With so many stroller options out there to choose from, trying to decide where to invest your dollars can be a little overwhelming.
You might hear buzzwords like 'compact fold', 'air-filled tires', 'standing fold', 'telescoping handle' and think, "okay, I'll just get all of that". Except, air filled tires add to the weight and the bulk so the fold won't be as compact so you have to decide which is more important. Crap.
Anyone who claims they can tell you what is the best stroller is lying. A giant side-by-side jogging stroller is perfect for one family and a compact umbrella stroller is perfect for another.
Have a look at all the features that are out there so you're well versed in 'stroller language' so you can help narrow down your wishlist. Then take the quiz to give you an idea of what strollers to look at to give you a starting point.
Once you have a clear idea of what's out there, it will be easier to narrow down your choice.
What Are My Stroller Options?
There are 6 basic stroller types to choose from. Each comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks.
1. Travel System
A travel system is usually a full size stroller that comes with the compatible infant car seat and a car seat base for your vehicle. Brands that make both strollers and car seats will often sell travel systems so you can bundle the cost and save a bit of money.
2. All Purpose Full Size Stroller
This is a stroller that’s great for everyday activities. All purpose strollers can cruise on sidewalks, streets and paths and are easy to maneuver around obstacles. Different models have different capabilities. Some are compatible with infant car seats, bassinets, or even a second seat if you have more than one child.
3. Double Stroller
Whether you’ve got twins or siblings close in age, a double stroller is a good bet. Double strollers come in a variety of configurations including side-by-side and tandem (one in front of the other). You can often click an infant car seat on to these as well.
4. Jogging Stroller
Jogging strollers are built to handle bumpier terrain thanks to their large air-filled tires and suspension systems (but this also adds to their weight). Joggers usually have a hand brake in addition to a foot-operated parking brake. They typically have three wheels, the front of which can lock when you’re hitting the trails, and unlock for day-to-day strollin’. Even some non-joggers will opt for these because they are great in the snow.
5. Lightweight or Umbrella Stroller
Umbrella strollers are lightweight, easy to fold, and easy to transport, making them a great travel stroller. Depending on the model (and the price point), umbrella strollers often don’t have much in the way of suspension so they are best on smooth surfaces. If you want to use an umbrella stroller for an infant, you’ll want to look for a model that reclines, but keep in mind that a reclining seat can impact how compact the stroller folds. Some can accommodate an infant car seat too.
6. Car Seat Carrier
The car seat carrier consists of a frame only; you supply the car seat, click it into the frame, and go. Some frames only work with car seats made by their brand, while others are universal. They are light and easy to use but once your baby outgrows their infant car seat (usually after about a year), you’ll need a different stroller.
What should I Look at When Buying a Stroller?
Consider what you plan to use the stroller for most of the time – are you cruising around the grocery store or using it for scenic mountain jogs? Are you planning to use it for one kid or are you going to want to add a seat when baby number two comes along?
It’s also important to think about the pros and cons of buying a stroller with all the bells and whistles. Sure, a huge-ass basket and giant shocks are great for storage and a smooth ride, but they’re also going to make your stroller heavier and bulkier (and probably more expensive).
9 Stroller Features to Consider:
We’ve made a list of 9 features to look at when purchasing your stroller, as well as a few questions to ask yourself before you take the plunge.
Do you need the seat to fully recline?
Some strollers can fully recline, some go down a bit, and others don’t recline at all. Babies under 6 months old need to lay flat in order to breathe properly so you’ll need a full recline, bassinet or car seat attachment if that’s your stroller when they are new. However, strollers that don’t recline (many umbrellas don’t) tend to fold tighter and weigh less so that’s something to consider too.
What kind of seats does it have?
Does your stroller come with a seat or do you need to purchase one separately? Is it a single or can it convert to a double? Can the seats be positioned in different directions (if that’s something you want)? Do the seats recline to accommodate little babies? How do the straps work when buckling them in?
Just how much of your crap can the basket carry? You might be surprised at how much you need to stow in that sucker. How easy is it to access the basket when your baby is all loaded up? What does that mean in terms of weight while pushing or stowing the stroller?
How easy is it to do? Do you care if you need more than one hand to do it? Do you need to fit it in a tight trunk or closet? Do you care if you need to take the seat off to fully fold it? Do you care if it can stand once it’s folded? Do you care if the handle touches the ground on the fold? (This bugs some people who live in wet climates.) Are you willing to give up a larger canopy or storage basket for a compact fold?
It’s nice to keep out the sun, wind, rain, cold and nosey stranger hands with a nice large canopy. That said, they add to the weight and fold bulk so if you just need a stroller for airports or malls, you might not need a very robust one.
Is the handlebar comfortable for you to use? Do you need a single bar so it’s easier to push with one hand? Or are you okay with two handles so it folds more compact? What about the height of the handlebar – does it extend far enough if you’re tall? This was something we never thought about when purchasing our first stroller, and my husband, who’s 6’1”, was always hunched over any time he used it.
Brakes and Locks
Does it have hand brakes? Foot brakes? Do you care if your stroller has a ‘pedicure friendly’ brake that only uses the bottom of your foot? Can the wheels lock (or unlock) so you can make the stroller more maneuverable on different terrains?
Do you need a smooth ride over bumps, gravel or cobblestone craziness? Or will most of your strolling be on smooth surfaces? Keep in mind that bigger shocks will add to the weight, bulk, and cost of your stroller.
There are 5 main types that you’ll come across: Air-filled tube tires are similar to bike tires and have a smooth ride. Pneumatic tires are reinforced rubber tires filled with compressed air (usually used in jogging strollers because they are more robust than standard air-filled tires). Air wheels with sealed ball bearings are larger than standard air-filled tires and give a super-smooth ride – you often find them on all-terrain strollers. Foam-filled tires remove the possibility of a flat, but they do weigh more and aren’t as smooth riding. Rubber-coated plastic tires are lightweight and easy to maintain but they are best used on smooth surfaces.
How Much Should I Spend On A Stroller?
There are two ways to look at it. On one hand, you don’t need a fancy stroller to get your baby from point A to point B. There are some amazing budget-friendly brands like Chicco and Graco that make fantastic strollers. Some people just use a carrier for the first 6 months and skip a stroller altogether then pick up an inexpensive umbrella stroller off Kijiji when their baby is older.
On the other hand, I find most higher end strollers are made with better materials and tend to last longer. For some people, this will be their main source of transportation once their baby is born and it’s worth investing some dollars in – a $1,200 stroller doesn’t sound as crazy when you don’t own a car and you amortize the cost over four or five years.
Take a look at your lifestyle, budget and future plans (are you going to want this for more kids?) and try to narrow it down that way.
Are Expensive Strollers Worth It?
Generally, I would say ‘yes’. That’s not to say there aren’t great inexpensive strollers out there, but I do find that strollers are an area where you get what you pay for and the cost is often reflected in the material and workmanship. Only when you get into things like designer collaborations do I see an increase in price that doesn’t affect the performance of the stroller.
That said, my friend had an $800 stroller that she never used and an umbrella stroller she got as a hand-me-down that she loved, so I would always recommend that you shoot for a stroller that fits your life rather than assuming that the most expensive stroller must be the best one.
What Is The World’s Most Expensive Stroller?
The most expensive stroller out there is the Silver Cross Special Edition Rose Gold Balmoral Pram. Since there were only a few ever made, it’s pretty hard to get your hands on. That’s probably fine since it costs about the same as a literal car at $61,000. If you’re looking for something a bit more “modest”, the second most expensive stroller money can buy is the Silver Cross Balmoral Pram, which is a steal of a deal at $4,500.
Is a Stroller Necessary?
Not for everyone. Many people get away with just a carrier. Strollers are nice when you go for walks, go to a store, or want an alternative when you and your baby have had enough of each other’s shit and you need a change of scene. They aren’t essential but they tend to make most people’s lives easier. If you’re unsure, skip the stroller for the first six months then revisit it once your baby is older (and heavier) and you have a better idea of what your day-to-day routine looks like.
What are the Best Accessories?
Cup holders, fans, handle organizers, etc. are a great way to trick out your ride and make your life easier. Check out our handy dandy stroller accessories post here.
Now that you’ve taken our crash course on the ins and outs of the stroller world, it’s time to figure out which one is the best for you.
Do you have a stroller you love?
I'd love to hear what you ended up with and if you are happy with it. It would help me and other parents know what strollers are worth checking out.
Our next reco: Mockingbird Stroller Review – Too Good to Be True?