Stroller Buying Guide: How to Choose a Stroller
Your registry called and it needs you to make a decision on a stroller STAT. Oh and no pressure—there are only 1,000 different ones out there with 1,000,000 different features.
It’s one of the biggest and most important items on your registry, but asking yourself key questions can help you figure out which one will work best.
Breathe, we’ve got this.
There’s a big range here. A super basic ride can start at $200 and go all the way up to $2,000 for the ultimate joyride. How much you need to spend depends on your lifestyle and potential future needs (which we’ll get into below), but setting a budget is an easy way to eliminate some from the list.
Do you walk pretty much everywhere? Use public transportation? In and out of taxis/Ubers? Will you be putting serious miles on this thing? How much space do you have to store it? Walk-up or elevator building?
With a “yes” to any of the above questions, you need a one-handed fold, so you can hold the baby in one hand and collapse the stroller with the other. It needs to be lightweight enough for you to manage on your own. And babies don’t like bumpy rides, so good suspension is important. You’ll also likely need to maneuver tight doorways and spaces, so it needs to be compact. The Baby Jogger City Mini 2 ($249.99) stroller is at the top of our list if you’re looking for a lightweight yet sturdy and compact stroller. All you need is one hand to lift a strap and the stroller folds itself simply and compactly.
Is the car your main mode of transportation? Is it going to just be used occasionally for neighborhood walks and rare outings? Is the stroller going to live in the back of your car? If so, does it fit? Is it compatible with your car seat? This is super important— if the car is your main mode of transport, choose a car seat first, then a stroller that’s compatible. You can mix and match different brands between your chosen car seat and stroller. Just make sure there is an adaptor you can purchase to make them work together! The Doona Car Seat & Stroller ($499.99) is a game changer for quick errands allowing you to move quickly from car seat to stroller in seconds.
Single or Double
Are you having multiples? Are you a one-and-done family, or do you hope to have more kids in the next few years? If you plan on having multiple kids close in age, it’s worth spending the money to get a stroller that can convert to accommodate two or three kids. We love the Uppababy Vista ($969.99) for all the various configurations it offers whether you’re having twins or need to accommodate a big kid and another newborn down the road.
Little Things Matter
Will multiple people of very different heights be using it? If so, make sure the handlebar adjusts to be comfortable for all parties. Is the fabric easily removable and washable (because baby vomit and blowouts will happen)? Is it compatible with your car seat (some newborns don’t want to be flat in a bassinet, especially those with reflux issues)? And even if it is compatible, you often need to purchase a specific piece to connect the two.
If the stroller is your main mode of transport, accessories will help it help you. Hooks and an organizer are a must if this is going to be your workhorse. Will you need to stash a lot in the underbasket (note: some aren’t very big so make sure to compare if you’re choosing between two strollers)? Will you be pushing in all kinds of weather? If yes, stroller mittens ($40) will be your BFF. Some strollers come with a bunch of accessories and some don’t, so be sure to check for things like a rain cover, cup holder, travel bag and bunting if you’ll be in cold weather. You’ll also want to look for a good stroller organizer to hold all of your essentials. We love the Ethan & Emma Universal Stroller Organizer ($45.99). It has two beverage holders and just enough compartments to keep you organized without being too big.
And now for the “other” kinds of strollers you might need. (Because one may not be enough to fit every situation.)
A quick errand? Travel often? Grandma’s taking over for the day? You’ll want an umbrella stroller. A lightweight (some as little as 6 pounds), pared down number that folds up to the size of—you guessed it—an umbrella! Note: This one can’t be used until the baby is six months old and can sit up on their own.
- Quality: Is it sturdy? It’s a you get what you pay for scenario with these.
- Fabric: You want something durable that isn’t going to rip easily.
- Steering: How does it maneuver? Can it manage a sharp corner?
- Recline: Is the seat adjustable so baby can nap on the go? Some are just one setting.
- Fold: Make sure it’s easy for you to do one-handed.
- Sun shade: You definitely want one, and the bigger the better.
- Storage: None of them have big ones, but some have none at all.
- Comfort: Most don’t have adjustable handlebars, so make sure it works for you as-is.
- Harness: Most have a three-point (not a five), so make sure it feels safe and baby won’t be able to undo it.
With all the fancy features you would think that you could take a deluxe stroller for a run. But sadly, you cannot. Running requires specific suspension and three oversized wheels that only jogging strollers have. Our team of moms and M+A community love the BOB Gear Revolution Running Flex 3.0 Jogging Stroller ($449.99). It provides a super smooth ride over any terrain and is also compatible with most major brand car seats with the use of an infant car adaptor (sold separately). Note: These also can’t be used until the baby is six months old and can sit up on their own unless they offer adaptors for infant car seats.
- Fixed Front Wheel: This is key for safety. Some have a lock option, so it can also be used for strolling in swivel mode.
- Usage: If you’re a marathoner and will be going on lots of long runs, opt for top of the line with the best suspension, shock absorbers, and inflatable tires.
- Storage: These things are big and not all of them collapse, so make sure you choose one you have room to store it.
- Handlebars: Some are adjustable, some aren’t, so check that it’s comfortable.
- Comfort: Make sure your child will be comfortable. Does the seat recline to multiple positions for naps and looking out? Is there a cup holder? How deep is the seat? Is the harness super secure? This is one you may want to test out with baby IRL.
- Safety: A wrist strap and hand brake are a must.
- Sun shade: The bigger the better, and some are even adjustable.
You can add a second seat to most deluxe strollers to accommodate multiple kids, but eventually they’ll get too big to both be comfortable. That’s when you’ll be in the market for a double stroller. We love the BOB Gear Revo Flex Duallie 3.0 ($699.99) especially if you’re planning to go on long walks. It's a bit on the bulkier side so not the easiest to maneuver going through doors (although it does fit through most), but there is tons of storage, XL sun canopies and super easy to maneuver. You also can’t go wrong with the Baby Jogger City Mini GT2 Double Stroller ($599.99) which like it’s single counterpart can be folded with just one hand.
- Weight limit: The higher it is, the longer you can use it. A 100 pound max is great.
- Maneuverability: If you’ll often need to squeeze through narrow doorways and aisles, a side-by-side may not work as well as a front-back configuration.
- Usage: Will you be pounding the pavement often or just using for quick jaunts and travel? If the former, you need something substantial. If the latter, a sturdy double umbrella should do the trick.
- Storage: Will it stay in the car, an apartment, or garage? You need to make sure you have room to store it.