Wednesday, June 17, 2009

5 tips for choosing the right stroller.

Whether you call it a stroller, pram, baby buggy, carriage, perambulator or a pushchair, picking the baby-mover that you will trust to carry around your most precious cargo is no small decision. Should you get a light little umbrella-style, or a heavy-duty ATV looking job? What about a jogger or one developed by some young cutting-edge designer? There are so many different choices available today that a parent can get to feeling quite overwhelmed with the amount of research there is to do. Here are a few things you can do to help you narrow down your search more quickly.

1. Get a car seat-frame for the first few months.
For the first few months your baby will spend a lot of time in a car seat. Those car seats are heavy, bulky and hard to handle. Taking your baby in and out of a car seat can be difficult and frustrating for you both, so you may want to get a stroller frame that you can simply attach your baby's car seat to. They are lightweight and inexpensive and can save you both a lot of time and effort.

2. Evaluate your lifestyle.
If you are the type of parent who will be heading out for long outings on a fairly regular basis, you will want a stroller with a big basket, and easy turning capability, if you are more of a fashionista, a cutting edge design will suit you better. If you are really outdoorsy, an all-terrain style will be best, joggers will benefit from a jogging stroller (obviously) and impulsive families who like to travel a lot or run out for a quick visit to the park at a moments notice would be better off with a lightweight umbrella-style one. Of course it is possible to find strollers which straddle a few different categories, but if you take a good look at how your stroller needs to fit your lifestyle before you start shopping you will save yourself a lot of confusion.

3. Prioritize your most desired features.
There are certain features that most parents look for in strollers, like awnings, easily collapsible, weight, size, food tray, cup holder, fully recline-able and quality of construction. Some of these features are available on at least a few types of every style of stroller, but not all of them, so it is good to know which ones are less important, and which ones you cannot live without. For me an awning and fully recline-able seat are paramount because napping is so much easier with these two features. For many parents a food tray may not be very important because they don't anticipate needing to feed their child while she is riding in the push-cart. Whatever your personal list of important features are, if you have the ones which matter most to you in mind while shopping, it will greatly simplify the process.

4. Shop within your budget.
The perfect stroller is almost always available for hundreds of dollars. It sometimes seems that the more perfect it is the more expensive it is. However, with a sharp eye for the most important features, and a preferred style in mind, staying within your budget should be completely attainable. Besides the top designer brands, there are knockoffs available which nevertheless have a wide range of features and styles to choose from. You don't even need to sacrifice style in many instances because there are several sites where people sell covers for all kinds of strollers made from beautiful and creative fabrics.

5. Let durability be your deciding factor.
I think the single most important thing to keep in mind when shopping for a stroller is durability. Durability translates into monetary savings and safety for your precious little passenger. If you can find a stroller that will grow with your child as well, it will also save you money, but only if it is durable enough to last through the abuse that it is likely to suffer as it is tossed in and out of trunks, tumbled through the airline baggage system and taken on countless excursions through every type of terrain. A quality brand I can recommend which is on the less expensive end of the spectrum is "Safety 1st", they use high-quality materials, and have a fairly good range of features available as well.

After you have a short list of a few contenders for the title of burp-buggy-extraordinaire, you might find yourself at an impasse between two similar push-carts. This site is great for helping to differentiate between similar strollers in your price range. It rates strollers on durability, has honest parent reviews and makes quick easy comparisons between strollers based on size, weight, price and design. This site is the best resource I have found for choosing the right stroller, though there are more out there, as well as many review blogs and of course Consumer Reports. I hope these tips prove helpful (for my personal choice in strollers look here). I've received so many requests for stroller advice over the last couple of weeks that I wanted to give parents some really good tried and true ideas for how to make the right decision for them when it comes to strollers. Please share these tips with any new or expecting parents you might know, and feel free to leave questions or comments. Happy parenting!

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