Buying Guide for Baby Strollers
Got singles, twins or triplets? Feeling trapped inside your home with your babies? No worries, get yourself the right baby stroller and feel free to go to the park for a jog or shop at the mall, or just go out wherever you want to - taking your babies along with you.
Strollers are handy conveniences that allow you to spend quality and stress-free time with your babies while on the move. Laden with safety features and practical accessories like a storage basket, a canopy, food tray etc, you don’t have to carry extra bags with you. Most strollers fit easily into the car boot and can be taken along anywhere.
A mind-boggling array of strollers is available for a single baby, twins and triplets, newborns, infants and toddlers making it really difficult for parents to choose the right one. Strollers can be categorized as standard and lightweight, multiple seats, jogging, travel system and umbrella strollers. Each type of stroller comes with a specific weight limit. Some models have provisions to carry a slightly older kid in a standing position provided he/she falls within the specified weight limits.
Before you shop for one think about what you need from the stroller. Talk to friends who have used strollers and learn about the various types, features, brands and the price range available. The right stroller can take the drudgery out of taking the child out and make the outings more fun. This Guide to Buying strollers will help you make a wise decision.
Key features to look for in a stroller
Select strollers keeping in mind the number of children you have or plan to have. Depending on that buy a stroller that lasts till your second or third child. Your lifestyle is also an influencing factor. If you are planning to travel with your baby, you need to buy a stroller that is sturdy yet easy to maneuver. For fitness-conscious mothers, there are rugged jogging strollers that you can run with. For shopping or a walk in the park, a lightweight umbrella stroller is just perfect. Often parents buy two strollers, one light and one heavy, to suit these different purposes. Following are some factors to keep in mind when buying a stroller:
1. Seat belt and harness: The restrain system ensures that your baby does not slip out of the stroller. The belt should be adjustable to accommodate the child as it grows, while providing a snug fit by looping around the waist and crotch. A 5-point harness keeps the baby secured around the shoulders as well, a must-have in all strollers. The buckles should be easy to latch and unlatch.
2. Seat and canopy: A multi-position reclining seat provides utmost comfort to the child when it is tired and sleepy. Simply recline the seat as required and let the baby doze off on the go. An adjustable canopy protects your baby against harsh sunlight and foul weather. A peek-a-boo window lets your baby to look around and while you monitor him/her. Few strollers also come with built-in rain and insect shield.
3. Stroller frame: Strollers use aluminum, steel, plastic or a combination of these in the frame construction. Strollers made from aluminum and plastic are lightweight and easy to move around. Steel frames add to the stroller weight, however they are very sturdy.
4. Fabric used: Babies aren’t known to be the cleanest people around, so ensure that the seat cover and canopy are removable and easy-to-wash. Most strollers come with seats that can be easily cleaned.
5. Brakes: Safety brakes on the stroller should lock the wheels in place while you are chatting up a friend or shopping and the stroller is briefly unattended.
6. Wheels: A wider wheel base provides more stability while swivel wheels make the stroller easy to maneuver.
7. Adequate storage: If you are going on long trips with your baby or to the neighborhood park, ensure that your stroller has a large storage bin to carry essential items such as a change of clothes, extra bibs, diapers, wet wipes, sunscreen, his/her food and some toys.
8. Adjustable handles: Most strollers are suitable for people with average heights, but they come with handles that can be adjusted for taller people as well.
9. Smooth open/close mechanism: Look for strollers that can be easily folded by one hand or foot while you hold your baby in another. These should be compact enough to store away under a bed, inside a cupboard or in the car boot when travelling.
10. Trays and cup holders: Most Strollers come with a food tray and cup holders for holding feeding bottles, sippy juice mugs and snacks.
11. Weight: Check out the strollers’ weight, add to it your baby’s weight and determine the weight you will have to push around. Consider your fitness levels and determine how much weight you can manage to lift and push.
12. Built-in toys: Some strollers come with a toy steering wheel for your baby to steer with as you trundle him along. Some even feature dangling mini-figures on the front bar.
13. Side steps: This helps the toddler to stand on or use it as a step to climb inside the stroller.
Seven types of strollers:
- Standard or traditional
- Double and Triple seat
- Travel system
- Buggies and carriages
Traditional or standard Strollers: With sturdy frames for heavy use, these strollers are ideal for infants and toddlers upto 40 lbs and provide a smooth ride. The fully-reclining seats allow the baby to sit comfortably upright to enjoy the view outside. Standard strollers often feature a large storage bin, usually under the carriage to let you carry along all your baby’s essentials. Ergonomic handles, roomier seats, larger wheels with a wider wheelbase, locking wheel brakes and better suspension are integral features of a standard stroller. Being large, these are a bit difficult to move in crowded areas.
Double or Twin Strollers: These are constructed like standard strollers but accommodate two kids at a time. Consider the kids ages when selecting a double stroller. Twin strollers can have seats back-to-back or side-by-side. These come as jogging, umbrella or lightweight strollers. Go for a model with reclining seats and one or two infant carriers. Some twin strollers allow for one kid to ride standing while the other sits, however these do not have reclining seats. Being large, see how easily maneuverable it is, go for one that can effortlessly move around.
Lightweight Strollers: These inexpensive strollers are often used as a second stroller for going to the mall or strolling in the park or neighborhood. Mostly weighing less than 20 lbs, lightweight strollers come with most of the features found in larger strollers including storage bins, reclining seats and a canopy. Some models come without reclining seats, which is not suitable for a baby who can’t sit by itself. Lightweight strollers are easily folded with a single hand, save space and can conveniently be taken on a bus or an airplane.
Umbrella Strollers: A type of lightweight stroller weighing around 12 lbs, umbrella strollers are great for running errands to the vegetable market or to the park with your child. These strollers have sun shades, curved handles like an umbrella and it folds like one too. Few of them also feature a storage pocket or basket. Economical, these strollers fold compactly, fit easily in the car boot or under the bed, without taking up too much space. Being lightweight, these are easier to maneuver around in crowded areas and tight and narrow spaces and can be carried effortlessly on public transport too. However, these often don’t provide reclining seats, so it is more suitable for slightly older kids around 6 to 9 months of age.
Jogging Strollers: Ideal for active parents, these jogging strollers feature a sleek frame and are designed for jogging. The hand brakes help to control the speed of the stroller while jogging, while large bicycle-type inflatable tires and an all-terrain suspension provide a smooth ride on uneven sidewalks, gravelly roads and almost any surface. Owing to their design, these strollers don’t fold like lightweight strollers. With non-reclining seats, these are not meant for infants less than 6 months of age. Jogging strollers usually have a fixed front wheel; this requires you to lift the front wheel off the ground by pushing down the back wheels when you need to turn. These are lightweight but large hence difficult to maneuver in tight and crowded places. Jogging strollers usually have a carrying capacity of around 80 lbs.
Travel Systems: Considered to be the SUVs among strollers, these 40 lbs strollers feature an easily detachable and snap-to-fit car seat that allows parents to conveniently transport the sleeping baby from the stroller to the car and back without disturbing the baby. The car seat base however remains in the car. Once the infant has outgrown the car seat, the stroller can be used as a standard stroller. These expensive, yet sturdy and durable stroller travel system come with all the features found on a standard stroller including the snack trays, canopy, and large under-the-seat storage bin. Its large size, however, takes up most of the space in your car trunk. Most travel system strollers feature a 3-point harness while a few offer a safer 5-point harness to ensure that your child does not accidentally slip out. While most travel system strollers come as a package, some models accept a variety of car seats allowing parents to choose the most comfortable car seat for their infants.
Buggies and Carriages: Slightly old-fashioned, these are roomy, stylish and trendy strollers for newborns. The bassinet style design, allows the child to face the parent during the ride. These durable buggies feature large sturdy wheels that provide a smooth ride. Expensive and heavy, these buggies are difficult to fold and consume too much space. A large canopy provides protection against harsh sunlight and changing weather.
JPMA certified, Maclaren Strollers are leaders in standard and twin strollers. With a padded reversible liner, adjustable head and foot rest and a canopy, these lightweight strollers ensure a smooth ride and provide a one-hand compact fold.
Bugaboo Cameleon and Bugaboo Bee, from Bugaboo Strollers, come in a wide range of hip and trendy materials and colors. Bugaboo Cameleon features a detachable bassinet with a aerosleep mattress alongwith a reversible multi-position seat and handlebar in its stream-lined functional construction.
Whether you have an infant or an older kid, single child or twins, Graco Strollers offer a vast range of lightweight, full-size and twin strollers to fulfill all your requirements. Feature-laden, these strollers provide reversible seats, roomy interiors, a canopy, cup trays, drop-down storage bins and much more.
As you can see there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to buying strollers; in fact so much that choosing the right one is a difficult task. If you are looking to buy one, start with first deciding the type of stroller you need – this guide should help you ascertain your needs.
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