Types of Strollers
Traditional, full-size strollers occupy a sweet spot for many families. They include a wide range of features, including ample sunshades, cup holders, snack trays, reclining seats, and car seat adapters. Some pricier models even offer bassinets for tiny babies or ride-on boards for older kids. Comfort and performance can vary depending on how much you spend, but a traditional stroller will generally beat an umbrella stroller (but maybe not a jogging stroller) in both categories. Keep in mind that the more fully featured you go, the heavier and bulkier your stroller is likely to be. If weight or storage space is a consideration, look into umbrella strollers; if you want to run with your stroller, look at jogging strollers.
If you're short on storage space, travel a lot, or simply want the lightest stroller possible, an umbrella stroller will probably fit the bill. Umbrella strollers boast compact folds that won't take up too much space in your trunk or garage. Though most umbrella strollers will at least have a sunshade and maybe a storage basket, you may sacrifice other features that would add too much bulk. Umbrella strollers are also meant for use on even, flat surfaces -- the basic wheels won't be able to handle much else. Some may not accommodate car seats or recline flat for naps, making them unsuitable for infants.
A jogging stroller can let you squeeze in a workout while your baby benefits from some fresh air. Jogging strollers are among the sturdiest strollers available: Most have a shock-absorption system, air-filled tires that further minimize bumps, and a lockable or fixed front wheel that won't wobble at higher speeds. However, they can be quite bulky in a trunk or a crowded store. Also, experts say a child should be between 6 and 8 months, and have full head control, before jogging with them. Until then, stick to walking.
Strollers are a frequently-recalled item due to
various safety issues. The most recent recall, in March 2017, involved more
than 700,000 Britax and BOB strollers due to a fall hazard when using the
stroller as a travel system. The issue is the "Click and Go" receiver
mounts that attach the car seat to the stroller; they can fail and cause the
car seat to disengage. Consumers should immediately stop using the stroller/car
seat as a travel system, although both can be used separately. If you already
own a Britax or BOB stroller, you can see if your model is affected here.
If you are thinking of buying a used stroller, be sure it has not been
subjected to a recall, either this one or in a past recall. You can find that
information at CSPC.gov.
Finding The Best Strollers
"Strollers, Diaper Bags, and Other Gear to Go"
"Best Baby Strollers of 2016"
"Traditional Stroller Ratings"
Expert tests and reviews of strollers are abundant. Most helpful are
hands-on tests from sites like BabyGearLab.com, ConsumerReports.org, TheNightlight.com
and Good Housekeeping. BabyCenter.coms's Mom Picks Awards also provide a quick
snapshot of the strollers most parents prefer. Amazon.com is the most helpful
site for owner feedback, offering hundreds of parents' perspectives on how
their strollers stand up to day-to-day and abuse. To pick the best strollers,
we evaluated these reviews by focusing on durability, ease of use, lifestyle
considerations and safety.
The best full-featured
The (Est. $259) hits all the
stroller sweet spots, reviewers say: It's lightweight, it's a snap to fold, and
it maneuvers like a dream. The three-wheeled City Mini also has a full
recline, so it can accommodate children from birth, and it tops out at 50
pounds. It weighs 17.6 pounds – not too shabby for a full-sized stroller.
Note that in spite of its name, the City Mini is not a jogging stroller,
something that seems to confuse many reviewers. You should never jog with a
stroller that is not specifically made for jogging.
The City Mini's biggest selling point is its easy, one-handed fold that
reviewers say is as simple as can be. It also folds compactly enough to fit in
most car trunks. The seat recline is a one-step, one-handed move; the front
wheel locks for more stable strolling, and the rear wheels pop off easily with
the push of a button. The harness can be adjusted from the front of the seat so
there is no rethreading. The seat is machine washable, but must be air-dried
attached to the frame to keep the fabric from shrinking. This stroller is narrow
and maneuverable enough to navigate cramped store aisles, while the locking EVA
wheels can handle rougher terrain.
One of reviewers' favorite features is the City Mini's huge SPF 50+ canopy
with ventilation and two windows. The storage basket below the seat will fit a
medium-size diaper bag, but it is a bit hard to access because of the stroller
frame, note BabyGearLab testers. The handle is not adjustable and can be
uncomfortable to grip, they also say. A mesh pocket on the back allows parents
to stow essentials. A variety of accessories are available to pimp the ride,
including a (Est. $160), (Est. $200), (Est. $20) and (Est. $70). The stroller is compatible with several car
seats with optional adapters (Est. $30 - $60).
The City Mini comes with all the safety features you'd expect in a
high-end stroller, plus some. It has a padded five-point harness, and the
"strangely designed" buckle is hard to release – though this applies to
parents, not just tots, according to BabyGearLab. There are one-touch linked
brakes. The front-wheel suspension keeps your baby from too much jostling.
four-wheel (Est. $840) comes with some luxury
touches that make it one of the most comfortable rides on the market. At
27½ pounds, it's not for the suburban parent who needs to frequently lift
it in and out of a trunk, but it could be ideal for an urban dweller who puts
serious mileage on a stroller. An included bassinet means you can use the Vista
from birth, and the regular stroller seat accommodates children up to 50
pounds. For parents who want to use the regular stroller seat with a newborn,
the optional (Est. $40) insert should be
Reviewers say the Vista is
very easy to push and maneuver, and its front- and rear-wheel suspension ensure
a smooth ride for babies. While it's not difficult to fold or unfold, it does
require two hands. It locks and stands when folded. The seat has five recline
positions and reverses so that your baby can face toward you. Fabric is
removable and washable, and the bassinet mattress comes with a zip-out liner.
The adjustable handlebar is particularly good for tall parents, and there's no
rear axle to accidentally kick. Wheel and brake levers operate with a simple
touch of a button.
The Vista really shines
when it comes to features: It has a large, accessible basket that Meg Collins
of LuciesList.com calls "the best on the market." The full-coverage canopy has SPF
50+ fabric. A rain shield and bug shield come with the stroller, too. There are
several accessories available, including a (Est. $180)
that turns the Vista into a double stroller, a (Est. $120), a (Est. $40), an (Est. $25) and a (Est. $25). If you have an (Est. $300),
it will click in without an adapter; adapters for Maxi-Cosi and Chicco car
seats are available separately (Est. $45).
The Vista has a padded
five-point harness and swing-away bumper bar. The bassinet and seat attach
securely to the stroller base with red/green indicators to assure a safe
attachment. The Vista has one-touch linked brakes, and the wheels can swivel or
lock for extra stability. BabyGearLab's tests put this stroller at average risk
for tip-overs, but parents always need to be cautious about hanging items from
Buyers interested in a used
Vista will want to note that UPPAbaby recalled about 71,000 strollers,
including the Vista, in 2015 because children were able to bite off pieces of
the foam bumper-bar covering, posing a choking hazard. Affected models were
sold from December 2014 through July 2015. Check model numbers with the Consumer Product Safety Commission; if it's on the list, UPPAbaby will provide a
free bumper bar cover that you can request on their website.
A great budget stroller
If you're on a tight
budget, take heart: The four-wheel (Est. $85) shows that a good
workhorse stroller doesn't need to cost an arm and a leg. It has great features
for the price, including a one-hand, self-standing fold, multi-position
recline, and parent and child convenience tray. At 18½ pounds, it's also
relatively light for a traditional stroller and weighs the same as the pricier
Britax B-Agile 3. It accommodates children up to 50 pounds, but does not have a
full recline, so is not suitable for infants who do not yet have full head
control. However, they can ride in an attached car seat until that time.
The Verb requires more
assembly than pricier strollers, but parents say it's easy to put together. The
stroller has a one-handed standing fold that reviewers praise for its ease,
though some warn that it still takes up a decent amount of space in a trunk
when folded. There is a suspension system to smooth out bumps and the wheels
lock for greater maneuverability on rough surfaces. Compatible Graco car seats
attach easily with the Click Connect system.
The Verb boasts
included cup holders as well as parent and baby trays -- features that cost
extra on our pricier stroller picks. The baby tray is removable. The sun canopy
looks to be a bit skimpier than some others, and some parents complain that the
medium-size storage basket can be hard to access when a car seat is attached to
the stroller. The Verb accepts all Graco SnugRide Click Connect car seats.
There are no adapters for other car seat brands.
five-point harness and individually locking rear brakes, the Verb checks the
major safety boxes, but note that the brakes aren't as convenient as one-touch
linked brakes common on more expensive strollers. Tip-over tests aren't available,
but parents should avoid hanging bags or putting too much weight on any stroller