A stroller is a significant, very personal purchase for your family. You may need a stroller that can hold up to the long distances you want to walk, or one that will be durable enough to handle a bouncing toddler or soothe a tender infant. You may need one that is light enough to load in and out of your car, or one you can easily haul up and down your apartment steps. You may want a stroller that makes a fashion statement. Whatever your needs, you need a stroller that will get the job done.
HOW WILL YOU USE YOUR STROLLER?
It's easy to get lost in fancy features and new updates, but there are two questions you should answer first to help you pick the perfect stroller:
How will I use my stroller?
What will I need from it?
Most lifestyles fit into one of four categories: Park Goer, City Dweller, Jogger, or Shopper.
Ask yourself which lifestyle fits you best.
The Park Goer: For you, a stroller is needed for outings to the park or occasional walks around the block. You will most likely prefer one that can handle bumps without a problem, but you don’t need to go as extreme as an all-terrain or a jogger.
Features to Prioritize: Tire size and tread, canopy size for shade, cup holders and storage compartments (for holding snacks, drinks, phone, keys, etc.) and car seat compatibility
Good Option: Baby Jogger City Select 2
The City Dweller: Your stroller may often feel like a primary mode of transportation. You’ll take it everywhere: through all sorts of weather, buildings, terrain, and large crowds. You will want one that is very durable but light, remains clean, folds quickly and easily, maneuvers well, and has a ton of storage space!
Features to Prioritize: Maneuverability, stroller width, fabrics, storage basket, and accessories
Good Option: UPPAbaby Vista V2 or Cruz V2
The Jogger: You will have a bit more research to do. Jogging can be stressful on a child's body due to all of the jolting and jostling, so finding a quality jogging stroller is a must. They can be bulky, so many families who use a jogger stroller also have a standard stroller. You can definitely get away with only a jogger if its size isn’t a problem, though. For more details on choosing the right jogger, see our Jogging Stroller Guide.
Features to Prioritize: Suspension, tire size, wheel locking, and handle height
Good Option: Bob Revolution Flex 3.0 Jogging Stroller
The Shopper: If you need your little one to tag along on a lot of shopping expeditions, you need a stroller that is light and easy to load in and out of the car. You’d also benefit from a stroller that is part of a travel system (a car seat that conveniently attaches to the stroller), and are not very wide in order to weave between all of those great sale racks!
Features to Prioritize: Easy and compact fold, car seat compatibility, storage compartments, maneuverability
Good Option: UPPAbaby Minu
SINGLE OR DOUBLE?
Single strollers are less expensive, less bulky, and there are a lot to choose from. Umbrella strollers are light, simple, and convenient for travel.
A good double stroller, though larger and more expensive, can be a life-saver once you have two little ones to transport!
However, if more children are in your future, consider investing in a single stroller that can grow with your family. Some expandable strollers can grow to accommodate three kids! You’ll save money and the trouble of buying a new stroller every time a new bundle of joy comes along.
A good double stroller can cost anywhere from $300 to $800, but an additional seat on an expandable system only costs around $180. You may pay more up-front for an expandable stroller, but it will be cheaper in the long run. (Pro tip: family and friends are much more likely to help you out with buying that really nice stroller for your first child rather than your second.)
The Nuna Demi Grow Stroller allows you to attach a second seat and/or an infant car seat to suit your family’s needs:
The Baby Jogger City Select 2 can also accommodate a second seat, and even a glider board to make it a triple stroller.
HOW ABOUT THE SEAT?
Strollers can come with a lot of seat options.
Let’s get technical for a second: strollers can be single modular, double modular, single-seated, or double-seated. What does that all mean?
Modular and double modular: There are one or two seats that can each change directions. So on a single modular stroller there is only one seat that can either face forward or face towards you. On a double modular stroller there are two seats that can face forward, face towards you, or face each other.
Single-seated or double-seated strollers: These are classic strollers with seats that only face forward. A single-seated stroller may only accommodate one seat that will only face forwards. A double-seated stroller has two seats that cannot face different directions.
Some things to consider:
Do you want to change the direction(s) of your seat(s)? This can be convenient as your child/children grow, or when you have multiple children at different ages (in the case of double modular strollers). A modular stroller allows you to customize to your situation.
How far down the seat(s) can recline? This can determine the age at which you can begin to use the seat with an infant.
Is the canopy and harness height adjustable? Make sure the seat can grow with your child.
What kind of a fold do you want? Single and double seated strollers tend to have a more convenient quick-fold, whereas single or double modular strollers tend to have a two-handed fold.
The Baby Cubby YouTube page has plenty of how-to videos you can check out to see the specifics of various strollers and decide what fits you.
HOW WELL DOES IT PUSH?
Test push your stroller! Ask the store if you can take it for a test walk. Try it out in the parking lot, on the sidewalk, even on a patch of grass. If you’re local, come to The Baby Cubby and push-test our strollers to your heart’s content on our cubby stroller track! We let you test out all types of terrains like gravel, cobble, wood chips, and more. We always suggest taking two or three strollers out to compare how they feel.
If you're a jogger, do a few laps around the parking lot. Try pushing the stroller with one hand and see how it moves. Try sharp turns versus wide turns.
Do the most you possibly can with the stroller prior to purchasing it. Think about your lifestyle and where you’ll be taking your stroller. A stroller is a big purchase, and you want to be sure it fully fits your needs.
Check the Tires - determine how well your stroller will take bumps and affect its maneuverability.
Small, hard tires: These are the most common types of tires. Often made from hard plastic, they are easily dented and not suitable for uneven surfaces. Strollers with hard wheels are ideal for those who only use their stroller indoors.
Hybrid tires: These tires are common to higher-end, full-size strollers. They have a hard plastic outer layer with a layer of foam on the inside. These wheels will provide the same control over rough terrain as all-terrain tires but can’t be punctured and deflated.
All-terrain tires: These tires are common to jogging and all-terrain strollers. Since they function like regular bike tires, they handle rough terrain extremely well but can also be punctured and deflated.
DO I NEED MORE THAN ONE STROLLER?
Many families own two or three strollers. It is not uncommon for families to have a full-sized stroller, an umbrella stroller, and a jogging stroller (if they’re runners). A full-sized stroller is convenient for times when you need storage space and possibly a place for kids to nap. They are sturdy, comfortable, and highly functional, especially on long outings. An umbrella stroller is ideal for children who may just need a place to sit for a minute before bouncing out again. They are light, don’t take up much space, and are usually pretty basic. And joggers, well, that's self explanatory. If you do not want to purchase more than one stroller, consider the following:
Only Full-Sized Stroller: If you are having more than one child and planning on them being fairly close together then you will want to consider a full stroller that is single and double modular. This will give you the benefit of growing with your family. They are often great for brisk walks as well.
Only an Umbrella: There are deluxe umbrella strollers that sacrifice few features while still being convenient. A few can even become travel systems you can use from birth. Look for ones that can fully recline or have a car seat attached like the UPPAbaby G-Luxe.
Only a Jogger: If a jogger is what you want, find a jogging stroller that is more of a hybrid--not incredibly bulky with extra-large tires, but one with smaller tires and a smaller footprint.
The Storage Basket
Strength: Most baskets have a weight capacity of about 15 to 20 pounds, but some can accommodate up to 50 pounds. If you are a city dweller this will be especially important as you may be placing groceries and other heavy items in the basket.
Size: The basket should be big enough for all the groceries, outdoor toys, jackets, and shopping bags you foresee needing on your outings.
Ease of Access: Some baskets have a side zipper that allows you to unzip it while the seat is fully reclined. This can be a huge benefit if you don’t want to disturb a napping toddler.
Adjustable Handle Bars
Telescoping Handle Bar adjusts by sliding in and out of the frame. The angle of the handle will remain the same no matter the height.
Pivot Handle Bar adjusts by moving up and down from a fixed point on the frame, changing its angle. It provides a change in height, but not a dramatic one. So if you and your spouse are very different heights, you may want to consider a telescoping handle.
Full-Sized Strollers: These canopies are often large enough that they will cover a child's entire body from the sun or rain, except possibly the legs of a child sitting up. Some have extra flip-out sun shades that basically place your child in a bubble to protect them from the weather! Some have peek-a-boo windows so you can check on your child without removing the canopy at all.
Umbrella stroller: These generally have the smallest canopies (sometimes none at all). To keep their profile small and easily storable, the canopies provide very little cover. Keep this in mind if you’re planning on long days out in the sun.
Joggers: The canopies on these are extra large and often can be moved all the way forward so that if you are running straight into the sun, your child will be completely shielded from it.
Not all strollers can accommodate the same size/weight. Most stroller seats can hold up to 50 pounds, but not all seats are the same length or height. If you have (or will probably have) tall children, find a seat that is on the longer side.
Make sure you are aware of all the accessories that do or do not come with the stroller you want to purchase. Possible accessories include:
Car seat adapter
Additional cup holders/trays
The stroller weight is an important factor. You may be walking around town or jogging for miles with a child anywhere from 5 to 50 pounds in your stroller--that can be a lot of weight! When testing out a stroller, fold it up and lift it. If it is not too difficult for you to fold and lift, then you should be able to push it for long periods of time and load it in and out of your car with no problem.
Many full-sized strollers have one-handed quick fold. This is a great option if you are constantly on the go or want the ease and convenience of quickly folding. Other full-sized strollers require a two-handed fold that is usually not as quick but still easy. Consider how much of a priority a quick-folding stroller is for you.