Stroller Buying Guide: Find The Right Stroller For Your Baby Or Toddler

Buying the first stroller in your life is a daunting task. There are just too many options available. But don’t worry, I’m here to help you out. Let me first walk you through different stroller types. After that, I’ll explain the essential stroller parts and accessories. And then I’ll help you to find the best stroller type for you.

Prams

They are also known as baby carriages or baby buggies (you can see one on the first picture). Prams have only a bassinet and are meant to be moving beds for your newborn (source).

Stroller Guide Pram

You’d have to buy a stroller after your baby learns to sit and wants to see the world.

Stroller Types


I Full-Sized Stroller

The largest of the baby stroller types, these can be used for infants through to small preschoolers.

Full-sized strollers can be configured so that at first your newborn can lie down like in a pram. You typically use a removable bassinet for that.

When your child grows, you can attach a seat and convert your baby carriage to a stroller.

You can see one example on this picture.

The wheels are usually air-filled, so it's easy to push them even on snow. The bassinet is removable, and I can change it for a chair. There's also a lot of storage space.

Full-sized stroller

Look for a model that has an adjustable backrest, easy folding and the correct type of wheels for your most commonly visited terrain.

If you wish to find out the best strollers, then please click here to read how I found the top 5.

There are full-sized strollers available for a single child, twins, and triplets. The price will depend on the brand name, where you buy it and the extras that you choose at the time of purchase.  So the price ranges for these strollers can vary widely.

PROS

CONS

  • Can be used beyond infancy
  • Has space for everything you need for a day out
  • Usually comes with a seat for an older child
  • Can be one of the more expensive types of strollers
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    Might be too large for smaller cars
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    It may be too bulky or heavy to carry upstairs or over obstacles, if that is necessary

II Lightweight And Umbrella Stroller

Lightweight strollers (including umbrella strollers) are perfect for a day at the zoo or running quick errands. 

If you're looking for the best lightweight stroller, then click here to find out DadProgress top 5 picks.

Umbrella Stroller

As they are very easy to fold/unfold, they fit in most car trunks.

There's no clear definition what makes a lightweight stroller. You should usually aim for strollers that weigh less than 23lb (10,5kg).

Umbrella Strollers

Umbrella strollers get their name from the design of the handles. They are usually folded vertically.

They are perfect for babies that are old enough to sit up to toddlers within the weight restriction. Umbrella strollers do have a weight restriction because of their design. 

Umbrella Stroller

They may not last as long as other types of strollers, but these are perfect as a backup or for traveling.

Umbrella strollers may come in single or double seaters for twins. They also tend to have cute colors and designs.

PROS

CONS

  • Super light (may weigh between 5-15lb)
  • Easy to use. Most open with a flip and close with one hand
  • Fit in most car trunks with ease
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    Can be used for traveling
  • Usually not meant for infants under four months old as the seat doesn’t recline flat
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    Have a strict weight limit
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    May tip especially if the child is active
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    May not handle rougher terrain without bending or breaking

III Jogging Stroller

Jogging strollers are designed for maximum speed while not sacrificing the safety and comfort of the child inside. They are also commonly used for all around errands.

Looking for the best jogging stroller? Click here to learn what professional triathletes think of them and find the best for you.

Most have three wheels: one in front and then two rear wheels. Most use same sized wheels, but some opt for a smaller wheel in front.

You can buy a jogging stroller for more than one child with seats that are either side by side or one behind the other.

Jogging Stroller

Most come with a big windscreen or canopy to protect the child from wind, grit, and debris as they are pushed at pretty fast speeds.

PROS

CONS

  • Lightweight in most cases
  • Perfect for active parents especially those who want to resume their fitness routines as soon as possible
  • Reclining models may be okay for infants if used at slower speeds
  • Some of the best jogging strollers have a fixed front wheel for better stability. It means that they are not easy to maneuver in the city though
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    Some models are surprisingly heavy and bulky. These models may not fit in some car trunks
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    Not easy to see the baby in the stroller in most designs

IV Double And Tandem Strollers

Double stroller is perfect for parents that have twins or two young children of different ages.

The double stroller's seats can be either side to side or one behind the other.

The later is called a tandem stroller.

Double Stroller
Tandem Stroller

The tandem stroller is perfect for narrow walkways or door frames and the kids are both in the same eye line.

Double strollers usually allow each seat to recline independently. It means that they are also perfect for an infant and toddler combo.

More than other stroller types, it is important that these be tested before buy. Some are limited in terms of maneuverability while others may not be as easy to operate as other styles. You will want to see which model comes closest regarding the folding/unfolding ease and other functions that you need before making a final choice.

PROS

CONS

  • Allows parents to stroll two children at the same time
  • Seats recline independently for two different aged children
  • Appropriate for newborns to older toddlers or beyond depending on weight restrictions
  • May be expensive
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    They are quite bulky and heavy. So they may not fit in all car trunks and can be difficult to maneuver
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    May feel weirdly balanced when strolling with two children of very different sizes

V Car Seat/Stroller Combo

These are car seats that pop out of their base and then onto the stroller base with a click of a button in most cases. Depending on the style, the stroller can be used without the car seat once the child has outgrown it. Weight limits vary by style but may allow the stroller to be used for toddlers or even smaller preschoolers. It can be an excellent alternative for an umbrella stroller.

Look for models that allow you to pop the car seat off of the stroller frame with relative ease but not so easy that it becomes detached during use. It should also fold with one hand. 

The stroller itself is typically pretty light and should not be overly heavy with the addition of the car seat and baby.

It might be good to test drive these models as some may be more driver-friendly than others. These come in several styles including three and four-wheel models.

Car Seat/Stroller Combo For Two Children?

Because of their design, these stroller/car seat combos typically can only be used for a single child. It can be inconvenient for families with more than one very young child. Some models have twin or more options. That said,  the design puts one child in a difficult eye line for parents.

A few of the styles can be used for an infant and a toddler car seat or an infant car seat and toddler without a car seat.  These models may be difficult to find though.  Since some may only be available through special order or online, you may lose out on the chance to test drive before purchase.

The cost of these options can also be more than double what you would pay for another style of stroller.

PROS

CONS

  • Perfect for quick errands where you will be in and out of the car a lot
  • Extends the use of the car seat beyond just the car
  • Some models can be used without the car seat for even more use
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    Roomy but not overly large
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    Many are pretty lightweight but still durable and strong
  • Some models may be awkward to drive and maneuver
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    May have to compromise on features for either the car seat or the stroller

You shouldn’t keep your baby in a car seat more than 2 hours in a row. If it usually takes longer for you to run your errands, then an umbrella stroller in a trunk is a better choice (source).

Important Stroller Parts

Important stroller parts


Stroller Wheels And Brakes Are The Most Important Parts, And The Infographic Explains The Essentials- Read This Blue Box If You Wish To Go Deeper Though


Stroller Wheels

The wheel was invented over 5000 years ago, and it allows transporting of heavy loads. Important parts of the wheel are a rib, a hub, spokes or wire and a tire (source).

Wheel Of A Stroller History

Stroller Tires

Tires or tyres are coverings of a wheel rim. Leather and metal have been used in the past, but today synthetic and natural rubber, fabric, wire and compound chemicals are the primary material (source). There are many ways to classify stroller tires.

Solid  Airless Tires

Non-pneumatic or airless tires are not supported by air pressure. The main advantage is that you don't have to worry about a flat tire.

Rubber Tires

Typically made of rubber coated plastic, these are found on lighter strollers. They are suitable for smooth surfaces and may not be effective on anything bumpier than a sidewalk.

Rubber tires can also be filled with foam. Ethylene- vinyl acetate (EVA) is a rubber-like in softness and flexibility (source), and it's one of the most popular materials when it comes to stroller tires.

You can also have all rubber tires, but they aren't ubiquitous.

Plastic  Stroller Wheels

Some of the lower quality strollers have all plastic wheels. Those tend to be difficult to push because they get stuck on everything and there's little suspension. You usually have to replace the stroller if one of the wheels breaks.

Air-Filled Tires

Pneumatic Tires With Inner Tube

Robert Thomson invented pneumatic tire with inner tube in 1845, but it became popular about 40 years later thanks to reinvention by John Boyd Dunlop (source).

Designed like little bike tires, these are perfect for places where you would do a lot of walking and for uneven surfaces like rougher sidewalks and wooded pathways. These tend to give the smoothest rides, and so most jogging strollers use them.

The downside is that an inner tube can go flat.

You can find on the tire, how much air pressure it can take, but a punctures tire is always a bad surprise.

As I've mentioned on the infographic, a tiny piece of glass punctuated the tire on the picture.

Flat stroller tire

That has happened to me twice... It means that twice I've had to buy a new inner tube. That said, you can try to repair it as shown in the nice Youtube video by The Stroller Workshop.

Tubeless Pneumatic Tires

Tubeless pneumatic tires are made of reinforced rubber and filled with compressed air (source). They may be found on some of the jogging strollers.

Semi-Pneumatic Tires

These are like the tubeless pneumatic tires, but the air is not compressed. It makes them light-weight and puncture-proof. For example, some of the Phil & Ted's strollers have Aerotech tires.

Brakes

Foot Brake

The most common type of brake on a baby stroller, it is super easy to use even with your hands full.

Usually located near the wheel, you can step down on the foot brake to engage it and then lift up on it with your foot to disengage. 

Stroller Foot Brake

They are found on virtually every type of stroller and may be found on strollers that have other brakes as well. Foot brakes are effective even with an active toddler in the seat.

Hand Brakes

Active Hand-Brake

It’s located on the handles and is designed to look and act like a bike hand brake. You can squeeze the brake and by the amount that you are pressing either gently slow or completely stop the stroller. 

Active hand brakes are usually found on jogger strollers and useful for people who run on hilly terrain.

Hand-Brake

Some stroller models have a hand parking brake. When the brake is engaged, the stroller doesn’t move. It’s an excellent option for strollers that have baskets on the bottom or for tandem strollers where seeing the back wheel might be difficult. 

Because of their location, an older child could reach up and possibly squeeze the brake before the parent notices which can cause an accident up to and including flipping the stroller over.

Autostop

If the lever is not pushed or held, the stroller will stop completely. Phil & Ted's Navigator was the first stroller that had this feature.

Stroller Auto Stop And Wrist Strap
Safety Wrist Strap

A wrist strap is a great to prevent accidental movement and keep a younger child from being able to push the stroller away.


Why Choose a Five-Point Harness?

A five-point harness system is the safest design (source). It's a series of connecting straps that go over baby's shoulder, around the waist and then up between the legs.

5-point harness

It provides safety and keeps an infant from rolling over and smothering or an older baby from climbing out of the side of the stroller.

The harness can also hold baby securely in place when going down an incline or in the event of the stroller tipping over.

Adjustable Backrest

An adjustable backrest is essential because it allows you to recline the stroller seat and set it at the proper angle for an older child.

A good option should let you to go between full recline and fully upright by varying degrees. You should also be able to operate it simply, preferably with one hand.

Adjustable Backrest, Foot Rest & Handle Of A Stroller

Handle

A stroller handle can be a full handle that goes from one side of the stroller to the other, or it can be two separate handles.

  • The handle should be able to reverse so that you can choose whether you are facing your child or your child is facing out
  • You should be able to adjust it to the proper height especially if the parents are two very different sizes
  • Depending on the style of stroller, brakes on the handle should be easily accessible without being intrusive

Footrest

Once your toddler is big enough to sit all the way upright, he will want to put his feet on the footrest. A footrest should be wide enough to allow for comfort as well as preventing him from getting his foot caught underneath the stroller. It should be durable and easy to clean.

If you want to buy a double stroller where kids will sit side by side then make sure it only has one footrest. A child's foot could get stuck between two separate footrests (source).

Front Bar

It can also be called a handrest, grab bar, belly bar or a bumper bar. It's designed to give older babies and toddlers something to hold on to while they are out on a stroll. 

Front Bar

They can also help absorb part of the impact if there is a sudden, unplanned stop or the stroller bumps an obstacle.

These are typically cushioned and may come in bright, fun colors. You can also attach toys to it.

Important Stroller Extras

Stroller Essentials- a canopy, a rain cover, a mosquito net, a footmuff, toys

Canopy

Most strollers have this as a standard feature. It’s essential to protect your little one's eyes from harmful sun rays. Infants can’t turn their heads, so a big canopy is important.

The canopy should have a peek-a-boo window so you can check what's your little buddy doing when the seat is not facing you. The best peek-a-boo windows magnetic because they are silent.

Rain Cover

Meant to protect baby and stroller from getting soaked, these covers can be installed in seconds. The best rain covers give adequate airflow while keeping the rain and wind out.

Mosquito Net

Lightweight and airy, this netting allows the baby to get plenty of air while keeping him bug-free. They are great for areas where mosquitoes are more troublesome.

Foot Muff

Like a blanket, this provides warmth without needing to put overly bulky clothes on your baby. Some can be zipped up quite far while others are designed just to cover the lower third of the stroller.

Click here to read how to find the best footmuff for your baby.

Toys

Toys that attach to the stroller stimulate the baby's mind and keeps older babies occupied. 

 

How to Choose A Stroller?

So now we have come to the part where I will help you to pick the right first stroller for your baby. Most people will use it daily for the first couple of years. 

As a result, the right stroller should be the one that meets most if not all your most essential needs. 

Many times, the best choice is to buy a standard stroller and a second lightweight stroller for quick errands.

That said, you may be able to find a stroller that meets all your needs.

Available accessories aren't that important when choosing your first stroller. The essentials like rain cover and mosquito net are sold for almost every model.

As I've already pointed out, the safest harness design is the 5-point-system.


Let's start figuring out what you’ll need

The comic strip below shows why you shouldn't buy a stroller before thinking it through.

If you actually need a foldable all-terrain stroller, but end up buying a non-foldable stroller with plastic wheels, then you may end up wasting your money.

It may not be a bad product, but you can only use it as an expensive flowerpot because all parents have different needs.

In the comic strip a guy walks into the first stroller store. He ends up buying a non-foldable heavy stroller with plastic wheels and is unhappy using it. He buys a new stroller and uses the old one as a flowerpot.

I Will you be using it on rough terrain or in the city?

If the answer is on rough terrain, then I’d buy a jogging stroller or a standard stroller. In any case, the stroller should have air-filled tires. If you are going to use it mostly in the city, then you may choose a stroller with sold tires as you don't have to worry about air pressure.

II Are you going to be carrying the stroller a lot?

For example, if you live on a third-floor walk up, you will need a lightweight stroller. It can still be of any type, but you can find models that weigh less than 23lb

III Is your car big or small?

If you have a smaller car, you need a stroller that will fold up small enough to fit. Car seat stroller combo is one of the best choices if you don’t have a lot of room.

IV Do you Travel a lot?

Travelers may want to have an umbrella stroller that they use for trips and another stroller that they use at home. Car seat stroller combo is not the best option because your newborn should not stay in a car seat for more than two hours in a row (sorry for repeating myself).

V Are you planning to go running?

If you are an avid jogger, you will want to have a jogging stroller as either your main stroller or as a secondary. That said, you should wait for at least 6 months before going jogging with your little one. You can read more about jogging strollers by clicking here.

Safety Guidelines

The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) is a trade association of around 300 companies that either make or import various baby products. JPMA seals are given to certain products that have been tested for safety by an independent facility. All products must meet guidelines set forth by the ASTM International.

Many baby products are not included in the certification procedure, but that does not exclude them from meeting all safety standards set by federal and state law. 

Not all strollers will have the JPMA seal, but that does not indicate that they are less safe than others that do have it.

Stroller History

While humans have been carrying babies ever since the first one was born, the use of stroller, prams, and buggies has been a bit more recent. 

In the US, the first stroller design came about sometime in the 1830's with a bit of controversy over whether Benjamin Potter Crandall or the F. A. Whitney Carriage Company had the first. Jesse Armur Crandall, Benjamin's son, did come up with innovations and held patents for the addition of brakes as well as a folding baby carriage. 

Reversible strollers came about in 1889 and in 1965, the first lightweight, aluminum framed, folding stroller was designed.

The Best Stroller Brands

There are a lot of stroller brands out there, and so it’s tough to say, which is the best. It may depend on where you live. Not all strollers are sold in all countries. It may depend on your personal preferences and a hundred more factors.

I concluded a small survey to find out the best strollers. In this study, I reviewed the suggestions of 20 experts and ended up with 103 different stroller models. I also ended up with 44 different brands. If you wish to know which strollers ended up being the best, then click to read my post.

That said, I don’t think a “one-hit wonders” necessary make up the best stroller brands. So I dove in and determined which firms had the most models mentioned.

All the top brands below had five different models mentioned.

The best Stroller Brands (in no specific order) according to the DadProgress Study

Mountain BUGGY

The first mountain BUGGY was created in 1997. This award-winning all-terrain stroller became quickly popular, and the rest is history.

MOUNTAIN_BUGGY_URBAN JUNGLE_LUXURY COLLECTION_NAUTICAL
Thule Promotion shoot

Thule

Thule Group was founded in 1942 by the Thulin family. Thule is their stroller brand and they are trendy among people who wish to have well-performing all-terrain strollers.

Uppababy

Headquartered in Hingham, Massachusetts, the UppaBaby brand got its start in 2006 as the answer to some of the higher priced, luxury stroller options as well as the lower priced, lower quality, mass marketed ones. Now sold in 40 countries, the company has plans to expand. 

"Thank you for reaching out!"


Uppababy also replied, but I didn't get any pictures to use in this article.

"Thank you for contacting..." 


At least they replied:)

Bugaboo

Headquartered in Amsterdam, Bugaboo has been the luxury baby stroller brand since 1994. In addition to strollers from new models to classic, limited edition, Bugaboo sells car seat adapters and luggage systems.

Graco

Graco is a well know American baby products company. It was founded in 1942 in Philadelphia and at first fabricated machine and car parts. It all changed when in 1955 it made the world's first automatic baby swing.

...


As you can see I don’t have many pictures to illustrate the values of brands. 

As it happens, I contacted all nine of them and asked permission to use one of their photos. Some of them didn’t even bother to reply...

Mountain BUGGY was the first company to make a picture available. 

Let’s hope that this post gets enough attention to make at least two or three marketing people lose their face for not agreeing to free advertisement:)

Other Popular Stroller Brands

Baby Jogger

Started in 1984 the Baby Jogger brand was designed as the first true jogging stroller. From there, the brand has expanded to carry not only a wide range of jogging and all-terrain strollers but car seat/stroller combos, car seats and many accessories for all kind of weather conditions.

Emmaljunga

Emmaljunga strollers have been handmade in Sweden since 1925.  The brand continues to focus on delivering excellent quality on all of its strollers as well as the accessories and other items.  There are luxury styled strollers and more modern, active styles available.

Silver Cross 

In 1877, Silver Cross founder, William Wilson created the first ever baby carriage. For more than 140 years, the Silver Cross company, headquartered in Yorkshire, England has been selling strollers and more to more than 10 million parents. Now being sold in more than 70 countries, the company has four additional international offices.

Queen Elisabeth II was the first royal baby to be pushed in the Silver Cross pram and it has been used for royal babies ever since (source).

Phil and Ted's

Based in Wellington, New Zealand, Phil and Ted's sells strollers and far more. Selling their award-winning products in more than 1000 stores and online, Phil and Ted's strives to continue making updates regarding safety and ease of use to everything that they sell.

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