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In this report

A stroller is a nursery necessity

No matter where you live, you are probably going to need a stroller at some point. It's hard to shop, dine, sightsee or just take a long walk when you're holding a baby -- and baby will probably appreciate the chance to have his own space or lean back for a nap when he's out and about.

At the very least, a stroller should take a child from infancy to age 3 (approximately 33 to 37 pounds). Some models accommodate children up to 55 pounds. While super-light strollers like umbrella strollers are great, they don't recline enough for a newborn and are best for 6 months and older.

This report is aimed at helping you find THE ONE stroller that will last as long as your child needs a stroller. However, many parents want or need more than one stroller, and we can help there too: Perhaps a super lightweight umbrella stroller to keep in the trunk for emergencies or at grandma's house. Running families will need a jogging stroller, and an all-terrain stroller is a must for the rugged outdoors. Suburban parents often look for a stroller dedicated solely to hauling a child in a car seat. Maybe you even need a double stroller for your twins or two children close in age. Although, several of the strollers in this report convert to double or triple options.

The best strollers are infant car seat compatible. It's much easier to transport a sleeping baby if you don't have to remove him from the car seat. Most strollers are compatible with at least one brand of infant car seat; many are compatible with several brands. It's safest if the car seat "clicks" in rather than straps on. Since your child will only use an infant car seat for a few months, it's best to consider the stroller separately since you'll be using it a lot longer. Then, choose an infant car seat that is a good fit.

Many strollers have bassinets that are either optional or included. If you walk a lot, this may be a "must have" since the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child not spend too much time lying in a car seat due to the increase in positional plagiocephaly and brachycephaly in babies -- conditions commonly referred to as Flat Head Syndrome. Many higher-end strollers aimed at the urban parent include bassinets.

A good stroller should be safe and have a five-point harness with a buckle that can't be easily undone by a toddler. Bumper bars or baby trays add another level of security. One-touch, linked brakes are easiest to use, and a wrist strap is a nice extra. Generous canopies are becoming more common on strollers to shield the baby from the sun and prying eyes. It should have at least a medium storage basket that is easy to access. Included cup holders and a child or parent tray are something parents also appreciate, but many strollers require you to purchase those items separately -- even very expensive models.

Another feature parents love is an easy, one-handed fold. If you're a suburban parent who can pop your kid in the car to wait while you fold and store the stroller, this may not be a deal-breaker, but for the urban parent who has no place to set an infant while she folds a stroller for a bus or taxi ride, it should be.

We consider strollers weighing 17 pounds or less to fall into the lightweight category. If you have to lift your stroller in and out of a trunk a lot, or carry it up stairs to store it, weight should probably be one of your most important considerations, unless you have -- or want -- biceps of steel.

Strollers can range in price from less than $100 to more than $1,000. Cheap strollers aren't noted for durability or ease of use, yet a high price doesn't mean perfection. Some strollers at that upper price point are seriously lacking in important areas; they're hard to fold or don't include some basic convenience features. They can also be big to the point of being unsuitable for most situations. We found that a base price for a basic, quality stroller averages around $200 to $500, although bargains can be found. Crucial accessories, such as a car seat, will add to the price of any stroller. Quality infant car seats range in price from about $100 to $250. See our report on infant car seats for more information on safety and compatibility.

Consumer Search has analyzed hundreds of reviews to recommend the best basic and best luxury strollers. Within those categories, we take into account safety, ease of use, expansion capabilities and lifestyle factors. One of these strollers is sure to be a perfect fit for any family.

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