With some baby gear items, which type you choose won't make much of a difference. Most car seats and cribs have similar features, no matter which brand you buy, and choosing your nursery furniture is mostly a matter of taste.
But with strollers, things can get complicated.
One stroller is perfect for getting around the city on public transit, while another is great for transporting your three kids and all their gear around the park. Which type is best for you depends on your lifestyle, and it's hard to know what you'll need when your baby isn't even here yet. In this guide, we'll give you an overview of the major options to help you break down your choices and find the best stroller for you.
1. When Will You Use Your Stroller?
First, think about when and where you'll be using your stroller. This includes storage (will you need to lug it up several flights of stairs? Fold it with one hand while climbing on a city bus?) and terrain (indoor shopping malls or bumpy city sidewalks and parks?). A glance around your neighborhood and the places you think you'll be walking with baby will help you narrow down which type of stroller you want.
Here are your options:
Heavier than an umbrella stroller but not as bulky as a jogging stroller, standard strollers range from the bare-bones to full-featured. Most have seats that recline and some amount of suspension for bumpy roads. If you want a flexible stroller that can fit in your small trunk but also manage some bumpy grass at the park, a standard stroller is probably your best bet.
The most popular standard strollers are the Britax B-Agile, Baby Jogger City Mini and the UPPAbaby Cruz.
Stokke Scoot stroller
TIP: Standard strollers can fit in your small trunk but still manage some mild terrain.
If you want to keep your stroller collection to one all-purpose vehicle, a standard stroller is probably your best bet. A higher-quality standard stroller will have good suspension and lots of room for gear, but it will still be small enough to store pretty easily and fold up without too much trouble. If you want to use your stroller in a lot of situations but don't need a specialized stroller, a standard is a good choice.
You can't run with a standard stroller, so if you plan to go running with baby to keep you company, you'll need a jogging stroller. And a standard stroller is heavier and bulkier than an umbrella stroller, so if you need to carry it on public transit or travel with it, you may want a lighter option.
An umbrella stroller is super lightweight (usually under 12 pounds) and minimalistic. It's designed for easy transit: it fits in small spaces in your trunk, it's easy to carry around, and it folds up small for convenient storage. It has less suspension than other types, so it's best if you're walking on flat, smooth surfaces like inside a store or on a well-maintained sidewalk.
The most popular umbrella strollers are the UPPAbaby G-Luxe, Graco LiteRider and the Chicco Liteway.
Most umbrella strollers fold easily with one hand, and they're light enough to carry under your arm while you're holding a baby on your other hip. It's the perfect stroller for walking around a mall or exploring the city on public transit. It's also great when you have a toddler who wants to alternate between walking and riding in the stroller â€” and many umbrella strollers even have a carrying strap so you can toss it over your shoulder when it's not in use.
Most umbrella strollers have minimal suspension, so they aren't great for bumpy outdoor terrain. If you'll be walking on the grass at the park or navigating old, bumpy sidewalks, opt for something with better shocks. They also don't have a lot of storage, and they're usually not sturdy enough to hang your diaper bag on the handle, so if you need to carry gear for a full day out of the house, consider a bigger option.
Finally, most umbrella strollers don't fully recline, so you can't use one till your baby is at least six months old. Until your baby can sit up well and has good head control, she'll need a stroller that lets her lie back with full head support.
Light to push but bulky to fold and store, a jogging stroller is designed for maximum comfort at high speeds over bumpy terrain. If you want to keep up your high-impact exercise regime with baby in tow, a jogging stroller is essential. Even if you don't run, if you want to walk baby over bumpy park paths without worrying he's getting bumped around too much, a jogging stroller could be just what you need.
The BOB Revolution is far and away the most popular and loved jogging stroller there is.
BRITAX B-AGILE STROLLER
GRACO FASTACTION FOLD CLICK CONNECT LX STROLLER
BOB REVOLUTION STROLLER
A jogging stroller is easy to push and steer, since it's designed to move at faster speeds. Most have three wheels with a fixed front wheel to prevent the stroller from weaving as you're steering with one hand, although some allow you to switch the front wheel so it swivels.
Jogging strollers are big and bulky. If you need to maneuver through crowds or squeeze through tight spaces (think narrow aisles in stores), don't bring a jogger. And if you have a small trunk, your jogging stroller's large wheels may not even fit in your car, so you might be confined to neighborhood use only.
2. How Long Do You Want Your Stroller to Last?
Once you've narrowed down which type of stroller you want, think about how long you want to keep using your investment. Some strollers only work for infants, while others convert to doubles or even triples so they'll fit your whole family aboard.
Here are your choices in long-term flexibility:
Travel systems are great for moms who drive a lot - especially if you want your baby gear to coordinate. A travel system is a matching set of stroller and car seat. The car seat is designed to snap into the stroller, so you can take your baby in and out of the car on multiple errands, all without ever taking him out of the car seat.
Travel systems are great when baby is little and naps in the car seat. Once he outgrows the infant car seat, the stroller works for older kids too. In addition, you can save money on both car seat and stroller by buying them as a set.
Travel system strollers often don't have as many options as stand-alone strollers. When you're looking for a system, you might not find all the options you want in a car seat and a stroller as you would if you bought the two pieces separately.
Stroller With Bassinet or Car Seat Bar
If you want a stroller that will work from infancy to toddlerhood but don't want a matching travel system, opt for a stroller with an infant add-on. Many strollers have a bassinet add-on: use the bassinet for when your baby is a newborn, then swap it out for a regular stroller seat once your child is ready to sit up. Or, if you don't want to buy a whole bassinet addition, look for a stroller that allows you to add a bar and snap on the car seat.
The UPPAbaby Vista comes with a beautiful bassinet.
An add-on gives you the flexibility of a travel system to use from infancy through toddlerhood, but it also gives you the flexibility of buying your car seat and stroller separately.
Not all car seats are compatible with all strollers, so you'll have to do your research. If you choose the bassinet option, you won't be able to move the baby from the car to the stroller without unstrapping him and possibly disturbing him, so consider a car seat attachment instead if you'll need to move back and forth a lot between the stroller and the car.
Convertible for Multiple Kids
If you plan to have more kids and have the money to invest in a single-solution stroller, a convertible stroller could be everything you'll ever need. Convertible strollers include different add-ons that let the stroller grow with your family. Start with a bassinet for your first newborn, then switch to the regular stroller seat at six months. When you have your second kid, add a rumble seat for the big sibling, and when it's time for your third baby, add a running board for the toddler. Convertible strollers give you maximum flexibility, letting you push three or even four kids with a stroller that's not much bigger than a standard single stroller.
You can keep using a convertible stroller for a long time. It's almost impossible to outgrow a convertible - by the time you need room for more, your oldest won't need a stroller any more (unless you have multiples).
Convertibles are expensive! They're also big and bulky, although a convertible with the singleton option usually isn't any bigger (and may even be smaller) than a jogging stroller. And, of course, you shouldn't jog with this type either - the best stroller for a serious workout is a specialized jogging stroller.
3. What Other Features Do You Need?
You've narrowed down which type of stroller you want, but there are still a few more options to consider before you find "the one." Each type of stroller has brands that offer different features, so take a look at these optional extras before you make your final choice.
If you're 5' and your partner is 6'1", then an adjustable handlebar will ensure your stroller will be comfortable for both of you to push. Otherwise, you may end up buying "his and hers" strollers so neither of you is bending down or pushing at an awkward angle.
Your tiny baby will soon grow into a toddler who spills juice on the seat and throws raisins in the cargo section, so your shiny new purchase won't look new for long if it's hard to clean. Some strollers come apart for easy washing, while others can only be spot-cleaned.
All strollers have brakes, but some are easier to use than others. Try a few in a store to figure out if you prefer a foot brake or a hand brake, and make sure the brake on your stroller is conveniently located and easy for you to use.
Hey, if you're spending this much on something you'll only use for a few years, you should like the way it looks! There are a lot of different stroller styles, so spend some time browsing through pictures so you can get a feel for the type of look you want.
How Much Do You Want to Spend?
Finally, consider your stroller budget. Although certain types of strollers (convertibles) are always more expensive than others (umbrellas), there's a wide range of price within each category. So no matter which type of stroller you want, chances are good you can find one in your price range. Just remember you'll probably want some accessories as well, so make sure you include those in your budget!