Let’s be honest: A stroller is a big-ticket item, but unlike all those adorable onesies you scored at your baby shower, a good one will actually last more than a few months. So how do you make sure you buy a stroller (or two – but not four or five) that has everything you need for every age? Read on.
What you’ll need: At this point, your main concern is keeping baby stable, supported and comfortable. So look for a sturdy, structured stroller that has a good suspension system that can absorb bounces and prevent jostling. Another must-have feature: a comfy seat that fully reclines, so your newborn can lie flat on his back.
What you’ll want: A travel system or a stroller that accommodates an infant car seat, so you don’t have to wake baby every time you take him in and out of the car. Some moms opt for an inexpensive stroller frame at this age, which the car seat snaps right into. And then they get a pricier full-sized stroller once baby can sit up on his own.
Also consider: If you’re a city mom, or you just don’t drive much, instead of a travel system, get a stroller with a bassinet attachment. Simply lay your bundle of joy down and go. No attachments, adaptors or snaps to finagle with – something you’ll appreciate in the early sleep-deprived, new-mom days. The bassinet can also double as a mini crib.
What you’ll need: Now that baby is sitting upright, your stroller’s seat is more important than ever. It should be roomy, with plenty of support and cushioning; adjustable; and offer multiple recline positions to keep up with your growing child. Also make sure it comes with a five-point harness to keep your little one snug and secure while you’re strolling.
What you’ll want: You’re getting the hang of this mom thing and are feeling more confident taking baby out and about. Strolling is a perfect chance to chat (read: bond!) with her, especially when she can see your face. One often-overlooked feature that will come in handy now: a seat that faces forward and backward.
Also consider: Now’s the time you might start thinking buying a specialty stroller to compliment your original one – once baby has good head and neck control, of course. To figure out which kind is right for you, think about your lifestyle: Are you an avid runner who wants to exercise with baby? Look for a lightweight jogging stroller that handles sidewalks and trails. Are you a mom on the go? Consider picking up an ultra-portable umbrella stroller that’s easy to stash in the trunk.
What you’ll need: Your kid is becoming more independent – and curious – and wants to soak in the world around him. This may mean a lot of hopping out of the stroller – and means you’ll be carrying it – so look for a lightweight model with a quick and simple fold. (If you have to choose one over the other, go with the one that folds easily.) At this age, it should still have a five-point harness to keep your wiggly explorer secure, and check for potential pinch points where the canopy opens and closes. That’s a popular spot for kids to rest their hands when they’re walking, and you don’t want your toddler to get hurt.
What you’ll want: A set of wheels that’s a cinch to navigate – and here’s why. While your toddler is walking, while holding your hand, (or wants to be carried), you’ll need to steer the stroller with the other hand. That’s not easy to do with every stroller.
Also consider: A ride-on board can be a godsend on those days when your child wants to be a big kid and walk instead of being wheeled around. And when she starts complaining about tired tootsies after a few blocks, she can just hop on the board. Crisis averted.
At Every Age
Whether your baby is two days or two years old, there are a few perks that are extra important.
• Sun protection. In a pinch, you can use a blanket to shield your newborn from the sun. But as she gets older – and becomes more active – you’ll be grateful for a stroller with a big canopy. Some newer models even come with ones that are UV protective.
• Storage space. How much you need is a matter of preference and lifestyle. Are you the kind of mom who likes to take everything but the kitchen sink with you when you leave the house, or do you travel light? Do you do your grocery shopping on foot or in a car? Would you rather stow your diaper bag or carry it?
• Adjustable handlebar. Let’s say you’re 5’4”, and your partner is 6’2”. Can you both comfortably stroll your little one? Consider who’ll be doing the pushing, then make sure the handlebar can be moved to accommodate everyone’s height and leg span.
The Bump expert: Ali Wing, founder and CEO of Giggle.com