Recently on the It’s Learning Time Facebook page, I was asked a question about baby strollers and car seats. Picking out the stroller and car seat was one of the hardest decisions we made during our buying process for the baby. There are so many types of baby strollers: travel systems, umbrella, jogger, lightweight, etc. Not to mention that choosing the right car seat is a significant safety decision.
This process can be incredibly overwhelming for a new mom (trust me I know). Not sure where to start? Here are just a few suggestions that worked for me when doing my own research.
1. Determine your needs. Before you begin your search for a baby stroller, be sure to really think about what your needs are and what your lifestyle is. For example, are you an active jogger/runner and plan to take the baby with you during these activities? Do you live in the city? Do you want an all-in-one travel system that comes complete with a car seat? Do you live in warm or seasonal climates? Answering these questions ahead of time will really help you focus your research.
2. Do your research. It’s not enough to know what type of baby stroller you want. Once you have that narrowed down, you have to start researching all the brands and features. One thing’s for sure, you never want to sacrifice on comfort, safety and durability. And don’t just rely on what the manufacturer tells you. Be sure to check Consumer Reports and read customer reviews to get a better idea on the pros and cons of each stroller you are considering. Lastly, if you are considering getting a travel system that includes a car seat, be sure to check out The Car Seat Lady for reviews and check with your vehicle’s manufacturer. Some vehicle models don’t accept the LATCH restraint system for installing car seats, so you’ll want to know that ahead of time.
3. Safety, safety, safety. Make sure any baby stroller you consider complies with the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) Standard Consumer Safety Specifications for Carriages/Strollers.
4. Buy for the future. A stroller can be an expensive purchase, so you’ll want it to last a while. Make sure you get one that can grow with your child. You’ll want to think about weight capacity and storage capacity. Does it have a snack tray for when baby is older? Or a cup holder for baby’s sippy? Does the footrest adjust and is there plenty of room in the seat for a growing baby?
5. Don’t “shop” online. I know I know, we live in a digital world and I just got through telling you to research your strollers online. But don’t “shop” online. The best way to learn about a stroller is to take it for a test drive. Go to a store that carries the brands/models you are interested in and check out the strollers that are already set up. Here you can get a better idea of the color (most website images don’t come close to the actual color) and you can get a better idea of the size and style of the stroller. Don’t be afraid to take the stroller off the display and go for a walk around the isles. This is your only chance before you buy to check for things like maneuverability, height and handle bar adjustments, the ease in which it folds and unfolds, and the smoothness of its ride. If it’s a travel system, you’ll want to check on the ease of snapping in and out the car seat to the stroller. Some stores (with accompaniment from an employee) may even let you take it out into the parking lot to check that it would fit in your trunk!
6. Ask around. Still can’t decide? Ask your friends and family for recommendations. Or check on popular parenting forums. You could also ask the sales employee at a baby store what their most popular brand is.
7. Before you buy, check for the best price. Ok, so you decided which stroller you want and are ready to buy. STOP! Do you know who has the best deals right now? Sometimes doing a few minutes of research online can save you some extra cash. And don’t forget to check out Babies R Us Great Trade-In event. They usually hold this several times a year where you can trade-in certain baby items and receive a 25-30% discount on the purchase of a new one. So be sure to ask friends and family if they have anything they no longer use and would be willing to give you to trade-in. This might give you the best savings for your new purchase.
Hopefully this list gives you a good starting guide for your stroller shopping experience. We’d love to hear any other advice you have found helpful. Just leave your comments below.