Strollers are an extension of the parent, and the child. Unless you have a child already, a stroller should be required as a gift at a baby shower - firstborns are born with a stroller, basically. Why? Even stay-at-home parents are always on the move, and of course they have to bring their babies with them, and since they won't be able to walk for very long distances until they are at least three years old, a stroller will be a constant companion for you.
But let's get this out of the way now - you can't predict what the next three years will hold, so you probably should expect to buy or need more than one stroller. But how do you decide the ones you need and how to find the right one specifically?
We have some handy-dandy tips for you so you can make the best decision for you and your growing family.
First, understand your uses. Do you expect to do a lot of shopping or errand-running with your baby? Will you take runs or walks or head into the mountains? The types of activities you do more often will determine which type of stroller you need.
Know limitations. Of the six types of strollers, some of them are not made for children the full three years; they might only be used for a year or so, until the child can walk and is too big for the stroller. And yes, you might have to be open to buying two strollers for your purposes, so keep that in mind when you set your budget.
Safety. Be sure to inspect the stroller for small gaps, sharp edges or corners, and anything sticking up or out. Also pay attention to the openings for the legs; are they big enough that the baby could accidentally slide out?
Restraint. Babies can wiggle a lot, so keeping them in place is important. The best restraint system is a five-point harness system, so look for this.
Brakes. Do they work well? Test them in the store. The wheels should lock immediately when the brake is engaged - it's like an emergency brake on a car, keeping the stroller from rolling down a slope.
Agility. Is the storller easy to move around - can you turn the thing with one hand? The best ones are strollers that have both front and rear wheels that swivel.
Seat. Does the seat recline? Small babies usually are better in a near-flat seat, but once they are able to lift their heads and sit up, the seat may be adjusted comfortably. If it does not recline or is otherwise adjustable, it has limited use.
Canopy. If you expect to have the stoller out in the weather (sun, wind or rain) for periods of time, then a canopy would be a good addition.
Fabric. Is the fabric washable?
Storage. Can a diaper bag fit under the seat?
Handles. Can they be adjusted to fit the pusher? Most strollers are designed to have handles at the height of the waist of an aveage woman - but can they be adjusted for everyone who is not an average woman?
A professional can help you determine which type of stroller would work best for you, and you can then break down all the strollers in that category using the above criteria. Prices will be all over the map depending on the type of stroller you buy, but you could spend as little as $10 up to $1,000 or more, so make sure you understand the type of stroller you need so you can accurately budget. Happy shopping!