Paging Rosie: Choosing Your Stroller
Decisions, decisions, decisions: from the second that you find out you’re expecting a child you’re faced with oodles of decisions that you’ve never even considered before and surprisingly will seem rather impossible to make. The number of times I have had clients or friends call me from the stroller aisle of a large baby store, in total tears at the immense number of choices, not knowing the first thing about how to choose the stroller that is best for their child and their life, is…well, let me just tell you, it’s a very large number!
In an effort to make your life a little less stressful I want to demystify all the categories you will be coming across in choosing your stroller. Half the battle is just trying to figure out what all the different types of strollers even are. Choosing the actual stroller should then be more like choosing a car as you know the category you want, you just need to take it for a test drive! So here we go….in just a few minutes you’ll actually know the difference between all the strollers and maybe one step closer in knowing which one (or ones) work for you!
Car Seat Stroller Frame
What is it? The car seat stroller frame turns your infant car seat into a full stroller.
Pros: This is a completely no-fuss stroller. Snapping the car seat into the frame is super easy, and folding is a cinch. Plus, they’re often very cost-effective.
Cons: As soon as your little one grows out of their car seat, they are also done with this stroller. Also, the “no-fuss” thing cuts both ways: if you want a lot of bells and whistles, this isn’t the stroller for you.
What is it? This is the broadest range of stroller type, with endless options for style, design, features and price point. Generally, standard-size strollers all include a comfy adjustable seat, padded handles for mom and dad, and under-seat storage.
Pros: Your child won’t grow out of this system for some time, and most standard size strollers are super durable. Storage is typically great, and you can customize these strollers with add-ons such as a cup holder (for cold drinks only!) or bag hook. And when it comes to fashion, there are a wide range of colors and options to choose from – a step up from the plain black aluminum of a car seat stroller frame!
Cons: In most cases, these aren’t suitable for a newborn so you will need to purchase another stroller or carrier until your little one is old enough. Standard-size strollers are more expensive than a frame or a lightweight stroller. They can also be bulky, which can present a problem in stores or on crowded sidewalks, and are considerably heavier. Many brands have taken steps to make folding easier, but it can still be a bit of a hassle to break down, which can make taking it in and out of a car something of a challenge.
What is it? A travel system is essentially a standard-size stroller that also has the functionality of a car seat stroller frame and can accommodate an infant car seat.
Pros: These have all the pros of a standard-size stroller, plus the stroller frame’s ease of use with an infant car seat so they can be used from birth on. Many of the systems have multiple conversion options to accommodate your family’s changing needs – such as multiple child adapter seats or boards for older children to ride on when your family expands.
Cons: Travel systems also have the cons of a standard-size stroller – can be bulky, heavy, and a bit unwieldy. And, in most cases, they are even more expensive than a standard stroller. Also, be sure to know what the price of your stroller includes, as in some cases the infant car seat converter is not included in the base price.
Lightweight Strollers (“Umbrella Strollers”)
What is it? A super-lightweight stroller (usually under 15 pounds) that folds up easily and compactly.
Pros: Umbrella Strollers are great for quick trips out and for navigating busy streets, as they are not as wide or heavy as stroller systems or standard-size strollers. Generally, these are much less expensive than the other options. They are also great if you are transitioning your child out of a stroller, but you still want to have one handy in case your little one gets tired.
Cons: Umbrella strollers aren’t recommended for newborns or younger infants. There generally aren’t any bells or whistles for these. And be careful of the comfort factor – some of these models can be a bit uncomfortable for your little one if used for long periods.
Strollers for Multiples
What is it? You can find versions of each of the frames, standard-size strollers and lightweight strollers that are suited for multiples. In the case of some travel systems, you can buy adapters so you don’t need to buy an entirely new stroller when you have another child. Also, note that some options offer side-by-side seating, while others use a “stadium-style” system or in-line system where the second child rides behind or under the first seat, and even others offer the attachment of a board that an older child can stand and ride on.
Pros: The pros for multiple strollers are generally the same as the other strollers of that type, but keep in mind that you may lose some of the benefits of each type when you get the multiple-child version (such as less storage space, and more heft).
Cons: Strollers for multiples are necessarily heavier and larger than their single-rider counterparts – even more so when you add the weight of an extra child!
What is it? Jogging strollers are a must if you want to run while pushing your child, as they are specifically engineered to make sure baby has a comfy and safe ride while you’re getting your fitness on!
Pros: Typically equipped with three large tires, jogging strollers can also be useful when covering uneven terrain – like paths or bumpy city streets – whether you’re breaking a sweat or not.
Cons: These strollers can be a bit unwieldy, not to mention heavy. I’ve also known more than a few people who buy one with the best of exercising intentions, but end up using their jogging strollers very infrequently.