Do you feel like you are losing your mind trying to choose the RIGHT stroller for your baby? You are not alone. I felt the same way when I was trying to decide what stroller to get. There hundreds of different strollers to choose from which makes the whole process a daunting task. It’s like buying the first car for your baby!
Speaking of cars, it took me more time to pick a stroller than my SUV. I didn’t want to be stuck with a crappy stroller for 3 years wishing I spent more time on the research. For some reason, I was not as concerned when buying a car… nope. The SUV was dark blue … and I like dark blue, so I got it. With strollers I got completely OBSESSED! I was absolutely determined to find THE BEST STROLLER.
So, I tested different strollers, read endless reviews and watched many many youtube videos before finally making my decision. Took me 3 MONTHS! My husband thought that I am crazy especially when he saw ten stroller in the living room. While I did my research I couldn’t find one single site that has a good comparison chart and a comprehensive buying guide to help me through the process. That’s why I decided to put one together for you.
Let me begin by saying that most parents have more than one stroller. So, if you are trying (like I was) to find a stroller that HAS IT ALL including all-terrain wheels, deep recline, reversible seat, huge canopy, adjustable foot-rest, one-hand compact fold, lightweight at around 17 lbs, large basket because of course you are planning to do grocery shopping with it, and a price under $250, it’s IMPOSSIBLE!
You will have to scarifies something. Some strollers are heavy and bulky, but have large air filled tires that will go through any terrain. Others are light and compact, great for traveling and running errands, but don’t handle terrain that well.
Look, I am not saying you HAVE to have two or three strollers. You can have only one, but it’s probably not going to be perfect in every situation. Now, since different parents live different lifestyle and in different locations, they will need different strollers. Therefore, asking a parent for recommendation can be pointless. Just because this person has kids, doesn’t mean the stroller she recommends you will be right for you and your child. Everybody has a different budget and different preferences. That being said, I would recommend choosing a stroller depending on YOUR lifestyle, the most important features for YOUR family, and YOUR budget. Exactly in this order.
5 Quick Easy Steps To Finding The Best Stroller
To make it super easy for you, since we are all very busy and have no time to waste, I broke this guide into 5 quick steps.
- Step 1: In this step we will look at 7 most popular stroller types so you can get an idea what’s out there.
- Step 2: Next, we will go over some important features for birth – 6 months and from 6 months – 3 years. This will help you understand what you need at what age.
- Step 3: This is probably the most important step where we look at how your lifestyle effects your stroller selection. To make it even easier for you, I will also give you my stroller recommendations for each lifestyle for 2017-2018. I do update these strollers on a regular basis as the new models come out.
- Step 4: A few words about child safety and what safety features are important in the stroller.
- Step 5: If you still can’t decide, there is a simple option. Also, I will tell you what stroller and car seat I would buy right now if I only could pick one!
Step 1: 7 Types of Strollers
There are so many different types of strollers on the market it can get very confusing. To make it easier, I’ve separated them into 7 types:
1. Standard strollers
Photo: Nuna Mixx2 2017 (my favorite this year)
This is the most popular type of stroller that come in all shapes and sizes. These full-featured strollers are designed to provide your baby with as much comfort as possible while also making it easier for you to get around. They include roomy seats, large sun shades (also called canopy), deep recline, storage area below the seat, and good size wheels.
Most of them have travel system capability meaning you can convert them into a travel system for the first 6 months by using an infant car seat adapter. The weight of the stroller ranges anywhere from 16 – 32 lbs. Some have a reversible seat where the baby can face the parent or the world. A few have a pram option where you can convert it into a pram by replacing the seat with a bassinet. The price ranges anywhere from $100 up to $1,000.
2. Travel Systems
Photo: Bravo Chicco Travel System
While many strollers can be turned into a travel system some come already with a matching infant car seat. The beauty of a travel system is that the infant car seat easily snaps right into the stroller without any adapters. It’s especially convenient when you have a sleeping baby and you need to transport him from the car into the stroller or from a stroller into your house. And as we all know, you don’t want to wake up that sleeping baby. LOL. The travel systems are budget friendly and very often come with a lot of accessories like parent organizer, cup holder, and a child’s snack tray, which is great comparing to a lot of luxury stroller that make you buy everything separately. This is a very popular option because of the affordable price.
If you go to BabiesRus or Target, you will see a tons of travel systems. Why? Well, because for only $250 you can get a stroller and an infant car seat. While it’s pretty hard to beat price wise, don’t expect to get a high quality. Most parents regret buying it, because after the baby has outgrown her infant car seat (about 6 months), they are stuck with a bulky heavy stroller that has crappy wheels. And by heavy I mean anywhere from 26 – 32 lbs. It will be very tough to travel with and the long walks will be a not be that smooth.
3. Car seat stroller frames
The car seat frames is a lightweight option that is designed to carry only the infant car seat. It’s kind of like a travel system only without the main seat. You can easily snap the car seat right into the frame which is great for transporting a sleeping baby. It’s also very compact and is easy to throw into the trunk. Frames are becoming more and more popular specially among those parents who live in the city. The downside is that you can only use it while your child is using an infant car seat (about 12 months). After that, you will need to buy a stroller. If by the end of this guide you still can’t make a decision, just get a car seat with a frame. This will give you plenty of time to decide on the stroller.
Photo: UPPAbaby Vista with bassinet
Traditional prams is a stylish way of taking your newborn for a stroll. You can use it for the first 6 months while your baby can’t move around and requires a flat surface for sleeping. As soon as you baby becomes active, it’s not safe anymore because the bassinet is shallow and doesn’t have a safety harness. Keep in mind, pram is really a luxury that you will use ONLY for the first few months.
From a practical point of view, an infant car seat is a better option because it will last you for a whole year instead of just a few months. Also, it’s much easier to transition your baby from the car into the stroller/frame and eliminates the extra piece of baby gear you will need to take with you. And let me tell you, you will need all the room in your trunk you can get! Sometimes, after loading the car for 30 min with baby stuff, I have a feeling like I packed half of my house. And guess what? I always forget something. LOL. Something to drink, something to eat, a diaper bag, change of clothes, book for the road (if we are going to the park or a store), and etc. God forbid I forget that book! My little angel might get bored and start screaming all the way to the park. On the bright side, you will get to your destination much faster than you ever imagined.
Anyways, if you are on a tight budget, I would definitely skip it. Now, if you are into prams and have the money, I would go for it. I know it’s not practical, but time flies so fast, and before you know it your baby will not be a newborn anymore. I didn’t get the stroller with a bassinet option and now regretting it. Spend the first 6 months strolling in style! You deserve it!
5. Lightweight strollers
Photo: Maclaren Quest 2016
Lightweight strollers are light and compact making them great for traveling. They weigh anywhere from 8 to 16 lbs. Take it to a mall, doctor’s office, or restaurant, they are easy to navigate in any narrow or tight space. Surprisingly, the first year after my daughter was born I spend a LOT of time at the doctor’s office. I mean it was always something… Check ups, acid reflex, ear infections, cold, rash, and etc… I feel like I was at the doctor at least once every two weeks. Thank God for my full coverage health insurance! And the funny thing is that kids never appear sick when they are at the doctors office.
By looking at smiling Sophia with rosy cheeks you wouldn’t know that she was coughing her guts out all night long like as if she’d been smoking for 20 years. I was ready to go an emergency that morning and was very happy that our pediatrician was able to fit her in. Of course he looked at me like I was crazy because the child was obviously fine and while smiling probably made note to himself: “FYI Insane Mom With A Wild Imagination”.
Back to the strollers, since the waiting rooms and check up rooms are very small, I was glad I had a lighter smaller stroller instead of my wide bulky jogger. Aside from traveling and doctor’s offices, umbrella strollers are great from wheeling out your screaming toddler from a playground or the mall. You can just strap them into the seat using that padded 5-point harness and get them to the parking lot as fast as you can where you can safely re-strap her/him into the car seat and close the door of the car while taking a deep breath and prepare yourself for a fun ride home with a screaming child.
Anyways, lightweight strollers are mostly used for kids older than 6 months because of the limited features. Most of them don’t have a travel system capability and aren’t very adjustable. The small wheels make it harder to go over rough terrain. Many come with a small sun shade and don’t have a full recline (or don’t recline at all). There are also so called “umbrella” strollers that have a very compact fold and can be carried over the shoulder. The downside of the umbrella model is a tiny hard to access basket underneath the seat. Because of the limited features umbrella stroller cost much less. The price ranges anywhere from $50 to $200. I’ve seen some that cost $20, but they look like they are made for dolls, so I wouldn’t risk putting my child into them.
6. Jogging strollers
Photo: BOB Revolution Flex 2016
If you like to go for a jog, get a jogging stroller. These strollers three large three bicycle wheels with air-filled tires that will go through any kind of terrain. The built-in suspension will provide your little one with a smooth ride. Joggers have a higher weight limit than your standard stroller since you might want to use it for longer than 3 years till your child can keep up with you. Also, most of them offer travel system capability meaning you can use them with an infant car seat. While great for long walks, runs, and even hiking the trails, they are usually very bulky, heavy, and hard to maneuver in a tight space. It is also not recommended to jog with a child younger than 8 months.
7. Double and triple strollers
Photo: Baby Jogger City Mini 2016
Having twins or a second child? Than you will need a double stroller. Double strollers are of course more expensive and much heavier than a single stroller. There are two options: tandem and side-by-side. Each option has it’s benefits and drawbacks. The side-by-side option has two equal comfortable seats next to each other where both kids can be any age. You can even put an infant car seat into one seat. While side-by-side model is much easier when it comes to getting over the curb or going down the hill, it is harder to get through the doorway, narrow store aisles, between the cars on the parking lot, or down the crowded sidewalk. That’s where the tandem model wins because it’s much more narrow and is easier to navigate in a tight space.
Photo: Baby Jogger City Select 2016
In tandem stroller the seats are located one behind another. Some models even have reversible and removable seats so your children can face you or each other. The drawback is that a lot of times the second seat is smaller, doesn’t have the same features as the main one, and has lower weight limit. There are also so called “sit and stand tandem” strollers with the main seat is for a younger child and a seat with a platform behind the main seat where the older sibling can sit or stand. These models are getting more and more popular specially in an urban environment where parents used to run a lot of errands around town.
Step 2: From Birth to 6 Months, from 6 Month to 3 Years
I suggest to think about these two periods separately because your child has different needs.
0 – 6 months. From birth to 6 months your baby can’t sit up and needs more neck support. Therefore you will be probably using an infant car seat or a bassinet for the first 6 months. You can do following:
- Buy a travel system that comes in a package with a stroller and a matching infant car seat
- Buy a standard stroller that you will use after 6 months and convert it into travel system by getting a car seat adapter and purchasing infant car seat separately
- Buy an infant car seat and a car seat stroller frame
- Get a pram (you will still need to buy an infant car seat to use in the car)
- Buy a standard stroller with a bassinet option
I know, I know that’s a lot of options. The most practical way is to buy a standard stroller and convert it into a travel system by getting an infant car seat adapter. There are some strollers that have a completely flat recline, but I personally recommend using an infant car seat for a few reasons:
- Convenience. If you are a first time parent, you probably can’t even imagine how important it is not to wake up a sleeping baby. Those moments are precious! While he is sleeping, you can finally brush your teeth, eat something, take a shower, or more importantly go to the bathroom by YOURSELF. LOL. Transferring a baby from a stroller into a car, or from the car into the house is super easy if your child is in a car seat.
- Safety. Car sat provides your baby with maximum support and comfort. It’s the most safe way of transporting your child.
6 months – 3 years. That’s when your child becomes very active, wants to see everything and touch everything. The 5 point harness is essential to keeping the child in his seat. Once your child starts walking, he will have so much energy you will go crazy staying at home. Going to the playgrounds, parks, and long walks on the daily basis will be the only way to get your child tired enough to take a nap. Your stroller will become your base camp full of snacks, drinks, change of clothes, towels if you are going to the pool and other crap you need to take with you when you are away from home for 3-4 hours. You will need ample of storage and larger wheels to get through broad range of terrain.
Step 3: Your Lifestyle and Top Strollers for 2017-2018
Surprisingly, your lifestyle can have a big impact on your stroller selection. Do you like to spend a lot of time outdoors? Do you live in a small apartment with limited space? Do you use public transit? Are you planning on traveling half of the world with the baby (I know those parents)? Or maybe you are a cool sporty parent who want to jog, walk trails, and hiking? Or maybe super stylish and fashionable who want to show off by getting the most expensive stroller? Or maybe relaxed parents who go with the flow and don’t stress things too much? Or maybe practical parents who are preparing for a second child?
I was thinking of myself as a stylish sporty parent who will spend a lot of time outdoors jogging at the park. Like one of those cool fit moms you see in the park jogging with a double strollers while their adorable kids quietly enjoy the ride. So I ended up getting Bumbleride Indie at first and a lot of other strollers later. Well, not much of the jogging has been going on really. LOL. More walking around neighborhood, shopping or running errands.
Keep in mind, that a lot depends on your child. With my daughter Sophia, it’s hard to find the time when she would just be quite and enjoy the ride. She gets upset very easily. Also, I like to take a shower after jogging and it’s a little challenging with a toddler who has separation anxiety and gets into stuff. That being said I rarely jog with a stroller, but I do like to go to different parks so all-terrain wheels have been great.
Anyways, for each lifestyle I would recommend different kind of stroller. The biggest difference is probably in the wheels. The lighter and more compact the stroller is, the smaller the wheels. Wheels is the most important feature in the stroller that can move it from one category to another. Here is a list of lifestyles plus my stroller recommendations for 2017-2018.
1. Lifestyle: City Living
In the city many parents live in small apartments, use public transit, and run errands around town by foot. They rarely use a car, many don’t have one. In some buildings there is no elevator so they have to use stairs to go up and down. Many walk to the park from their apartment building. They want to have one lightweight compact stroller that has plenty of storage and can be easily folded with one hand.
At the same time it needs to be durable with decent wheels for different types of terrain. The most important features in the stroller would be light weight (no more than 20 lbs), compact one-hand fold, narrow frame for easy navigation, nice size basket to fit all the groceries, and good size wheels.
| Cybex Agis M-Air3
| Mamas& Papas Armadillo
| Britax B-Agile
|My Review»||My Review»||My Review»|
2. Lifestyle: Suburban
Most parents get around in a car. I personally live in suburbs and own an SUV. So, the size and the weight of the stroller is a lesser issue for me. I use my car to get to the park or a grocery store so I don’t need to do shopping with my stroller. Just like most suburban parents I only need two strollers: a full-featured one that turns into a travel system for going to the park, and a lightweight umbrella one for running errands and traveling.
Since the size doesn’t matter, as your main stroller you can get a larger one with more features like good size wheels, reversible seat, large basket and a heavier weight (around 23-25 lbs). The fold has to be easy, but doesn’t need to be one-hand since you probably wouldn’t need to hold a stroller and a baby at the same time. Below I have a great selection of reversible seat strollers that are suburban favorites.
|Nuna Mixx2 2017
|Bugaboo Cameleon 3 2017
|Baby Jogger City Premier
|My Review»||My Review»||My Review»|
3. Lifestyle: Sporty
You love sport and no baby going to stop you. LOL. If you are one of those cool sporty parents who like to stay in shape no matter what (and make the rest of us look bad), then you can’t go wrong with a jogger. Joggers have large air-filled tires and can handle any type of terrain while providing your child with a smooth comfortable ride.
Most of them have larger roomier seat with higher weight limit that can accommodate an older child. This comes very handy since even an older toddler (4-year old) wouldn’t be able to keep up with you. So, the most important features are: the air-filled wheels, suspension system (you will need it for a smoother ride), large canopy (since you can’t reverse the seat to hide from the sun), adjustable handle bar, roomy seat, and one-step brake. With all these great features the joggers tend to weigh more (around 25-28 lbs) and have bulkier fold than your regular full size buggy.
|BOB Revolution Pro
| Thule Urban Glide
|My Review»||My Review»||My Review»|
4. Lifestyle Outdoorsy
If you like to spend a lot of time outdoors going for long walks at the park, trail walking, or just going to playgrounds, you need an all-terrain stroller with larger wheels. They don’t need to be as large as on a jogger, and don’t have to be air-filled, but should be large enough to handle different types of terrain. Of course air-filled tires have the best natural suspension even without added suspension so they will provide your child with the smoothest ride, but there are also some new models that have foam filled wheels very close to air-filled. The most important features would be all-terrain wheels, roomy seat, large canopy, suspension system, and one-step brake. These babies range around 21-27 lbs.
|Baby Jogger City Mini GT
|Cybex Eternis M3
|My Review»||My Review»||My Review»|
5. Lifestyle: On The Go
Some parents just can’t stay in one place for long. They like to be outdoors a lot and travel to different places or even countries. They need a lightweight stroller that has a compact fold and can be easily carried around. Most of the time it would be a light umbrella stroller with smaller wheels, but lighter weight (around 14-17 lbs). Some of them can take an infant car seat, others can’t. Features to look for are: light weight, compact fold, travel system option, deep recline, nice padding on the seat, and large canopy. Most of these models don’t have an adjustable handle bar or large basket.
| Maclaren Techno XT
| UPPAbaby G-Luxe
| Joovy Groove Ultralight
|My Review»||My Review»||My Review»|
6. Lifestyle: Ready For Second
If you haven’t had the first child yet, but already thinking about the second (I should tell you to stop and wait till you have the first one because then you might reconsider. LOL. Just kidding. They are a joy of our lives), I can recommend you a single stroller that can convert into a double when you have a second child. How cool is that?
Typically convertible strollers have larger wheels and heavier frame that can handle two seats. Of course this increases the weight and the bulkiness of the stroller. The average weight of the convertible stroller is around 28-32 lbs. I wouldn’t recommend getting it for just one child. The features you need to look for in the convertible stroller are: larger wheels, large basket, seating options, deep recline, and adjustable handle bar.
|Britax’s B-Ready 2017
|Baby Jogger City Select
|UPPAbaby Vista 2017
|My Review»||My Review»||My Review»|
7. Lifestyle: Fashionable
If you one of those parents who just wants to make a fashion statement with the stroller, there are a few very stylish buggies I can recommend. I want to remind you that although this strollers are luxury and stylish, they not always very practical. I can compare them to a high heels that you love to wear, but can’t get very far. They are like piece of art! That’s probably not going to be your ONLY stroller.
|Stokke Xplory 2017 v5
|Cybex Priam Wings
|Mamas&Papas Urbo2 Gold
|Review coming soon||My Review»||My Review»|
Step 4: Safe Strolling
To avoid common strolling injurious, use following safety tips:
5 point harness. Use it! It’s important to retrain your child with a safety harness. These days all strollers have a 5 point harness with a center release or side release buckle. Some of them are padded others are not. Most of them are adjustable. I don’t use shoulder straps anymore because my daughter is older now and doesn’t like them, but I always buckle her up by using waist straps.
The 5-point harness is a very useful thing when you need to wheeling out your screaming toddler from a playground or the mall. You can just strap them into the seat using that padded 5-point harness and get them to the parking lot as fast as you can where you can safely re-strap her/him into the car seat and close the door of the car while taking a deep breath and prepare yourself for a fun ride home with a screaming child aboard. Fun times…
Folding. Folding mechanisms can also be dangerous. There are some reports (not a lot) of kids getting their fingertips amputated by a folding stroller. Scary… Don’t fold the stroller with your baby in it! Make sure your child is away from the stroller before folding it.
Parking brakes. Check the parking brakes to make sure they are fully set before letting go of the stroller.
Hot coffee in a cup holder. Never ever put a hot tea or coffee in a cup holder. Many cup holder are shallow and can rotate spilling the hot liquid on your child. Drink your coffee at home, take a bottle of water with you :)
Check for recalls. There are many recalls happen every day. Make sure your stroller or car seat is not one of them. You can get the info on the Consumer Products Safety Commission website.
Jogging. Don’t attempt to jog with a stroller unless it’s designed for jogging. Not all three-wheel strollers are joggers. Joggers have three large air-filled tires that can handle many types of terrain. One of the most confusing companies is Baby Jogger who makes three wheel strollers that are NOT joggers. I see people in the park jogging with a low budget travel system! Crazy! All I want to say is STOP before you lose control and brake your leg or worse, hurt your child! Also, don’t jog unless your child is 8 months old.
Step 5: I have No Idea What I Need
Does that sound like you? Ok. Take a deep breath. Stroller shopping is not the end of the world, although sometimes it might feel like it. If you still not sure what stroller you need, I recommend getting a stroller frame for your infant car seat. Frames are very light weight, compact, often include parent console, and usually have a large basket for storage.
You can use it for the first 6 months while you are still testing strollers and trying to figure out why your life have changed so much… you thought you are going to take your baby everywhere with you and now you are sitting at home tired with a crying baby wishing you could take a nap. Then, after 6 months, buy a stroller you think will work best for your adjusted lifestyle. Just pick a frame that works with your infant car seat for now. It is the most convenient option for the first 6 months anyways.
Infant Car Seat Option: I would recommend getting Chicco Keyfit 30 infant car seat because it’s one of the most popular and safe car seats on the market. It has one of the best reviews on Amazon and works with most strollers. My daughter absolutely loved it! She always fell asleep in the car. You can purchase it for $189 on Amazon.
Frame Option: Chicco KeyFit Caddy Stroller Frame is specially designed to work with Chicco Keyfit 30 car seat. It features light aluminum frame, compact one-hand fold, large expandable basket, 4-position height-adjustable handle, all-wheel suspension, toe-tap locking brakes and a full-featured parent tray. It weighs only 11 lbs and costs only $99. You can’t beat that!
My Pick: At this point, you are all probably wondering what stroller I would buy right now if I could ONLY pick one stroller. Well, while I am a very practical girl I also like to be stylish. That being said, if I had to buy one right now, I would pick Nuna Mixx2 Jett Collection that comes with bassinet and Pipa car seat. I absolutely LOVE it and I think it’s the BEST for my family. Super practical, high quality, and very stylish! Here is my full review »
I know that stroller buying is hard, so feel free to post your questions or comments in the comment box below. I will try to answer it as soon as I can.
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