With so many choices out on the market today, is it any surprise that most parents feel totally overwhelmed when it comes to choosing a stroller?
For example, there are strollers for jogging and strollers for walking, lightweight strollers and 4WD strollers. There are combo strollers and travel system strollers, single strollers and double strollers. And this is only a small list; the choices are, quite honestly, endless.
To help you whittle down your list, here are 10 things to consider when buying a stroller.
Budget: Before you even enter into choosing a stroller, it’s advisable to work out a budget and, as much as possible, stick to it – it’s very easy to get overwhelmed by choice and get lead astray once you’re in the shop. But a little bit of research goes a long way in determining what you can get for your money, and this is a good a starting point as any.
Purpose: Decide what you’ll mainly be using your stroller for. If you’re an active person who plans on running or even walking regularly with your baby, then look at purchasing a stroller that’s suitable for all-terrain, which is a bit sturdier and solid in its build and handling. It’s also worth looking at a model that has the option of adjusting and locking wheels, as these features can make it easier for running over different terrains.
If you’re looking for something to keep in the back of the car for use around the shopping centre, you could invest in an ‘umbrella’ stroller - while these are generally not as sturdy, they're lightweight and easier to fold and carry.
Travel system: If the idea of having an ‘all in one’ system that allows you to transfer your baby straight from the car into the stroller is appealing, you could consider a travel system. This is basically a stroller with a compatible infant car seat that clips into the stroller.
An alternative is a universal stroller frame. This lets you attach your car seat to the bottom of it without waking up your baby, and means that you can decide on a stroller later on.
Ability to add further seats: If this is your first stroller and you’re planning on having more children, it’s a good idea to look at models that have the ability to have additional seat/s (or skateboards) installed later. There are many options on the market, and investing in one now could save you from both a financial and space point of view.
Weight: The weight and size of a stroller will generally relate to its purpose – for example, the all-terrain strollers will weigh more and be bigger than the umbrella strollers. It’s important to check that neither parent will struggle with the weight and size when pushing it (or lifting it once collapsed). Also consider how much having a child and a couple of shopping bags will impact the weight and manoeuvrability of the stroller.
If you’re purchasing a bigger stroller, you can even consider investing in an umbrella stroller as well; at least that way you’ll have a lightweight one that’s easier to carry and transport for trips alone to the shops.
Steering: Ensure you’re able to comfortably steer your stroller and feel confident in manoeuvring it in and out of tight spaces, doing an about-face, and tipping it back to mount kerbs. You should be able to walk with the stroller using your normal stride, without hitting your shins on it.
Adjustable handle: If the stroller is going to be used by both parents regularly, it’s worth finding a model that has an adjustable handle to allow for any differences in your height. This can be an essential back saver for anyone pushing for a long duration.
The collapsible factor: This may seem a strange thing to consider, but it’s not! When your child is screaming and you’ve just got to get home, the last thing you need is to be standing in a busy car park attempting to collapse a stroller with a myriad of levers and buttons that would challenge even the very best engineering graduates. What may seem easy when someone else does it may not be the case when repeated by you, so ensure that when you check out the strollers in the shops, you’re confident in your ability to collapse it without falling into a heap yourself.
Space: Leaving the house with a baby or small child in tow generally means you have to pack for every circumstance, so it inevitably means having a bag with you that’s the size of a small country. Add onto this a couple of shopping bags and a pick-up from the coffee shop, and you might find yourself very quickly out of hands - so it's good to consider strollers that have some sort of storage space, whether it's a shopping basket or compartment, or an add-on option when needed.
Safety: One of the most significant factors to consider when buying a stroller is, of course, safety. While most safety features are mandatory and products are in line with Australian standards, it’s still important to be aware of them.
All strollers should have a suitable restraint that will keep your child secure and unable to fall out; a five-point restraint with waist, crotch and shoulder straps provides the best safety.
A tether strap should be present for your wrist to prevent the stroller rolling away; one new stroller offers an option that makes the stroller brake as soon as you let go of it.
All strollers should have at least one parking brake, and the release mechanism of it must be located so that it is not easily accessible to a child when the child is properly restrained in the pram or stroller. (Download a PDF on pram and stroller safety from Kidsafe NSW for more information.)
Discuss these ideas and specific products with other parents and parents-to-be in the Essential Baby prams and strollers forum.