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Tips for Buying a Stroller

by Dianna Graveman | March 28, 2012 12:49 PM
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Chances are, you may receive a stroller as a shower gift. Even if you do, you may need to purchase another at some point--either because your first one wears out or because your baby gets bigger or your travel needs change. Whether the stroller is a gift or a purchase, remember to always check that it is certified by JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association) for safety.

Types of strollers:

Carriage: A stroller in which the baby faces the parent.

Pram: old-fashioned term for a fancy stroller with large wheels and a canopy. These are usually purchased for newborns who must lie down.

Umbrella stroller: Small, inexpensive, and lightweight stroller made from cloth and a metal frame. These strollers are meant for babies older than six months. They easily fold up and are very portable. Great for picnics, outings in nice weather, car trips, etc.

Travel system: Stroller with a car seat that can be removed.

Jogging strollers: Three-wheel stroller for moms-on-the-go who want to get a little exercise while giving their babies some fresh air, too.

With so many choices, how can you decide which stroller to buy? Here are some tips to consider:

Storage: Will you need (and does the stroller have) room for your diaper bag, purse, or anything else you may want to take on a walk? Do you plan to use the stroller to shop? If so, where will you store purchases?

How will you primarily use the stroller? Will you be taking your baby for long walks? Make sure the stroller has some type of canopy--either removable or permanent--to protect your child from the sun or occasional unexpected downpour. Do you need something portable that you can get in and out of the car easily while running errands? Umbrella strollers aren't the only portable type of stroller. If you are buying something for a newborn, make sure in advance that at least part of the stroller will collapse or that it will fit in your car. Also, you don't want a really heavy stroller if you intend for it to be portable; but do remember that a newborn's stroller should probably weigh at least 12 to 15 pounds.

Consider your height. Stooping or slouching on long walks with baby will decrease your enjoyment and may be a pain in the neck--literally.

Take it for a test drive: Before you purchase a stroller, wheel it up and down a few aisles in the store (without your baby). Does it steer easily and fit through average-sized openings? Does it turn corners easily? Make sure you're comfortable with how the stroller "drives" to cut down on your own frustration later on.

Is it washable? Mishaps will happen--probably several of them. Can you remove the seat cushion or easily get into any crevices with a cleaning cloth?

Cost: Strollers and carriages range from the very inexpensive to elaborate. As long as the stroller is JPMA-certified and meets yours and your baby's personal needs, fancy features are optional and likely unnecessary.

Additional considerations: It may be cheaper to purchase a travel system (with the car seat attached) than to buy the pieces separately. This type of system is also handy if you take a lot of car trips with baby. Not only can you simply snap the baby, seat and all, into the car seat base, but the pieces will likely take less room than two pieces that are not compatible. And for the strolls around the park or for entertaining the baby while running errands or shopping at the supermarket, extra features like cup holders or bottle holders are handy, as is a snack tray or a visually appealing play bar or a place to attach a plaything for your child. Most importantly, don't forget to check that your stroller has locking wheels--and for the younger baby, especially, harness straps. Five-point harness straps are safest.


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