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A Guide to Strollers

Unless you’re planning to hunker down at home until your child is in Kindergarten, you’re going to need a good stroller to get you and baby from point A to point B. Today’s stroller selection is more versatile and assorted than ever so it’s a good idea to educate yourself on the pros and cons of each style. You may buy one stroller that suits all your travel needs or you may find you need several different types to work best with different activities.

First, think about where you live and how you imagine a stroller coming into play. If you live in a city where subways, buses, and cabs are an everyday mode of transportation, you’ll want a lightweight, compact stroller that folds quickly. If you take long walks or jog, it’s best to look at strollers with large air-filled tires. Rough terrain like snow, grass, or rocky areas will be best navigated with the help of large wheels.

Umbrella Stroller – The most basic type of stroller is the umbrella stroller. These are basically slings of fabric attached to a metal or hard plastic frame with curved handles. Umbrella strollers are lightweight and portable and fold up to about the size of a … well, an umbrella. Umbrella strollers generally start at about $20 but can go all the way up to $150. In general, the less expensive it is, the less supportive it is. Cheaper models shouldn’t be used with infants for this very reason, but they’re fantastic for a tuckered-out toddler. An umbrella stroller generally does not accept a car seat, and they’re best used for short trips.

Standard stroller – Many strollers could fall into the “standard” category from those weighing 11 lbs. to more heavy-duty models weighing 35 lbs. Most likely, every retailer you visit will place different strollers into the “standard” category. It could include lightweight strollers that are just a step above an umbrella stroller or sturdy, heavy-duty strollers, or even strollers that can be accessorized with separate components like bassinets.

Travel systems – Ah, the travel system. Parents love travel systems because the guesswork is done for you. A travel system includes an infant car seat, a car seat base, and a stroller. The car seat fits in the car seat base and the stroller so parents can easily move the baby from one to the other. And parents don’t have to guess at whether the pieces will work together – they know they will. Most choose to keep the baby in the car seat and lock it into the stroller until the baby is a little bigger. Some strollers in a travel system have seatbacks that can fully recline and leg holes that can be closed off to make a carriage. Some travel systems are lightweight and easily stored while others are heavier. They certainly have their convenient features, but some may be bulky and difficult to slide into trunks.

Seat – carrier frames – Parents who want the benefit of a travel system without the bulky stroller will find a seat-carrier frame an excellent choice. These frames have no seats at all. They’re designed to hold your infant car seat, and not much else, so they’re compact and easy to maneuver. They’re also inexpensive because your car seat is doing double duty. The only downside is, once the baby outgrows the infant car seat, they’ve also outgrown the seat-carrier frame.

Jogging strollers – Having a baby doesn’t mean giving up your morning jog. Jogging strollers are three-wheeled strollers that feature hand brakes, and non-swivel or lockable front wheels that are great for jogging, but not for maneuvering. These are ideal for serious joggers or off-road walkers thanks to the large, air-filled tires that create a smoother ride on all surfaces. A wrist strap should be attached to your wrist and the stroller at all times when you’re running with a child in the strollers. The appropriate minimum age for a child to ride in a jogging stroller is still up for debate. Many manufacturers suggest the child be 8 weeks or older, but medical consultants recommend children be at least 6 months of age and able to sit up and support their heads for the potentially jarring ride. Jogging strollers tend to accommodate heavier children and are therefore expected to have a longer life. You can even find double and triple jogging strollers with weight limits of 100 to 150 lbs. Jogging strollers can be large and bulky and may require removing the front wheel to get them in your trunk.

Double Strollers and More

Tandem stroller – It’s no fun dragging two tired kids through the zoo or the Farmer’s Market so it’s best to make sure they both have a ticket to ride. Tandem strollers are one style of double stroller that is great for two kids. A tandem stroller features two seats, one in front of the other. They’re the same width as a standard stroller and easily fit through doorways and store aisles. Some tandem stroller models feature a reclining rear seat. Front seats don’t recline so as not to limit the legroom of the child in the back. There are even face-to-face tandem stroller models – great if your kids get along, not so great if they don’t. These face-to-face models would feature two reclining seats – just be mindful of your clearance for the kid up front! Some tandems accept infant car seats, but you should check the models for this feature. The downside to tandems is that many are difficult to steer and manipulate curbs. They can also be heavy and challenging to get into car trunks.

Side-by-side stroller – Perfect for kids who are about the same weight, like twins, side-by-side strollers are another option of the double stroller. Each seat in the side-by-side stroller has an independent recline mechanism so both kids can be adjusted to their comfort levels. These double stroller styles go over curbs more easily than tandem models and some even accept infant car seats though some brands limit it to one seat only. While you can use a side-by-side stroller with children of different sizes, it may pull to one side due to the uneven weight. When folded, many models take up twice the space of a single stroller, and some parents worry whether they’ll fit through all the doors they may encounter on their outing.

Sit and stand stroller – These unique and versatile double strollers can be used as a tandem stroller or the back seat can be removed so an older child can stand for the ride. Both seats generally feature cup holders and canopies and many models will accent an infant car seat in both seats. Sit and stand strollers have full-frame construction to meet the weight capacity required, so they weigh from 26 to 33 lbs. They maneuver and fold the same as a tandem stroller.

Multiple child stroller – When you’ve got a whole flock to keep track of, you’ll be thankful you have a multiple child stroller. Engineered to handle the additional weight, multiple child strollers can hold up to 160 lbs. They offer the same basic features like a tandem stroller or side-by-side stroller but have room for three or four children. Most multiple child strollers are quite heavy and don’t fold as compactly as smaller strollers. They can be difficult to get in and out of trunks.

Stroller Features

Restraint system – Look for a 5-point harness that will secure a child more firmly and do a better job than a 3-point harness. Most are made of think nylon webbing. Also, check that the buckles won’t be easily manipulated by a child.

Wheels – A good rule of thumb is: The larger the wheels, the easier it is to maneuver over curbs and rough surfaces. Most strollers feature swiveling double wheels in front for easy steering. These wheels will usually lock into a forward-facing position for rough terrain. Three wheel strollers usually have a non-swivel front wheel for jogging.

Leg holes – Leg holes are required for carriages and strollers designed for newborns or young infants. Leg holes are designed to prevent slipping. Manufacturers use mesh or fabric shields or hinged, molded footrests that raise and clamp over the leg holes. Strollers with leg holes that cannot be closed should not be able to fully recline.

Brakes – For a stroller that might be moving at fairly high speeds, a touch brake works quickly and effectively. Most jogging strollers have hand-activated brakes near the handles for slowing down at a fast pace. Brakes on both rear wheels are the safest and nearly every stroller is equipped with these. Many require activating a tab over each of the rear wheels to lock brakes in place.

Canopy – It’s important to protect the baby from harmful UV-rays and rain so a canopy is an important stroller feature. Some are simple pieces of fabric between two wires while others pull down to shield almost the entire front end of the stroller. Reversible canopies will protect the baby from ahead or behind.

Handlebars – The quality of the handles are usually indicated by the price of the stroller. A cheap umbrella stroller, for instance, will probably have a simple plastic coating over the hands while a more expensive, heavy-duty stroller will have thick, cushioned handles. Adjustable handlebars are a great feature to keep all stroller drivers comfortable, but not many strollers have them. Umbrella strollers nearly always feature two separate handles and therefore will require two hands to steer. Strollers with single crossbars allow for one-handed steering.

Folding mechanism – Look for a one-hand open and fold mechanism. It’ll be no problem opening the stroller with one hand while the baby’s in the other arm. The best strollers will fold compactly in seconds, and it’s also nice to have a stroller that will stand upright after it’s folded.

Trays – Trays can be a real lifesaver when you’ve got a hungry tyke on your hands. They’re even better when they’ve got a cup holder. Trays should be removable or easily folded out of the way so you can get the baby in and out.

Boots – Some strollers feature protective leg coverings or “boots” that snap over the baby’s legs for warmth. A must-have for those who spend a fair amount of time outdoors in the colder months.

Shock absorbers – If your stroller doesn’t have air-filled tires molded from foam that offer a smoother ride, look for shock absorbers. These covered springs or rubber pads will help create less turbulence for babies.

Fabrics and upholstery – First and foremost, your stroller should have fabrics that are easy to clean. You’ll want to be able to spot clean spills on a day-to-day basis and you’ll want something that’s machine washable for more serious cleaning. Removable seat pads are a good feature, too.

Baskets – You’ll use that basket under the stroller more than you think. They vary by size so choose one that has room for a diaper bag at the very least. Check that the basket is easily accessible even when the seat is reclined and always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for storage. Overloaded strollers can fall over, and no one wants that.

Now that you’re equipped with the ins and outs of all your options, we hope you’ll find it easy to find the right stroller for you and your baby. Happy travels!

 How To Choose A Stroller

When choosing a stroller that is right for you and your family there are a few main points to consider:

  • Price range that you are comfortable with
  • The activity that you will be using the stroller for the most
  • Maneuverability
  • How many children you have and their ages

Price Range

Your parents probably told you when you were young that you get what you pay for. This is especially true when you are choosing a stroller. We literally carry the best strollers in the world, but we also carry their less expensive counterparts

Let’s face it, having children is expensive and most parents keep a close watch on their budget. When it comes time to purchase a stroller, it can be tempting to save some money on a less expensive stroller. Our advice in this area is to get the best stroller that fits within your price range and to be a little flexible on your top price. So if you’re looking to spend under $150 but you find a good quality stroller for $160, you will probably be better off paying a little more.

Activity

The kind of activities that you will be pursuing with your baby is a very critical factor in making the right stroller decision. If you are mainly going to take walks in the park on smooth paved trails, shopping in stores, and generally staying “on-road” then the strollers in our Around Town & Shopping sections will probably fulfill your needs.

If you are going to be taking active walks on bumpy trails, jogging or running on any kind of surface, then you will need to look at our running strollers and jogging strollers. If you will mainly be taking active walks on smoother surfaces, then our walking strollers should perform well for you.

For more information on choosing a jogging stroller that is right for you, we have a section that goes into more detail about how to choose a jogging stroller

If you are going to be using the stroller in humid areas or near the ocean, make sure that you have an all-aluminum frame so that it does not rust. Most importantly, be sure that your stroller is suited for the activity you will be using it for regularly. Trying to make a stroller that is designed for smooth surfaces go off-road will just make you and your baby unhappy.

Maneuverability

This is something that is often overlooked by parents until they have gone through a couple of strollers. You can save yourself some time and money by planning ahead. Those cool-looking jogging strollers with huge wheels can deal with any bumpy road you throw at it, but they can’t turn on a dime. If you are going to be in stores a lot, you will want to consider a stroller that has smaller wheels with front wheels that swivel to let you maneuver easier.

Don’t let that discourage you from getting the jogging stroller of your dreams, just keep in mind that you will need to tip the stroller back to make any sharp turns. A lot of parents who love their jogging strollers also have an inexpensive “around town” stroller since 20-inch wheels are overkill for the shopping mall.

How many children you have and their ages

Remember that an infant must be able to lay flat in a stroller, so a lot of strollers simply do not work for infants. A popular choice to ensure that your stroller can grow with your child every step of the way is a travel system that can accommodate a bassinette when your baby is an infant and then convert to a sit-up stroller when they are older.

If you have two or three children, then you will need to be especially thoughtful about your stroller choice. Inline strollers where the children sit with one in front and one in back are generally easier to maneuver and get through smaller doors than side by side strollers. However, for jogging and running, most double / triple strollers are side by side models.

If you have considered all of these points, then you are ready to choose the stroller that is right for you! Feel free to call or e-mail at babystrollerss@outlook.com us with any questions you have. If you have narrowed your selection down to a few strollers and need help choosing from them, one of our staff will be happy to assist you.