By Amy Venzke
You’ll need a stroller when your baby is a newborn—and also when she’s a toddler who can’t trek across the zoo on her own. You’ll want one that’s lightweight and easily foldable for errands, but you’ll also need something more sturdy (with plenty of storage) for walks and long periods of time away from home. Maybe you’ll want to take your baby out for a run. And if you have another child, you might want a stroller built for two.
You probably won’t find a single stroller that meets all of your needs. That’s why the average family owns two or three, according to the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association.
There are hundreds of ways to stroll with your baby and several stroller categories to choose from. How do you start narrowing down the field? Keep these three factors in mind.
1. Your baby’s needs over time
Some strollers are intended only for certain ages, while others can be adapted as your baby (and family) grows.
Until your baby is six months old, when she can lift her head, she needs to be fully reclined when riding in a stroller. Many parents look for a stroller that’s compatible with their infant car seat, which is typically used for the baby’s first year. By using a stroller/car seat combo (often known as a “travel system”), you can let sleeping babies lie while transitioning from the vehicle to the stroller.
Most parents start with one of these options for babies younger than six months:
After six months, your baby is ready to sit up in any stroller. For a second or third stroller, many families purchase a lightweight (or umbrella) stroller or a jogging stroller.
When buying for a newborn, think about your lifestyle when your baby is older than six months. Do you plan to buy an additional stroller then? Which will be your main stroller?
In thinking about how many years you'll get from a stroller, do some mental math on its weight limit: While most strollers are designed for children up to ages three or four, some (like jogging strollers) can carry up to 75 pounds, giving you additional years of use.
2. Your lifestyle
Urban dwellers who get around on public transportation probably wouldn’t buy the same stroller as parents cruising the suburbs in an SUV.
Ask yourself these questions when choosing a stroller that fits your lifestyle:
What kind of terrain will you be navigating? Will you be pushing the stroller through city streets, suburban neighborhoods, parks or trails?
How active do you expect to be with your baby? Will you be going on walks often, or is the stroller mainly a means of transportation from point A to point B?
Where will you store your stroller? Will you roll it straight into your garage or keep it folded in a closet or the trunk of your car?
How much storage space will you need? When you’re out with your stroller, how will you carry your diaper bag, toys and snacks?
Do you plan to have more children? If you expect to have two children close in age, will you want a double stroller with side-by-side seats or one that converts from a single to a two-seater?
3. Your price range
Depending on its quality and features, the price of a stroller varies widely: from less than $200 to more than $1,500. As with anything from a pair of shoes to a piece of furniture, you can buy a stroller to last for a matter of months or for years to come.
On the long list of products needed for a baby, a stroller stands out as one worth an investment in quality. While relying on it every day, you won’t want to deal with one that breaks, doesn’t fold easily or is tricky to maneuver (think of an uncooperative cart at the grocery store). That’s especially true if you plan to use the same stroller for multiple children.
What else makes a high-quality stroller worth the price?
Advanced features, like the ability to change the direction your baby faces
Lightweight aluminum that makes the stroller easier to lift and carry
Tires or rubber wheels (instead of plastic wheels) and better suspension for smooth and sturdy handling
Manufacturer warranty coverage for as long as three years, as compared to as short as 90 days for low-end models
Fashionable styles, colors and prints
To learn more about choosing the right stroller for your family, click here to read our in-depth stroller buying guide!