From high-tech jogging strollers to ultra-light umbrella models, there are hundreds of baby strollers on the market. Choosing the right option for your family can seem overwhelming, but understanding the types of strollers available and identifying the features that matter most to you, will help you make the right decision.
A standard stroller can be the workhorse of your family, allowing you to tote the baby to the bus stop, around the block, or all over the shopping mall. These sturdy models can last through multiple children, but they can also be heavy. They're best for families who plan to use them close to home and won't be driving them over rough terrain.
There are many reasons to consider a standard stroller:
- They often come with a wealth of helpful features like parent cup holders, a large storage basket, and a handy child tray.
- In most cases, these strollers are built to last for years.
- Standard strollers are often compatible with infant car seats from the same manufacturer, allowing you to use them with very young babies.
Standard strollers aren't best for everyone due to a few potential drawbacks:
- Because of their size and weight, some models are hard to maneuver.
- Many models are very heavy, making them hard to lift in and out of vehicles.
- The large size of these strollers may not be practical for people with smaller cars or limited storage space.
- Many standard strollers come with modular components you can add, but these items also add to the price.
Certain models stand out from the crowd, and one of these may be perfect for you.
Another great choice that's a bit more affordable for most families is the Britax B-Ready. Diapers.com recommends this modular standard stroller and reports that it is the best-selling model in its class. There are several attachments you can purchase separately, including a baby bassinet and a second seat, and this stroller works with any Britax infant seat. Advantages include an adjustable handle bar, shock-absorbing tires, and multiple reclining positions. The stroller's weight, a considerable 29 pounds, is its primary disadvantage. This model retails for about $375 on Diapers.com.
The easier to maneuver, more portable cousin of standard strollers, lightweight options are perfect for families who live in the city and need to haul their strollers in and out of vehicles and up and down stairs. A lightweight option is also a good idea if you need to maneuver around corners or through crowds or want a stroller that fits into any vehicle with relative ease.
You don't have to be a city dweller to appreciate the advantages of these lighter models:
- Lightweight strollers often have many helpful features, including parent organizers, baskets, and child trays.
- These strollers are typically smaller and easier to carry.
- Many lightweight strollers also work with infant car seats from the same company.
- Depending on the brand, a lightweight stroller may be more affordable than a standard model by the same company.
Even though there's a lot to love about lightweight strollers, there are a few disadvantages as well:
- Although lightweight strollers have many of the same features as standard models, the storage baskets and trays are often smaller. This may make them less practical for day trips and other long excursions.
- If you use your stroller every day and plan to use it with multiple children, a lightweight model may not meet your needs for durability.
There are hundreds of lightweight strollers on the market, but certain models are especially popular with consumers.
Britax 2016 B-Agile 3
The Britax 2016 B-Agile 3 three-wheeled stroller is very easy to push and maneuver, and it offers lots of parent-friendly features like a large storage basket, one-hand fold, and compatibility with Britax infant seats. The five-point harness and all-wheel suspension system make it a safe choice as well. The main complaint about this model is the lack of a parent tray on the handle bar. It retails for about $430 at BabiesRUs.com.
Travels systems, or sets that include an infant car seat, base, and compatible stroller, are popular registry items. Depending on your needs, they can be a good way to get a deal on your stroller.
There are a few reasons a travel system may be right for you:
- Infant seats are terribly heavy, and having a stroller that accommodates your baby's car seat can save your back.
- These strollers allow you to transfer the baby from the car to the stroller without having to wake him.
- Since you buy the stroller and car seat as a set, you often get a better price than you would buying them individually.
Travel systems aren't for everyone, since they have a few disadvantages:
- You don't get to pick the stroller on its own merit and instead must purchase the one that comes with the infant seat.
- Many travel systems include heavy strollers to accommodate the infant seat, and they may be too cumbersome for some families.
If you're in the market for a travel system, there are a few popular models to consider.
Baby Trend Expedition ELX
The Baby Trend Expedition ELX has an easy-to-steer three-wheeled design, a large storage basket, and a handy parent tray with integrated MP3-compatible speakers. The car seat easily clicks in and out of the stroller and comes with its own base. The set retails for about $212 at Amazon.com.
Britax B-Agile and B-Safe
The Britax B-Agile & B-Safe 2015 Travel System rates 4.4 out of 5 stars from Amazon customers. This system has an impact-stabilizing steel frame and a foam lined shell that helps protect a child in the event of an accident. The set retails for about $400 at Amazon.com.
If you have an active lifestyle, a jogging stroller may be a great choice. These models tend to have rugged frames, large wheels, and great stride clearance. However, while they are ideal for jogging, they can be cumbersome to maneuver.
One of the most useful and lightweight options for older kids is the umbrella stroller. These slim, portable strollers fold up for easy carrying, and they are easy to use when traveling. Learn about the options for umbrella strollers before you decide.
If you have more than one child who needs a ride, a double stroller is the way to go. The right model for you depends on your situation and budget.
How to Choose a Baby Stroller
Decide on a Budget
Before you begin shopping, decide how much you're comfortable spending. You can find simple umbrella strollers for as little as $20, but you can also spend $1000 on a high-end modular system. Know how much you can afford so you don't fall in love with a stroller that's out of your range.
Consider How You Will Use It
Next, think about how you will be using this stroller. Will you be taking walks around the neighborhood and the occasional trip to the mall? Will you be toting your stroller on the subway or bus? Do you travel often with your baby or need a stroller for exercise? Some strollers, like jogging models, are designed for a specific purpose. Others are ill suited for certain lifestyles due to their weight or size. You may find that you need to purchase more than one type of stroller to handle your lifestyle.
Make a List of Features
Strollers come with all kinds of helpful features from one-handed fold to an integrated MP3 player. To narrow down your options, make a list of the features you want and need. Consider some of the following:
- Five-point harness for keeping baby safely in place
- Good braking system for holding the stroller steady during loading and unloading
- Compatibility with your infant car seat
- Easy folding and unfolding, preferably something you can operate with one hand
- Storage basket for shopping bags, your purse, and other essentials
- Baby tray for snacks, sippy cups, and toys
- Parent organizer or cup holder
- Wide sunshade for protecting baby
- Adjustable or height-appropriate handle
- Fun colors to show off baby's sense of style
Test It Out
Once you've selected a few strollers that meet your needs and fit your budget, it's time to test them out. If possible, stop by your local department store or baby store and try the floor models. Wheel them around the store to check their maneuverability, comfort, and handle height.
Hit the Road with Your Baby
A stroller is a major purchase and an essential piece of baby gear, so choosing the right one is important. Fortunately, all it takes to decide on the model for you is knowing a bit about the types of strollers on the market and understanding your own needs and budget. Soon, you and baby will be hitting the road in style.