Some people wait to get a stroller until their baby is a few months old, by which time they have a better sense of daily needs and rhythms. It’s definitely true that at that point you’ll have a clearer idea about what works for your actual life (as opposed to your imagined life), and truth is, you can easily get by the first several months with baby-wearing and using the infant car seat in a basic frame (recommendations on that below). Other folks, though, want to take advantage of the registry and get a few of those big-ticket items knocked off the list early on by eager-to-help, generous relatives and friends. Whichever way you go, a few things to consider:
Duh, right? But figure out what you have to spend because strollers run the gamut and can be had at all price points. Are you planning on this thing lasting for a second or even third kid, because if so, splurging could make more sense — as could investing in a stroller that converts to a double. (Keep in mind that second-hand strollers are pretty easy to come by at consignment shops or on Craigslist, though you’ll always want to check safety record.)
Where will you store it each day and how will you get rolling each day? A mud porch or garage at street level is a whole different ball of wax from a narrow fifth floor walk-up. And will you be tossing the stroller into your car for outings pretty regularly? Depending on your specific situation, weight and foldability may be key factors, or they may end up being not such big considerations.
Are you in a city and walking everywhere, or are you mostly driving places — meaning your baby will often be in his/her car seat? Instead of crowdsourcing and getting stroller-inspiration by sending an email blast to all your college friends far and wide, check out the parents right in your area who likely have a similar day-to-day lifestyle to yours. Talk to other moms in your neighborhood; chances are you can learn from their choices.
Think of your stroller frame as the precursor to a real stroller. It’s a straightforward, bare-bones set of wheels that holds an infant car seat so you can wheel your infant around town for the first months of life until they’re big and sturdy enough to sit in a standard stroller. (Alternatively, you can, from the beginning, buy a standard stroller that accommodates an infant car seat using an adapter).
These frames are not meant to be as sophisticated or dexterous as actual strollers, but they serve their purpose for the short-term, and are lightweight, compact, easy to maneuver, and easy to close/open and throw into the back of your car.
Note: The frame you choose will usually be dictated by the infant car seat you choose, to ensure compatibility. So, get the car seat first, then get the frame to go with.
Pros: Lightweight, which is particularly important if you’ve had a C-section or need to lug the thing up and down stairs everyday; One-handed fold and carry; Compact (lies flat); Roomy storage basket underneath for diaper bag, groceries, et al; Works with a very reputable and popular car seat, the Chicco Keyfit; Satisfying “click” when car seat is secure in frame; Parent tray with cup holders; Adjustable handle
Cons: No shock absorption, so not great for long walks on bumpy terrain (and also not intended for that); Does not stand on its own when folded (but this is not essential, nor to be expected for this category and price point)
Pros: Economical; Accepts all Baby Trend car seats as well as models from several other major brands; Parent tray holds two cups and has space for your keys and phone; Large mesh storage basket
Cons: Ride can get rough for baby on uneven sidewalks or on gravel; Car seat doesn’t “snap in” but instead uses safety belts that you clip around the car seat, so some find that it doesn’t feel as secure as they want
A good umbrella/travel stroller — ideal for vacations, for public transit, for being that extra stroller you keep in the car — should be lightweight, easy to fold, and easy to carry. First thing to figure out: How important is a reclining seat? If you’re just using this stroller for quick trips and travel, a reclining feature may not be essential, but if you’ll be on longer walks and need to accommodate baby’s naps in it, you may want a seat that reclines (Kolcraft, Maclaren). And if you’ll be going up and down a lot of stairs and/or traveling, a stroller that folds up easily and has a sturdy carrying strap will be essential (Uppababy). Note: The storage basket is small on all the following models; this is standard for the category.
Pros: Great value, featuring many features at a very reasonable price; Lightweight (12 lbs); Sunshade has a peekaboo window so you can check on your child without having to stop; Parent tray with two cup holders and removable child tray with cup holder; Reclining seat; One-handed folding
Cons: Assembly requires significantly more work than other umbrella strollers
This is a very basic, lightweight aluminum umbrella stroller that’s really meant for traveling, as it’s more utilitarian than most. It has several features to it that make it truly usable for families on the go. This stroller is usable from 6 months up to 50 lbs.
Pros: Easy assembly; Carry strap; Stands when folded (which helps with storage options); excellent storage including diaper bag hooks, side and toy pockets and cup holders; Parent cup holder is removable; Step-on hands-free wheel brakes; Recline has 3 positions and can be adjusted one-handed; Good maneuverability; Wheels can be set to lock or swivel; Peekaboo window; Removable back panel for hot weather
Cons: Handlebars are not adjustable; Padding can’t be removed so must spot-clean; At 17.5 lbs, large for this category of stroller, then again, it comes with more features than most basic travel/ umbrella models; When folded is narrow but still long, so check trunk length to make sure it fits
UPPAbaby is known for sleek, modern design, trendy jewel-tone colors and fabrics, modular seating (i.e. seating that you can use front or rear-facing), and super-smooth ride regardless of terrain thanks to a spring-action suspension system. Their strollers are well-made, durable, and therefore more expensive than some other brands, especially when you consider that various add-on accessories are sold separately. But the cost gets you plenty of perks aside from the aesthetics: The seat back goes higher than other brands, and the footrest goes deeper. Green indicators on the front wheels give you a visual signal when the wheels are locked and unlocked. The canopy is generous and has been redesigned to allow additional fabric to zip out to create an extension. (And parents love the mesh peek-a-boo window.) The storage basket is one of the roomiest of any stroller.
If you want a stroller that you can use with a newborn without a car seat, the Vista V2 is a great option because of its bassinet. It is a well-designed bassinet and can detach from the stroller with one hand — and provides a lovely nap spot in the stroller or in the house. Babies love it and it looks sleek and purty (i.e. not like typical baby gear). If you think you’ll have another kid or two at some point, consider the Vista, as it converts to a double stroller, with several different configuration options.
If you’re looking for a more compact stroller that can navigate both crowded city streets and go off-roading, check out the Cruz V2. At 25.5 lbs it’s not as light as it was before the redesign, but, still, it’s not huge for a standard stroller and can be a good choice if you plan to take your stroller in and out of the car a lot (it folds compactly), or even up and down stairs some. You can use the Cruz for a newborn – you’ll just be doing so with the car seat and an adapter. Unlike the Vista, the Cruz does not convert to a double stroller in the formal sense, though you can use it for two children using a “piggyback board” that the older child can stand on. Love the sunshade with UV protection and peekaboo window.
The City Mini 2 is ubiquitous in many cities; moms love it because it is relatively lightweight (under 19 lbs) and easy to fold up with one hand with just the pull of a strap (and the auto lock will lock the fold automatically). This is a great stroller for active parents, but note that it’s not an actual jogging stroller, despite the name.
Pros: Three wheels with front wheel suspension; Handles flat sidewalks and rough terrain well; Can steer with one hand; Sun canopy has peekaboo window and SPF 50; Adjustable calf support; Seat reclines to near flat and holds up to 65 lbs so can work with older kids; Adjustable handles makes it great for all parent heights; Peekaboo window on canopy; Value; Can be used with an infant car seat via adapter sold separately (supports many car seats); Easy assembly
Cons: Slightly wider than its predecessor at 25 inches so tight doorways or corners can be a squeeze: handbrake is less convenient than a foot brake when you’re on the go with your hands full; Can’t sit your child fully upright, so seat can be frustrating for a toddler who wants to sit straight up; Parent console sold separately ($30); Child safety harness is secure but does not include a sturdy bar (likely due to folding mechanism – but you can buy an extra child drink/snack tray); Storage basket is on the small side; Texturized/rubberized grip on handlebar is hard and can crack over time (other models have more cushion on the handlebar)
Pros: Reclines well (to almost flat) so good for napping kids; Lots of storage space between storage bin and 7 pockets; Easy assembly; three wheels to handle bumpy terrain; high weight limit (65 lbs); One- handed folding; Adapts to Britax car seat with adapter pieces included; Large SPF canopy provides good coverage
Cons: Handle is adjustable but not in the up/down direction, so not ideal for tall people; Grip is a little sticky; One-handed folding takes a bit of maneuvering; 5-point safety harness is safe, but there is no bar for the child to hold on to like on some other models (due to fold up mechanism); On the heavier side (22 lbs); Rain cover not included; Caddy not included; The adapters that come with the B-Free stroller are only compatible with the Britax Infant Car Seats
The Mercedes of jogging strollers: so smooth, super functional, and little ones are really comfortable in it (you would be too). This stroller holds up to 75 lbs, which means that you can use it for years.
Pros: If you’re actually jogging or even doing a lot of walking, you’re going to appreciate its niiiice roll thanks to the suspension system and air-filled tires; Seat adjusts from fully upright to near-flat; Adjustable and foam-covered handle bars: Front wheel can lock or move; Underneath basket storage is ample plus 5 other storage areas including cell phone area; 2 pockets for snacks; Easy enough 2-step fold; Wrist strap; Large, multi-position canopy with magnet-closing peekaboo window; Plays nicely with other car seat brands (Britax, Chicco, Peg) with the use of an adapter; adjust height of the seat straps easily (no re-thread harness);
Cons: Large for an everyday stroller (not wide per se, but long); Heavy at 27lbs (though all true joggers are relatively heavy compared with other strollers); Front wheel is large, so even folded, the stroller still takes up a fair amount of space and may not fit in all car trunks, though wheels can be removed; switch from fixed front wheel to swivel can be slightly cumbersome; seat fabric is not removable for cleaning
Think of this like a Kia (no offense to Kia) in that it’s the value option, which in the jogging stroller category is very important to have since a model like this one makes the category accessible to more people. Just be aware that it won’t age as well as the BOB.
Pros: Multi-position recline including a nearly flat setting; Easy assembly; Front wheel can be locked or set to swivel; Child snack tray with cup holder; Parent console included (two cup holders); Wrist strap; Two foot brakes; Soft, padded handlebar; Large canopy with lots of adjustment options
Cons: No recline setting for sitting straight up; No adjustable handle; Narrow basket storage that’s difficult to access; No side padding (seat could be more padded in general); Some users report a wobble on front wheel at high speeds; Bulky when folded