’s foldability.
Strollers are designed to work on certain terrain. Most can handle a few laps around the mall, but if you plan on taking baby out for a jog or a hike, you’ll want a stroller that can keep up with you. A jogging stroller keeps baby safe and comfortable, and can cover rough ground. Or if you’re a city dweller, you might prefer a lightweight stroller that’s easy to fold and carry but can maneuver well on bumpy sidewalks.
Strollers aren’t just for carting around your little one; they may have to carry all of baby’s and your necessities as well. Many people prefer a large storage basket, but bigger undercarriages might cause the stroller to be bulky. Some newer stroller models have pockets on the back of the seats or on the sides for extra storage and easier access.
Some strollers come fully equipped with accessories such as cup holders, canopies or parent trays, but others do not. Check whether the stroller you’re eyeing has all the pieces you want or whether you’ll need to buy them separately.
» MORE: Best side-by-side strollers
Size and weight
Even if you’re not constantly taking it up and down stairs or putting it in and out of your car, the stroller shouldn’t weigh so much that you can’t lift it comfortably. And you should also factor in the size of the stroller. If you don’t want a bulky one, stroller frames (or car seat strollers) and umbrella strollers might be good options: They’re compact, lightweight and won’t occupy too much of your car’s trunk space.
Timing your purchase (if you can)
According to Consumer Reports, baby-related items tend to be discounted in November, but it is possible to find sales year-round. Sign up for email alerts about price reductions at major retailers such as Babies R Us, Target and Amazon. Some users have also found sales by following brand accounts on Facebook and Twitter, which can offer an insider look at upcoming deals and discounts.
Nina Tabios is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected].