Shopping for a new baby stroller is an essential ritual for all new parents and expecting couples these days. But it is not an easy job if you are a first-timer. You see, the first strollers created two hundred years ago were just simple baskets on wheels.
Their modern counterparts are advanced contraptions with a lot of features and specifications. And the more specification out models can get very expensive as well. So, are they worth the hassle and the price tags? Well, take a “stroll” through our short yet detailed guide, and you will know everything you need to know about baby strollers in 2017!
Four Reasons Why Every Parent Needs Baby Strollers
It doesn’t matter if you have the latest and greatest stroller out there or a more modest budget version. They all serve a very basic yet essential function. Here are four compelling reasons why you should strongly consider buying a stroller if you have a baby (or one due shortly).
1. The Best Way To Move Around With A Baby
When you are a parent, you cannot leave your baby out of your sight. And you cannot simply carry it around in your arms all the time either. That is simply impractical, and sheer torture for your shoulders as well. A stroller can take that weight off your shoulders (literally) and leaver your arms free to do other stuff.
It is a great compromise that allows you to have your baby at an arm's length while you are on the move. Parenting is all about multitasking, and a stroller enables you to do just that when you are outdoors with your baby. There are specific stroller designs out there for various activities like travel and jogging.
2. Safe, Healthy And Comfortable For The Baby And The Parents
With a baby stroller, you can rest assured that your little treasure is always safe and secure when on the move. They have harnesses and canopies to protect your kid from light, dust, and just simply falling out of the stroller. Your baby won’t have any chance to ramble about and get into risky or dangerous situations.
Most modern strollers have padded interiors that are incredibly snug and comfortable for a baby. And since they take a weight off your shoulders, the health benefits for the parent only increases as the babies grow older (and heavier)!
Besides, with a stroller, you no longer have to stay cooped inside your home at all times. You can go more often to do the things that you love, which also helps reduce the stress of parenting.
3. A Long-Lasting Piece Of Equipment
Okay, this is more of an issue if you plan to have more than one kid. A baby stroller is not something you have to buy anew every time you plan to have a baby. It is a one-time purchase that is often good enough to last a lifetime. Think about it.
These devices have been designed to provide a secure and protective cocoon for your baby. They are made from reinforced materials that can withstand a lot of punishment. That also means that they don't just crumble with the passage of time.
4. Numerous Features And Styles To Suit Your Every Need
The market for baby strollers have evolved and a fast clip over the years. There are various designs out there, each optimized for different kinds of parents. You will find strollers for a single kid, for twins, with and without umbrellas, folding mechanisms, and detachable car seats. Many strollers also have handy pockets and storage compartments where you can stow away essential supplies like diapers.
A Short Overview Of Baby Stroller Designs and Features
What kind of baby stroller do I really need? This is the one question that stumps most first time buyers of strollers these days. And let's get right down to the point here. There are four different types of strollers available in the market.
Once you learn what USP of each class is, you can easily pick the one you need, based on your lifestyle and preferences. Let’s take a look at the features of each design:
Standard Baby Strollers
These are the strollers that are packed with the maximum number of features and accessories. Unfortunately, that also makes them the heaviest and bulkiest strollers you could buy.
But the glut of features does make up for that extra bulk. And pushing one of these around is still far, far better than carrying your baby your arms all the time.
These are slimmed down designs that do not have the advanced features or storage options that the standard strollers offer. But as a trade-off, you do get a less bulky stroller that you can easily fold and stow in a car, or take with you on a subway or a plane.
They are called umbrella strollers because they can be folded like an umbrella. These are best for those instances when you need a lightweight stroller that you can manage on public transportation, or for short walks around the neighborhood.
If you are fitness oriented, these are strollers that you need to consider. They are similar to standard strollers regarding features and storage. On top of that, they have been optimized for improved stability and speed.
This makes them ideal for jogs and runs around your neighborhood. There will be times when you cannot leave your baby with anyone and go for your daily jog. This stroller means that you get to keep your baby close while you burn all those calories!
Car Seat-Stroller Combo
They are also called “travel systems.” This is a stroller that has a detachable car seat at its core. When you take the car, you can put the baby inside the car in the car-seat, and fold the rest of the stroller and stow it away in the trunk. And these strollers do not skimp when it comes to features either.
This one doesn't need much explanation. It is a standard stroller designed to accommodate two babies. It is like the duplex of strollers. This option is ideal if you have kids in quick succession, or if you have been blessed with twins. Options with three seats are also available, but they are rare since triplets are also quite rare.
Now that you know the basic landscape of baby stroller designs, let's take a point-wise look at some of the essential features you need to keep an eye on when buying strollers:
- Always make sure that a stroller has adjustable handles, especially if there is a considerable height difference between the parents. This will help avoid back pain.
- Check the braking system on the stroller. If it is not a simple and reliable system that involves the push of a button or handle, look elsewhere.
- Next check the swivel wheels. They should be able to keep a straight line without frequent corrections and adjustments. If they have locking features, even better.
- Check the weight to see if you are comfortable lugging that particular stroller around. This is highly subjective, and only you can judge it best.
- Check the seat for its padding and features. Comfort levels are again subjective, but check the following things: Is it plush enough for your baby? Can the seat be removed? Can it be reclined? If so, does the padding shift uncomfortably when you keep the seat in the reclined position?
- Finally, check the list of compatible accessories. These include stuff like built-in feeding bottles and cup holders. Are there enough accessories for you and the baby? Do you have to buy them separately? Base your selection on the answer to these questions.
Using A Baby Stroller Safely
Using a baby stroller is not a very complex task. But this is a device that is supposed to carry your baby. So you cannot leave anything to chance. Read this step-by-step guide for a basic checklist of the things you need to do after you buy a baby stroller.
Step 1: Read The Manual
Nobody likes reading user manuals. Most of us give them a miss, or maybe a cursory glance at best, when we buy new gadgets. But this is unacceptable when it comes to baby strollers. You need to carefully read the manual, and figure out all the parts and components of your stroller.
These modern strollers tend to have a lot of moving parts and locking mechanisms. You need to know exactly in which position each of them has to be for the safe use of the stroller. And if you have strollers with detachable or folding parts, you also need to learn how these work.
Step 2: Prep The Stroller For Use
Once you have read the manual and familiarized yourself with the parts of the stroller, you need to go through a fixed ritual everytime you take the stroller out for use. First, check all the connectors, hooks, and locks on the device.
If it has a folding mechanism, unfold it, unlatch all the moving parts, and secure them in the proper position. Lock the wheels, and test and engage the brake system. Look for the familiar “click” that many strollers have when these mechanisms get engaged. Perform the locking mechanism on both sets of wheels.
Step 3: Pack the Essential Gear
Now is the time to fill the storage compartments with supplies. In some standard strollers, you will get enough storage to keep an entire changing bag. Many also feature handy clip-on systems where you can attach the basic baby supplies close to your hands for an easy reach. Modern strollers also have space for your stuff. These include cup holders and receptacles to keep your smartphone, and other small items.
Step 4: Placing The Child On The Seat
Before you put your baby inside, check and adjust the seat. Make sure that it is not in a reclining position. Bring it to the upright position, and gently place your baby on it, with the legs hanging down a bit. Now comes the most important part. Make sure that you have securely engaged all the safety straps, without twisting them.
Step 5: Adjust The Seat And Canopy
After securing the baby, adjust the seat position to a comfortable reclining posture. After that, unlatch and unfold the canopy. Make sure that it covers your baby properly. This will ensure that the child is safe from the sun’s rays.
Step 6: Get Ready To Move
Before you can start pushing the stroller, you need to disengage the wheel locks. Usually, this involves putting your foot on a pedal or locking mechanism and exerting some pressure. Some strollers may also have push-button systems for this. When the locks are disengaged, you will again hear that “click.” Now you are ready to go!
A Quick Buying Guide for Baby Strollers
1. Make Sure That It Can Fit A Newborn
Since babies grow pretty fast, you need a stroller that can be used safely even as your infant grows up into a healthy toddler. This means that ideally, the stroller should have a fully reclined position for infants, which can later be adjusted to an upright seating position for older kids.
The more expensive strollers usually have a detachable carriage system for the initial months, with separate seats for older children. But as we already mentioned, these can be pricier. So choose according to your budget.
2. The Difference Between Optional And Essential Storage Space
Ideally, a stroller should have enough space to hold baby supplies (and some groceries) for an entire afternoon. That is the basic minimum, from a practical perspective. So look for strollers with a spacious basket/storage area under the seat.
Some European models do not have this feature. Additional space for cups and your accessories are certainly useful, especially when they are close to the handlebars. Side pockets are less critical since you can carry stuff in your bag.
3. How Effective Is The Folding Mechanism?
Some strollers fold within a matter of seconds with minimal effort, while there are strollers that you have to wrestle to the ground. Some stay locked and folded, while others are ready to spring back into full size without even so much as a warning. So if you are buying a foldable version, make sure that you test the mechanism before paying for it.
4. Is It An SUV Or A Mini Cooper?
Now, many brands claim that their stroller is “like an SUV for the baby.” That may be good for the baby, but it is not for the mother or father who has to navigate crowded pavements and the narrow doors and aisles at places like supermarkets.
Check a stroller’s ability to move in tight spaces. Can you turn it quickly? Is it easy to steer? These are all important questions you need to find the answers for.
5. How Heavy Is It?
If you have to lug the stroller around a lot in public spaces, you need to keep an eye on the weight of a model before buying it. The heaviest prams can weigh as much as 40lbs, while the average weight of a newborn stroller is in the vicinity of 10-16lbs.
Under 10 lbs, you may find some ultra-lightweight umbrella strollers. When checking the weight, keep in mind that heavy does not equal quality and durability. That depends mainly on the kind of materials used, not their weight.
6. Is It Compatible With Car Seats?
This is a great option that will allow you to carry a sleeping child from your car to the stroller without having to wake it up. Travel systems are ubiquitous in the stroller market these days. Buying car seat and stroller combos might be cheaper than buying a stroller and looking for a car seat separately.
It is important to take into consideration a wide range of factors when you are looking for a baby stroller. Along with factors like safety, build quality and convenience, you also need to take into account your lifestyle and schedule. Do you have to travel a lot with the baby? WIll you be using public transport or a car? Do lead a physically active lifestyle? The answers to all these questions will help you find the best baby stroller for your child.