How To Choose The Right Baby Stroller & Accessories
The first time I was going to choose a baby stroller, I was completely bewildered. It felt like I needed to attend a Strollers 101 course just to understand all the types available and why one type would be better than the others.
We have now had 8 different strollers… and I know pretty much what works and what doesn’t.
In this post, you’ll find some tips to help you out in the stroller-buy-jungle when choosing both stroller type and accessories.
Tips For Buying A Baby Stroller That Suits Your Needs
Go for quality
Do you know the saying: Buy quality, cry once…?
That is very true for baby strollers! This doesn’t mean that you have to buy the most expensive baby stroller in the market. Some of the very expensive design strollers actually continue to be criticized from a safety perspective.
But it does mean thinking twice before buying a stroller from a completely unknown brand just because it seems to be a great deal.
You are likely to use the baby stroller quite a lot and maybe even for more than one child. Fabrics that easily tear, brakes that don’t really work and a folding mechanism that drives you crazy will – drive you crazy!
If you are on a tight budget, consider buying a strong>used quality stroller, or be very careful when examining the new, low-price stroller that you want to buy.
This is where the trouble begins… At least that’s what I thought as a mom-to-be. There are so many different kinds of baby strollers; how can anyone choose the right one?
Well, after 8 strollers, I can tell you there is a little bit of trial and error involved here to figure out which type suits you and your family best. But then I must admit I didn’t really ask anyone for advice before buying a stroller the first time.
Here are the basic different kinds.
- Standard baby strollers
These are the old-fashioned, heavy strollers that include all sorts of features you might need. My personal favorite among these are the carriage stroller, like for example the cool Bugaboo Cameleon Stroller, which comes with a really nice bed for the baby. Also, with such a stroller, your baby is always facing you.
However, you need to look for a carriage stroller that can be converted to a regular stroller for older babies or you’ll have to buy yet another stroller after six months or so.
But most standards strollers today work great for both newborn infants and older babies.
The disadvantage of a standard stroller is its size and weight. If you plan on lifting the stroller in and out of the car very often or if you have back problems, you might want to consider a lightweight stroller instead, or as a complement.
- Lightweight strollers
These are perfect for traveling or going to the mall for a short while. Usually, your baby is not as comfortable in a lightweight stroller, and some are completely inappropriate for newborn babies because they lack good back support. But they are a great complement to the standard stroller.
There are also more expensive lightweight strollers in the market that can be used also for young babies that can’t sit up yet.
- A Travel System
A travel system is the most innovative form of strollers. They are standard strollers with an additional feature of an infant seat, which fits on and off the stroller so that your baby doesn’t have to wake up all the time while switching from stroller to car and car to stroller. Once the infant has grown up, it may serve as standard stroller.You can see an example of a popular travel system here. (Link to Amazon, opens in new window)
- Jogging Stroller
If you plan on exercising a lot with your baby, a jogging stroller might be a good choice. As they are usually quite bulky, though, I wouldn’t have this as my only stroller. Rather have this as an extra stroller, and consider buying a used one. Many jogging strollers are not recommended for babies younger than 6 months as they do not recline completely.
- Double stroller
Are you expecting twins or will you soon have two young children? In such case, a double stroller is very practical, sometimes necessary.
If you need a stroller for two children, consider either a big, regular twin stroller like the JOOVY Scooter X2 Double Stroller or a very cool compact solution for stroller walking with two kids; the Phil & Teds Classic Stroller with Double Kit.
There are of course many good brands for double strollers, but Phil and Teds is my personal favorite. It is very easy to use and the children don’t grow out if it fast, at least not their regular side by side twin stroller. Our four year old can still be comfortable in it on long walks.
Whatever you do, don’t buy a double stroller that doesn’t have swivel wheels. Why? Because it becomes so heavy to have to lift the pushchair all the time to make even the slightest turns.
So, conclusion: A standard stroller/carriage that is appropriate for a newborn baby and that converts to a regular stroller or a really high-quality lightweight stroller is probably what you need as your main stroller.
So that made the choice slightly easier – now what?
There are several other things to consider as well; read on!
Do your homework
Once you have decided what type of baby stroller to buy, it is time to narrow your choice a bit more by looking at all different features available at different brands and strollers.
Safety is the first thing to consider. How sturdy is the stroller? Does it remain stable with a weight like a diaper bag, hanging with its handle?
How’s the harness system? Is it five-point or three-point? You’ll need a five point harness if your baby is active and keeps leaning toward the things you pass by, whereas, if the baby is the more quite type, a three-point harness would do. A five-point harness is good for these infants as well of course.
Do the brakes work and are they easy to use? Just imagine having to stop you toddler from running downhill into a street, while desperately trying to stop the stroller from rolling away using the useless brakes. That’s a nightmare!
Another part of doing your homework is to look for reviews online or in parenting magazines. Check for recalled models and brands that often seem to have problems. Then choose another brand. There are so many strollers available, that you really don’t have to buy from a brand that doesn’t seem to care enough for security or comfort. Amazon is an obvious choice for finding relevant baby stroller reviews.
Wheels and handles
The next thing to consider is the handle and wheels of the stroller.
Strollers are available with adjustable handle, which makes them equally good for tall and short people. If the parents are tall and the babysitter happens to be short in height, it may be a very helpful feature.
Always try to take a walk with your stroller before buying it, try to move it through a crowd so as to check its handling, walk with quick long paces so as to check that your feet don’t collide with the back wheels.
These days many strollers have swivel wheels. The first time I tried such a stroller I didn’t like it at all. It felt as if the stroller wouldn’t go straight forward but constantly made small turns. Irritating. But this was in the early years of swivel wheels.
Today, most swivel-wheeled strollers are great. Very convenient to not have to lift the stroller every time you make the slightest turn. Do try to walk with the stroller you intend to buy to make sure the wheels work well for you. Some strollers also have wheels that can be locked if necessary. This can be very practical for example when walking in a lot of snow.
If you need a twin stroller, definitely buy one with swivel wheels.
The size of the wheels is also important to consider. Larger wheels are much better in rough terrain or in snow. So if you don’t plan to walk only on paved roads and in malls, consider buying a stroller with at least medium-sized wheels.
The next thing that comes is the other convenience features like a canopy, a rain hood, toy bars, drink holders and diaper bags etc, but these should not be the cause of buying or rejecting any baby stroller, they’re just extra features. They’re all independently available in the market. A good rain hood is a nice extra to have, if you are the type who likes to take walks. Many babies also sleep really well in the stroller, so brisk walks are a perfect way to combine getting back in shape as a new mom, with a baby that naps really well!
Buying a used stroller
A stroller, as opposed to an infant car seat, can definitely be bought second hand.
It might not be as fancy as a new one, and you really need to ask about the brakes, and the folding mechanism, as well as the overall condition of the stroller. Also, make sure you check safety reviews for the particular model. But it is, of course, a lot cheaper than buying a new baby stroller! (But not as much fun… 😉 )
A baby stroller is actually a great piece of baby gear to shop online. Why? Because you can save so much money!
Go ahead and visit your regular store for baby gear to try strollers from different brands, but then don’t buy anything until you’ve compared with prices online.
I’ve bought strollers online at almost a 50% discount online and with faster delivery that at my nearest baby shop!
Here are three stores with a great variety of strollers and accessories:
If you want to add a stroller to your baby registry, read my post on great stores for your baby registy here.