How to Choose a Stroller
Excited to show your baby the world? Find a ride that’s perfect for your family.
Deciding what stroller to get for your new baby is one of the toughest decisions you’ll likely make when building your registry. Whether you’re walking around the block or packing up for your next family vacation, your stroller is going to be one of your most frequently used pieces of baby gear. But it can be hard to anticipate what type of stroller you may need and what features are important versus what you can skip, and overwhelming when you consider all of the different types of stroller options available.
Types of Strollers
There’s a stroller type for nearly every situation—from jogging to traveling to taking a walk around the block. Here’s a breakdown of what’s what:
Also known as an everyday or full-size stroller, an all-purpose stroller is ideal for everything from a walk around the neighborhood to a family trip to the zoo. These are typically solid strollers that combine a smooth ride with convenient features like a storage basket, seat recline and cup holders. Most (but not all) all-purpose strollers are on the heavier, bulkier side and take a bit of effort to fold down. They vary in price from as low as a few hundred dollars to well over a thousand, and some are also modular and have the ability to change the seat direction or add on another seat or stroller board (an area for a toddler to stand and ride) down the road.
These strollers can also be called travel strollers or umbrella strollers. Like the name implies, this type of stroller weighs less than your average stroller and takes less effort to lift in and out of your car trunk or bring on public transportation. Lightweight strollers usually have a slimmer profile to more easily navigate through narrow doorways and on crowded sidewalks. They’re also great for travel—some fold up small enough to fit in overhead airplane bins. Like most types of strollers, they vary widely in price.
If you love to run, these strollers allow you to take your baby along for the ride. They’re not just for working out, though; jogging strollers are also great for traversing bumpy, uneven terrain. Super-sturdy with souped-up suspension systems, jogging strollers are made to absorb the bouncing that comes along with more intense speeds or uneven surfaces. They have three oversized wheels with a front wheel that either swivels or can be fixed in place depending on whether you need it to quickly turn or be more stable at fast speeds. Some come with features like hand brakes to stop or slow the stroller on the downhill or extra-large canopies to protect your little one from the sun if you’re running outside. Due to their large wheels and extra suspension systems, most jogging strollers are heavy and bulky, and although some can be used from birth if they allow for an infant car seat, it’s not recommended to run with your little one in a jogging stroller until they’re about eight months old.
For twins or kids born close together, a double stroller can be helpful. There are two designs to choose from: side-by-side doubles (both seats next to each other), or in-line, also called tandem or single-file (seats one in front of the other). There are also convertible strollers that start with one seat and have the ability to add another for a second child. If you’re having twins and want to use a double stroller from birth, you’ll want to look for a stroller that allows for two infant car seats at one time.
A travel system comes with a stroller and a car seat that attaches right to it. Travel systems have two main benefits: you can use them right from birth, and you don’t have to wake your baby to move them from the car to the stroller. They can also be more economical since you’re buying both items together. (Keep in mind that if you’ve fallen in love with a separate car seat and stroller, you can often make your own travel system–even if they’re different brands. Use our Infant Car Seat and Stroller Compatibility guide to check if they’re a good fit and to learn what adapters you’ll need to purchase.)
Key Stroller Features
Even among the same type of stroller, features can vary a lot. Here, too, it helps to keep in mind how you plan on using the stroller the majority of the time. Evaluate these popular features to see which ones are most important to you:
Not all strollers are suitable for newborn babies. That’s because newborns don’t have head and neck strength until around six months old, so unless there are certain features in place, they’ll slump over without the proper support. If you’re planning on using your stroller from day one, here’s what to look for:
- A seat that can fully recline to a flat surface
- A seat that reclines almost fully but comes with an approved newborn support accessory (like this Infant Snugseat from UPPAbaby, for example)
- Ability for an infant car seat to clip into the stroller (a travel system)
Being able to quickly open and close a stroller with one hand is a feature worth its weight in parenting gold, especially when you’re balancing a baby in your other arm. Even better? If the stroller is also self-standing, meaning when it’s folded it stands upright all by itself without tipping over.
If you know babies, you know they’re messy. Your stroller seat will take a beating from spit-up, drool, drippy bottles and snack accidents, so it’s great if you can remove the seat cover and throw it in the washer.
An adjustable handlebar, often also called a telescoping handlebar, makes the stroller comfortable for everyone to push no matter their height. This is a great option if you and other caregivers are on entirely different latitudes.
A bigger canopy provides more shade and privacy for your little one. Many canopies, especially larger ones, have peekaboo windows for you to check on your child without breaking stride. Some also come with a magnet closure so it’s nice and quiet.
A typical stroller basket, located under the seat, is certified to hold 10 pounds. (For context, one gallon of milk is about 8.6 pounds). If you plan on doing a lot of shopping with your stroller (if you’re a city dweller, for example, and will use your stroller for grocery shopping), look for a stroller with an XL basket. Accessibility is important, too; you’ll want a basket that has a wide opening to access your items otherwise you’re going to be frustrated trying to wiggle things in and out.
The right stroller accessories can make being out and about with your baby easier and more comfortable. Some to consider:
- A raincover
- Bunting for colder climates
- Toy attachments
- Snack and cup holders
- Stroller boards