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Your Age-By-Age Guide to Strollers: What to Get When

Not sure what to look for in a stroller? We’ve got you covered. Here's a rundown of the features you'll need (and want) as your child grows.
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By Emma O'Regan-Reidy, E-Commerce Editor
Updated January 29, 2024
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Image: Eloisa Ramos | Stocksy United
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A stroller is a big-ticket item, but unlike all those adorable onesies you scored at your baby shower, a good one will adjust to meet baby’s changing needs in the months—and even years—ahead. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there are certain features you should look for in any stroller, regardless of your child’s age. These include (but aren’t limited to) easy-to-operate breaks, a wide base (to prevent tipping) and a five-point safety harness.

You may be thinking: What about all of the other bells and whistles and stroller accessories out there? That’s where we come in. We’ve done the bulk of the research, so you don’t have to spend hours scrolling through online forums and retailers to make your decision. Below, discover what you’ll need in a stroller from those early newborn days all the way to toddlerhood.

Stroller Features for Every Age

Whether baby is 2 days or 2 years old, there are a few stroller features that’ll always come in handy. As you browse, keep an eye out for the following:

  • Sun protection. In a pinch, you can use a blanket or swaddle to shield your newborn from the sun. But, as your infant gets older and becomes more active, you’ll be grateful for a stroller with a big canopy that’s UV-protective. Better yet, it’ll also provide cover if it’s drizzling outside.

  • Storage space. How much storage space you need is a matter of preference and lifestyle. Are you the kind of parent 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? Consider questions like these as you scope out under-carriage baskets. If you need extra space, you may want to get a stroller organizer as well.

  • Adjustable handlebar. Let’s say you’re 5’4" and your partner is 6’2". Can you both comfortably reach the stroller as you’re walking? Before purchasing a set of wheels, think about who’ll be doing the pushing—then make sure the handlebar can be moved to accommodate their various heights and leg spans.

Strollers for 0- to 6-Month-Olds

What you’ll need

If you’re the parent of a 0- to 6-month-old, your main concern will be keeping baby stable, supported and comfortable. With that in mind, look for a sturdy, structured design that’s equipped with a good suspension system. That way, it can absorb bounces and prevent jostling—which is especially helpful if you encounter bumpy terrain while your little one is snoozing. Speaking of naps, another must-have feature in a newborn stroller is a comfy seat that fully reclines, so baby can lie flat on their back (in keeping with the AAP’s safe sleep practices). And remember that if baby falls asleep in their stroller, “make sure you can see them at all times,” the AAP advises.

While browsing full-sized strollers, you may have noticed that a lot aren’t suitable for infants under the 6-month mark. However, many brands offer bassinet attachments that can be used safely with younger infants. So, if you have your eye on a specific model, be sure to double-check if there are newborn-friendly extras available.

What you’ll want

To ensure your infant is as safe and comfortable as possible, you’ll want a stroller that aligns with their specific stage. For newborns, that may mean opting for a bassinet stroller. If you live in a city or don’t drive that often, this may be your best option. Why? It’ll allow you to lay your little one down and get moving, with no attachments, adaptors or snaps to fiddle with—something you’ll appreciate in the early sleep-deprived, new-parent days. Even better, the bassinet can double as a mini crib, whether you’re at home or on the go. Many bassinet strollers are also convertible and come with several attachments, so you can adjust them as baby’s needs change.

Alternatively, if you’re in your car regularly, you could go for a travel system stroller, which is essentially a combination stroller/car seat. These versatile designs allow you to attach your infant car seats to the stroller frame, so you don’t have to unclip baby from one seat to another every time you get in and out of your vehicle.

If you’re only planning on using a newborn stroller for a few months, you may decide to use an inexpensive stroller at this age. This way, you’ll have a supportive frame to snap the car seat into—and then can invest in a full-sized set of wheels once baby can sit up independently. All in all, which type of stroller you choose will boil down to your preferences, budget and lifestyle. Below, discover one of our favorite strollers for this age group.

The best stroller for 0- to 6-month-olds

This set of wheels is packed with newborn-friendly features, so you can use it from birth. As you stroll with your little one, you’ll appreciate standout details, like the lie-flat recline and the full-coverage sun canopy with a peekaboo window. Even better, thanks to this stroller’s high weight limit and convertible design, you’ll be able to count on it for years down the line. Read more about this top-rated stroller in our comprehensive Best of The Bump roundup.

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Strollers for 6- to 12-Month-Olds

What you’ll need

Now that baby is sitting upright all on their own, the 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. Another feature that will come in handy now is a seat that can face forward or backward. After all, strolling is a perfect chance to chat (read: bond!) with your little love, especially when they can see your face.

What you’ll want

At this stage, you might start thinking about buying a specialty stroller—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 jogging stroller that can handle both sidewalks and trails. Are you a parent on the go? Consider picking up an ultra-portable umbrella stroller that’s easy to stash in the trunk. Or, if you’re on the hunt for a versatile model that seamlessly adapts to various modes of use, check out the Best of The Bump award-winner below.

The best stroller for 6- to 12-month-olds

Nuna MIXX Next Stroller
Image: Saks FiFth Avenue

The Nuna MIXX Next Stroller was a Best of The Bump award-winner—and for good reason. First of all, it’s super easy to maneuver and steer, no matter what terrain you’re cruising over. The best part, however, is the travel system’s versatility—for younger infants, you can position the seat as rear-facing, and as your little one gets closer to their first birthday, it can be transitioned into a forward-facing setup. If that’s not all, this top-rated stroller offers a lie-flat recline and a high weight limit, so it’s suitable for newborns and tots as well.

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The Best Strollers for 18- to 24-Month-Olds

What you’ll need

What a toddler needs in a stroller is a bit different than what a newborn or an infant requires, of course. Throughout toddlerhood, your kid will become more independent and want to soak in the world around them. This increased curiosity will most likely translate to them constantly hopping out of the stroller. As a result, you’ll probably wind up carrying it—so look for a lightweight model with a quick, easy fold. (If you have to choose one over the other, don’t underestimate how valuable that speedy fold can be with a child in tow.)

Check for potential pinch points where the canopy opens and closes; it’s a popular spot for kids to rest their hands when they’re walking, and you don’t want your toddler to get hurt. For added safety, the AAP suggests that you “keep your child at a safe distance when you open and close it [and] securely lock open the stroller before putting your child in.”

While it’s not a necessity, 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. Then, when your kiddo inevitably gets tired in a few blocks, they can hop back on board. Another feature that may seem small but can make all the difference is a tray where your tot can place their water bottle and a snack or two.

What you’ll want

Most importantly, you’ll want to look for a set of wheels that’s simple to maneuver. When your toddler is walking next to you holding your hand, you’ll need to steer with the other and that’s not easy to do with every stroller.

If your kiddo doesn’t want to be in their stroller but still needs to be wheeled around at times, there are plenty of clever alternatives out there. For example, you could go for a versatile wagon stroller. These hybrid models keep little ones safe and secure, while still giving them space to explore. Another option is a tricycle stroller. Created with several modes of use in mind, some are even equipped with handlebars so you can help steer and keep your child on track.

Do you have another little one on the way or are thinking of expanding your family in the near future? Then a double stroller or a sit and stand stroller could be your next best investment. But, for now, check out our favorite toddler stroller below.

The best stroller for 18- to 24-month-olds

Babyzen YOYO2 Stroller
Image: Target

Travel strollers aren’t just for planes, trains and road trips—they’re also great all-around options for tots. Case in point: The Babyzen YOYO2 Stroller. Ultra-lightweight yet sturdy, this set of wheels is full of convenient features for toddlers and parents alike. Details you’ll love include the UPF 50+ water-repellent fabric, the comfortable handlebar, the super-smooth suspension and, of course, the compact size. And if your toddler decides they want to get out and walk while you’re out and about—no problem. It easily folds up in seconds and comes with a carry strap for added convenience. To get the most out of this model, bassinet attachments, car seat adapters and standing boards are also available to purchase separately.

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About the writer:

Emma O’Regan-Reidy is an editor for The Bump. She specializes in writing e-commerce content about the latest and greatest in pregnancy, postpartum and parenting. O’Regan-Reidy has researched an array of topics, from prenatal vitamins and postpartum pads to the best non-wifi baby monitors, toddler learning towers and everything in between. With over a three-year career in digital media, O’Regan-Reidy has written dozens of articles about baby gear, aiming to create engaging, helpful articles that inform new and seasoned parents.

Sources

Healthy Children (AAP), How to Choose a Safe Baby Stroller, August 2022

Healthy Children (AAP), How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained, October 2023

The Bump May 2023 Survey. Editors conducted a survey of 300 new and expectant parents from among The Bump community, and asked what type and brand of stroller they used.

Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial process.

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