It takes 40 weeks before you get to hold that bundle of joy in your arms. 40 weeks before you get to meet the little person who had been growing inside of you all that time. It is a time to marvel at the creation of life but also a time to prepare for your new role as parents. In those amazing 40 weeks there are plenty of decisions to make – breast or bottle, disposable or cloth diapers, crib or family bed, stay at home or return to work. There are plenty of items to buy – breast pump, bottles, pacifiers, nail clippers, diapering system, change table, crib, blankets, bath towels, dresser, car seat, stroller. Through the morning sickness (which actually lasts all day for many), the constant need to go to the bathroom and the extreme fatigue (no one told you you would be this tired already), you need to get ready because this little one is coming out, ready or not!
With the wealth of information available from other parents, in books, in magazines, and online, sometimes it will feel that the decision to have a child was easier to make than what stroller to buy for him or her! I have been there and felt overwhelmed many times myself so here is a simple break down on choosing a baby stroller for your baby.
Handling Multiples and Strollers
To begin with it is important to know how many babies you will be welcoming into this world. When it comes to strollers, multiples simply means you need more seating. Luckily, with the increase in multiple births over the past decades, it is much easier to find a stroller to suit your needs as the parents of multiples. You must also take into consideration if you will be travelling a lot, for what activities you will most likely be needing the stroller and for those who are deciding which single seat stroller to buy, you need to consider if you plan on having more children who could be using the same stroller.
Safety is always the number one consideration when it comes to purchasing any item for your precious little one. In strollers check their stability and their harness system. Five point harnesses are best for infants and babies. Keep in mind that your infant will not have much head control before four to six months of age so these little ones need the ability to recline. The reclining position is also very good for in-stroller naps and sometimes those are the best ones!
If you find a stroller with the safety features you require, it is always a good idea to do a test run in the store. Push the stroller around and make sure the height of the handles is a good height for you. Taller parents may need to search for the strollers that have adjustable handle heights. It is very important to check the mobility of the stroller as well. You will need one that makes corners smoothly if you plan to use it in crowded places. Something else to keep in mind is the size of the wheels. Typically the smaller they are, the less variation in terrain they can handle.
As any parent or caregiver will tell you, where there is a baby, there is a diaper bag. It is never recommended to hang a diaper bag over the handles on the back of the stroller as the weight of the bag can cause the stroller to tip over backwards with baby sitting inside. Most strollers come equipped with storage space in the form of a storage basket underneath. Make sure the stroller you choose will meet your storage requirements. Do not worry too much about the accessories or lack thereof on any particular stroller. Each accessory is sold separately. If you plan to do a lot of travelling, make sure the stroller you choose folds and fits in your trunk easily and that it is light enough for you to lift into your trunk.
The Main Varieties
Baby strollers come in four main varieties that include lightweight strollers, standard strollers, jogging strollers, and travel systems. Lightweight strollers are just fancy versions of umbrella strollers or lightweight standard strollers. They are great for short trips to the mall or around amusement parks.
Standard strollers are very versatile and most fold easily with a one handed folding mechanism. They do take up more space and are heavier to lift into your trunk but they are also roomier for baby, often come with accessories and have larger wheels, more storage space and more ergonomic handles than the lightweight strollers.
If you plan to be outdoors a lot, on rugged terrain or jogging with your baby in the stroller, a jogging stroller is probably the stroller for you. Jogging strollers typically have three large wheels, all-terrain suspension systems and hand-grip brakes. They can replace a standard stroller or be used as a back up to a standard. The disadvantages of a jogging stroller are that they are very heavy, do not fold very compactly and are not recommended for infants under six months of age.
Travelling systems are standard strollers that also come with an infant car seat that snaps securely onto the stroller’s frame. The car seats often come with a base that you leave fastened in your vehicle, allowing you to simply snap the car seat off the base and onto the stroller. Everyone knows you never wake a sleeping baby and travelling systems allow for easy transport of your sleeping angel from stroller to vehicle and vice-versa. Once your baby outgrows the car seat, the stroller functions the same as a standard stroller.
Brand new, many of these strollers are expensive. The good news is that if you have more than one child, the same stroller can be used for all of your children which will definitely save you money. For travelling systems, the infant car seat can even be used for at least one more child. It is recommended not to use a car seat if it is more than five years old. Do not forget to include the stroller of your choice on your baby registry. Often times doting grandparents or groups of friends, co-workers or teammates like to put money together and buy the big ticket items off a registry list. This is how I received the jogging stroller I used for all three of my daughters. My ball hockey team certainly got their money’s worth out of that!
In-store prices can be a lot more expensive than online prices so in order to save money it is recommended to “test drive” the stroller in store and to hold off buying it until you have compared the in-store prices to the online prices. I have heard of people saving as much as 50% online!
Consider a Used Stroller
A stroller can be bought used as long as it meets safety standards and it not currently under recall. It is not recommended to buy an infant car seat used if you cannot verify the seat’s crash history and of course, if it is more than five years, which makes travelling systems much harder to buy used. You can find used strollers in second-hand stores, at yard sales, by asking friends and family if they know of anyone looking to sell baby items and also through online sites such as Kijiji Canada and the eBay Classifieds (USA). There is also the possibility of getting a free baby stroller through a website called Freecycle. Freecycle is used in 85 countries around the world and is a way to recycle rather than throw away perfectly good items. I have freecycled some baby items, including a stroller, myself.
Where did you get your stroller? What type was it?