Baby Registry

How To Buy A Stroller

Comfort and style are important, but when it comes to choosing baby’s new wheels, that’s just the beginning.

Photo: Thinkstock

Comfort and style are important, but when it comes to choosing baby’s new wheels, that’s just the beginning.

With the seemingly endless stroller options and technologies on the market, picking one out can feel even more confusing than buying a new car. And with so many different styles directed at some many different lifestyles, there’s simply no way to say which one’s “best.” There are, though, some basic, nonnegotiable features that you should look for in any stroller.

Newborn suitability
Since newborns aren’t yet able to sit up on their own, they need a seat that either fully reclines, has a bassinet attachment or accommodates an infant carrier. Make sure the carrier easily locks into the stroller.

Harness
Babies should always be secured in a five-point safety harness that’s easy to quickly buckle and adjust.

Canopy
Look for one that’s large enough to shield baby from the sun, wind, rain and any unexpected elements.

Brakes
Check how easy it is for the brakes to become disengaged—some will unintentionally unlock with just slight pressure. Also look for ease in both locking and unlocking the brakes (this is often overlooked).

Hinges
Do a safety check: Make sure features that could potentially pinch baby’s tiny fingers or toes—moving handles, cup holders, sunshades, baskets—are out of baby’s reach or safely covered with cushiony fabric so she won’t get hurt.

Ease of use
How simple is it to push and turn the stroller? Are you able to manage it with only one hand? How about moving it in a tight space? Is it a manageable weight? (Remember, you’ll also have a growing baby and gear in the stroller once you’re actually pushing it.)

Comfort
We’re talking your comfort —are the handles adjustable or at an appropriate height for you? Do you have to change your normal stride when pushing the stroller? Make sure that everyone who plans to frequently use the stroller can use it comfortably. (If you and your partner have a vast height difference, you’ll likely need something adjustable.)

Growth factor
If you’re planning to use the stroller beyond the newborn months, look for features that work for an older baby—for example, does it fully recline and have an extended foot rest, so that baby can nap comfortably?

Storage space
Think about what you’ll be carrying along with baby and make sure you’ll have enough room for everything.

Size
Consider whether it’s too bulky for your home or lifestyle. A bells-and-whistles stroller might seem great in the store but take up a ton of space in tiny boutiques and restaurants, or even at home.

Folding
It’s great if you can manage the maneuver with one hand, since you’ll be holding a squirming baby with the other. And take note of how small it is when closed.

Ask yourself
Once you’ve considered the basics, start asking yourself some questions about your lifestyle and what you really want out of a stroller. Some things to consider:

  • What kind of weather will you be using it in?
  • Are you in an urban or suburban environment? Will you be dealing with rough streets, lots of staircases, steep hills, or any other challenging situations?
  • How much do you intend to use your stroller?
  • Are you going to share the stroller with another parent or caregiver?
  • How much storage space do you want or need?
  • Will you need to fold and unfold your stroller frequently?
  • Does it need to fit in a certain-sized trunk?
  • Do you want to be able to use the same stroller after baby’s newborn stage? (Some parents prefer to simply get a stroller frame for their carrier, then buy a more advanced stroller once they have a better idea of how they’ll be using it.)

Looking for a stroller? Check out our picks here.

By Paula Kashtan