Buying a stroller you love is like buying a car: You have to do your research, compare prices and ask around for recommendations. Plus, it might take some time and a few test drives (er, strolls) to find the perfect match. It can make all the difference in making your life a little easier and more convenient. If you are feeling overwhelmed with all of the options out there, here is where to start.
Where Do You Live?
Depending on your location, some things to think about are terrain, durability, weight, size, wheels and suspension. You’ll also want to consider your home’s accessibility, storage options, and your primary purpose for the stroller (for example, are you looking for a practical option for everyday use? Or, one for the occasional stroll in the park?).
For the city streets
Do you live in a walk-up or will you go up and downstairs a lot with your stroller? Then, your focus should be on a lightweight, yet durable option, says Amy Mabry, owner of baby boutique WeeBabe in Hoboken, New Jersey. Navigating the city will mean you need comfortable steering and larger wheels for a suspension to create a smooth ride over bumps and cobblestones, too. You will want a compact option — not only if you live in a smaller space, but to steer through crowds and tight quarters on public transportation. You also might want a large undercarriage basket for lugging around groceries and other belongings to keep your arms free while navigating the city streets.
Compared to city moms, if you live in the suburbs chances are you have more space, a car, and more convenient access to trails or parks. Try a full-size, rugged stroller that has an easy and quick fold to get in and out of your vehicle. Plus, think about accessories it may come with (like bug shields) if you’re planning to do a lot of outdoor family activities. You’re also potentially looking at a stroller’s longevity and may want to consider an option that can convert into a double or triple stroller should your family expand quickly.
- Our favorite pick: UppaBaby Vista V2 (starting from $969.99)
For the beach
If you are dealing with sand or rough roads, a regular stroller is not going to cut it. You will need one that has large, air-filled wheels for a wider surface area that will not wear down quickly on rugged/rocky terrain. It is easiest to navigate through the sand with a three-wheel stroller (one that has two wheels in the back and one in the front). Otherwise, you will get frustrated with one of the front wheels constantly getting stuck in the sand. Make sure that the front wheel does not swivel (most jogging strollers operate this way) so you can move smoothly through difficult terrain without the wheel spinning. Just keep in mind that because of the tires, these strollers will inevitably be heavy and bulky. Also look out for extra perks like a large canopy for sun protection, large storage capacity for all your beach gear and a cup holder to stay hydrated.
- Our favorite picks: BOB Revolution Flex 3.0 Jogging Stroller ($499.99) and Joovy Zoom 360 Ultralight Jogging Stroller (starting at $269.99)
What is Your Budget?
As with most important purchases, keep your budget in mind as you research. If you know you will not be spending above a certain amount, avoid looking at anything you may fall in love with that’s out of your range. If you are shopping in-store, tell the salesperson up front what you are looking to spend and let them help you find something that works, says Mabry.
If you are trying to keep a tight budget (and what parent isn’t?), you do not have to sacrifice quality or style. The Graco Verb Click Connect Stroller ($99.99), is lightweight, easy to steer and has a one-handed fold. It is relatively no-frills but comes with a tray and a cup holder once your child is a little bigger.
Best mid-range price
It is hard to find a lightweight stroller that has the same maneuverability as a regular stroller, but the BabyZen Yoyo² ($499.99) gets the job done. Clocking in at just 13.5 pounds, it fits into overhead airplane compartments, so you do not have to check it. You will also love the one-handed fold, a large UPF 50+ canopy that is perfect for naps on the go, and a large under-seat storage basket that can hold up to 11 pounds.
Yes, the rose-gold finishes on the Cybex Priam 3 (starting at $999.95) make it look fancy, but this stroller is so much more. The wheels literally feel like you are gliding over potholes and bumpy surfaces. You can recline the seat into a cozy bed with one hand while an extra-large UPF 50+ canopy protects the baby against weather and wind. Plus, the unique height of this stroller is perfectly on par with an average table height (31.5”) so that you do not need a separate highchair when you are eating out.
Do You Need Storage?
No matter if you live in the suburbs and you drive, or if you live in a city where you often walk, you will always appreciate keeping your hands free with under-the-seat storage.
- Our favorite pick: Silver Cross Wave ($1299.99) — the basket alone (8” x 19” x 17”) holds up to 33 pounds!
Pssst… in addition to a generously sized basket, it includes a chassis, carrycot, seat unit, carrycot hood and apron, seat unit hood and apron, seat liner, two rain covers and mosquito nets, cup holder and two adaptors for car seats or tandem seats — hence, the price tag.
Do You Have Travel Plans?
Traveling with a baby can be stressful but having the right stroller for your travels can make things much easier. You will likely want a narrow, lightweight model that folds down compactly to fit in the overhead bin of a plane and easy enough to carry over your shoulder while you are on the go. A canopy is a must-have, especially if you rely on naps while out and about. And, a one-handed fold makes life easier when you are loading up a car or rushing through an airport.
- Our favorite picks: The Zoe The Tour+ (XL1) Classic ($225)— it weighs just 12.5 pounds. Or, the BabyZen Yoyo² ($549.98) mentioned above.
Are You Planning on Having More Children?
If you would like to have another child in the future and think you will have two close in age, Mabry suggests looking for options that easily convert into a double stroller. Some double strollers “stack” the seats on top of each other, while others offer side-by-side seating. If you live in a city, a stacking stroller might be more convenient for getting through narrow doors and tighter spaces.
- Our favorite pick: The Bugaboo Donkey 3 Mono (starting at $1,299.00). For one child, you can use this multi-functional stroller with its 18-liter luggage basket on the side, adding to the storage capacity of the under-seat basket. Or, it can be used with tandem bassinets, seats, or a combination of each to accommodate siblings or varying age ranges at the same time.
Selecting the perfect stroller for you and your baby is no easy feat. But when all is said and done, you will be grateful you put in the extra effort to be sure you found the perfect match for years to come. Happy trails!
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