How to Buy: A Stroller

Sure, comfort and style are important; but when it comes to choosing baby’s new wheels, that’s just the beginning.

How to Buy: A Stroller

The BumpBy Paula Kashtan for

With the seemingly endless stroller options and technologies on the market, picking one out can feel even more confusing than buying a new car. And with so many different styles directed at some many different lifestyles, there’s simply no way to say which one’s “best.” There are, though, some basic, nonnegotiable features that you should look for in any stroller.

Newborn appropriate:
Since newborns aren’t yet able to sit up on their own, they need a seat that either fully reclines or accommodates an infant carrier. If you go for the carrier, make sure it’s easy to lock into the stroller.

All babies belong in a five-point safety harness that’s easy to buckle and adjust.

Look for one that’s large enough to shield baby from the sun, wind, rain, and any other unexpected elements.

Check how easy it is for the brakes to become disengaged -- some will unintentionally unlock with just a slight amount of pressure. Also look for ease in both locking and unlocking the breaks (number two is often overlooked).

Make sure any features where baby’s fingers or toes could potentially get pinched -- moving handles, baskets, etc. -- are out of baby’s reach or safely covered.

Ask yourself
Once you’ve considered the basics, start asking yourself some questions about your lifestyle and what you really want out of a stroller. Some things to consider:

  • What kind of weather will you be using it in?
  • Are you in an urban or suburban environment? Will you be dealing with rough streets, lots of staircases, steep hills, or any other challenging situations?
  • How much do you intend to use your stroller?
  • Are you going to share the stroller with another parent or caregiver?
  • How much storage space do you want or need?
  • Will you need to fold and unfold your stroller frequently?
  • Does it need to fit in a certain-sized trunk?
  • Do you want to be able to use the same stroller after baby’s newborn stage? (Some parents prefer to simply get a stroller frame for their carrier, then buy a more advanced stroller once they have a better idea of how they’ll be using it.)

Start shopping

Once you have a better idea of what you’re looking for, head to a specialized store. You want to deal with trained professionals who can answer all your questions before you buy -- you might pay a little more for the service, but coming home with the right stroller will make it worth the extra cash. As you’re checking out the strollers, consider:

Ease of use
How easy is it to push and turn the stroller? Are you able to manage it with only one hand? Is it a manageable weight? (Remember, you’ll also have a growing baby and gear in the stroller once you’re actually pushing it.)

We’re talking your comfort here -- are the handles adjustable or at an appropriate height for you? Do you have to change your normal gait when pushing the stroller? Make sure that everyone who plans to frequently use the stroller can use it comfortably. (If you and your partner have a vast height difference, you’ll likely need something adjustable.)

Growth factor
If you’re planning to use the stroller beyond infancy, look for features you’ll want for an older baby -- for example, does it fully recline and have an extended foot rest, so that baby can nap comfortably?

Storage space
Consider what you’ll be carrying around besides baby and the stroller, and make sure there’s room to store it.

Make sure it doesn’t seem too bulky for your home or lifestyle. (This goes along with the easy-of-use factor.)

Check how easy it is to fold up the stroller -- it’s great if you can manage it with one hand -- and take note of how small it gets.

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