Before choosing a stroller, consider the following:
The dimensions of your trunk or closet: Whether you live in the city or the suburbs, the stroller has to be stored and/or transported. Measure the trunk of your car or the closet it will be stored in to be sure the stroller you purchase fits inside. Folded specs are available for virtually all strollers on the manufacturer's website or by calling customer service. If you shop in person, take a tape measure.
Your strength: Be sure you know how much weight you can lift and whether you can comfortably lift that weight multiple times in a day if necessary. City folk should ensure they can carry 17 or more pounds in one hand while cradling an infant in the other as they get on a bus or climb stairs in the subway. Make sure the stroller has a strap, handle or some other comfortable way to carry it.
Number of years you expect to own the stroller: The weight ratings on a stroller are an important guide to when you can start using it and how long its usefulness will last. Some strollers won't accommodate an infant without a car seat or bassinet, so you might not be able to use the stroller seat until 3 to 6 months. If your children tend to be taller or larger, look for a higher weight rating so they won't outgrow the stroller by age 3.
How often you plan to use your stroller: If you plan to use the stroller a lot, be on the lookout for comfort features like a well-padded seat for older children. Infants shouldn't be in a car seat for long periods, so consider a bassinet. If your children are close in age, an optional standing board is a convenient feature.
Your environment and circumstances: Some strollers work well only on smooth terrain. If you have to walk over gravel, in light snow, on playground mulch or through grass, look for a stroller with hard rubber or foam wheels that can lock, which are appropriate for challenging terrain. If you take your baby on a lot of errands, choose a compact stroller with a narrow wheel base that's easy to maneuver; ample storage is another plus. If you walk long distances, look for all-wheel suspension and an easy push. If you take public transport, be sure you can fold the stroller easily with one hand.
The following stroller shopping tips are based on common issues we see on consumer-review websites:
There's always something happening in the world of strollers. For example, Maclaren is under a bit of a cloud, with a large number of its strollers having been recalled twice for the same issue -- potential fingertip amputations. The company filed for bankruptcy in December 2011, and it has also been rumored that the brand will be liquidated. Although Maclaren isn't included in this report because they mostly make umbrella strollers, we suggest holding off on buying a Maclaren until the mess is sorted out.
In better news, Joovy is set to become the U.S. distributor for British stroller Micralite. The new products will carry the Joovy name, so there will no longer be a Micralite brand in the States. Joovy plans to carry the TwoFold, which Micralite first unveiled at the 2011 Kind + Jugend trade show in Cologne, Germany. This versatile, super-light (19 pounds) single to double stroller is tentatively scheduled for release in late 2012. No word yet on the Micralite Toro or Super-Lite, but a Joovy spokesperson says they're considering updating those models with a better canopy and will probably distribute both at some point.
Graco has discontinued several of its most popular stroller models, including the top-rated MicroLite and the Mosaic. It will be interesting to see which of their new models come out on top.