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Everything You Need to Know When Buying a Stroller
Welcoming a new baby is overwhelming in many ways. New parents experience unspeakable joy as well as stress. They have to make many decisions before the baby even arrives, including several important purchases. One of these purchases is the stroller — the item that will carry their baby on errands, walks, family events, and so much more. This handy stroller buying guide breaks down the most important information to consider, simplifying a normally dizzying process.
First, familiarize yourself with what is available. You cannot make an informed decision without knowing this. Next, think about your lifestyle and the needs of your family to start to narrow the field. Consider logistical factors as well, such as cost and warranty. Decide which accessories will be most important to you and make sure that your stroller options are compatible with them. Finally, buy your stroller with confidence, knowing that, thanks to this pram buying guide, you made the best choice for your new baby.
Step One: Browse the Market
Before you assess your needs, make use of this stroller buying guide, or begin to make a decision about this important purchase, you have to have a sense of what is available. Spend a couple of hours browsing strollers. Amazon.com has a ton of options and typically the lowest prices. Stop into a baby goods store to see some models in person. As you do all this, make sure that you understand and take a look at models in these five major categories of strollers:
Full-Sized Traditional Stroller
This is probably the type of item that you think of when you think about a stroller. It is an all-purpose item, not designed for any setting or lifestyle in particular, and comes in a number of different styles.
Many of these strollers offer options that are convenient for parents, such as 3 in 1 Graco Stroller, which allows you to use it with a compatible car seat, as an infant bassinet, or as a sit-up stroller for your older baby or toddler. They can range in price from relatively inexpensive to very high-end.
Active parents may want a stroller specifically designed for running, long walks, and rough terrain. The biggest differences between a jogging stroller and a traditional stroller are the design and the wheels. A jogging stroller is streamlined differently to offer less resistance when running, and the handlebar is typically set further away to accommodate the motion of running. Jogging strollers are often more lightweight than a traditional stroller, and the wheels resemble small bike tires.
Many jogging strollers have some of the features of traditional strollers and some families end up using them full time, not just for exercise. As with traditional strollers, some models are relatively inexpensive (around $100), and some have much higher price ranges. You can also find double jogging strollers. Try this more affordable model.
Even if you are not having twins, a double stroller is a great option for families with (or planning to have) more than one child. Double strollers come in a lot of different models than just the traditional side-by-side model. Double joggers are popular, though they can be more expensive. Some, such as this one, are great for an infant and toddler, and even have a standing option for your older child. This wagon model is especially versatile. There are even triple strollers available as well.
Compact or “Umbrella” Stroller
Many parents purchase a compact stroller as either their main stroller or as a secondary option. A relatively inexpensive model such as this one offers some of the storage and accessories of a traditional stroller while still being lightweight and compact. This model can be converted to a scooter or a rider as your child gets older. Be aware, though: if you plan to use an umbrella stroller for everyday use, the wear and tear may shorten its lifespan. In addition, many umbrella strollers are not appropriate for newborns.
Car Seat Carrier
This option might be best for new parents who are not ready or not wanting to make a full stroller purchase, or for parents who do a lot of traveling by car. A car seat carrier such as this one is easy to use, as caregivers simply remove the car seat from its base in the car and snap it onto the carrier without taking the baby out. It is convenient, but the biggest downside is that your baby will outgrow their infant car seat within a few months, so you will likely need to make another purchase relatively quickly. Since many traditional strollers offer the option to attach an infant car seat, that might be a more economical purchase.
Now that we understand the different types of strollers, the next step in this stroller buying guide is getting a firm grasp on your family’s specific needs.
Step Two: Understand Your Needs
Most strollers on the market offer many features that can be distracting if you do not know exactly what you need. Now that you understand the major types of strollers, it is time to use your family’s lifestyle to help you narrow your choices and begin to make a decision.
One exercise that might be helpful is to walk yourself through your family’s day-to-day routine. Even though you know that the new baby is going to change a lot of things, some basics will probably look the same or similar.
Think about how you get from home to work, how your grocery store is set up, and how much time you spend in public. Some questions to consider:
- Where do you live? Depending on your climate, you might need a stroller that is compatible with a good UV sun shade or that does well in the snow.
- How do you get around? If you travel mostly by car, then something larger with an attachable car seat might make more sense. If you use public transportation, you may need a smaller stroller to navigate crowded subways and buses.
- Do you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors? Do you want to take your baby running? If you’re a big fan of the great outdoors, a jogging stroller is a solid choice.
- Do you already have a child, or are you planning on having more than one? If so, a double stroller makes a lot of sense.
- How much time will your child spend in their stroller? If you enjoy eating out or attending live events, you may want to consider a roomier stroller with a tray with space for your child to play. A wagon also affords extra space for a child.
- Where are you going to store your stroller? Consider whether you have room in your garage or home to leave it set up at all times, or if you would appreciate easy fold down and setup. If you will frequently need to store it in small places (the corner of your workplace or a small closet, for example), you might want to look for something that is more compact, especially when stored.
Remember that all of these questions are not meant to overwhelm you or complicate the purchase. They are meant to help you choose from an incredibly wide variety of options and to understand which features will simplify your life most.
You have an idea of what is most important in a stroller purchase, so now it is time to narrow your choices in step three of our pram buying guide.
Step Three: Narrow Your Choices
Now you have a good idea of your family’s needs, which will help you narrow down your options. Perhaps you have already chosen the type of stroller that you want (or do not want). You are halfway there! In this step, though, there are several other questions to ask yourself that will further narrow your field of choices.
- How much do you want to spend? As you have looked around at your options, you have no doubt seen that strollers come in a very wide range of prices from under $100 to well over $1000. The stroller is one of the most important purchases that you will make for your new baby, but factor in what you want to spend and what you can afford.
- How important is durability; how long do you want/need your stroller to last? For some families, they are willing to spend more money up front to get the highest quality possible and want something that will last until their child outgrows strollers entirely. On the other hand, maybe you are not sure what you want and are willing to buy a few strollers while your child is young, adapting your selections based on personal experience.
- What about a warranty? Nearly all strollers will come with some kind of manufacturer’s warranty. Most of the time, these warranties are limited in both their terms and life. Evenflo Gold strollers, such as this one, are warrantied until your child reaches their weight threshold. Quinny and a couple other models/brands offer similar warranties. In addition, Amazon.com typically offers their own additional protection plans that can extend your warranty for an additional price.
- Should you buy used? You can, but it is not recommended for a couple of important reasons. For one thing, strollers have to adhere to stringent safety requirements that are changing all the time. An older stroller might not meet the newest regulations and therefore may not be as safe.
Additionally, most products can only be registered once; registering your stroller is incredibly important because it means that you will be the first to know if there is a safety recall issued. You would also be protected and possibly eligible for compensation should a recall happen.
Finally, you do not know where that stroller has been. No, we are not talking about germs, but about accidents. At the very least, a stroller that has been in any kind of moderate or severe collision or accident needs to be inspected and may very often need to be replaced. That can be an expensive undertaking, but safety is most parents’ top concern. You can’t know for sure if a used stroller has suffered damage that could result in injury to your child.
At this point, it is also a very good idea to read reviews and talk to other parents, both those you know and those online. Customer reviews are a great source of information and may answer questions that you did not even know you had. Just about everything sold on Amazon.com offers user reviews. Amazon.com also allows you to post a question about a product, and other users can answer.
In addition, talk to your extended family members and friends who have kids. They not only have first-hand experience of their own, but they are also likely to be familiar with your lifestyle (and maybe even share some features of it). They can give you advice based on their close knowledge.
Step Four: Consider Accessories
Another thing that you may have noticed while browsing and while making your way through this stroller buying guide is the plethora of accessories available for strollers. While you do not need to load your shopping cart up just yet, you will want to think about which accessories are most important to you and then make sure that there are compatible versions available for whichever stroller model you choose.
Some of the most important stroller accessories are listed here. For these items, you will want to double check that there are compatible versions for your type of stroller before you buy:
- Weather cover: This accessory is a must for cold or rainy climates.
- Buggy board: Plan on having more than one child, or do you already have a toddler or older child? You will not believe how much easier a buggy board makes your life.
- Stroller carrier bag: This is an especially important item if you plan to fly with your stroller.
- Snack tray: Once your little one starts on solid foods, snacks can be a wonderfully soothing, comforting tool and a tray lets them eat on the go.
There are other important accessories to buy for your stroller, especially stroller toys (there are so many great stroller toys available on the market), a portable fan and a portable white noise machine, an organizer, a cup holder and a phone stand for parents and caregivers, hooks to hang everything from your purse to shopping bags, lights for safety, a bunting bag, extra padding, and a head support for infants. However, most of these items are universally sized so you do not necessarily have to check that the one that you want is compatible before buying your stroller.
In addition, stroller accessories make great small and medium baby shower gifts for your friends and family. When you register for gifts, remember that it is considered good etiquette to have a variety of items available for your loved ones. Stroller accessories are perfect for that.
Step Five: Buy Your Stroller!
One more quick question before you go: should you put your stroller on your gift registry? While there is nothing inherently wrong with registering for the stroller of your choice, you may not want to for a couple of reasons.
First, along with the crib, crib mattress, and car seat, the stroller is one of your biggest and most important purchases for your new baby. Many parents prefer not to be dependent on other people for these major items that are absolutely essential to have before the baby arrives. If you got married, think about your wedding registry. Did you register for your rings or any other items that you absolutely had to have before the wedding? Probably not. A lot of people think the same way about the stroller.
Second, registering for your dream stroller does not mean that you will get it. For one thing, if no one in your life buys it for you, then you will be stuck making this major purchase closer to when your baby arrives, when you might be trying to save up as much cash as you possibly can. Or worse, what if a well-meaning friend or relative buys you a different stroller, or a used stroller? Then you will be stuck not only buying the one you want yourself, but also with what to do with the gift stroller without hurting the giver’s feelings.
Stroller accessories make great registry items and you will find that you still have plenty of large, high-end items for all your friends and family.
The stroller is one of the most important purchases that you will make. After working through this step-by-step stroller buying guide, you are ready to buy your perfect stroller and feel confident that you have made the absolute best choice for you, your family, and, most importantly, your sweet new baby.
Remember to register your stroller with the manufacturer and enjoy it!
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