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Double strollers: Not just for twins anymore

A double stroller gives you the freedom to be on the go with more than one child in tow. Parents with twins, closely spaced children or even children who are a few years apart may want to be sure they have space for two to avoid meltdowns from tired walkers.

There are three types of double strollers: side-by-side, tandem and convertible. As the name implies, a side-by-side seats children next to each other. This makes the stroller wider, but the length is usually about the same as a single stroller. A tandem stroller positions children one behind the other, making the stroller long and narrow. A convertible stroller is a single that becomes a double (or triple) with a few added components. Convertibles work in different ways: Some allow you to attach a second seat above or below the main seat; others have a bench or platform for an older child to sit or stand on; some have both. With their unconventional design, convertible strollers are generally less bulky and more versatile than tandems and side-by-sides.

A side-by-side stroller is a good choice for twins or children close in age or size, because steering will be easiest when the weight is more equally distributed. Side-by-sides are wider, taking up a lot of room on sidewalks. They may not fit through narrow doorways and can be tricky to maneuver through small, crowded areas. However, side-by-sides go up and down curbs more easily than tandems. If you want both kids to be able to nap in the stroller, a side-by-side could be your best option because both seats on a side-by-side usually recline near flat. Another plus: In a side-by-side, children can see each other and interact -- although that also makes it easy for them to annoy each other.

A tandem stroller is ideal for a baby and older sibling, although some are good for twins as well. In its traditional form -- with two full-sized seats -- you can put the baby in the tandem's back seat (because it usually has a deeper recline) and the toddler in front for more legroom and a better view. With some tandems, the back seat can be replaced with a standing platform or small bench for older children. Generally, tandems fold to a more compact size than side-by-sides, and are slender enough to fit easily through doorways and grocery store aisles. But, because of their length, they can be hard to turn, especially in tight spaces. Tandems can also be difficult to lift up and down curbs, especially when the heavier child is in front.

Convertible strollers are best when you want the flexibility of having different seating configurations for any two kids. These versatile strollers can go from single to double, and back again. They often have interchangeable and reversible seats and bassinets that can be configured in a variety of different ways. Their unconventional design circumvents many of the problems associated with doubles -- that they can be too wide, too long, too heavy and hard to steer.

There are other double strollers that may better fit your lifestyle. If you like to run or hike with two children, check out the "best double strollers" in our jogging stroller report and all-terrain stroller report. Our umbrella stroller report is a must-read if stroller weight is your primary concern. If it's important that your stroller accommodates a car seat, read our car seat stroller report. Only need one seat? Our full-featured stroller report is for you.

Even the best-designed double stroller will be somewhat heavy, and they can be pricey. Expect to spend $350 to $500 for a quality double stroller. Strollers that are less than $200 are around, but you may regret not trading up. Those that top out at $700 or more are safe, luxurious indulgences -- if you can afford it.

Editors at ConsumerSearch analyze dozens of expert reviews of various double strollers to see which were most often recommended, then look at hundreds of consumer reviews to get feedback from parents and caregivers on which double strollers worked best for them (and which didn't). From there we compile our top picks of side-by-sides, tandems and convertible double strollers. Depending on your specific needs, one of these will transport your growing family safely and smoothly.

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