How to choose a stroller as a baby shower gift

Some lovely creative person has planned a baby shower for a beloved Mom-to-be. You didn’t want to cook, your art skills haven’t developed since summer camp and you don’t relish the hand cramps that come with hand addressing all those invitations. So, you volunteered to collect the money for the big gift.

The stroller.

Everyone has paid, and now you have a handful of cash and you are staring a tablet literally filled with hundreds of strollers. Should you get an umbrella stroller? A Jogger? What about those travel systems? Before you become completely overwhelmed and start having nightmares about being chased by tandem sit-n-stands, take a deep breath. We will look at some of the most popular models and types as well as who uses them. Then you can choose a stroller with confidence.

There are five basic types of strollers:

  • Lightweight Stollers
  • Full Size Strollers
  • Travel Systems
  • Jogger Strollers
  • Tandem Strollers

Lightweight Strollers

These are the easiest to fold and carry. They range from simple and inexpensive umbrella strollers to sturdier folding lightweights. These strollers often are little more than an aluminum frame with a sling for the child to sit in. They fold up to a very compact bundle, usually not much larger than a full-size umbrella. These are super easy to toss in the trunk of the car or carry upstairs.

But they have several drawbacks. First of all, they don’t have very secure straps to hold the child in place. This makes it dangerous for newborns. Also, they tend to have small wheels. This isn’t a problem if parents use the strollers on flat pavement. But the wheels will spin and catch on brick, cobblestones or grass. If they are stored incorrectly, the frame may easily bend, giving the stroller a lopsided feel. In addition, most lightweight strollers do not have adjustable handles. That means that the parents may find themselves bending to push the stroller. Finally, because they are so lightweight, you can never loop anything on the handle of the stroller. It will tip the stroller backwards, even with the child sitting in the seat.

These strollers are best as a backup stroller, but also work well in urban settings where the parents will be carrying the child on and off public transportation.

Full Size Strollers

This is what most people think of when they think “stroller”. These strollers fold up, but they are far larger and more substantial than their lightweight cousins. Typically, these strollers have a stronger, heaver frame. The cushioned seat is reinforced with plastic and has a secure five-point harness. While most of these strollers fold up, they are pretty big when folded. For example, the lightweight stroller might fit in the corner of the room, but the full-size stroller might fit in a closet. Most full-size strollers have much larger wheels with rubber tires, effectively making the all-terrain vehicles. The larger wheels make it easy to go up and down curbs and across grass, brick and gravel.

As with any stroller there are draw backs to this type. Because they are heavier, these strollers are generally not great for families that need to go up and down stairs on a regular basis. In addition, they don’t have a lot of room for a lot of storage. Most can accommodate a diaper bag, but it doesn’t work well for a large shopping trip.

Full-size strollers work well for suburban families that use the stroller in yards, and on streets and sidewalks.

Travel System Strollers. These can be the most expensive of the stroller sets, but they also last the longest. Travel systems are just what they sound like: a full travel system. The set usually contains an infant car seat, a base and a stroller that all work together. The base stays in the car and the infant seat locks onto the base when you are driving somewhere. When you arrive, you unlock and lift the infant seat and lock it into the open stroller. When the child outgrows the infant seat, the stroller has a cushioned seat that will accommodate the growing toddler.

The strollers are generally stronger than lightweight strollers, but lighter than the full-size. They are designed to fold up easily and fit in the trunk of most cars.

But, as previously stated, these are usually expensive. Less expensive models may skimp on quality, including smaller, harder wheels that won’t work on many surfaces, or may have a frame that easily bends.

These strollers work well for most families, even if they will have to buy a larger car seat as the child grows.

Jogger Strollers. As the name implies, these strollers are designed for speed. They often have very large wheels to give both the adult and the child a smooth ride. Because they are designed for speed, most joggers have a hand brake to make it easy to stop the child, even on a hill.

While many of these types fold up, they aren’t really compact. They also tend to have a lighter seat, usually a fabric sling rather than a padded cushion. Infants really need to be propped up in this type, although older children tend to handle the seating just fine.

Joggers, are designed for exercise. They aren’t, and shouldn’t be, the only stroller a family has. But they can be a fantastic addition.

Tandem Strollers

There are two types of tandem strollers:

Double seats and sit-and-stand strollers.

Double seats may have two seats side by side, or they may be set so that one is in front of the other. When the seats are side by side, the children can play, or irritate each other whenever they are walking. When they are set front to back, the child in front can see the world clearly, while the child in back has freedom to rest. This type is great if the family is waiting for their second child.

Sit-and-stand strollers also work well for a family with two children. As the name implies, there is a seat in the front where a child can sit or lie down. Then there is a platform in the back where a preschooler can stand. This gives the adult the opportunity to move quickly through a crowd and keep two children together while giving each their privacy.

But, double strollers, regardless of the type, are larger than single strollers. That means that they are tougher to move through doorways and to store when out of use. They also tend to be on the more expensive side.