The lowdown on strollers
A stroller is a key piece of baby gear typically needed right from the start until a child is able to walk a distance on his own, by about age 3 or 4; many parents use their strollers until their child is 7 or 8 if they’re walking long distances or for a long day.
With so many different types of strollers available, though, it can be hard to tell which one is right for your family. Consider where you live, where you expect to push your stroller, and how much you want to spend. If you plan to take your child on long urban walks, you’ll need a stroller that’s sturdy but easy to maneuver over curbs, in and out of shops, and through on public transportation. If you live a suburban or rural car-oriented lifestyle, your stroller should be easy to fold and fit in your car.
If you’ll use a stroller mainly for quick errands, you can probably get away with a simple car-seat stroller frame for younger babies and a lightweight stroller for older ones. Active moms and dads who want to bring their baby along when running or hiking will want a rugged jogging stroller. You may end up with several strollers in your closet or garage as your child grows and your needs change.
Types of strollers
Standard strollers come in many different styles and designs, but will almost always have a comfortable padded seat that can recline into different positions. Most have sunshades and storage areas below the seat. In some strollers, the baby faces forward, while others position the child looking back at the parents. Many models can shift from one orientation to the other. They can range from simple, inexpensive strollers to high-end strollers loaded up with features.
Car-seat stroller frames are lightweight metal frames designed to carry specific types of infant car seats. You remove the car seat from its base in the car, snap it into the stroller frame, and you’re rolling. (This is especially convenient when you need to take a sleeping baby out of the back seat.) These frames are easy to fold up and throw in the trunk of your car, and don’t take up much space. But once your baby outgrows her infant car seat (usually when she hits 35 pounds or so), you won’t be able to use one anymore.
Travel systems are standard or jogging strollers that can also carry an infant car seat. Travel systems are larger, heavier, and more expensive than a stroller frame, but you can use them after your baby has outgrown her infant car seat. Travel systems typically include a stroller and matching infant car seat.
Lightweight strollers, sometimes called umbrella strollers, usually weigh 12 pounds or less and fold up compactly. These no-frills strollers may not have much padding and sometimes aren’t very adjustable, but they are usually less expensive than models with more features. They’re better for toddlers and older babies (check the manufacturer’s age recommendation). Some families use them as backup strollers or for traveling. Most aren’t suitable for infants because they don’t fully recline or have much head support.
Jogging strollers feature 3 bicycle wheels on a lightweight frame and deliver a smooth ride for both pusher and passenger. They’re great for taking your child on long walks, runs, and even hikes through the woods (if the trail is wide enough). Some jogging strollers carry more than one child, either side-by-side or one-behind-the-other.
In urban environments, jogging strollers can scale steep hills and navigate over curbs. But their size makes them hard to maneuver up and down stairs, into elevators, or through stores, and they don’t fold up as compactly as other models.
Note: You may need to purchase additional parts to use a jogging stroller safely when your baby is younger than 6 months old. Some fully recline for infants, but if yours doesn’t, you’ll have to buy an infant-car-seat adapter or a separate bassinet or “carry cot” made for your stroller.
Double and triple strollers let parents push 2 (or more) children at once. In tandem models, one child sits behind the other, an arrangement that can be useful for a baby and an older sibling. Some traditional strollers have the option of adding a platform behind the baby’s seat where an older sibling can stand. The other option is a side-by-side model.
Tandem strollers are easier to maneuver through doorways, though the rear seats on some models can lack legroom. Side-by-side strollers can be harder to wheel down a crowded sidewalk, but the seats are equally comfortable for all passengers.