Buying a baby stroller is like buying a lot of other things, depending on your budget, you might be looking for a bare bones model, or a feature rich model. And there are a lot of features to choose from. I’ll take some time here and go through most of them. Once you’re girded with that information, making the choice of what works for your child should be a bit easier.
If you’re buying a combo stroller, you may find some that offer the option of the bassinet or carry-cot attachment. Just be aware that in many cases these attachments do not have a harness. If your baby is awake and moving about, make sure you check them often, ensuring that their face hasn’t become pressed up against the side of the bassinet.
Boots or Foot Muffs
A common option in many strollers is a leg covering, often called a boot or foot muff. They are used to keep the baby’s legs warm, and are snapped in place. If you live in a colder climate, this is an excellent option to have, just be aware that they are often sold separately.
While all strollers have parking brakes, all brakes are not created equal. In most cases, brakes are engaged by the means of a single foot pedal, some activating sprockets that clamp onto the rear wheels, others have a pedal on each rear wheel. Whatever you end up going with, just make sure you’re able to engage the break while barefoot or wearing sandals or flip flops.
Since you may have your baby out in all types of weather, a canopy is a must. It will protect them from too much sun, and it will protect them from rain. A nice feature is a canopy with a plastic window on top, as this allows you to see your baby.
Trays are a nice idea — providing baby with a place to rest their arms, or hold some snacks and toys. You should always choose a stroller that has a removable tray, not one that’s permanently attached. This will make your life much easier, in terms of getting your baby in and out, cleaning the tray, and folding the stroller for storage.
Cup holders are a great idea; many strollers will have one for both the child and for you. Just make sure you don’t carry a hot cup of coffee — or anything hot for that matter — in the parent cup holder. It could spill if you hit a bump and scald the baby.
Fabric and Upholstery
Strollers come in a wide array of fabrics, in both solids and prints, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a style that suits your taste. But don’t just think of how a fabric looks. Make sure it’s durable and washable, preferably machine washable, meaning it will have to have a removable cover.
If you choose a baby stroller with a foot rest, make sure you find one that has an adjustable height. Another thing to look out for is that the front rim of the seat is soft and well padded, so that it doesn’t dig into the back of your child’s knees or legs.
Reversible handlebars that will flip over the top of the stroller and change it from front facing to rear facing, are a nice feature. You can also find strollers that have adjustable height handlebars, or handles that are padded or cushioned.
Leg holes need to be taken into consideration, especially for infants, as they are a safety issue. When carrying an infant in a stroller that has leg holes, it is required that there be a method of closing off the leg openings. Depending on the manufacturer, you may find some that have mesh shields or fabric shields, and in some cases the foot rest itself, that are used to close off the leg openings. This is to prevent infant deaths that have happened when an unharnessed baby slips down through the leg holes, and their head gets caught in the tray.
One Hand Open/Fold
As far as I’m concerned, this feature isn’t an extravagance, it’s a necessity. Picture yourself with a baby in one hand while struggling to either open or fold your stroller. A mechanism that allows you to quickly accomplish this in a matter of seconds is a must.
If you’re heading out for a stroll with your child, you may not have lots of pockets or want to carry a purse — and since you should never hang your purse over the handlebars, you’d be carrying your purse on your arm or shoulder. This is where a parent tray comes in. They’ll often have cup holder as well as an integrated compartment for things like keys, cell phones, and so forth.
As an added safety feature, it’s a good idea to choose a stroller that has reflectors, especially if it’s a jogging stroller. If you’re choosing a stroller that doesn’t have this, then make sure you wear light-colored clothing on days that are overcast or gloomy.
Try to choose a baby stroller that has a five point harness, as this option is the safest. It will completely secure your child in the seat. Make sure the straps are adjustable, and the buckle is easy enough for you to deal with, but too difficult for your child to open.
Good suspension and shock absorbers will make for a more comfortable ride for your child, and a stroller that is easier for you to steer.
If you’re going to be spending a lot of time with your child in the stroller while running errands, think about the size of the storage area. Having a large basket that’s easy to access will make your life much easier. And even if that’s not a consideration, make sure it’s the least big enough to carry a diaper bag.
Last but not least, let’s talk about wheels. Baby strollers that have larger wheels, as well as wheels that swivel are much easier to push, and they make dealing with curbs and rough surfaces easier as well. So if you’re planning on using the stroller off road, and on rough terrain, larger wheels are practically a must and airfield tires are a good idea as well.