How do you actually choose a stroller?
Unfortunately, no one has yet invented the PERFECT stroller for every family. But don't give up hope. Some one has invented the perfect stroller for your family. We're here to help you find it!
What are the 3 top factors to consider when buying a stroller?
The age of your baby (or babies),
Whether your lifestyle is more city-slicker, or off-the-beaten-track... or somewhere in the middle, and
Whether you want to carry multiple children on the stroller at the same time.
Question 1: How old is baby?
The age of your baby determines which features are most important. If you are buying for a newborn though, take some time to also think about their needs as they grow.
What features are necessary in a stroller for a 0-6 month old?
Your main concern as a parent is going to be keeping baby well supported. Look for a comfy seat that reclines flat, so your new baby can lie back and sleep. It's best to go for a sturdy stroller with suspension that can absorb bounces so baby has a smoother ride.
At this age "nice to have" features include a parent facing orientation so you can monitor your baby, and the ability to accommodate an infant car seat so baby can sleep while you move in and out of the car. Another nice to have feature is the option of a bassinet carry cot. A carry cot will let you put your baby down to sleep, and is great for picnics or visits to grandparents' houses.
What are the best strollers for newborns?
What stroller features do parents love when their baby is 6-12 months old?
Now baby is sitting upright, a 5-point harness is essential. At this age, most parents find that the most important thing to them becomes the seat. A roomy and adjustable seat will help your stroller keep pace with your growing child. A gentle recline back feature is also useful, in case baby falls asleep while you're out and about and you want to lie them down.
At this age, mum and dad may find they want to have two strollers. One for travel or just to keep in Grandma / Granddad's car for occasional outings, as well as their more sturdy one for proper walks.
What are the best strollers for 6-12 month old babies?
What do you need in a stroller when your baby is 18-24 months old (or older)?
Toddlers want to explore the world around them, and may start to hop in and out of the stroller themselves. It's imperative your stroller doesn't hurt them, so look for one that has a 5 point harness and no pinch points around the canopy. At this age the frame becomes important. A durable frame will carry heavier babies, and will be more stable as your toddler climbs over it.
It's nice to have a stroller that's light, and easy to fold. With a toddler in tow, you don't want to spend all day folding and unfolding the stroller - you want to do what you have to do, and get on to the next activity. It's also handy to have a stroller that you can push with one hand. If your tyke jumps off and you're holding his or her hand, you'll still want to be able to push your stroller. We also recommend considering a stroller with a large storage basket.
What are the top picks in strollers for toddlers?
What about that in-between preschooler age?
We think you should provide opportunities for your preschooler to walk, bike, or scooter if you can, as well as options for riding in the stroller occasionally. One way to achieve this is to purchase an additional buggy board for your stroller. A buggy board also means you can carry more than one child on the stroller at once.
Question 2: What's your life like?
There are trade offs you have to make when you buy a stroller - which is why we said right at the start that there is no single perfect stroller. That's why it's so important to spend a few moments reflecting on your life and what you want your life as a family to be like.
Ideally, having a baby isn't going to change what you enjoy in life, so consider who you were before baby (we believe strollers = freedom and too many parents buy the wrong stroller because they forget what freedom is for THEM).
If you're the kind of people who are always outside, who love exercise and adventure, then you're the kind of people who will benefit for a more robust "all-terrain" stroller. If you live for city life, brunches, and your hobbies steer more indoors, then look for an easy to navigate and easy to fold stroller first and foremost.
This is where you start making trade offs. If you want a really sturdy stroller which will hack farm walks every day you will need a decent sized frame and larger wheels. You cannot have a large frame and large wheels, and also have the smallest folded stroller on the market. Large is not small, no matter how you slice it.
Or maybe you want the smallest and most nimble stroller in the city. That's great, but of course they aren't designed for long hikes. If you need something easy and everyday and small for the car, then you may decide to prioritise that every day convenience over having a stroller that will glide across bumpy gravel tracks (you could always grab a baby carrier instead to have on hand for those occasional walks).
"I need an all-terrain stroller: what else should I look for?"
OK so you are an outdoorsy person (or live on a farm). You know you need an "all-terrain" stroller with a sturdy frame and wheels that will roll over tussocks. Other "nice to have" stroller features that are amazing outdoors include:
- An extendable sun canopy to protect your child from the elements.
- A compatible rain cover, also to protect your child.
- Ventilation within the stroller so your child won't overheat in summer.
- A sleep sack or something to rug up your rugrat so they stay toasty in winter (remember they won't get as warm as you will pushing the stroller).
- Storage space in the stroller, whether that's via added pockets or a big basket (and possibly the ability to add a parent pack or cup holder on as well) because you will probably take it on longer trips and this means you can bring supplies.
- A lockable front wheel. The old school NZ mountain buggies all had a rigid front wheel for a reason: it makes it easier to go over bumps outdoors (and is required if you're planning to jog with your stroller). Now-a-days there are quite a few options that allow you to lock off the front wheel yourself.
- A wrist strap, so you can keep baby safe if going fast.
What are our favourite all-terrain strollers?
"I want a city stroller: what stroller features are best indoors?"
Once you've got "easy to fold" and "easy to move" down pat, we think the following extras are definitely beneficial:
- A parent facing mode to help you entertain your little one in the supermarket.
- The ability to add a capsule onto the frame. This way you can transition from car to stroller without waking baby.
- The ability to hold a cup of coffee. Cup holders are pretty much awesome for everyone.
- The ability to hold your phone or wallet on the stroller. You might find an added accessory is helpful for this, or if your stroller has a pocket you can use- even better.
Which strollers are the best for city life and navigating shops?
"I don't know what I want! I want to do all the things!"
Hahahaha - we get you!!! You want the option of being able to go out on a picnic or on a trip to Lindale Farm or Staglands, but you don't want to be lugging around a beasty all-terrain every day.
It's okay, there are strollers designed with you in mind. Our favourite is the Edwards & Co Oscar. Great wheels outdoors, but the frame isn't too big, and the fold, while not the smallest on the market, is reasonable for the car boot.
Question three: How many children do you want to have on the stroller?
If you only want one baby on your stroller you can totally skip this section ;)
But what's the best option for siblings who are close in age when it comes to strollers? Oh gosh... we could probably trigger debate with this one!
The answer varies for every family, so the key thing to ask yourself is "what is your family like?" as in, how many children are there? What are the personalities of those little people like? Do they fight much so need their own space? Are they similar in age, or do you have a couple years in between?
Ultimately though, there are three main options - and the right option for you comes down to your unique family. Don't worry though! You can always call us and we can provide a sounding board as you work through this one.
Option one: add a second seat to a stroller for a second child.
There are quite a few Baby Jogger strollers that enable this, as well as Phil n Teds and Mountain Buggies (although not all of them do).
Pro's to this approach include: it's narrower (so easier - in theory - to move around the shops). It's also easier to store, and you may not need to buy the second seat until you actually need it.
Con's include the fact that you need to carefully time your babies to match the stroller's abilities. The frame of an in-line double stroller is not going to typically hold as much as you would be able to hold on a twin double stroller. This means it won't work so well for bigger children. Secondly, usually both children need to be able to sit upright. It's not usually the best for a newborn and a toddler for this reason.
Now, there are some exceptions where you can fit newborns lying flat on a single stroller, and Baby Jogger in particular are quite innovative with this. However, when you get to that point the cost of the stroller also starts to increase, and the size (length) of the stroller also gets a bit bigger. Still, this could be an option.
Option two: use another means of transport for the older child
The most obvious option is a buggy board. These are little skateboard like platforms that attach to the back of your stroller. This kind of accessory is cheap (compared to a second seat or a double stroller), and most strollers have buggy board accessories available. A buggy board is fun and keeps your toddler or pre-schooler close to you as you push the stroller.
Other options include bikes, trikes, or scooters. If you're looking for a fun gift for your big kid as they prepare to become a sibling then this could be it. A bike or scooter makes walks with baby fun, and are easier for little ones than straight walking alongside.
Option three: upgrade to a double stroller
Sell your single, and upgrade to a double. We love doubles because they allow each child their own space and view of the world. You may also be able to attach a buggy board as well for a third child!
Our favourite double strollers:
Have you decided on your stroller yet?
We hope the three main questions above have helped you hone in on the features you want in a stroller. Write your list and give us a call on 04 298 6404 if you'd like some further guidance on strollers that will work best for you.