Stroller Buying Guide

Our Stroller Buying Guide will help you choose the right stroller for you and your baby.  Regardless of where you live - in the city, in the country, or somewhere in between - you're going to want a stroller.  As much as you love to hold your sweet baby, take it from us, carrying your baby or toddler gets pretty tiring, pretty fast.  You, and your back, need an easier way to transport your little one.  Enter the stroller.  As with all baby gear these days, there is a wide variety of strollers available.  In this stroller buying guide, we will explain the stroller lingo and provide insight into which stroller or strollers will best suit your needs and budget.  Your stroller is going to be one of your most-used baby items; make sure it's the right one for you.

Stroller Buying Guide:

How to Choose the Right Stroller For You and Your Baby

Ask yourself these questions to ensure that you choose the best stroller for your needs.

Function:  Why do you need a stroller?  What purpose do you want it to serve?  For what activities will you primarily be using this stroller (transportation only vs. exercise)?  Where will it be used - inside or out?

Age Range:
  How old is your child?  If you're looking for a stroller for an infant, does the stroller recline and provide adequate head support?  Are you looking for a stroller that grows with your child?

  Look at how big the stroller is and how compactly it will collapse.  Where do you plan on storing your stroller?  How much closet space do you have?  How much trunk space will it take up?  How much does it weigh?

  How comfortable does this stroller seem for your child?  Is it too narrow for your toddler's now-broad shoulders?  If you plan on using this stroller outdoors, check out the size of the wheels.  Larger wheels absorb more bumps and make for a smoother ride.

Steering Ease: 
Are you looking for a stroller that you can easily wind in and out of tight store aisles?  Or will it mostly be used for walks down a wide road or path?  (Steering is generally affected by the size of the stroller.  Take this into special consideration when purchasing a double or triple stroller.)

Look for features such as a tray, cup holders (for both you and your baby), a sunshade, storage underneath, etc.  These features may seem trivial now, but will definitely prove helpful once you start using your stroller.

Stroller Types

Lightweight Strollers:
There are three basic types of lightweight strollers: umbrella strollers, car seat frame strollers, and convenience strollers.  This stroller buying guide will help you understand the difference between each type.

Umbrella Strollers:
The umbrella stroller is generally the most inexpensive member of the stroller family.  It gets its name from its curved umbrella-type handles and ability to fold compactly.  Once folded, this stroller fits easily in the trunk of a car.  The umbrella stroller is extremely lightweight, usually weighing less than 12 pounds.  Because some models do not offer head and neck support and or recline, these umbrella strollers are only recommended for babies over 6 months of age.  Some models can accommodate children up to 3 or 4 years of age.  Although you would have to wait until your newborn is old enough to begin using your umbrella stroller, you can get years of use out of this stroller.  Most umbrella strollers do not have much, if any, storage space and many do not offer a canopy.  For these reasons, umbrella strollers are ideal for traveling, quick trips, and daily errands.

Pros: Can be very inexpensive, folds compactly, extremely lightweight

Limited features, not very sturdy, limited comfort for child compared to bigger strollers, little or no storage

Age Range:
usually 6 months +

Best Used For:
Traveling, quick trips, daily errands Price Range: $15 - $80

Car Seat Frame Strollers:
Many infant car seats have compatible frame strollers.  These strollers consist of only a frame where the car seat locks into place, with storage underneath.  They fold easily and are very lightweight.  With the car seat in place, the baby faces backwards, facing you.  Car seat frame strollers are a nice option to have for infants whereas you can transfer your baby from car to stroller without having to disturb him or her.  Also, the baby stays in the safe and comfortable reclined position.  Since he or she rides backwards, you can interact with your little one while on the go.

Car Seat Frame Stroller
Pros: Relatively inexpensive, folds compactly, lightweight, can move baby from car to stroller without leaving the car seat, under-carriage storage

Once Baby outgrows infant car seat, you need another stroller

Age Range:
Newborn - 1 Year (depending on model of car seat and size of baby)

Best Used For:
Traveling, quick trips, daily errands, shopping

Price Range:
$60 - $100

Convenience Strollers:
Convenience strollers have more features (such as storage, a broad canopy, snack tray, and a reclining seat) than umbrella strollers, but are bulkier and heavier.  They usually have smaller wheels than full size strollers and are ideal for travel and long walks alike.  Think of the convenience stroller as a mini full size stroller!

Many features available, lightweight, can be relatively inexpensive, folds compactly

Cons: Limited comfort for child when compared to full size strollers, smaller wheels not ideal for off-road walks, less sturdy than full size strollers

Age Range:
Over 6 months unless it fully reclines

Best Used For:
Traveling, quick trips, daily errands, walks, shopping

Price Range:
$40 - $400

Jogging Strollers:
Jogging strollers are made to be used for, well, just that: jogging!  They provide an excellent means of getting out with your baby for some fresh air and exercise.  Jogging strollers have three big, bicycle-type wheels.  Some have suspension that makes bumpy jaunts more comfortable for your little one.  The front wheel may swivel or be stationary.  A stroller with a fixed front wheel gives the stroller increased stability over rough terrain, but may affect its maneuverability.  Some models allow you to lock the front swivel wheel, giving you both options.  Some models offer a car seat adapter that turns the jogging stroller into a convenient travel system.

It is important to note that jogging strollers without this feature are not appropriate for very young babies because they don't offer a fully-reclining seat.  Wait until your baby is at least 6 months old before putting him or her in a jogging stroller.  Most jogging strollers can be used up until the time your child reaches about 50 pounds.  Now that's a workout!

Allows you to exercise with your baby, can be used on rough terrain and is still comfortable for your child

Some models are very big and bulky, requiring removal of rear wheels to fit into car trunk

Age Range:
6 months (as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics) - 5 years

Best Used For:
Walks, jogging, use over all types of terrain…is your neighborhood lacking sidewalks?  do you live on a dirt road?

Price Range:
$120 - $400

Full Size Strollers:
Full size, or standard, strollers are larger than convenience strollers and usually have more options for both your convenience and your baby's comfort.  These options may include a canopy, cup holders (for both you and your child), a reclining seat, storage, and a compartment for your keys or glasses.  Full size strollers are appropriate for all ages of babies, from newborns to children 3-4 years of age.  These strollers have larger wheels than the similarly-designed convenience stroller, which makes for a smoother ride for your baby.  Refer back to the stroller buying guide questions listed above to determine which type of stroller is best for you.

Pros: Many different styles, fabrics, and features available, very wide range of prices, comfortable and durable

Heavy, bulky

Age Range:
Newborn - 4 years

Best Used For:
Longer walks, traveling, shopping

Price Range:
$40 - $1,000

Travel System Strollers:
Similar to the frame stroller, the travel system stroller allows you to snap your infant car seat into the stroller itself.  The baby rides in the car seat, facing you.  Once your child has outgrown the infant car seat, he or she graduates to sitting in the stroller itself, facing outwards.  These travel systems are more costly than other strollers, but you must keep in mind that you are purchasing an infant car seat along with a full size stroller; it's like getting a car seat, a carrier, an infant stroller, and a toddler stroller all in one!

Pros:Includes car seat and stroller in one, may be the only stroller you need,many different styles, fabrics, and features available, very wide range of prices

Some models are big and bulky

Age Range:
Newborn - 4 years

Best Used For:
Walks, traveling, shopping

Price Range:
$130 - $900

Double and Triple Strollers:
Do you have twins, triplets?  Or children close in age? You're going to want a double or triple stroller!  These strollers come in three basic styles: inline or tandem (front-to-back), side-by-side, and sit-and-stand.  The inline models are long and narrow, making it easier to fit through tight areas.  These strollers make wide turns however.  Side-by-side strollers may be easier to maneuver; however, they could possibly be a tight squeeze through doorways or other narrow areas.  For the parents of twins, some strollers offer the option to attach two infant car seats, creating a duo travel system.  Another style includes a rear platform/seat where an older child can sit or stand on the back while an infant car seat or younger child rides in the front.

Able to walk several young children at once

Size, maneuverability, bulky to transport and store

Age Range:
Newborn - 4 years

Best Used For:
Walks, family activities shopping

Price Range:
$90 - $1,300

We hope our stroller buying guide has helped you make an informed decision regarding what type of stroller or strollers will best accommodate you and your family.  To find our top-rated strollers in each category, refer to our Stroller Reviews.

Graco Twin IPO Stroller
Cosco Avila Convenience Stroller
InStep Safari Swivel Jogging Stroller
Graco Quattro Tour Deluxe Stroller
Evenflo Aura Select Travel System
Kolcraft Contours Options Tandem Plus Stroller
Helping parents find the best baby gear.
Chicco C6 Stroller
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