We talked about some awesome new strollers yesterday and for some of us, choosing a stroller can be one of the toughest pieces of gear to decide on. Not only are there lots of options but there are lots of types of strollers. Our stroller buying guide does a great job of breaking down the six main types of strollers – full size, umbrella/lightweight, jogging, snap n go, travel system and double. For your reference, here is all of our stroller reviews in one handy place. But what is a telesscopic handle, air filled wheels or rubber wheels? Do you really need more than one stroller? Hopefully we can answer all of that and more for you here today. Let’s walk through the considerations…
pictured: UPPAbaby Vista
As with any piece of baby gear, your lifestyle is probably the most important consideration. Certain strollers work better in certain environments. But we aren’t talking urban/surburban here. Because we’ve suggested great strollers for an urban lifestyle like the Baby Jogger City Mini, the Bugaboo Camelon to name a few. We’ve also suggested some great suburban strollers like the BOB Revolution but in reality many strollers cross the the boundaries. What I really mean by lifestyle here is YOUR lifestyle – what do you do? No matter where you live – the question is, what purpose do you want your stroller to serve? If you live in a downtown Chicago and lead an active lifestyle – jogging, long walks/runs, rough terrain then by all means the BOB Revolution is for you. Or maybe you are a suburbanite that wants a stroller with a smooth ride and easy to fold BUT converts to a double stroller in case you add another babe down the road – the UPPAbaby Vista would be a great fit for you. So my suggestion is either mentally take note or physically write down the most important features you desire in a stroller.
The catch here is sometimes, there isn’t one stroller that can meet all your needs which leads us to #2…
2) How many strollers are you willing to register for/purchase and store?
One of our most popular posts is about how to reduce your baby gear footprint. In that post, I say with one stroller (the City Mini GT) you can eliminate two others. So instead of three you only get one. And that definitely is true and doable.
But still for some of us its not. The perfect case study just may be my situation. I wanted a stroller that was sturdy enough to navigate the urban jungle and had ample storage/basket space with (ie, a full size stroller) and could convert to a side by side double stroller. I also wanted a stroller that could fold quickly and was compact enough to easily get in and out of my car. The combination of all my features does not exist in on stroller. Therefore, I had to get two. One to keep in my car and one to keep in our condo. I ultimately went with the Bugaboo Donkey and Britax B-Agile and it is as close to a perfect situation as I could ask for. The Donkey is not so easy to fold and not a great option for in/out of the car. The B-Agile isn’t quite as luxe as the Donkey and has minimal cargo space so the best solution was pairing them together and storing them in separate places. With the pending arrival of baby #2, I am going to have to upgrade my “car” stroller to a double but even so, I feel like the 18 months I will have spent with my B-Agile was worth the investment.
I am by no means advocating you should have multiple strollers because in reality, I could have made one concession and opted for a conversion to a inline double stroller and gotten the UPPABaby Vista – which is a perfectly awesome stroller.
Bottom line, when you think about your features and needs/wants realize that it is okay to not give up any functionality and add an additional stroller to the Registry. Or make a concession or two and live easy, breezy with your ONE stroller (I am still jealous of you people with only one stroller!).
This is where strollers can get confusing. Manufacturers specifications cover everything from weight limits to tire types to recline position and everything technical about your stroller. Here are some important things to know when dissecting Specifications:
- Harness/Safety. Most strollers have a 5 point harnesses. A 5 point harness is definitely the safest and pretty much a necesity for infants. If you can, test the harness out in store both for ease of use with the child and adjusting for a growing child – some strollers can be a real pain to adjust for a growing child.
- Wheels. Some strollers have rubber tires while some have air filled tires. In reality, most strollers we discuss on our site have air filled tires. While they require a bit more maintenance they do provide increased stability, maneuvering and a smoother ride. For example, a snap n go stroller like this one has rubber tires. The UPPAbaby Vista has air filled tires. Is one better than the other? Depends on what you are doing. If you are walking through a smooth grocery store the snap n go’s rubber tires will fair just fine. If you are cruising down a bumpy side walk you want the shock absorption that air filled tires have. Another note about wheels, some strollers, like jogging strollers and double strollers have the ability to lock the front swivel wheel. The locking of the wheel further increases stability and is ideal for jogging or long jaunts. Again, most air filled tires are stable as they are but if you plan on off roading, jogging and/or uneven terrain than the option to lock that front wheel may be appealing/necessary for you.
- Recline positions. A stroller cannot accomodate a newborn if it can’t fully recline or does not have a bassinet attachment unless it works with your infant carseat or a carseat adapter can be purchased separately. Even some with the “near flat” position wouldn’t be ideal for a newborn. Recline is also good for the growing child – a napping level, chilin’ level and alert level are all nice options to have. Pay attention to how the seat reclines. Some strollers have an abrupt/not so smooth recline. Just think if your babe falls asleep and you want to make them more comfy but the recline is noisy or rough – your sweet sleeping babe is now an angry awake babe!
- Seat positions. Seat position applies mostly to full size strollers. Some full size strollers have the ability to reverse the seat so if you desire your little one to face you they can or if they prefer to look around, you can flip the seat and have it face out. Until the new Baby Jogger Vue we mentioned yesterday is released, there are no lightweight strollers on the market that have this ability.
- Handles/handlebars. Handles/handlebars vary from stroller to stroller. For example, most umbrella strollers have two handles which isn’t bad but does make one handed maneuvering difficult. Many strollers have adjustable handlebars which is handy (no pun intended) and means that it can comfortably accommodate varying height parents. It is also handy for storage… think crowded restaurant, being able to shorten the handlebar and pull the stroller all the way up to the table – nice, right? This adjustable handlebar feature would be considered a telescopic handle. All it really means is that it has pieces that fit inside one another to conserve space. So lets just call it a a “space saving adjustable handlebar”, okay? wink wink
- Fold. Maybe one of the most important or desired “specs”. Pay close attention to how your stroller folds, if it requires removal of any accessories as well as how big it will be when it is fully folded. I was just talking to a friend yesterday who was over the moon when she get her BOB Revolution Duallie but unfortunately, after it was too late, she realized it would not fit in her trunk when it was folded! I always advise measuring first and understanding the dimensions of your folded stroller. Many of the lightweight strollers have a super easy one handed folded. Some of the full size strollers (like Bugaboo’s) require seat removal prior to folding. Other full sized strollers, like the Vista can fold with the seat ON = awesome feature. Again, lifestyle and your use for the stroller plays a big part here.
- Brakes. All strollers have them and if they don’t move on to a different model! Most are foot operated but play close attention to where it is on the base of the stroller. Some strollers have them right in some parents foot path which could lead to mid step breaking – eek. More intensive use strollers like joggers and doubles actually have hand operated breaks which is a snazzy feature (and a must for joggers).
- Canopy. Again, a feature all strollers have. You want an adjustable, ample canopy. All canopy’s are not created equal so make sure the one on the model you are considering is ample enough for you. If it is not see the next bullet point for what you could do to extend the manufacturers canopy. In a perfect world you want some sort of peek a boo window to be able to see what your little one is up to especially if they are facing away from you. Even if they face towards you having a source of air flow is a bonus.
- Accessories. Accessories covers everything from canopy extenders to cup holders to rain covers to foot muffs and beyond. Understand what accessories your stroller comes with and what will need to be purchased separately. Accessories can be expensive and having to spend an extra $100 to get everything you need can be a pain. Carseat adapters also fall into this category. In most cases, unless you are staying within brand (ie, a Britax infant carseat on a a Britax stroller) you’ll need to buy a separate carseat adapter. They can range in price from reasonable to expensive so do your homework up front to avoid any surprises. However, it is by no means a must to have to place your infant carseat on your stroller so this could be a moot point if that is not a feature you’d like to have.
The bottom line is there is no “perfect stroller” I would tell every single one of you to run out and get. It depends on you, your lifestyle and your general preferences. The good thing is if you read this entire post you know more about choosing a stroller than you probably ever thought you would so go out there and perfect the perfect one(s) and tell me what you decide!
Do you have any other questions regarding strollers we can answer? Are you in a bind with which stroller to choose? We can help with your choice, email us directly or leave your predicament in the comments!