If you’ve never bought a baby stroller before, and you are researching them for the first time, I guess that means congratulations are in order! One of the first things you’ll want to educate yourself on is the variety of baby strollers available. There are several different types that serve several different functions. In the following paragraphs I’ll give a brief description of each available type of stroller, as well as some of the common pros and cons inherent to each.
The Traditional Baby Stroller
Within this category there are several different styles. Traditional baby strollers include lightweight travel systems, right up to the more heavy-duty type of stroller that could weigh up to 35 or 40 pounds. These strollers offer great stability, lots of room and are typically fairly deep. There’s a wide range of options to choose from, and something available for every budget. At the higher end, you’ll find features like shock absorbers on all four wheels, while at the lower end they’re fairly stripped bare of any features. To make them easier to transport, you’ll find many that have an easy one-handed release mechanism, enabling you to quickly fold them.
As mentioned above, you can find strollers in this category that are light weight and easy to handle. They typically have an array of features to choose from, such as snack trays or storage baskets. Some can be converted, enabling you to attach an infant car seat, others will fully recline and close at the bottom, allowing your infant to lie flat and yet not slip out the bottom. This type of stroller can also often be used right from the time you bring your baby home from the hospital.
While the heavier models do provide more stability, they’re also more difficult to lift and carry. Some models also have very small wheels, making the stroller difficult to maneuver anywhere where you may have uneven ground, whether that’s sidewalks or gravel. As far as the more compact, light weight models go, you’re sacrificing some of your child’s space. So they might feel a little cramped, especially if you live in colder climates where you need to bundle them up in heavier clothes.
The combo stroller offers some versatility. Depending on the model you buy, you can customize the stroller so that it suits your specific needs. You have a stroller chassis, which allows you to choose the parts you need or want. Again, depending on the model, you could attach an infant car seat or a bassinet for your newborn, and later it can be converted to a stroller seat.
Combo strollers can be used from day one of your baby’s life, depending on the model, and many of them will carry a toddler up to the range of 40 pounds. So, it’s quite conceivable for this to be the only stroller you’ll need to buy.
This type of stroller is often very expensive.
If you need a stroller for traveling or for quick trips, and have a baby that can sit up, these are a great choice. They’re lightweight and typically have umbrella like handles, and they’re easy to fold.
Lightweight and easy to handle. Great for throwing in the trunk of your car.
You’re giving up one thing to get another. In order to have such a lightweight stroller, you lose a measure of stability and sturdiness. They often don’t have the suspension that the more heavy-duty models will have. And in order for them to fold and store so easily, they also lack in seat support. So that means a less cushy ride for your child. In most cases, umbrella strollers are not appropriate for infants who are less than six months of age.
Travel systems are a three in one system that include an infant car seat, a car seat base, and a stroller.
The beauty of these systems is they allow you to transfer a sleeping baby from their car seat to the stroller. You simply remove the car seat from its base in the car and transfer that to the base on the stroller. And once they have outgrown the infant car seat, they can sit up in the stroller seat.
Travel system strollers can be bulky, heavy, and difficult to handle.
Seat Carrier Frames
Depending on the model you buy, these are simply frames that allow you to attach an infant car seat, either of its own brand or variety of other brands.
These are compact, easy to handle, and inexpensive. Like the travel systems mentioned above, they allow you to remove your child’s car seat from the vehicle and simply transfer it to the frame, without the need to wake them.
Once your child outgrows their infant car seat, the frame loses its usefulness, as it can no longer be used as a stroller.
Obviously for two children, these feature the seats bolted together side by side. They’re easier to maneuver when each child is of a similar weight. Each seat can be adjusted separately.
If you’re transporting two children, such as twins, the side by side models are easier to maneuver than the tandem models.
As indicated above, these can be very difficult to maneuver if one child weighs significantly more than the other, as it will continually veer to one side. When folded, they also take up a lot more space, meaning it might be difficult to get it into the trunk or storage space of your vehicle. And at times, you may find difficulties in trying to get through standard doorways.
Like the side by side, this is a two seater stroller, except the seats are one behind the other instead of beside each other. This means you won’t have the issues you could possibly face with doorways, due to width issues. Depending on the manufacturer, there are different seating options. Some allow for the seats to face each other, others have stadium style seating where the rear seat sits higher than the front seat, and some that are the reverse with the front seat lower than the back seat. If you have triplets, you can also find tandem strollers that will carry the three.
As mentioned above, with a tandem stroller you don’t need to worry about being able to fit your double stroller through doorways. Nor do folded tandem strollers take up as much space as a side by side stroller will.
Often times, the front seats in a tandem stroller will crowd the rear passenger if the front seat is reclined, so many models only have a rear seat that reclines. One of the biggest drawbacks of a tandem stroller is the fact that they can be difficult to steer. They can also be quite heavy, so if you’re a petite mom, you may have issues when trying to maneuver it.
As the name suggests, these three wheeled strollers are for runners, allowing them to push their child while out for a run or jog. They have larger, air filled tires, with a front wheel that can either be locked into position, or allowed to swivel. They have long, high handlebars, allowing you range of movement while running or jogging. There are differing views on how old the child should be to ride in a jogging stroller, with some saying that an infant as young as eight weeks is safe, and others saying a baby should be a minimum of one year old before riding in a jogging stroller.
The large tires make these easy to push, making them a great choice for off road walks, and not just running or jogging. So if you live somewhere rural, or spend significant time somewhere with a more rugged terrain, you might want to consider a jogging stroller.
There may be some stability issues due to only having three wheels, especially if the front wheel is swiveling, or if your child tends to be active and bounces around quite a bit. Also, due to their size, jogging strollers may be difficult to fit into your trunk or the storage compartment of your car. And since the tires are air filled, it’s usually a good idea to have a bicycle pump.
I mentioned above, being able to use your jogging stroller in places where the terrain might be more rugged. The other alternative is an all-terrain stroller, because that’s its definitive purpose. Some come as three wheelers, others with the more traditional four wheel style. Again, like the jogging stroller, the all-terrain stroller has a front wheel that swivels, but can also be locked into position. Despite the similarities between this stroller and the jogging stroller, be aware that this is not suitable to used as a jogging stroller. And in most cases, these strollers are only suitable for babies that are six months of age and older.
These are great for using in off-road situations, or just somewhere where the roads are very bad. All-terrain strollers that are equipped with air filled tires, typically provide a more comfortable ride.
If the swivel wheel is not locked, there can be some stability issues on the three wheel models when being pushed up or down off of a curb. All-terrain strollers are bulky and heavy and in some cases it may be necessary to remove either the front or rear wheels to fit them in your trunk.
These are styled after the original style baby carriages. They’re basically a bassinet on wheels, providing a flat sleeping space for your baby.
These are excellent for newborns, providing a convenient sleeping space.
If you don’t have a car, and push your baby everywhere, these are great option. If you do have a car, baby carriages are not very portable. It’s basically impossible to get them in your car, or in and out of public transportation.