Stroller Buying Guide

Stroller Buying Guide

By Amy Venzke

amy@strolleria.com

 

What’s the best car for your family? There’s no one answer. It depends on whether you want a luxurious ride or something more economical. The size of your family and your garage. Whether you’ll be navigating the streets of a crowded city or off-roading on trails. Even your sense of style influences the car you buy. 

Buying a baby stroller involves the same decisions, which can be similarly overwhelming. A stroller is one of the biggest and most important purchases you’ll make for your baby. As with a car, it’s something you’ll use every day, and finding a stroller that’s comfortable and safe is a top priority.

We’re here to help you choose the right stroller for your family. In this stroller buying guide from Strolleria, you’ll learn:

  • Stroller buying basics and factors to consider in your purchase
  • Characteristics of full-size, convertible, lightweight, double and jogging strollers—and the benefits and limitations of each type
  • Features and accessories to look for in a stroller
  • How to test-drive a stroller 

Ready to stroll? Read on!

How to choose a stroller

stroller buying guide

You’ll need a stroller when your baby is a newborn—and 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 several stroller categories and hundreds of models to choose from. How do you start narrowing down the field? Keep these factors in mind.

Strollers for infants

Some strollers are intended only for certain ages, while others can be adapted as your baby (and family) grows.

Until your baby is about six months old, when she can support her head, she needs to be fully reclined when riding in a stroller. That means strollers that require a baby to sit more upright, like jogging strollers and umbrella strollers, can't be used until later on.

To start, many parents look for a stroller that’s compatible with their infant car seat, which is typically used for the baby's first year until she graduates to a convertible car seat.

By using a stroller/car seat combo known as a "travel system," you can let sleeping babies lie while transitioning from the vehicle to the stroller.

But you can also attach a bassinet to your stroller—or simply use the stroller seat itself, as long as it reclines to a flat position that's safe for an infant.

For babies younger than six months, most parents start with one of these options. 

Stroller with infant car seat (travel system)

stroller buying guide

While some manufacturers sell "travel systems" as a set, most strollers and car seats are sold separately.

With the exception of lightweight umbrella strollers used mainly for travel later on, all strollers sold by Strolleria are compatible with infant car seats. We typically recommend picking out your stroller first—you'll likely have at least a few choices for a compatible car seat.

Some manufacturers, such aUPPAbaby, Nuna, Cybex and Peg-Perego, manufacture both car seats and strollers. For these brands, the car seat either connects directly to the stroller or connects using adapters that are included with your stroller purchase.

Other brands only manufacture strollers, not car seats. Still, these strollers can be paired with another brand's car seat with the purchase of car seat adapters (an accessory that typically costs between $20 and $50). 

With higher-quality stroller models, the seat is removable so that you can replace it with the infant car seat.

In other cases, the stroller seat cannot be removed, but the infant car seat can be inserted on top of the stroller seat. When your baby is ready, you can use the stroller without the infant car seat. 

Stroller with bassinet 

stroller buying guide

Some high-quality strollers can be used with a bassinet in place of an infant car seat.

Not only is a bassinet more spacious, it's also safer for long-term use. Experts recommend that infant car seats be used only for traveling in the car—not for hours of sleeping. Plus, bassinets tend to be more ventilated and breathable compared with car seats, which, with their protective foam, can make babies hot and sweaty.

Strollers including the Bugaboo Fox, Cameleon and Donkey; the UPPAbaby VISTA and the Silver Cross Wave come included with a bassinet approved for overnight use. Bassinets are sold as accessories for several other stroller models.

Rather than purchasing a separate bassinet, many parents use the stroller bassinet as baby's first bed next to their bedside. A bassinet also makes for a portable sleeping option for weekend trips and nights at the grandparents' house.

Stroller with lie-flat seat 

Stroller seats are safe for newborns as long as they fully recline to a flat position. Some brands also make infant accessories, like a seat insert with plush head support, to provide additional stability for the baby's head and neck.

Car seat frame/carrier

stroller buying guide

As an alternative to a stroller, parents can purchase a car seat frame or car seat carrier such as the Maxi-Cosi Maxi Taxi. These products are sometimes referred to generically as a "Snap-N-Go," which is the name of a specific model.

With these products, the infant car seat becomes a minimalistic stroller by snapping into the lightweight frame, which does not include a stroller seat.

Pro: Frames are inexpensive and easy to use. Con: You won't be able to use them once your baby outgrows her infant car seat—and still needs to ride in a stroller. Additionally, stroller frames have lower-quality wheels and can be more difficult to maneuver on different surfaces.

A similar option in a category all its own is the Doona, a car seat with built-in wheels that tuck under the seat when not in use. Like a car seat frame, the Doona can be used only until the baby outgrows the infant car seat.​​​​​​​

Which stroller is right for me?

stroller buying guide

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. 

Do you plan to have more children?

stroller buying guide

If you expect to have two children who are both stroller-age, consider a convertible stroller: one that converts from a single stroller to a double stroller.

Convertible strollers give you the flexibility to change the stroller based on your needs and spare you from having to purchase two strollers over time.

Start with it as a single stroller, add a second seat for a double, then take it back to a single when your older child doesn't ride in a stroller anymore.

Convertible strollers like the UPPAbaby VISTA, Baby Jogger City Select/City Select Lux and Nuna Demi Grow are purchased as singles, with second seats sold separately if and when you need them.

What kind of terrain will you be navigating with your stroller? 

stroller buying guide

Will you be sticking to city streets and sidewalks or venturing out to parks and trails? Strollers are similar to bikes: Some people are content with a basic beach cruiser, while others need a high-end mountain bike for rough terrain.

If you're planning to use the stroller on dirt, grass, gravel or sand, look for a stroller with larger wheels and all-wheel suspension that absorbs shock and glides smoothly over various surfaces. Examples of strollers with all-terrain wheels include the Bugaboo Fox, Stokke Trailz, Nuna MIXX2 and Cybex Priam.

If you're really roughing it, you may want to consider a jogging stroller, which has extra-large, air-filled tires as opposed to the foam-filled wheels on most regular strollers.

How active do you expect to be? 

stroller buying guide

Will you be going on walks with your stroller often, or is it mainly a means of transportation from the car to your destination?

Your activity level should influence your stroller decision, just like it does for your choice of shoes. You can get away with inexpensive flip-flops for short jaunts, but for longer distances, you'll want something sturdier and higher-quality.

Only jogging strollers such as the Thule Urban Glide, BOB Revolution Flex and Bumbleride Indie are considered safe for running, as they have large, air-filled tires that are made to absorb shock. Some families use a jogging stroller for everyday purposes, too, but the downside is they tend to be heavier and bulkier because of the wheel size.

Where will you store your stroller? 

stroller buying guide

Will you roll it straight into your garage or keep it folded inside your house? How does the stroller fit into the trunk of your car? Note the size of the stroller in both its folded and unfolded states before you buy. 

How much storage space will you need? 

stroller buying guide

When you're out with your stroller, how will you carry your purse or diaper bag, toys and snacks? If you want to take everything along for the stroll, you might want a substantial stroller like the UPPAbaby VISTA or the Austlen Entourage, both of which have huge storage baskets that can carry just about everything.

But if you pack light or plan on carrying a backpack or diaper bag, you might choose a stroller like the Babyzen YOYO+ or the UPPAbaby MINU. These strollers weigh around 14 pounds—about 10 pounds lighter than the average stroller—but have substantially smaller wheels and less storage space.

Stroller prices

stroller buying guide

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 well 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?

  • Quality endures throughout use for multiple children
  • Removable and reversible seats so that you can change the direction the baby faces and replace the seat with an infant car seat or bassinet
  • Lightweight aluminum that makes the stroller lighter, more durable and easier to carry, as compared to plastic strollers
  • Foam-filled rubber wheels or air-filled tires that offer better maneuverability and more durability than plastic wheels
  • All-wheel 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
  • High resale value for as much as two-thirds of original purchase price

Introduction to Stroller Types

In this section, we'll explain the uses, benefits and drawbacks for six different types of strollers:

  • Full-size strollers
  • Mid-size strollers
  • Lightweight strollers
  • Convertible strollers
  • Side-by-side double strollers
  • Jogging strollers

Full-size strollers

stroller buying guide

The full-size stroller is the staple: usable from day one until your child is a toddler. Many full-size strollers offer a wide range of features, such as compatibility with an infant car seat and bassinet, a fully-reclining and reversible seat, a sizable storage basket, and sturdy wheels with suspension.

Some full-size strollers are also convertible strollers, meaning that they can become a double stroller with the purchase of a second seat. 

Best for

  • Families who want a long-lasting, comfortable stroller with plenty of room for storage and a growing child

Age range

  • Newborn to 50 pounds

Benefits

  • Can grow with baby from birth to age 3-4, and in some cases, expand to accommodate a second seat 
  • Compatible with infant car seats or bassinets
  • Durable and easy to maneuver over different types of terrain
  • Roomy, comfortable seat
  • Ample storage space

Limitations

  • Can be heavier and larger than smaller strollers
  • Can be more expensive than smaller strollers
  • Can be cumbersome for quick trips and travel

Popular examples

  • UPPAbaby VISTA
  • Bugaboo Fox and Cameleon
  • Nuna MIXX2 and Demi Grow
  • Stokke Xplory and Trailz
  • Baby Jogger City Select and City Select Lux

Mid-size strollers

stroller buying guide

The mid-size stroller can be a compromise for urban parents and other families with space constrictions. It's smaller and lighter than a full-size stroller and offers more features than a lightweight stroller, like car-seat compatibility and larger back wheels for better maneuverability.

Best for

  • City parents or parents with limited storage space
  • Families who often travel or make frequent trips throughout the day

Age range

  • Birth to 40-50 pounds

Benefits

  • Can grow with baby from birth to toddler age
  • Compatible with infant car seats or bassinets
  • Lighter and more compact than a full-size stroller
  • More sturdy and easier to maneuver than a lightweight stroller

Limitations

  • Less room and storage space than a full-size stroller
  • Smaller wheels are less sturdy and maneuverable
  • May have lower weight limit than full-size strollers

Popular examples

  • Bugaboo Bee
  • Baby Jogger City Mini GT
  • UPPAbaby CRUZ
  • Nuna TAVO
  • Stokke Scoot

Lightweight and umbrella strollers  

stroller buying guide

The lightweight stroller's main selling points are its compact size and fold. Some are called umbrella strollers because of their umbrella-like fold. 

Many families purchase a lightweight stroller for quick trips and travel in addition to a larger, more durable model. With a few exceptions (such as the Babyzen YOYO+ and UPPAbaby MINU), most lightweight strollers can't be used with a car seat or bassinet and therefore can't be used until the baby is about six months old and can sit upright.

Best for

  • Families with older babies or children who are frequently running errands, traveling or using public transportation

Age range

  • 6 months (unless infant car seat or bassinet is used) to 40-50 pounds

Benefits

  • Can be half the weight of a full-size stroller
  • Easy to fold; compact for storing in a car 
  • Convenient for travel and quick trips

Limitations

  • Most can't be used until baby is six months old; many models aren't compatible with infant car seats
  • Smaller seat is less comfortable for baby
  • Smaller wheels offer less maneuverability and durability
  • Limited storage space

Popular examples

  • Babyzen YOYO+
  • UPPAbaby MINU and G-LUXE
  • Baby Jogger City Tour
  • Nuna PEPP

Convertible strollers  

stroller buying guide

A convertible stroller grows with your family, changing from a single stroller to a double with the purchase of a second seat. Convertible strollers can change with your family: When your oldest child no longer wants to sit in a stroller, you can change it back into a single again.

Most convertible strollers are tandem double strollers, meaning one seat is in front of the other. The only exception is the Bugaboo Donkey, which expands to a side-by-side double.

Best for

  • Growing families who want to use the same product as both a single and double stroller 

Age range

  • Birth to 50 pounds

Benefits

  • Can eliminate the need to purchase a double stroller
  • Can be used in multiple configurations, such as with one infant car seat and one toddler seat
  • Reversible seats that allow children to face forward, backward or each other

Limitations

  • Convertible strollers tend to be heavier and more expensive
  • Becomes heavier to push when child is sitting near or on top of the front wheels in second seat

Popular examples

  • UPPAbaby VISTA
  • Silver Cross Wave
  • Baby Jogger City Select and City Select Lux
  • Austlen Entourage
  • Bugaboo Donkey

Side-by-side double strollers 

stroller buying guide

As a stroller built for two, the side-by-side double stroller features identical seats, making it ideal for twins and kids close in age. With many models, stroller seat can be substituted for one or two infant car seats.

Best for

  • Families with twins and children close in age

Age range

  • Birth to 50 pounds

Benefits

  • Weight is more evenly distributed than in a convertible stroller
  • Children are more accessible to parents and can more easily see and talk to each other 

Limitations

  • Width can make it more difficult to navigate city sidewalks, store aisles and other narrow spaces
  • Side-by-side strollers are heavier and bulky when folded

Popular examples

  • Bumbleride Indie Twin
  • Bugaboo Donkey
  • Peg-Perego Book for Two
  • Thule Urban Glide Double
  • BOB Revolution Flex Duallie

Jogging strollers 

stroller buying guide

Make baby part of your fitness routine with a jogging stroller, which features shock-absorbing suspension and extra-large, air-filled tires. A swiveling front wheel can lock for increased stability when you're running.

Best for

  • Active families who want to take kids out for a run or hike

Age range

  • 6 months or older for jogging (check with your pediatrician)

Benefits

  • Can be used as an everyday stroller and on trails and rugged terrain
  • Higher weight capacity allows for years of additional use

Limitations

  • Oversized tires make the stroller bulky and heavy for everyday use
  • Air-filled tires can go flat

Popular examples

  • Bumbleride Indie and Speed
  • Thule Urban Glide
  • BOB Revolution Flex
  • Baby Jogger Summit X3

What to look for in a stroller

Seat, wheels, handlebar, canopy: All strollers are comprised of the same basic components. So what makes each one different? Study these features when evaluating a stroller.

Stroller Buying Guide

Five-point harness

Your baby won't budge in a five-point harness, which secures at the shoulders, waist and in between the legs. A three-point harness is less secure.

Wheels

Look for rubber, foam-filled wheels or air-filled tires, which are more durable and allow for better maneuverability than plastic wheels.

Brakes

Most strollers have a foot brake. Some, including jogging strollers, have a hand brake similar to those on bicycles. 

Canopy

Test how much the canopy will protect the baby from sun and weather. Many are adjustable, allowing for varying degrees of coverage, and include window panels (often ventilated) for sneaking a peek.

Adjustable handlebar

Look for a telescoping handlebar that adjusts in length to accommodate parents of different heights.

Storage basket

Add your purse or diaper bag to ensure it fits in the basket. Remember that you'll need to store bags here instead of hanging them from the handlebar, which is unsafe. 

Adjustable footrest

Some strollers have adjustable footrests to support your child's legs as she grows.

How to Test Drive a Stroller 

stroller buying guide

If you're shopping in-store, follow these tips for test-driving a stroller.

Take it for a spin. 

Try some turns, stops and, if possible, curbs to get a feel for the stroller's maneuverability. 

As you're testing the stroller, don't forget that you'll someday have a child who weighs as much as 50 pounds sitting in it. Throw in your purse to see how easily the stroller pushes with added weight.

To see how sturdy the stroller feels, give it a little side-to-side shake. Activate the brake to ensure it stays put. 

Give it the two-parent check. 

See if the handlebar is comfortable for both you and your partner, and make sure you both have ample leg room as you walk with the stroller.

Practice folding and opening the stroller. 

Every model folds differently: some in a single step, some in a two-step process after you remove the seat. A two-piece fold isn't necessarily better than a one-piece fold, as it may make the stroller easier to lift into the car.

Don't be discouraged if you don't master the fold on the first try: You'll need a bit of practice before you get the hang of it.

That said, if you truly struggle with the fold, you may want to consider a different model. Folding the stroller is something you'll do every day, multiple times a day—sometimes with one hand, when you're holding the baby! 

Carry the folded stroller. 

Lift it as if you're loading it into the car to see how heavy it is, and practice unlocking it to see how easily it springs back into place. Note how the stroller functions when folded. For example, Nuna strollers can be trolleyed like luggage, and the UPPAbaby VISTA and CRUZ strollers stand when folded for easier lifting and storage.

Try it with the infant car seat. 

Look at infant car seats that are compatible with your stroller and see which one you like best, both off and on the stroller.

Test how easy the car seat is to attach and detach, keeping in mind you'll be doing this multiple times per day. Does the car seat connect directly to the stroller frame, or do you need to purchase a car seat adapter? Can the stroller seat be replaced by the infant car seat, or does the car seat sit on top of the stroller seat?

Scope out the storage. 

If possible, fold the stroller and see how it fits in the trunk of your car. Check out where you'll store your strolling essentials, like your diaper bag, snacks and phone.

Conclusion

stroller buying guide

Thanks for reading Strolleria's Ultimate Stroller Buying Guide! We hope we've helped make the decision a little less confusing.

What's Strolleria, anyway? We're a family-owned and operated retailer of strollers, car seats and baby gear from exclusively high-quality brands. Whether you're shopping at Strolleria online or in our showroom in Scottsdale, Arizona, we're here to help you find the baby gear that's right for your family unique needs. We also offer the lowest prices available, plus registry rewards, free shipping on orders and no sales tax outside of Arizona. 

About the author

Amy Venzke

Writer Amy Venzke is the co-owner of Strolleria, along with her husband, Drew. Together, they have a mission to make the gear-buying experience easier on parents. That includes you! Feel free to e-mail her with questions at amy@strolleria.com.