I have a few pregnant friends who are tearing their hair out trying to prepare baby shower gift registries. In a previous article, I shared a list of basic necessities, but now I’m going to go into detail about some specific products. As I began to write this, I realized I had a lot to say. Therefore, I’m going to break this into a multi-part series. This one will be a mix of a stroller review/ how-to guide for choosing the right stroller for you.
How to Choose a Stroller
I reviewed the two strollers I have here. But there are hundreds on the market, and you want to know which one is “best.” Remember, Mama, the “best” one is the one that fits your needs, your budget, who you are, and how you plan to use it.
I live in a warm-weather area, I love to be outside, and I love to run. For me, a stroller that can take wear-and-tear is crucial. Mine needed a sun shade, and I wanted it to handle well while exercising. Therefore, my ideal stroller keeps my child cool and shady but is also fitness equipment. What do you want yours to do?
Things to Consider
Are you going to be doing a lot of walks (not runs)? Make sure it has a drink holder (both for you and the baby when he gets older). Are you the type to picnic or walk for transportation? Make sure it’s got a luggage compartment for lunchboxes, extra diapers, etc.
Do you have a small car? You need one that folds down to a small size. Do you have a larger car? You can get a bulkier model. How often do you even need to transport your stroller in the first place? Answering these questions will help you zero in on what you need.
Are You Going to Stroll with a Newborn?
Is it absolutely necessary that you stroll your newborn (whose head has to be supported, in which case you’ll need one that is totally flat or has a car seat attachment option)? Or are you fine putting baby in a pouch until she is old enough to sit upright? (I did this.) What will the weather be like when your baby is born? If it’s cold, then you probably won’t stroll your baby for the first couple of months anyway, in which case you can skip the newborn stroller phase all together.
Some strollers are convertible, like the one below, and have an option to snap your car seat onto a stroller base. In this case, you’d move baby out of the car and attach her (in her car seat) on the stroller. As she grew, you could change the configuration of the stroller so she’d sit in it and not the car seat.
This is good if you want to walk your newborn or if you want to simply transfer your child seamlessly from the car to the stroller. The question is: how often will you need to do that? Will you regularly drive to your walking location, as opposed to walk out the front door?
Do You Travel Often?
I took my baby on a plane at two months of age, and we’ve traveled often since then. I usually travel with him by myself, and I never take a stroller because I don’t want to wait to gate check it. That would mean a delay in getting it back, which could make us miss a tight connecting flight. That’s me. Now there’s a (very expensive) stroller on the market that will fold into the overhead compartment on a plane, so you’d never need to gate check. There are other brands, but here is one that is compliant with size restrictions:
If your stroller doesn’t come with everything you need, don’t stress. You can add on as you see fit. There are cup holder attachments, cargo attachments, and even fans. Before your baby can talk, you don’t know if he’s tired, hungry, sick of being in a stroller, or just hot when he cries. I look back and know my kid was just hot sometimes. I needed this:
A Priority Checklist
Remember that money can buy convenience, but how much is that convenience worth? There is a stroller that fits your needs and budget. The best way to identify it is to consider these questions:
- How important is walking my baby? (Do I ever walk for recreation? Am I in an environment to do it very often?)
- How much am I willing to spend?
- Will I use a stroller as a fitness device for me?
- Will I frequently travel on planes with baby?
- Do I need to stroll my newborn in the first three months or so, or can I wait/use a pouch?
- How often will I stroll with baby? (If it’s not often, don’t spend too much.)
- Where will I stroll with baby? (i.e., do I need to drive to a park or can I go right outside my front door?)
- What size is my car?
- Will I take my stroller on public transportation? Do I need to go up stairs?
- Can I buy accessories if the stroller I want doesn’t have all the bells and whistles?
- Do I have a place to store my stroller when it’s not in use? (Size will matter here.)
Walking my baby, and now, my toddler, is a great joy. You can find a stroller that fits your needs and budget. Most of all, relax. It doesn’t have to be “perfect.” If in doubt, choose a cheap model and you can upgrade as you go.
Q: Any other tips or tricks you’d add to this advice on picking out transportation gear?