bugaboo-bee-strollerWhat do i have to consider when buying a stroller? I get that question a lot. Especially from friends who have kids after i did and are clueless about what to look out for when shopping for a stroller. I totally get it. There are so many brands, types, shapes and sizes and it seriously can get overwhelming. I know, i have been there.

So i am going try to attempt knowledge transfer today and come up with a “What to look out for when buying a stroller” guide.

There is no perfect stroller in the world, because everyone has different expectations and requirements and before you get out there to shop for a stroller, set a few key considerations for yourself for evaluation. Here’s my list of what to consider when buying stroller.

1. Budget 

The economical me just had to place this at the no. 1 place for consideration – Budget. Strollers can range from 99 bucks to thousands of dollars (i.e travel systems) so determining a range of budget that is comfortable on your pocket could potentially cut down a lot of the choices available for consideration. For me, I won’t spend anything more than S$500-600 range simply because i didn’t think i would need an expensive stroller.

2. Stroller Weight 

Stroller weight is also a big consideration when shopping for strollers. For me, i prefer lightweight strollers or something that i would be able to manage myself when i am alone. Imagine the scenario when you have to carry the baby and the diaper bag, and at the same handle the stroller. Surely one mum can only take that much weight unless you are a professional weight lifter. 5-8kg works for me. I need to be able to carry it together with baby and diaper bag and that is as much as i can handle (imagine the scenario when u reach a flight of stairs). The husband used to travel quite a bit and i’m mostly alone so i am kinda adamant in this area and this also brings me to the next point.

3. Sturdiness of stroller 

The weight would determine somewhat, the sturdiness of the stroller. The make of the stroller is another factor in this. The materials used in manufacturing the stroller makes a difference. The stroller needs to carry the precious baby – one that we mums carry in our stomachs for 9 months (or more) before giving birth to them. Surely a sturdy stroller is required to ensure their safety while they are lying or sitting in one.

4. Safety 

Strollers need to be safe for the kids. 5-point harness is what i would look for in strollers – it keeps kids belted in safely, and the risk of having them climb out or escaping from the stroller or falling out is very very slim. That said, my monkey is fully capable of escaping from a 5-point harness as well, but that’s another story for another time.

5. One-hand opening & closing 

The stroller needs to be opened with one hand, and easily collapse and close with one hand. I need to emphasize on this point because when I previously told my friend about one-hand closing, she got a stroller that can only be opened using 2 hands, but with one hand closing and i thought it was real stupid. I meant the stroller, not my friend. My friend was after all, a new mum. So in the same scenario as the weight issue, you wont have the luxury of 2 hands to handle the stroller with the baby and the diaper bag with you. Sure, you can place the diaper bag on the ground but what about the baby? ’nuff said right? Don’t think you’ll ever will experience this scenario where you will be alone with baby and stroller and have no hands? Don’t doubt because when it WILL happen.

6. Handles type (single bar handle vs umbrella curved handles) and handle height

Single bar handle is a great help when you only have one hand to push the stroller along, while the umbrella handles may make it slightly harder to navigate with one hand when you potentially need to, but still do-able (ok, depending on the make of the stroller but i have had an OK experience). So you judge for yourself what is more comfortable, though strollers with umbrella handles are collapsible, so you might want to consider the trade-off.  Most importantly, the handle height is the one that matters a lot more to me. Having a stroller with a good handle height that doesn’t requires me to slouch while pushing the stroller is important. There are strollers that comes with adjustable handles too so you might want to consider them if there is a huge difference in height between spouses.

7. Ease of maneuvering

Brainless point. The stroller needs to move and the ease of maneuvering makes a difference. Test drive the strollers before buying them. Stimulate scenarios where you have to mount curbs, cut corners, reverse and feel the difference in the ease of maneuvering. Test drive with the baby in it or simply throw in a heavy bag for the effect. I personally feel that strollers with 4-wheel drive (4wd) are a lot easier to maneuver around. 4wd meaning all 4 wheels can turn in all directions as compared to front wheels turning only.

8. Fully Reclining Seats or not? 

Fully reclining seats – used for babies that are newborn, and when the kids are sleeping. I am a huge believer of fully reclining seats – You can use the stroller from newborn stage all the way to a toddler or preschooler. Bigger kids sleep better in them too, but not all strollers have fully reclining seats so its something to consider when making your stroller purchase.

9. Central locking system 

Locking systems are useful things. They keep the stroller in position and will not roll away on a slope or on a moving train. Strollers have locking systems that are central (automatically lock both wheels) or single wheel locking system. I most definitely recommend strollers with central locking system simply for the convenience.

10. Durability 

Material used in the strollers. I feel strongly for well-made strollers that can last a lifetime (joking!). The strollers need to be durable enough to last a few good years (2 years?) and not wear and tear easily. Some are made of stainless steel and metals while some are made from cheap plastic and of cos, the prices varies. I personally would love a stroller that is durable and can preferably let my kid use for as long as possible, which brings me to the next point.

11. Ability to “grow” with the kid – Fitting the needs of a growing child. 

Reclining seats is one of the factors. Removable infant inserts, leg extensions, adjustable seat belts, weight that the stroller can hold up till are factors to consider to determine how much use you can make out of your purchase.

12. Washability 

Strollers can get very dirty – milk stains, food stains, vomits, pee stains, potentially poop stains if one gets real unlucky. Sometimes, one do strike lottery and have bird droppings showering down on your stroller as well. You want to have the ability to be able to wash the stroller – remove the fabric parts for cleaning. Hygiene and baby goes hand in hand, no?

13. Stroller Canopy – Full/half or no? 

Baby skin are extremely tender and soft and you might want to keep them out from as much harsh sunlight as possible when outdoors. There are half and full canopies, or even no canopy on some strollers so you have to take these into consideration when making your stroller purchase. I’m a firm believer for strollers with full canopy – rain or shine, my baby is covered!

While i’m on the topic of canopy, i thought maybe i should also cover on the availability of rain covers. Check on the availability of the rain cover for the stroller model that you are looking it. Rain covers can be useful things if you reside in an area where rain happens frequently.

14. Storage basket 

I like the idea of strollers with storage basket so this is one key consideration for me. The bigger the better, because i would love to be as hands-free as possible when handling the stroller to ensure safety. Sure, most strollers do come with somewhat of a storage space. Think about what those storage space would be good for – diaper bags, random items like milk bottles, wet wipes, etc and also think about the accessibility of those storage baskets. Can they be easily accessed? Some strollers have baskets that are completely blocked out if the stroller is in a recline position and are deemed useless while others are good enough to dump the entire diaper bag and ease the load off your shoulders.

15. Safety reflectors 

You would have realized by now that i’m somewhat a safety nazi. I would most definitely prefer my strollers have safety reflectors – those silvery strips that reflect light when something shines into them because it aids the visibility of the stroller. Its especially useful in dark areas and on a typical day, warn vehicles of the presence of the stroller and help prevent accidents.

16. How the stroller collapse/fold?

What about it you say? Well, this could be a minor point for most, but a major consideration set for some. It is related to the topic of cleanliness/hygiene. Some strollers collapse with the wheels together away from the seat/canopy while some strollers collapse with wheels touching the canopy and you know how dirty the wheels can get. I know of some who aren’t really impressed with dirt on the canopy over their babies’ head while some are perfectly ok with the occasional cleaning.

17. Lifestyle 

I hope you guys are still reading! Lastly, the stroller needs to fit into the lifestyle of the user. There are so many types of strollers – travel systems, standard or lightweight buggies, joggers, umbrella strollers etc. You might want to consider your lifestyle before narrowing down the type of stroller to get. E.g. Do you exercise often and require a jogger stroller to fit your fitness routine? Do you travel often and need a lightweight stroller? The standard buggy that works for most situations?

For me, the standard buggy works best and i find them most flexible in all situations that i am in.

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I hope this is a useful checklist for existing parents or parents-to-be who are considering a stroller purchase. I spent a lot of time doing research when i bought my first stroller and subsequently decided that there are so much science to  it and i want to share the knowledge that i have acquired through all my stroller experiences. I may or may not own the perfect stroller, but i want to equip parents with the knowledge and that everyone can decide what is the best stroller for them.

If you do like this post, do share it with your friends! You can also follow me on facebook or subscribe to the blog (see bottom of sidebar on right). If you have a question or two, drop me a comment and i’ll be happy to share all that i know! Till my next blog post, bye!