Tips for helping moms choose the safest, most comfortable and economical stroller for their newest addition to the family.
Originally posted by: www.consumerreports.com
Your child is precious cargo. You need a stroller that will keep your baby safe and comfortable, and also fit your budget. But what makes one stroller cost $100 and another fetch more than $1,000? Several factors actually, including modern styling, lightweight materials, and more features than you can shake a rattle at. But you don't have to spend a fortune to get a good stroller; it's all about how you will use it, and what's important to you.
Strollers are a popular baby gift and shower present. Before you put a model on your registry, evaluate all your options by pushing different models around a store. If you end up using your stroller frequently, your baby will spend a lot of time in it, so choose the best model for you and your child. Use this guide to help you hone your search.
From Newborn to Six Months: Selecting a Stroller
Traveling with a newborn requires special stroller consideration: Until the age of 6 months, or until your baby develops neck and head control, you will need a carrier or travel system that reclines fully to safely support your infant. Owning a stroller that comes with a car seat (such as a travel system) or is compatible with an infant car seat you own, can simplify your life.
All-In-One Travel System
Some first-time parents start with an all-in-one travel system, which consists of an infant car seat, a car-seat base, and a stroller. They can be heavy and take up more room than just a stroller frame, but once your baby reaches 6 months and can sit up, you'll have the flexibility to use the travel system stroller without the infant seat snapped in. Some travel system strollers can accommodate an infant less than 6 months old without the car seat, if the seat reclines to nearly flat. A travel system is costlier but a good value because the stroller can be used after your child outgrows the infant car seat, unlike a car seat carrier frame.
Infant Car Seat Carriers
For the first 6 months to a year, if you'll be taking your infant in and out of a car frequently, a lightweight car seat carrier frame is a good choice. These bare bones, universal frames let you attach an infant car seat. Simply remove the infant seat from its base in the car, baby and all, and snap it right into the frame. Great for letting your snoozing baby continue his nap. When you're done strolling, snap the car seat back into its base inside the car and go. Stroller frames are inexpensive and lightweight, making them handy for quick trips to the market, or for taking on a bus or train.
Baby Buggy Basics: Six Months to 3+ Years
Once your baby is sitting up, you’re likely to take longer strolls, taking him with you on errands, trips to the parks, aquariums, and playdates. Will you stroll straight out of your house, or will you need to drive or take mass transit to get around? These could be deciding factors in the stroller you choose.
Mass Transit or Suburban Crawl?
If you live in a city and rely on subways, buses, and cabs, you'll need a lightweight, compact stroller that’s sturdy and folds easily and quickly. A car seat carrier frame would work well, as would a lightweight travel system. For an infant older than 6 months, or toddler, consider a lightweight umbrella stroller. A sturdier stroller may be easier to push on long walks. But bigger often means heavier and will be more challenging to carry up stairs, or use on public transportation. If you have a car, make sure the stroller fits easily into the back seat or trunk.
Test Drive: Real and Virtual
Often even more helpful than a user's manual, many stroller company websites feature virtual test-drives. You can watch videos of parents putting a stroller through its paces: walking, running, navigating city sidewalks, and boarding airplanes. But if you plan to buy online, be sure to check out a stroller at a retailer first.
• Are you comfortable with the handle height and grip? Make sure your legs and feet don't hit the wheels as you walk. If you're going to share the stroller with a partner, both of you should try it out.
• Check maneuverability by adding weight, such as a heavy handbag, to the stroller seat while you push.
• Are the brakes or swivel lock mechanisms easy to use?
• Is it easy to adjust the backrest, and fasten and unfasten the harness?
• Is the stroller easy to lift and carry, both when open and when folded?
• How easily can you open and close the stroller, with one hand and two? Some that need two hands are actually easier to operate.
• How about storage? If you carry lots of gear, make sure there’s room for it.
If possible, take the floor model out to your car to make sure it fits in your trunk when folded. Bring along a measuring tape, just in case. Also, the frame should feel solid, not flimsy.
Evaluate Warranty and Return Policies
Most stroller manufacturers and retailers offer warranties that cover poor workmanship and flaws, but not necessarily malfunctions. You may have to return the stroller to the store for a replacement, or ship it to the manufacturer for repair—at your expense—leaving you stranded without baby wheels. Select a retailer with a flexible or long-term return policy, and keep the stroller's packaging until you're sure you're happy with your baby's ride.
Look for a sticker on the stroller or on the packaging showing that the manufacturer takes part in the certification program administered by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). Some of the key tests are for the stroller's brakes, stability, restraint system, leg openings, locking mechanisms, and the absence of sharp edges and points that can pinch, shear, or scissor a parent or child. Check the JPMA's website to find certified stroller brands.
Types of Strollers
--> Single Strollers
This category runs the gamut of strollers designed for one passenger. It can include super-light umbrella strollers weighing as little as 12 pounds, to travel systems weighing less than 20 pounds, to heavy-duty models that weigh 35 pounds or more. See original article for more details and suggestions!
--> Double and Specialty Strollers
If you have twins, or two little ones under the age of 4, double strollers are a good option. Configurations include side-by-side or tandem. Double car seat carriers are also available and a perfect solution to traveling with newborn twins. If your daily exercise routine includes brisk walking or running, a jogging stroller is designed primarily for this purpose. Read the original article to learn the pros and cons of each type.
Baby Not Bored: Stroller Add-ons and Extras
Stroller features are numerous. You can get seats that face forward or back; handlebars that reverse and adjust in height; consoles that hold cups, car keys, cell phones, and more; and even a built-in speaker that connects to an iPod so your baby can listen to music. One new addition is a canopy pocket where you can place your iPad or tablet so that your baby can watch videos while strolling. Some stroller features will make your baby's ride safer and more comfortable, while others, such as shopping baskets, are more useful for busy parents.
Even if you buy a modern lightweight stroller, you may still want accessories such as a parasol, rain cover, bug netting, drink holder, and more. The world of accessories is huge and can drive up the final price of a stroller. If you know what you want, pay a little extra up front for a stroller with built-in cup holders for your baby bottles, adjustable handlebars, and a special clip for your cell phone.
Brands That Matter
- BOB: (short for Beast of Burden) started out in 1994 making bike trailers for child passengers. Today, the company also makes accessories for bike trailers, strollers, and car seats, plus a variety of strollers for the active family.
Baby Jogger: The original creator of the three-wheeled jogging stroller still produces joggers and all-terrain strollers (singles and doubles) in the midpriced range. It has also recently introduced traditional strollers for everyday use. Available at specialty stores, baby superstores, and online.
Britax: The company has been making car seats and strollers for more than 70 years. It made its U.S. debut in 1996. Britax products are available through independent and mass retailers.
Bugaboo: This high-end European stroller manufacturer became a huge sensation after an appearance on a popular TV show in 2002. Its compact strollers are customizable, easy to use, and some are available with a bassinet. Accessories include adapters to convert the stroller seat to a car seat. Check the company’s website for retailers in your area.
Chicco: Pronounced "kee-co," this Italian brand was established in 1958. It is a multinational company that specializes in making clothing and equipment for babies and toddlers, including strollers, high chairs, car seats, and toys. Available online and at most retailers.
Graco: From a metal-products company in the 1950s grew a baby products company with the creation of the popular baby swing, Swyngomatic. Graco now manufactures a full line of juvenile products, from nursery products and activity centers to strollers and car seats. Available everywhere and online.
MacLaren: Begun in 1965, when Owen Maclaren designed and patented his prototype Baby Buggy, the B-01. Today’s Maclaren Buggys are descendants of the B-01, from the lightweight frame to the durable fabric and one-hand-fold feature. Available where juvenile products are sold and online.
Peg Perego: This Italian company has been making strollers, car seats, high chairs, and other products for more than 60 years. These higher-priced products are available at Target, Babies "R" Us, and online.
Stokke: A Scandinavian company best recognized for its Xplory stroller. It also sells baby furniture and accessories. It's a high-end brand that offers modern styles.
Others: Other stroller brands on the market include: Kolcraft, Quinny, UPPAbaby, phil&teds, 4moms, Baby Trend, Bumbleride, Combi, Cybex, Dorel, Evenflo, InSTEP, Inglesina, Joovy, Kelty, Schwinn, Mamas and Papas, Mia Moda, Mountain Buggy, Mutsy, Orbit Baby, The First Years, Tike Tech, Valco Baby, Zooper, babyhome, iCandy, Delta Children's Products, Go-Go Babyz, Hauck Fun for Kids, JJ Cole, and Silver Cross.