- My Story
- Stroller Features Every Parent Must Know About
- Types of Strollers
After these two experiences, I knew I needed to do some research before my next purchase. Over weeks, I dug into Google and Amazon and prepared a long spreadsheet with stroller types, brands and reviews. I spoke with parents in my circle and on Facebook Groups to talk about their experiences with different strollers. Only after I had all this info, did I buy my third stroller. We are still using this stroller even though we are having our third child now.
This article is to help new parents who are about to make their first stroller purchase. Or for parents who have previously had an unfortunate experience with buying strollers. The question of what a stroller is might seem like a simple one. Most young parents today have one, if not more, strollers in their house. Yet, the answer to what is a stroller is actually trickier than you might expect.
Despite having had my first child over a decade ago, I still remember the very first stroller I ever bought. A month before my daughter was due, I went to the mall and bought the best looking stroller that fell within my budget. Little did I realize then this would turn out to be a huge mistake. This stroller would not recline backwards and was of little use for my infant daughter. I was equally unlucky with my second purchase. Egged on by a pushy salesman, I bought a jogging stroller at a premium price. However, jogging strollers have air-filled tires which can puncture easily. Given that the area around our house is filled with rocky gravel, this meant that I had two punctured tires within six months of the purchase.
Many people often refer to a pram as a stroller. Others might be referring to the bob stroller or snap and go stroller that they have bought. But all these are merely types of strollers. This is not an issue of semantics. Each stroller type comes with its own set of functionality, has its own pros and cons, and is suitable for children of a certain age. Knowing this information can often be critical before you buy your first stroller. Before we dive into the different stroller types, we will discuss key stroller features that are worth understanding. If you’re only interested in finding out more about a certain type of stroller, use the navigation pane on top to scroll to the right section.
Stroller Features Every Parent Must Know About
Five-Point Harness (Restraint) System:
Typically associated with car seats, the five-point harness is the interlocking mechanism that straps the child in the seat. Many modern day strollers come with a five or a three-point harness. It is important to check the buckles to see that they are easy for you to operate while being difficult for a child’s small hands to unlock.
The folding mechanism refers to the way that the stroller can be closed. Some strollers offer one-handed folding which can be a huge plus for single parents. Whether the stroller folds with one or two hands, the amount of time it takes to close the stroller can still vary significantly. If you are a parent on the go, you want to check to ensure the stroller can be folded and unfolded with one snappy movement. On the other hand, a self-standing stroller stays upright even when folded. This is often useful if you park your stroller in a closet or hallway.
While many strollers often come with their own canopy, some lighter models come without one. A canopy helps protect your child against the sunshine or rain. It is possible to buy canopy extensions as the built-in canopy in most strollers can often be insufficient in extreme rain. In evaluating the stroller’s canopy, you want to look at size and coverage and check to see whether it is reversible. Too large a canopy can also cause the child to get too warm.
Wheels and Shock Absorbers:
The size and type of wheels have a significant impact on stroller performance. Air-filled tires, common in jogging strollers, give a smoother ride but can add maintenance work. Generally larger wheels are better for rough or uneven surfaces and negotiating curbs. But they can be aesthetically unpleasant and add to stroller size. Some models also come with shock absorption which is a big benefit if you live in an area with uneven terrain.
There are normally four brake types you will encounter in any stroller. A foot brake, the most common type of brake, is operated with one’s foot (as the name implies). Handle brakes are operated with an individual’s hands. An active hand brake (much rarer) involves a bike-like grip and can be useful with jogging strollers. Lastly, some modern and pricey strollers come with the ‘stroller auto stop’ option. This involves a type of brake that automatically becomes activated when the user lifts his or her hands off the bar.
A boot here does not refer to the trunk or storage area as is common in a car. But a few strollers come with built-in leg coverings that can be wrapped around a baby’s leg and helps keep them warm in inclement weather. More typically, boot coverings are sold as a stroller accessory.
Fabric and Upholstery:
While the fabric material and color might be a choice of taste and style, it is worth considering whether the cover is removable or not. Strollers get dirty quickly so having strollers with an easily removable cover can be a big plus. Some high-end strollers come with multiple layers of fabric. This can be quite a useful feature for those living in countries with significant variation in summer and winter temperature.
Again, a must-have for single parents, as a large storage area can be valuable during grocery runs. Before buying a stroller, check whether the storage compartment is sturdy and can handle 5-10kg of weight without touching the ground.
An adjustable handlebar can be helpful for couples where the two parents have a significant difference in height. Additionally, some reversible handles allow a 180 degree motion over the stroller, thus allowing the user to change the direction their baby faces. This is a particularly good-to-have feature with infants and toddlers.
Types of Strollers
A pram, with its signature carrycot, is a stroller aimed at infants and young babies. In some prams, the basket can be removed and thus double as a moses basket.
- Best option for a young toddler
- Relatively lightweight
- Can double up as a moses basket
- Limited shelf-life as it cannot be used by older babies
- Most models don’t have built-in features like cup/phone holder
- 0 – 6 months
Usually there are two definitions that people apply to convertible strollers. The more common one implies any stroller with a frame that can be used for the child from birth to toddler (c. 3 years). The other, less common, definition implies a stroller that can convert from being a single stroller to a double stroller. This is particularly handy if you have twins or have two children with a small age gap between them (<2 years). The main advantage of the convertible stroller is of course potential savings on offer. By using the same stroller for a longer period of time and/or multiple children, parents can save considerably on cost.
- Can often be the cheapest option on the basis of number of years of usage
- Great option for parents with twins or two children with a small age gap
- Some brands come with a bassinet feature
- Might be difficult to find the top brands in this category
- Not recommended if you are looking for a budget option (<$200)
- On the heavier end; can be harder to fold and unfold
- 0 – 36 months
Tandem Stroller (Double Stroller):
A tandem stroller is a type of double stroller with two seats, one behind the other. Typically only one of the two seats can be reclined fully although some new models offer the option for both seats to be fully reclined. This can often be a good match when one of the kids is an infant and needs to lie vertically while the other sibling is a toddler.
- Great for families with twins or two children with small age gap
- Maneuvering it through narrow passageways or doors is easy relative to a side-by-side double stroller
- Some models offer flexibility like a standing platform and/or bench seats
- Can be relatively expensive
- Can be heavy and hard to manage
- Turning left or right can be difficult as the weight is often concentrated in the front
- 0 – 24 months (the infant/younger child is usually in the back seat)
- 0 – 48 months (if stroller comes with a standing option)
- Parents with two children with a small age difference between them
Side-by-Side Stroller (Double Stroller):
The other type of double stroller where both children sit side-by-side next to each other. It is usually the recommended option for twins as this way both children can then talk and play with each other
- Offers less flexibility compared to a tandem stroller
- Easier to maneuver and turn relative to tandem strollers
- Can be extremely challenging to take the stroller through narrow doors and alleys
- Not recommended if the two children are different weight or height
- 6 – 36 months
- Twins who are the same height and weight
While this is a name that is loosely applied to many stroller types, the distinguishing feature of a full-sized stroller is its large wheels.
- Large wheels give good grip for steering
- Usually have bigger baskets, thus allowing for more storage space
- Since seats are normally higher than normal, can double up as a high chair during feeding at restaurants
- Many models come with air-filled tires which can get punctured in rough terrain
- 6 – 24 months
- Toddlers who prefer sitting to napping (due to the heightened elevation on the chair)
Travel System Stroller:
A popular choice these days, a ‘travel system’ normally refers to an infant car seat, a base for the car and a stroller. It is basically often a pushchair with detachable parts. The convenience here is that usually the same brand sells you those different parts with the stroller as a bundled package at a discounted price
- Often the best option for new parents who want a multi-use stroller that can double up as a car seat
- You can take out the car seat from the stroller and put it in the car without waking your baby up during naptime
- Individual parts can be bulky and are often not the best quality
- Tend to be heavy
- Steering can be somewhat difficult
- 0 – 18 months
- Parents who want to make one purchase to fit all their needs
As the name implies, jogging strollers are aimed at parents who are into jogging. Having said that, these strollers are not meant exclusively for running and can be used for routine tasks like any regular stroller. The distinguishing feature of these strollers is their large, air-filled tires, with a swiveling front wheel.
- Great option for parents who love to go running
- Typically lightweight relative to other strollers
- Have much better traction and steering relative to other strollers
- Air-filled tires can puncture sometimes
- Not recommended for children under 6 months
- 12 – 36 months
- Toddlers who love being outside and being taken for walks
These strollers get their name from the fact as to how they resemble an umbrella when they fold. These are lightweight strollers which typically weigh less than fifteen pounds and are easy-to-transport. Most models come with two curved handles.
Umbrella strollers are generally lightweight and easy to transport. Many of the models tested had curved handles. Some disadvantages of umbrella strollers include the inability to accommodate infants younger than six months who cannot sit up on their own, limited maneuverability, and the inability to provide the best ride.
- Lightweight, best option for parents who fold the stroller with one hand
- Can be easily bought by those on a budget as most models are cheap
- Not very sturdy, can break easily
- Most models cannot accommodate young infants
- Often have two separate handles which can make them difficult to maneuver
- 9 – 24 months
Special Needs Strollers:
These are often aimed at children with special needs. These needs can include medical conditions, weight types or just be suited for particular use cases (e.g. using the stroller on a beach) The higher end models can be custom built but many brands like Leggero and Convaid offer pre-built strollers for kids with special conditions
- Generally the best option if the child has a special condition
- Purchase might be covered by medical insurance in certain countries
- Can be very expensive
- Can often only be used by the child with special needs
- 0 – 48 months
- Children with Special Needs