Your beautiful new baby is born and with a whirlwind of emotions swirling around you it can be easy to overlook things you might need for your new son or daughter. An essential item is a baby stroller, but how do you separate the wheat from the chaff even after searching for stroller reviews online and through friends?
An expensive, but essential purchase, you really can not do without a stroller in some shape or form. But therein lies the problem. They come in so many forms and styles nowdays, how do you know which features are important and which are not?
We're about to tell you the 10 most important factors to take into account before purchasing a stroller.
1. Age and Weight – a good starting point for your research and you'll learn about the lifetime use of your stroller by understanding that some strollers go up to five years of age, while others can not be used from birth if a car seat can not be attached. Typically strollers hold a maximum of around 50 pounds, but this can vary wildly between brands as can the overall weight of the stroller.
The weight of the stroller can be key if you have to constantly move it from vehicle to house and back. Ideally you'll desire a lightweight model for transport purposes.
2. Type – the choice for modern strollers is staggering sometimes. A very popular style at the moment is the modular system, which covers all ages of baby and toddler thanks to the quick attachment of toddler / car seats and bassinets. The UPPAbaby Vista is a fine example of the modular option.
Maybe you prefer a lightweight or easy to fold stroller like the umbrella range which includes the Peg Perego Si. These strollers are perfect for commuting parents who have to take their children places via public transport or in their own vehicle.
Many modern strollers feature futuristic designs and innovations, which at times can make them look more like formula one cars than pushchairs. The Stokke Xplory takes innovation to another level with a high infant seat, which is said to aid the bond between baby and parent.
Add to these types the jogger, double, twin (side by side), all-terrain and travel systems and you can see that the choice is almost endless. Pick the right type to suit your needs.
3. Seat – many strollers have quality made padded seats for the little one, so the snug fit should enable your little boy or girl to drift into dreamland while you stroll peacefully around. Some are more snug than others and you should check the fit before you buy.
One thing that can prevent your baby from sleeping soundly in their stroller is a lolling head due to a lack of neck support from the infant seat. Look for models which include supplement support, otherwise you might need an extra cushion.
4. Canopy – all the seat comfort in the world will not matter one jot if the wind and rain disturb your baby during slumber. Ensure the canopy is suitably large, extendable and look for decent air flow pockets around the hood, which may include mesh panels.
The canopy needs to fully extend down and over the child to offer full protection, otherwise there's a chance of getting wet or worse, sunburned. One notable feature of the Bugaboo Cameleon is an air window located underneath the bassinet, where the baby lays its head.
5. Material – a popular stroller seat material is polyester, which is fairly standard and easy to keep clean, often being completely removable from the seat frame. Quinny use a neoprene cover on their Buzz stroller and this sets tight over a memory foam seat for an unrivaled level of comfort.
We all know babies can make a mess, so strollers which allow you to remove the seating material for washing also come highly recommended.
6. Frame – aluminum is the metal of choice for the vast majority of strollers. It has lightweight, strong attributes and ensures a firm build. Some strollers may use hardened plastics for the frame, so check thoroughly the frame material and build quality before you take one home. Make sure the adjustments are smooth and not tight or creaky.
7. Suspension, Wheels & Brakes – all three attributes work together to ensure the stroller moves smoothly along. Some brands which produce cheaper models may use small, hard plastic wheels which offer a lesser degree of shock absorption, while other models feature full suspension and large rubber inflatable tires which provide superb shock prevention.
The combination of wheels and adjustable suspension can make some strollers suitable only for pavements, while other models can be taken off-road over all manner of terrain. Jogger strollers such as the BOB Revolution SE are a perfect example of an off-road stroller, which provide a smooth, secure ride over rough footpaths even at speed.
Brakes do not add comfort to the ride, but provide stability and safety when the stroller is not in motion, which makes it a very important factor.
8. Adjustment – some types of stroller such as the modular range are all about adjustments, but even simple models need to be quick and easy to adjust.
The ability to adjust the handlebar height, the seat recline positions, the fold-away options and the addition of extra parts to the stroller, such as canopies, drink holders, toddler stand-ons and in some cases, second seats, are all worth the time to research and revise.
Umbrella strollers take the lead here, often with simple one-handed fold-away and pick up movements. The Inglesina Trip is a fine example of this technology.
9. Storage – in the modern world strollers are not just for pushing your baby around in. Many parents have to take the stroller round shops and pick up groceries at the same time, so storage options are important. Certain models make carrying shopping home a breeze, whereas other models leave you lumbering around with bags dangling from the handlebar.
For all the rave reviews, the Bugaboo Cameleon is quite stingy when it comes to the under seat basket and the Stokke Xplory fares little better with its own built-on bag system. The UPPAbaby Vista offers generous under seat space and other strollers extend their capacities with seat back pockets.
10. Price – you can spend pretty much whatever you want on a stroller as all budgets are catered for on the market. Got a grand to spare? Then take a look at the sumptuous Bugaboo, UPPAbaby and Stokke models. Looking in the mid-range section? You'll find plenty of quality strollers between $ 200 and $ 500 mark, including the Quinny Buzz. If you're looking to steal a bargain away then the Graco Spree might be right up your street and at less than $ 200 for a stroller and car seat, how could you go wrong?
You should spend whatever you feel comfortable with. If you intend to buy a stroller system that will last for years, you can spend more money, whereas if you want a lightweight, umbrella stroller as a second option, why break the bank, when there are strollers around for $ 50 to $ 60.
Additional extras like cup holders and stroller boards will also cost more than the top brands, so you'll pay a higher price twice to get the full setup. Make this a known feature of your budget.