There are quite a few things to consider when buying a stroller. And many parents have ended up having more than one. We had one mom tell her story of how she found the right one after she went through four strollers (read her story here). The lesson here is you need to take a hard look at your lifestyle: do you go to the mall often, how big is your car, do you live in a condo, and how much are you willing to spend.
To help narrow down your choices, check for stroller safety first and foremost. Here's a 6-point guide to help you know what to look for: 1. Is it appropriate for your child’s age? Check if the stroller fits your child’s age, weight, and height. The salesperson should be able to tell you. Newborns need a stroller seat that can fully recline until it’s lying flat. They can’t hold and support their head upright yet, so this is a must. Most lightweight strollers -- some are called umbrella strollers because of how compact they become when folded -- are not suitable for infants. Though they are inexpensive, they don't fully recline and do not have much padding.
2. Is the lock secure and the frame, safe? You will fold and unfold your child's stroller quite a lot. Make sure the locking mechanism is secure because this will prevent the stroller from accidentally collapsing while in use. Check as well for sharp edges or places that small fingers can get stuck in or pinched. It should also be free from small parts that can pose a choking hazard.
When you're in the store, test out the stroller a few times by folding and unfolding it. See if you find the locks easy to use and reliable. Some strollers will have an additional safety mechanism that will keep the stroller from folding if the main locks fail. 3. Does it have restraining belts? The stroller will carry and transport your child -- the stroller's harness is his seatbelt. Falling from a stroller has been found to be one of the top reasons for stroller- or carrier-related emergency room visits in children age 5 and below.
“The safest design is a 5-point harness: shoulder straps, a strap between the legs, and waist belts that connect together,” according to KidsHealth, a resource parenting site from Nemours Foundation. It is also the safest type of harness for child car seats. (See what to look for when choosing a car seat here.)
Again, test out the stroller in the store. Buckle and unbuckle the harness a few times to check for reliability and ease of use. It's ideal if you test it with your baby and have her sit in the stroller.
4. Do the brakes lock easily? Terrifying tales of runaway strollers are not always urban legends. Some strollers have brakes that lock both back wheels at the same time, and some will require you to lock the wheels individually. Most parents go for the two-in-one. Whatever you choose, make sure it will be easy for you to use. KidsHealth notes that the best brakes are ones that lock the wheels themselves instead of those that rely on putting pressure on the tires.
5. Is it stable and easy to maneuver? Try to press down lightly on the handles. Is there a danger of the stroller tipping over? A stroller with good stability will stay put. Another way to check is to see if the seats are set low in the stroller frame and the wheels are wide apart.
For good maneuverability, you must also be able to push the stroller in a straight line with one hand. If you can't use one hand, you can lose control of the stroller when you’re out and about. The handles should also be just at your waist or slightly below. Some strollers will have handles that can be adjusted in height.
6. Does it have a basket? An under-the-seat basket storage is convenient, and the one you should use for your shopping bags. Hanging your child’s diaper bag on the handlebars is strongly discouraged because it increases the chance of the stroller tipping over.