How to Choose a Stroller
How to Choose a Stroller
June 2, 2020

How to Choose a Stroller

How to Choose a Stroller.
Photo by @xo_mrsdolan
No stroller is perfect, but this cheat sheet will help you answer (in ten easy questions) what stroller is perfect for YOU. How to Choose a Stroller

Deciding what stroller to get for your new baby is one of the toughest decisions you’ll likely make when building your registry. Whether you’re walking around the block or packing up for your next family vacation, your stroller is going to be one of your most frequently used pieces of baby gear. But it can be hard to anticipate what type of stroller you may need and what features are important versus what you can skip, and overwhelming when you consider all of the different types of stroller options available.

Spending a little time learning all things Stroller 101 can go a long way in helping you make this big decision. This quick guide covers the major types of strollers, what to keep in mind as you shop and the features parents appreciate the most.

In this article:

What to Consider When Choosing a Stroller

Choosing the right stroller for your family depends on a lot of different factors. What works for one family may not be right for another for lots of different reasons including things like cost, lifestyle, and family size. It’s important to think through all of these things before deciding on what stroller will be the right fit.

  • Cost: First-time parents are often shocked by how much strollers cost. If you do have the budget to spend more, pricier strollers will often feature things like better suspension systems and easier maneuverability, higher-end fabrics and color choices, and modular seats that can switch between front- and rear-facing or convert to hold more than one child. But don’t stress out too much over budget—while higher-end strollers can cost upwards of a thousand dollars or more, it’s also (very) possible to get a stroller that fits your needs for much less.
  • Lifestyle: This is one of the most important factors to consider when deciding on a stroller. Are you a city family who will be using your stroller all day every day or a suburban family who will mainly need it for walks around the neighborhood and short trips away from home? What kind of space do you have in your home or apartment for stroller storage? Will you need to haul your stroller up stairs or onto public transportation? Do you plan on using one stroller for all of your needs or buying an all-purpose stroller then adding on a travel or jogging stroller as your little one grows? Your stroller needs to meet the needs of your lifestyle, so think hard about these questions and more before deciding what’s right for you.
  • Family size: If you’re a one-and-done family or want to have several years between siblings, a single stroller will work just fine. But if you think there’s a chance you’ll have another child within the next three years, consider a single stroller that can convert to a double or even accommodate up to three kids (two seats + a stroller board). Babylist parents say one of their biggest stroller regrets is not investing in one that would convert to a double.

Types of Strollers

There’s a stroller type for nearly every situation—from jogging to traveling to taking a walk around the block. Here’s a breakdown of what’s what:

All-purpose stroller

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Also known as an everyday or full-size stroller, an all-purpose stroller is ideal for everything from a walk around the neighborhood to a family trip to the zoo. These are typically solid strollers that combine a smooth ride with convenient features like a storage basket, seat recline and cup holders. Most (but not all) all-purpose strollers are on the heavier, bulkier side and take a bit of effort to fold down. They vary in price from as low as a few hundred dollars to well over a thousand, and some are also modular and have the ability to change the seat direction or add on another seat or stroller board (an area for a toddler to stand and ride) down the road. These are some of our favorite all-purpose strollers.

Lightweight stroller

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These strollers can also be called travel strollers or umbrella strollers. Like the name implies, this type of stroller weighs less than your average stroller and takes less effort to lift in and out of your car trunk or bring on public transportation. Lightweight strollers usually have a slimmer profile to more easily navigate through narrow doorways and on crowded sidewalks. They’re also great for travel—some fold up small enough to fit in overhead airplane bins. Like most types of strollers, they vary widely in price. These travel strollers rank as consistent favorites.

Jogging stroller

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If you love to run, these strollers allow you to take your baby along for the ride. They’re not just for working out, though; jogging strollers are also great for traversing bumpy, uneven terrain. Super-sturdy with souped-up suspension systems, jogging strollers are made to absorb the bouncing that comes along with more intense speeds or uneven surfaces. They have three oversized wheels with a front wheel that either swivels or can be fixed in place depending on whether you need it to quickly turn or be more stable at fast speeds. Some come with features like hand brakes to stop or slow the stroller on the downhill or extra-large canopies to protect your little one from the sun if you’re running outside. Due to their large wheels and extra suspension systems, most jogging strollers are heavy and bulky, and although some can be used from birth if they allow for an infant car seat, it’s not recommended to run with your little one in a jogging stroller until they’re about eight months old. See our best jogging stroller picks here.

Double stroller

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For twins or kids born close together, a double stroller can be helpful. There are two designs to choose from: side-by-side doubles (both seats next to each other), or in-line, also called tandem or single-file (seats one in front of the other). There are also convertible strollers that start with one seat and have the ability to add another for a second child. If you’re having twins and want to use a double stroller from birth, you’ll want to look for a stroller that allows for two infant car seats at one time. These are some of the best double strollers.

Travel systems

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A travel system comes with a stroller and a car seat that attaches right to it. Travel systems have two main benefits: you can use them right from birth, and you don’t have to wake your baby to move them from the car to the stroller. They can also be more economical since you’re buying both items together. (Keep in mind that if you’ve fallen in love with a separate car seat and stroller, you can often make your own travel system–even if they’re different brands. Use our Infant Car Seat and Stroller Compatibility guide to check if they’re a good fit and to learn what adapters you’ll need to purchase.) You can learn more about the best travel systems and how to choose one in these guides.

Key Stroller Features

Even among the same type of stroller, features can vary a lot. Here, too, it helps to keep in mind how you plan on using the stroller the majority of the time. Evaluate these popular features to see which ones are most important to you:

Accommodates newborns

Not all strollers are suitable for newborn babies. That’s because newborns don’t have head and neck strength until around six months old, so unless there are certain features in place, they’ll slump over without the proper support. If you’re planning on using your stroller from day one, here’s what to look for:

  • A seat that can fully recline to a flat surface
  • A seat that reclines almost fully but comes with an approved newborn support accessory (like this Infant Snugseat from UPPAbaby, for example)
  • Ability for an infant car seat to clip into the stroller (a travel system)

One-handed fold

Being able to quickly open and close a stroller with one hand is a feature worth its weight in parenting gold, especially when you’re balancing a baby in your other arm. Even better? If the stroller is also self-standing, meaning when it’s folded it stands upright all by itself without tipping over.

Washable fabric

If you know babies, you know they’re messy. Your stroller seat will take a beating from spit-up, drool, drippy bottles and snack accidents, so it’s great if you can remove the seat cover and throw it in the washer.

Adjustable handlebar

An adjustable handlebar, often also called a telescoping handlebar, makes the stroller comfortable for everyone to push no matter their height. This is a great option if you and other caregivers are on entirely different latitudes.

Sun canopy

A bigger canopy provides more shade and privacy for your little one. Many canopies, especially larger ones, have peekaboo windows for you to check on your child without breaking stride. Some also come with a magnet closure so it’s nice and quiet.

Stroller basket

A typical stroller basket, located under the seat, is certified to hold 10 pounds. (For context, one gallon of milk is about 8.6 pounds). If you plan on doing a lot of shopping with your stroller (if you’re a city dweller, for example, and will use your stroller for grocery shopping), look for a stroller with an XL basket. Accessibility is important, too; you’ll want a basket that has a wide opening to access your items otherwise you’re going to be frustrated trying to wiggle things in and out.

Stroller Accessories

The right stroller accessories can make being out and about with your baby easier and more comfortable. Some to consider:

  • A raincover
  • Bunting for colder climates
  • Toy attachments
  • Snack and cup holders
  • Stroller boards

Find out more about which accessories may be useful in our stroller accessories guide.

Choosing the Right Stroller for You

Ready to start shopping? Browse the strollers that other parents voted best of the bunch in our Best Strollers Guide, keeping in mind the features you really need or want. With so many options, we’re confident you’ll find one that meets most, if not all, of your criteria. Before you know it, you’ll be showing your baby this big, beautiful world.

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