Updated for 2017 – I’ve reviewed a lot of strollers since I started writing baby gear reviews — first for the Celebrity Baby Blog (now People’s Moms and Babies), Mommies with Style, and then finally Baby Center and on this blog. If you’re pregnant and looking for your first stroller, this is for you. If you aren’t happy with your current stroller, this post is for you. If you’re having another child, this post is also for you.
• Where you live (urban, suburban, rural)
• Will you be using public transportation?
• What kinds of terrain will you be walking the most on (sidewalks, trails, grass..)
• Do you want a jogger – ie. plan to exercise with your stroller?
• If you have a car, is your trunk big?
• What features do you absolutely have to have (extendable sunshade, large basket, extendable footrest, 3 recline settings)?
Urban Dwellers: You can go two ways with this; Either go for a large, full-featured ride or a lightweight stroller (or even get both). If you walk almost everywhere, don’t have a car, and plan to grocery shop and run errands while you’re out and about with baby — you may want to go for the luxury stroller with more storage. Also, if you really pound the pavement, your baby may be more comfortable in a stroller with larger wheels and an easy push. These strollers are designed to take a beating and still deliver a smooth ride for your little one.
If you take public transportation frequently, then you’ll want something lightweight that can quickly be folded up and carried up and down stairs. A shoulder carry strap will make it a little easier, maybe choose a stroller under 13-14 lbs.
Suburban: If you drive everywhere, size may not matter as much. But is a bigger stroller going to fit in your trunk? You’ll also need a stroller that you can fold easily (you don’t want to be fighting with your stroller in a parking lot, while your child screams in her car seat).
Rougher Terrains: Do you plan to jog with your child? Or stroll over trails often? You can use a jogging stroller, with either a car seat or reclined (just don’t jog until they have good head control – which is usually when a child is 6-8 months old and up). An all-terrain stroller will be able to handle rough roads, but you may not be able to jog with it.
Compromise — What features are optional?
Is a shorter sun shade a deal breaker? Can you deal with a smaller under basket if the stroller folds up easily? A lightweight stroller won’t have the room and will tip if you overload it. What about a cup holder? If the stroller doesn’t come with one, you can buy a caddy that velcros or snaps on. Choose what features are musts and what features are preferred. My kids rarely napped in a stroller, so I never cared about recline positions; but I didn’t want any of my children getting sunburnt, so I always went for strollers with generous coverage in sun shades.
Is this your first or second (or third) child?
Take siblings into account. Will your older child be a regular rider or an occasional rider? There are a few brands that can add second seats and grow with your family. You can also attach ride-on-boards, for kids that just want to hitch a ride. If you need a double, you can get a side by side double stroller or a tandem (one in front of the other) stroller. There are narrower side by side double strollers that will easily fit through doorways and ones that will barely fit in apartment elevator. Measure any place you think you may have trouble fitting your stroller into and then check against the stroller’s measurements. Tandem strollers have become increasingly popular in the last few years and are good way to take up a smaller footprint on the sidewalk. The only con with a tandem is that one child may be much lower to the ground and storage gets the short shrift (so, get a backpack to hold everything or use pannier bags).
But what about Travel Systems?
I honestly don’t like them. Yes, they have the car seat included, but when your child outgrows the car seat (between 7 – 12 months) you’re stuck with a heavy, clunky plastically stroller that you may not like. It’s not going to have the best features and not be great for everyday use. All strollers have adapters that you can buy so you can put a car seat on them. If you aren’t sure what you want, a stroller frame (that you fit the car seat into it) may get you through the first two to three months. Just remember, it’s not good for babies to be kept in car seats all the time. Find a stroller with a bassinet or one that reclines flat for little ones.
Start by shopping on Amazon (note: we will get an affiliate sale if you buy through this link).
Note: This post was not about recommending a specific stroller, it’s just what to look for when you go shopping. If you would like me to do a post recommending some brands, write a comment under this post and I’ll do a followup.
And yes, this post contains affiliate links.