This is an article written by Heather Corley for About.com
Strollers can be a parent’s best friend, but choosing the wrong baby stroller could spell trouble and inconvenience. How can parents choose the right baby stroller from the many available in stores and via the Internet? Strollers are available to match just about any lifestyle, so think about how you want to use the stroller first and then look for a stroller model that best fits your life and your baby.
Safety Features Are Important
As always, baby’s safety is the biggest concern. Check strollers for stability before buying, and don’t forget to see if the stroller will remain upright with a diaper bag hanging over the handles! Also check the stroller harness. A five-point harness that goes over baby’s shoulders is best, especially for infants or babies who are in the stroller a lot. For occasional mall trips, a three-point harness might be OK.
Wheels and Handles
Walk your favorite strollers through the store before making a purchase. Check the height of the handles to be sure they are comfortable for you. Taller parents should look for strollers with adjustable handle heights so they don’t have to stoop. Choose a stroller that makes corners smoothly, especially if you’ll use it in crowded places. Also try walking with the stroller at a faster pace to be sure your feet don’t hit the wheels. Foam-covered handles are a nice choice for comfort.
Do you need a stroller with a basket underneath, or will you carry the diaper bag elsewhere? Some strollers come with parent organization trays, toy bars, snack and drink holders, rain hoods and more. Many of these accessories are available separately, so don’t let the lack of a drink holder sway you away from a stroller you otherwise love. How the stroller folds and how much trunk space it may take are important considerations. Be sure you can fold, unfold and store the stroller easily!
Lightweight strollers have come a long way from the old umbrella stroller. This new generation of strollers under 20 pounds have many of the same features as larger strollers, such as reclining seats, storage baskets and sun shades. These strollers are great for travelers and perfect for trips to the mall or zoo. Inexpensive umbrella strollers are still a great, economical choice to be stashed in the trunk as a spare, but those without a reclining seat can’t be used with tiny infants.
Larger and heavier than lightweight strollers, standard strollers often feature roomier seats, larger wheels, more storage space and extras like built-in music systems and ergonomic handles. Standard strollers perform well in most conditions, and many parents love these versatile wonders. For travelers, these strollers do fold, often with nice one-hand mechanisms, but they take up more trunk space and are heavier to lift in and out. Larger strollers may be hard to handle in crowded places.
Outdoorsy parents may want to consider a jogging stroller, as a backup for a standard stroller or even as an everyday stroller. Featuring large, sturdy tires, sleek frames, hand-grip brakes and all-terrain suspension systems, jogging strollers perform well on almost any surface. Jogging strollers may not fold as easily or as flat as other strollers, meaning there may be better everyday choices for parents who travel a lot. Jogging strollers are not recommended for infants under 6 months old.
Travel systems offer convenience for busy new parents. A travel system begins with a standard stroller, but includes an infant car seat that snaps onto the stroller, allowing parents to move the infant from car to stroller easily. Most travel systems come with a car seat base that stays in the car so that parents just snap the infant seat into the base rather than buckling/unbuckling the seat into the car. Once the infant seat is outgrown, travel systems perform the same as standard strollers.
Strollers for More Than One Child
If you have more than one child, strollers with extra capacity can make outings easier. Consider the children’s ages when choosing a stroller for multiples. Some double strollers have space for a child to stand and ride, but this doesn’t allow for in-stroller naps. Other models have seats for all riders. Choose seats that recline for younger riders. Also consider this versatile option – clip two lightweight strollers together with stroller clips, which also lets you use the strollers separately.