5 tips for first time stroller buyers

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If you think that choosing a stroller is just a matter of walking into a store and saying “I’ll take that one”, you’re in for a surprise… like I was! Although the purpose of pushing a baby around on wheels is the common factor, strollers offer so much more than just that. And that’s what makes the decision making so hard.

A lot of new moms ask “which stroller is the best one out there?”, but it’s impossible to define the “best”. The best is subjective to the needs of the parents and the babies.

Since most first-time parents will look at full-sized strollers (also called standard strollers), I’ve made a list of 5 things to consider before buying one.

1 // What’s my budget?

Having a budget ready will narrow down your list pretty fast. It will also help you dictate where to shop for your stroller, as some retailers carry only high end brands, and others carry only budget brands. Of course, if you have no idea on what you want to spend, it doesn’t hurt to visit a large retailer that carries a variety of brands (like Babies ‘R Us, Snugglebugz or Canabee Baby) to check them out first.

I’ve broken it down to 4 price ranges:

  • $100–$300 (typical brands: Graco, Baby Trend, Urbini)
  • $300–$600 (typical brands: Britax, Baby Jogger)
  • $600–$1000 (typical brands: Peg Perego, Bumbleride, Mountain Buggy)
  • $1000+ (typical brands: Bugaboo, Uppababy, Stokke)

2 // Where do I live and what do I do there?

Whether it’s in the city, the suburbs, or the rural landscapes of Canada, where you live will likely affect the choice you make in a full-sized stroller. Examples:

  • City moms will likely want a smaller, narrower design since you’ll be navigating on sidewalks and among pedestrians. There’s nothing worse (for both the parents and others around them) than having a stroller that takes up the entire width of a sidewalk;
  • Suburban moms typically drive to get to places, so a larger footprint is acceptable since the stroller will be transported in a car;
  • Rural moms may encounter a lot of country roads, so a good-sized stroller with larger wheels is important to handle extreme terrains.

If you’re an active mom that plans to jog with the stroller or go hiking through trails and forests, you’re going to need a stroller with large, air-filled tires as opposed to small foam-filled ones. If you’re planning to spend a lot of time at the mall or just casually walking around the neighbourhood, then air tires and shocks may not be necessary.

3 // What type of infant car seat do I have/want?

Not all car seats are compatible with all strollers. You can either choose your car seat first or your stroller first, because either way you will limit the options for the next item. Unless the car seat is made by the same brand (or parent company) as the stroller, you will likely require additional adapters in order for a car seat to fit. Make sure to check a stroller’s website to see what car seats are indeed compatible.

I’ve noticed that there are a few car seats that are highly popular and compatible with many strollers (compatible meaning either directly onto the stroller, or with an adapter):

4 // Will I be driving to my destinations, or stepping out by foot?

This question answers whether or not you need a bassinet. A lot of strollers nowadays come with bassinets, either optionally or standard. They are adorable and give your stroller a beautiful pram look, but typically, they only get used for a few months before baby outgrows it or wants to look out at the world around them in a proper seat.

If you’re going to be driving around a lot, a bassinet will probably get little use. Most parents will simply take the car seat and clip it into the stroller, as their baby is most likely asleep from the car ride and not transferable to a bassinet. If you are going to be stepping out the door and walking/taking transit, then you can place your baby into the bassinet from home, in which case a bassinet can be useful (even if only for a few months).

5 // What other extras do I want?

This is a tough question if you don’t know much about strollers. Exploring different brands and models by talking to other parents, visiting retailers, and browsing product sites are the best ways to educate yourself. Here are a few features that can be found on various strollers:

  • Expandability: if you’re planning to have another baby within the next 1-3 years, you may want to consider a stroller that can grow with your family. Some models can have a second seat added, and some can even have a wheeled board attached so you can push around 3 kids at once.
  • Age compatibility: some strollers are suitable for newborns and up; others are for babies 6 months and up. This is all dependent on how flat a seat can go.
  • Reversible seat: when a baby is old enough to sit up in the actual stroller seat and not an attached car seat, do you want him to be able to face you? Then you’ll need to look for a stroller with a reversible seat.
  • Stroller accessories: do you need a cup holder? A large storage basket? A rain cover? Some of these come standard with a stroller, others are sold separately, and some simply don’t exist for that model.
  • Style: there’s no denying it, the higher end brands create some beautiful and unique strollers (see here and here). The Bugaboo line sells additional canopy kits in different colours, and the Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle comes in cool nautical and houndstooth prints.

After you’ve made your list, there’s one last thing I have to tell you, and it’s the most important thing of all: it’s highly unlikely that you will find a stroller that meets every single one of your needs. A jogging stroller is not going to have small wheels. A lightweight stroller is not going to have a huge storage basket. A $200 stroller is not going to have leather trim. Be flexible and you’ll find the right one!

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