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How to Pick the Best Stroller

No stroller is going to be great for everything you'll do in the coming years. So, take a little time thinking about what you most need.


FROM WOMB TO WHEELS - AGE PLAYS A ROLE

    Birth to six months is the period where your child doesn't have adequate head and neck control for an upright stroller. You'll need to find a stroller onto which you can attach your infant seat, one that has a bassinet, or one rated for newborns.

    From 6+ months and older, the stroller world really opens up to you! Unless your baby has special needs, she or he can ride in nearly any stroller out there.

    Caution when jogging! Pediatricians warn against too much jarring until your baby has very good head/neck control, usually around 10 months.

WALK MUCH?

    If you'll be using a stroller daily for more than just going from your car into a store, you'll love having one that is comfortable and smooth to push. Neighborhood walks and paths are so much more enjoyable with a great rolling stroller.

    This is where trying out hands-on pushing is tough to replace with online browsing. If purchasing online, be SURE you read reviews on how a stroller pushes and handles prior to making a purchase (on PeppyParents.com, we've already done all that work for you!).

    Generally, larger wheels mean easier pushing. Real rubber tires mean better handling. Suspension (shock absorbers) mean smoother ride. On-board engines mean less work (okay, we made up the one about the engine).

    If you don't intend to use a stroller as much more than a car-into-store-back-to-car device, it's not as critical to worry about the ride.

SIZE MATTERS! AND SO DOES WEIGHT.

    The lightest good quality stroller available is around 8 pounds -- about the weight of a gallon of water. And, full-sized, full-featured strollers can tip the scales past 30 pounds.

    Think about how often you'll be lifting the stroller up stairs, into your car, or into a closet. If it's something you'll be doing daily, try to balance weight with features and performance.

    Generally speaking, lighter weight strollers have less features and a less refined ride. They're typically smaller and might have a less comfortable seat for your baby. The lightweights might also lack some convenient adjustments too. The ONLY reason to get an ultra lightweight (i.e., under 10 pounds) stroller is for frequent car errands or travel.

    If you find a full-featured, full-size standard stroller that is under 20 pounds, you're doing well.

    Expect the very lightest all-terrain stroller to tip the scales at 20 pounds, as well as the very lightest joggers.

    As far as size, look at the folded size when making your decision. Even if weight is the same, it's much easier to lift, carry, and store a stroller that is less bulky when folded.

AND NOW, THE FEATURE PRESENTATION

    All the features are where it really gets more confusing, as no stroller has all of them. Here are some of the more popular ones:

    • Reverse handle or seat -- this lets you face your baby as you push. Very sweet.

    • Cupholder -- if not included, don't despair! You can buy universal-fit cupholders.

    • Storage basket -- you're going to need it for snacks, diapers, wipees, bottles. The bigger, the better.

    • Sun Canopy -- unless you live deep in a shaded forest, sun protection is very important. Bigger sun canopies provide better protection.

    • Adjustable handle -- very important for parents who are under 5'3" or taller than 6". A nice feature for all other parents.

    • Reclining seat -- some strollers are easier to recline than others.

    • 5-point harness -- safety is paramount, and this is the safest type of harness.

    • Adjustable legrest -- one more way to make it more comfortable for your growing child.

    • Bumper bar -- (also called grab bar, toy bar) handy for securing toys in front of your baby while you stroll. Toddlers enjoy it too.

    • Snack tray-- popular on American brands, but not on many others.

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