There are a lot of “firsts” when becoming a parent, and that can be both exciting and overwhelming. We don’t want purchasing your first stroller to be overwhelming. However, there are tons of stroller models and features to choose from. So you might be wondering, “How do I even know which options I should care about?” And we hear you.
Choosing a stroller is a lot like purchasing a car. There are hundreds of makes and models, each with their own different strengths and uses. Also like buying a car, buying a stroller can also be expensive, so finding the best stroller for your family the first time is important. Ideally you only buy one stroller and never look back because you absolutely love the stroller you have. That is the goal anyway.
So, where do you begin?
First let me give you some context on when and how long you will use a stroller.
Remember, over the first year of your child’s life they will go from completely incapable of moving on their own to walking. And in the second year of their life, they will be running, jumping, climbing. The stroller’s purpose is to help you move them around with ease while they need to be moved around. So with a newborn, who will be mostly sleeping when in the stroller, you will want a stroller that either has a seat that reclines flat, or has a bassinet or car seat attachment. If you are in a place where you don’t drive, having the car seat attachment is probably not for you. On the other hand, if you are often in and out of your car, then that might be a nice feature.
Around 4-6 months, your baby will be sitting up on their own and rolling over. At this point your baby will be alert enough to be awake in the stroller, but not really want to get out. This is the best time for long strolls with your baby, but remember, your baby is trying to develop the strength and motor skills to walk so being confined to a seat for long periods of time is going to be miserable for you and the baby.
This continues to be true with each subsequent month. Somewhere between 8-14 months old, your baby is standing and trying to walk. At this point, being able to get your child in and out of the stroller quickly and easily becomes important because their patience for being strapped in a seat is low. Your little one will want to walk with you and explore, and the stroller will then become a means of getting to and from those kinds of places.
By the time your child is walking confidently or running, usually around 18 months, they won’t want to sit in a stroller anymore. And really, they shouldn’t be. They need and want to move. Here is where the bench seat on a stroller comes in very handy because it allows the toddler to leave the stroller almost on their own. Strollers at this stage will mostly be used for getting to the park where your toddler is then free to play, or in napping on the way home from the park.
After about age 2, honestly, I wouldn’t recommend using a stroller anymore. This is where a little Radio Flyer Tricycle, Strider Balance Bike, or MicroMini Scooter is the best means of moving your toddler around in a way that is quicker than walking and interesting to them. Trust me, you don’t want to fight your toddler to get into a stroller at this stage…and it will be a fight. And your toddler will nap and sleep better the more you let them move, so ditch the stroller (unless you are going to be out for a while and your toddler might need a nap).
Ok, we’re getting ahead of ourselves a bit here because you still need a stroller, and one that is versatile enough for all stages of those first two years. So, before deciding which stroller is the best stroller for your family, you need to ask yourself two questions:
- Where do I intend to use the stroller?
- Am I planning on having a second child, and if yes, then how soon?
With Question 1, if you plan to use your stroller mostly for outdoor adventures like jogging, walking on trails or any kind of rough terrain…then you will want to look for a Jogger. These strollers have three all-terrain wheels made of rubber that will give your child a smooth ride even on bumpy surfaces or when moving quickly. The downside to these strollers is that they are usually heavy and bulky. In other words, they are not easy to toss in the car, carry up or down stairs, or maneuver on narrow sidewalks or busy streets. They are a breeze to push though and are a comfortable stable ride for your baby.
On the other hand, if you live in an urban area where fitting through narrow entrances is important or you travel often, then a simple Single or Umbrella stroller will suffice. These will usually have four wheels and are designed with large baskets, slimmer profiles, and lighter frames.
With Question 2, if you are planning on having a second child within 3 years of having your first (I know this isn’t pleasant to think about when you are pregnant with your first, but it is worth the forethought), then I recommend buying a Convertible stroller or a Sit & Stand. This is a stroller that can go from a single to a double stroller with seat attachments. And that means that with your first, you have it set up as a single stroller and as soon as your second comes along, you can add the second seat so you can accommodate your new baby as well as you toddler who might still want to rest her legs or take a quick nap sometimes.
If you are planning on having a second child after your first is three years old, you can probably get away with just buying a single stroller.
By the way, there is no right or wrong answer to either of these questions. And you don’t need to have it all figured out right now. If you are unsure about when you are going to have a second child (if at all), then a convertible stroller is a safe bet. Best of luck in your search for a stroller! Please share with us what you have found on our Facebook or Instagram page. All the best!