There's no rule saying you have to have a stroller, but it's hard to imagine not having one if you're ever planning to leave the house. And as your child starts to feel more and more like a large and wiggly sack of potatoes, you'll really appreciate the extra mobility.
This is one of your bigger-value items, so you'll want to make sure you pick the right one. And there are a lot more choices on the market than there used to be in terms of style, price, and function. In the past, you just picked the upholstery you liked best and made sure it rolled in a forward direction. Nowadays, buying a stroller is more like buying a high-performance bicycle or other piece of equipment—which is why more dads get involved in stroller purchases than any other category of baby products.
umbrella strollers These folding strollers are called umbrella strollers for their curved, umbrellalike handles and easy, single-handed folding. They're the best option for a high-quality, lightweight, durable stroller that's ideal for hopping in and out of cars, traveling, or navigating small spaces. The umbrella stroller is most parents' must-have second stroller—and for most, it's the preferred choice for the toddler stage.
Travel systems A travel system is a collapsible, four-wheeled frame that you can click your infant car seat into—more like a wheeled accessory for your car seat rather than a true stroller. Travel systems have a universal frame that can hold a car seat, but also come with a simple toddler seat that will work as a lightweight stroller until the child is around four years old.
all-terrain strollers These are the sport-utility vehicles of the stroller world, and a great alternative to buying both a full-size stroller and a separate jogger. Typically, these have all the features of a full-size stroller, including a bassinet stage. But they also offer easier maneuvering, durability, and lightweight, full-suspension wheels. Most include a universal functionality that lets you use them with your infant car seat.
Features to look for
Car seat compatibility. If you're going to spend a lot on a full-size or all-terrain stroller, look for one that's compatible with your car seat, especially if you'll be in and out of your car a lot.
Adjustable handlebars. Handlebar-height adjustability can be among the more important features for comfortable use over time, particularly for parents with very different heights.
Type of handlebar. While most full-size strollers have one straight handlebar, most umbrella strollers have two curved handles (much like umbrellas). The straight handlebar makes navigating a little easier, but the two curved bars make the stroller more collapsible, so consider the trade-off.
Leg room (yours!). Spend some time testing how comfortable you are striding behind different strollers, and make sure you have a good fit. The size of the wheels, angle of the seat, and handlebar positions all affect the legroom for the parent.
Expandability. Some strollers offer multi-baby or multistage options that will allow you to keep adding to your growing family with your first investment. Durability. With any luck, you might be able to use your stroller for more than one child. Be sure to consider wheel construction, as plastic wheels can begin to stick and become difficult to maneuver over time.
Washability. Make sure you consider the stickiness factor and get a stroller that's easy to clean.
Cargo space. Just about every stroller comes with a storage basket, though the size and style can vary almost as much as the strollers themselves. Decide if you're a pack rat or a minimalist, and choose your stroller accordingly.
Seat reversibility. Many full-size and all-terrain strollers give you the choice of which direction to face the baby. You'll probably want to start out with your baby facing you, which can make all the difference between feeling like you spent time with your baby rather than just pushing a stroller.
Brakes. This safety feature keeps your stroller from rolling away when you're not moving. Look for brakes that are conveniently located, for when your hands are full. If you live in a hilly city, you might also want resistance brakes that will slow your stroller down on an incline.
Locking front wheels. Normally, wheels are made to rotate from side to side independently for maximum maneuverability, but many four-wheel, all-terrain strollers will have front wheels that lock off so that they roll together, allowing it to operate more like a jogger and making it easier to go in a straight line.
Adjustable seat position. In most full-size and all-terrain strollers, the seat will have multiple positions so that your child can sit straight up, recline slightly, or stretch out for a nap while you walk.
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