How to Choose a Stroller

How to Choose a Stroller

Last Updated: March 18, 2016
How to Choose a Stroller Feeling overwhelmed? Need some advice to find the stroller that’s right for you? Here we break down the different types of strollers and when to use them. Use this guide to help you figure out the best stroller for your family’s needs and priorities.

With some baby gear items, which type you choose won’t make much of a difference. Most car seats and cribs have similar features, no matter which brand you buy, and choosing your nursery furniture is mostly a matter of taste. But with strollers, things can get complicated.

One stroller is perfect for getting around the city on public transit, while another is great for transporting your three kids and all their gear around the park. We’ve recently compiled the Best Strollers of 2016. Which type is best for you depends on your lifestyle, and it’s hard to know what you’ll need when your baby isn’t even here yet.

In this guide, we’ll give you an overview of the major questions to consider while deciding on a stroller:

  1. When will you use your stroller?
  2. How long do you want your stroller to last?
  3. What other features do you need?
  4. How much do you want to spend?

1. When will you use your stroller?

First, think about when and where you’ll be using your stroller. This includes storage (will you need to lug it up several flights of stairs? Fold it with one hand while climbing on a city bus?) and terrain (indoor shopping malls or bumpy city sidewalks and parks?). A glance around your neighborhood and the places you think you’ll be walking with baby will help you narrow down which type of stroller you want.

Versatile Value: The Standard Stroller

For parents who travel through cities, suburban sidewalks, parks, and small stores.

WHY WE LOVE IT

With this model, you can keep your stroller collection to one all-purpose vehicle. Heavier than an umbrella stroller but not as bulky as a jogging stroller, standard strollers range from the bare-bones to full-featured. A higher-quality standard stroller will have good suspension and lots of room for gear, but it will still be small enough to store pretty easily (usually in your trunk) and fold up without too much trouble. Most have seats that recline (so you can use even if your baby can’t sit up yet) and some amount of suspension for bumpy grass or roads. If you want to use your stroller in a lot of situations but don’t need a specialized stroller, a standard is a good choice.

KEEP IN MIND

You can’t run with a standard stroller, so if you plan to go running with baby to keep you company, you’ll need a jogging stroller. And a standard stroller is heavier and bulkier than an umbrella stroller, so if you need to carry it on public transit or travel with it, you may want a lighter option.

POPULAR PICKS

On the Go Ease: The Umbrella Stroller

For parents with older babies who travel a lot and take public transportation frequently.

WHY WE LOVE IT

An umbrella stroller is super lightweight (usually under 12 pounds) and minimalistic. Most umbrella strollers fold easily with one hand, and they’re light enough to carry under your arm while you’re holding a baby on your other hip. It’s the perfect stroller for walking around flat, surfaces like a mall or exploring the city on public transit. It’s also great when you have a toddler who wants to alternate between walking and riding in the stroller. These models easily fit in the small spaces in your trunk and many umbrella strollers even have a carrying strap so you can toss it over your shoulder when it’s not in use.

KEEP IN MIND

Most umbrella strollers have minimal suspension, so they aren’t great for bumpy outdoor terrain. If you’ll be walking on the grass at the park or navigating old, bumpy sidewalks, opt for something with better shocks. They also don’t have a lot of storage, and they’re usually not sturdy enough to hang your diaper bag on the handle, so if you need to carry gear for a full day out of the house, consider a bigger option. Finally, most umbrella strollers don’t fully recline, so you can’t use one till your baby is at least six months old. Until your baby can sit up well and has good head control, she’ll need a stroller that lets her lie back with full head support.

POPULAR PICKS

Heavy-Duty: Jogging Stroller

For active parents who want to exercise or explore the outdoors with baby.

WHY WE LOVE IT

Light to push and steer but bulky to fold and store, a jogging stroller is designed for maximum comfort at high speeds over bumpy terrain. If you want to keep up your high-impact exercise regime with baby in tow, a jogging stroller is essential. Even if you don’t run, if you want to walk baby over bumpy park paths without worrying he’s getting bumped around too much, a jogging stroller could be just what you need.

KEEP IN MIND

Jogging strollers are big and bulky. If you need to maneuver through crowds or squeeze through tight spaces (think narrow aisles in stores), don’t bring a jogger. And if you have a small trunk, your jogging stroller’s large wheels may not even fit in your car, so you might be confined to neighborhood use only.

POPULAR PICK

The BOB Revolution (shown here) is far and away the most popular and loved jogging stroller there is.


2. How long do you want your stroller to last?

Once you’ve narrowed down which type of stroller you want, think about how long you want to keep using your investment. Some strollers only work for infants, while others convert to doubles or even triples so they’ll fit your whole family aboard.

Here are your choices in long-term flexibility:

Perfect Set: The Travel System

For parents who drive a lot and want to coordinate their baby gear.

WHY WE LOVE IT

A travel system is a matching set of stroller and car seat. The car seat is designed to snap into the stroller, so you can take your baby in and out of the car on multiple errands, all without ever taking him out of the car seat. Travel systems are great when baby is little and naps in the car seat. Once he outgrows the infant car seat, the stroller works for older kids too. In addition, you can save money on both car seat and stroller by buying them as a set.

KEEP IN MIND

Travel system strollers often don’t have as many options as stand-alone strollers. When you’re looking for a system, you might not find all the options you want in a car seat and a stroller as you would if you bought the two pieces separately.

POPULAR PICK

A favorite pick is the Britax B-Agile 3 and B-Safe 35 Travel System (shown here).


Mix ‘n Match: Stroller With Bassinet or Car Seat Adapter

For parents who like flexibility but also want to buy their stroller and car seat separately.

WHY WE LOVE IT

If you want a stroller that will work from early infancy to toddlerhood but don’t want a matching travel system, opt for a stroller with an infant add-on. Many strollers have a bassinet add-on: use the bassinet for when your baby is a newborn, then swap it out for a regular stroller seat once your child is ready to sit up. Or, if you don’t want to buy a whole bassinet addition, look for a stroller that allows you to add an adapter and snap on the car seat.

KEEP IN MIND

Not all car seats are compatible with all strollers, so you’ll have to do your research. If you choose the bassinet option, you won’t be able to move the baby from the car to the stroller without unstrapping him and possibly disturbing him, so consider a car seat attachment instead if you’ll need to move back and forth a lot between the stroller and the car

POPULAR PICK

The UPPAbaby Vista (shown here) is a great standard stroller that also comes with a beautiful bassinet.


Room For All: The Convertible Stroller

For families with multiple kids (or at least more in the future).

WHY WE LOVE IT

If you plan to have more kids and have the money to invest in a single-solution stroller, a convertible stroller could be everything you’ll ever need. Convertible strollers include different add-ons that let the stroller grow with your family. Start with a bassinet for your first newborn, then switch to the regular stroller seat at six months. When you have your second kid, add a rumble seat for the big sibling, and when it’s time for your third baby, add a running board for the toddler. Convertible strollers last for a long time and give you maximum flexibility, letting you push three or even four kids with a stroller that’s not much bigger than a standard single stroller.

KEEP IN MIND

Convertibles are expensive! They’re also big and bulky, although a convertible with the singleton option usually isn’t any bigger (and may even be smaller) than a jogging stroller. And, of course, you shouldn’t jog with this type either - the best stroller for a serious workout is a specialized jogging stroller.

POPULAR PICK

The Baby Jogger City Select is a favorite among parents of multiple children, including those with twins.


3. What other features do you need?

You’ve narrowed down which type of stroller you want, but there are still a few more options to consider before you find “the one.” Each type of stroller has brands that offer different features, so take a look at these optional extras before you make your final choice.

  • Adjustable Handlebar
    If you’re 5’ and your partner is 6’1”, then an adjustable handlebar will ensure your stroller will be comfortable for both of you to push. Otherwise, you may end up buying “his and hers” strollers so neither of you is bending down or pushing at an awkward angle.

  • Washability
    Your tiny baby will soon grow into a toddler who spills juice on the seat and throws raisins in the cargo section, so your shiny new purchase won’t look new for long if it’s hard to clean. Some strollers come apart for easy washing, while others can only be spot-cleaned.

  • Brakes
    All strollers have brakes, but some are easier to use than others. Try a few in a store to figure out if you prefer a foot brake or a hand brake, and make sure the brake on your stroller is conveniently located and easy for you to use.

  • Style
    Hey, if you’re spending this much on something you’ll only use for a few years, you should like the way it looks! There are a lot of different stroller styles, so spend some time browsing through pictures so you can get a feel for the type of look you want.


4. How much do you want to spend?

Finally, consider your stroller budget. Although certain types of strollers (convertibles) are always more expensive than others (umbrellas), there’s a wide range of price within each category. Once you decide on the stroller you want, explore different prices from different brands and keep an eye out for good deals (a perk of registering for baby early!). Just remember you’ll probably want some accessories as well, so make sure you include those in your budget!


Choosing what’s right for you

Buying a stroller is no picnic. But by thinking ahead about how you’ll be using your stroller and the qualities that will serve your family best, you can cut down on some major stress (and time!) in the future. And once you’ve decided which general type you’re interested in, be sure to check out our picks for the Best Strollers of 2016!