Before You Buy That Stroller

By M Martin

If I ask you to close your eyes and visualize a stroller, what image immediately pops into your mind? Is it a dainty pink and white baby doll carriage pushed by a little girl in the park (a pram/carriage stroller)? Is it a sleek, aerodynamic masterpiece of a stroller pushed by a dad during his morning run (a jogging stroller)? Or is it an empty, stroller being pushed effortlessly down the aisles of the grocery store by its intended occupant, who prefers driving over riding (a lightweight stroller)?

The beauty of today’s stroller market is that parents have a wide array of stroller products from which to choose. When you close your eyes and visualize, any number of stroller images can pop into your mind.

Now, let’s take a moment to demystify each of the stroller types. The major types of strollers are standard, umbrella, lightweight, travel systems, strollers for multiples (including doubles, triples, quads, quints and sit & stands), jogging strollers and prams/carriage strollers. Different types of strollers have different intended uses and features. You, as a parent, must ask yourself the following questions when deciding which type of stroller is best for you and your little one.

1) Where will I be going?

If you’re taking quick trips to the grocery store or the mall, you’ll need something light and easy that can comfortably navigate down narrow store aisles. If you’re trudging up and down subway stairs, child, bags and stroller in tow, you’ll need something that doesn’t require the strength of Hercules. Both of these tasks can most easily be tackled with the help of an umbrella or lightweight strollers. Umbrella strollers serve for many parents, as a secondary stroller for just this type of travel.

2) Who needs a lift?

If you’re toting twins, you’ll probably want a side-by-side double stroller with ample storage space. If you have a baby and a toddler, you might opt for a sit & stand stroller, which allows baby to stay snuggled in the stroller while big sibling hitches a ride on the platform behind whenever he or she tires of running circles around you. If you have a newborn baby, you’ll want to save a jogging stroller until your child reaches the age of at least 6 months.

3) Will I take my little with me one my morning jog?

With their shock absorbers and 3 big bicycle wheels, jogging strollers are specifically designed for smooth, comfortable rides over rocky terrain.

4) How big is my trunk or backseat?

Consider the portability of a stroller as you make your purchasing decisions. If you have little storage space in your vehicle, or want something that can even go in an airplane’s overhead bin, you’ll want something with a lightweight frame that is easy to fold. You’ll want something with wheels that aren’t so big as to inspire nightmares later. You’ll probably want a lightweight or umbrella stroller.

5) How many gadgets do I want?

Most strollers come well-equipped with features that parents have come to know and love. A canopy is a must for protecting your child from the sun and the rain. One-handed folding allows you to hold your baby and open or close the stroller simultaneously. A play/snack tray keeps your child occupied when you need it most. Adjustable handlebars make life easier for tall parents. The stroller most likely to have these and any other feature that you might dream of is the standard stroller. It comes fully-loaded and ready for action.

6) How important is it for me to transport my child from the car to the stroller with as little disturbance as possible?

If this is of great concern to you, a travel system is your best bet. A travel system comes with a matching car seat that locks into the stroller when it’s time to move from the car to the rest of the world.

Parents, be sure to keep all of these things in mind when you decide which stroller is best for you. Whatever your choice, also make sure that your stroller is certified by JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association). Paying close attention to these factors will keep you and your child safe and happy.

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