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Choosing the Type of Baby Stroller that Will Fit Your Needs

For some new moms, the purchasing your first baby stroller can be agonizing. This is no surprise, given all the different brands and types of strollers that are on the market. Like many baby products, you can get sucked into a void pretty quickly.

You could start out looking at a $65 “convenience stroller” at Target, gravitate towards a $120 “connect” stroller that pairs with a particular car seat (that you then have to research because you haven’t chosen a car seat yet either…) and then 45 minutes later you find yourself staring bleary-eyed at the list of specs for an $800 getup that boasts “16 possible seating configurations and multiple recline positions” plus comes with a car seat, a smoothie maker, and–I don’t know—a live pony. “Do I need that!?” you wonder.

Well, maybe. Except the pony.

…Okay, maybe the pony.

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First, breathe. The strollers aren’t going anywhere. (At least not until you buy them and sit little cutie booty in them for the first time!)

Second, consider what you will actually, honestly, be doing with said stroller. What is your situation? Knowing what general “category” of stroller you are looking for will help you navigate your shopping better (online or otherwise) and not become overwhelmed. You will at least know where to start.

Convenience / Umbrella / Lightweight Strollers

Are you a mom who will use said stroller only for trips that don’t take you too far from your car, like around-town errands, popping in and out of small shops, Saturday trips to the local library, or strolls (not runs!) around the park a few blocks down the road? Do you abhor heavy or bulky gear? You may only need a convenience stroller.

Convenience strollers are the kind that you can fold up and carry with one arm and fit easily in even the smallest trunk. They usually weigh less than 15 lbs and sometimes they have a strap so you can carry them on your shoulder when folded.

Bonus: doing this makes you feel super cool, like you’re carrying a quiver of arrows. Real life mama, meet Hunger Games mama.

These are also called “umbrella” strollers, or simply “lightweight” strollers. Note that If you will be taking public transportation, this may be the only type of stroller that will be easy for you to get on and off a bus or train. Depending on their quality, they may last you through more than one child, or maybe not. But they won’t cost too much either, so that’s nice.

Weighing in at 13 lbs, this lightweight stroller by Summer has rave reviews on Amazon and may suit your needs perfectly, without breaking the bank.

Car Seat Carriers

These are just what they sound like! This isn’t a typical stroller, it is made to (only) conveniently roll around your car seat. Many are made to be “universal,” like this one by Baby Trend, so they can hold most any brand of car seat.

They are compact, lightweight, and easy to use. However, unless they are a hybrid type that transitions to a toddler stroller, they won’t last too long, since cutie bum will outgrow his car seat at some point, and by default, the car seat carrier. However, if you plan on having more than one cutie bum (and thus will get to use the carrier all over again) or just want to supplement a bulkier, more expensive stroller with something smaller and more convenient for your newborn, a car seat carrier might be for you!

Full-Sized Strollers

Or, are you a mom who plans to go on walks with your little one several times a week, take trips to the zoo, spend several hours on excursions to museums carrying baby gear, etc.? If so, you probably want to consider a full-size stroller over a convenience stroller. They are much larger, but they have a lot more features. They are usually much more padded, so they are comfier for cutie bum, they typically can recline or not, have an attached basket or some sort, a snack tray, a cupholder, etc. They also have heftier tires and the option to attach to a car seat, so they are more versatile.

This Jeep brand stroller is a good example of a full-size stroller. You can tell it is good and sturdy!

However, if you go places where a heavier, bulkier stroller would not be convenient, all the bells and whistles won’t be of any help. And you’ll probably end up buying a convenience stroller on top of your full-size stroller and not ever using the full-size. Consider if you actually need the full size to begin with. (And maybe so!)

Full-sized strollers should be durable and good quality. They should last you through more than one cutie bum.

Jogging Strollers

You runners know who you are! Do you plan to hike or jog with cutie bum? You definitely want a jogging stroller. You do not want to substitute a regular full-sized stroller (and certainly not an umbrella stroller) and think that it will suit your needs “because all wheels roll, right?” No, no. Seriously, no.

Jogging strollers are specifically designed for jogging (say whaaat?) with top-notch suspension to keep cutie bum safe from jostles and bumps. They have only one wheel in the front and two in the back. Some strollers that have this three-wheel setup are referred to as “joggers,” but if you truly plan to jog/hike, do research and make sure the stroller you purchase is specifically for running, and not just colloquially called a “jogger.” You want to look for these key jogger features:

  • A five-point harness. [add photo]
  • A safety tether (this is a strap on the jogger handlebar that attaches to your wrist so that no matter what, cutie bum can’t roll away from you.)[add photo]
  • A locking front wheel (for higher speeds, a locked front wheel gives the stroller more stability than a rotating one—ideally, look for one that you can set to either position.) [add photo]
  • A hand brake (this is more important if you will be jogging/hiking in hilly areas, to slow momentum down a hill)
  • A compartment to carry things like water, snacks, and baby essentials you may need on your excursions.

Note that you must wait until cutie bum has head and neck control before taking them on an actual jog. This is the type of stroller I own, and with my little one, we just walked for the first three months, then I switched to jogging. She had good head control by the beginning of 4 months—but some cutie bums do not until later. I mean, heck, I was tired anyway, so walking was enough.

My personal jogging stroller is a BOB jogging stroller, and I LOVE IT.

I actually came across mine secondhand—did some research—and was hooked because of the rave reviews. I snatched mine up for only $120! (Whoop, whoop, yard SALES! Yes, I stood there with one hand on it to “claim it” from other salers while I researched it. I am not ashamed.) My particular model does not have a hand brake, but I don’t need one where I live. No hills in sight! It does have all the other mentioned features and many BOB strollers do have a handbrake.

I also liked that all I needed was a simple adapter piece and it connects to Britax carseats (they’re sister companies!) a brand which an acquaintance (and former Babies-R-Us manager) had already recommended. Both are highly rated. I LOVE my BOB jogger! It is so smooth, and though bulky, it is still easy to fold. Watch it go up and down in 16 seconds!

Mine is not the “Pro Pushchair” model like in this video, but it still folds the exact same way. I love “snapping” it open! It makes me feel like a wizard.

A tired wizard.

A tired wizard who is about to attempt to jog.

Many of the main features of a jogging stroller overlap with a regular full-size stroller, but it has added features that make it great for jogging.

So, many folks buy a jogging stroller and use it for everyday stroller needs, but know that they also can go jogging with it, should they want to. Because how many of us know for sure that we’ll jog, honestly? Isn’t it kind of a “maybe, probably, hopefully” situation? Just me??

Double Strollers

Do you have TWO cutie bums?? Are/will both bums be twins or be stroller age at the same time? You may want a double stroller. Double strollers are easy to spot—they either have two seats with one behind the other, or two seats side-by-side. Is there anything more adorable than a set of twin cutie bums side-by-side in a double stroller? I mean honestly.

Baby Trend makes a tandem and side-by-side double stroller, and both are nice and affordable.

Double strollers will obviously be bigger. There’s really no way around this because two bums are bigger than one. The question is, how big is too big for you? How heavy is too heavy for you? Some of these can weigh almost 50 pounds. Will that work for you?

When choosing a double stroller, beyond researching the brands stability and durability, make sure to look at the weight, and if possible, check your purchase an actual store with your model on display so you can practice opening and closing it and fiddling with the features. If that is an impossibility for the brand you’re looking at, at least watch a YouTube video of someone demonstrating how to open and close it. (Cause you know there is one!) If you choose a side by side stroller you also want to consider if it will fit into your doorway, or if you’ll have to stop and take two cutie bums out and fold it before going into your house.

Travel System Stroller or Set

“Travel system” is a broader category, because it just means that the stroller is made to easily connect to a particular brand of car seat, or it comes with the car seat. There are travel system strollers available in all the above categories—lightweight, full-sized, jogging, or double. This can save you money, and make it easy to move cutie bum from car to stroller, perhaps without waking him or her up! As I mentioned, my BOB jogging stroller is made to connect easily to Britax brand car seats with the purchase of an adapter piece—or even to other brands of car seats with different adapters. But you can often buy the stroller and car seat as a set without the purchase of any adapter, which is super convenient.

However, note that the type of car seat these adapt to may be only “first-stage,“ and you may have to then buy a new car seat later. Perhaps this is fine with you—you would prefer to worry about that when you get there! But perhaps you had your heart set on a particular, all-in-one, grow-with-cutie-bum car seat? In this case, do a little digging to see if the car seat of your dreams would work with the stroller. Make sure there are adapters available to connect them.

Are Secondhand Strollers Okay?

Absolutely! I use one. Just be sure, no matter how beloved a friend it might have come from, to research it—not just the brand, but the particular model—and make sure there are no product or safety recalls on it. Good, sturdy strollers like my jogger are made to last, and the beauty finding baby gear at yard sales (or any second-hand outlet) is that when folks are done with baby stuff, ie, they have no more babies, no matter how great of shape the gear may still be in, they have zero need for it and thus would love to sell it to you for a good price. I am always of fan of scouring for a great secondhand deal first.

Do you have a particular stroller that you LOVE? What features make you love it? Leave a comment below to share with other mamas!

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