Picking a stroller can be a daunting task, and it is often hard to know where to begin. With so many choices and models on the market, it sometimes feels like you will need a degree in engineering just to get started. Luckily, we have compiled the ultimate guide to strollers, containing everything you need to know to help you make a simple, stress-free decision!
The first decision to make is picking whether to have a pram, pushchair or stroller, and even this needs some explaining. Many people use the terms interchangeably, and will refer to a pram when they mean a stroller, or vice versa.
Put simply, a pram is designed specifically for newborn babies. It offers the support they need when they can’t move around independently, and provides a comfortable, cushiony surface on which to snooze. These usually cannot be folded flat, but stay in a rigid structure.
A pushchair is the next stage up, and is designed for babies who are a little older and able to sit up unaided. They are relatively sturdy, and the seat can be reclined fully to have your baby either forward facing or parent facing. Here, support for the back is provided as this is crucial for maintaining safety and health for your baby. Pushchairs often fold flat for convenience.
A stroller is level three of this evolution, and is perfect for toddlers and young children. They are more lightweight, and will collapse down to become more portable.
Once you have determined that a stroller is the best choice for your baby, it is time to pick a type. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as grabbing the first one off the shelf; there are a range of different types and models, allowing you to pick the best one for your lifestyle.
A full sized stroller is the ideal choice if you are looking to invest in one just piece to take you from babyhood to toddler tantrums and beyond. These are larger and sturdier than other options, and usually come with a range of additional features.
These tend to be bulky and heavy, and so can be a pain on public transport or if you climb a lot of stairs. They can also take up a lot of space, so may be unsuitable for smaller homes.
An umbrella stroller offers a more flexible option which is ideal for those on the go. They are portable, lightweight and still offer a range of features.
The name is pretty self explanatory; these stroller are designed to be compact and portable, and when they fold up, they look like a neatly folded up umbrella.
This won't take you from newborn to toddler years; most umbrella strollers are only suitable once your baby reaches six months old
A jogging stroller is ideal for those parents who want to work out at the same time as transporting their baby. The unique design means they are suitable for use while walking, jogging or hiking, leaving your baby totally comfortable.
They offer a superior suspension system, as well as adjustable front wheels which can wither swivel to allow greater flexibility, or be locked into place to ensure stability even at higher speeds.
You need to check that a so called jogging stroller actually has all of the necessary safety features and requirements to keep you and your child safe.
As the name suggests, a double stroller is ideal if you have twins, children close together in age, or even just a toddler who wants to make the most of their stroller every now and then.
Rather than face endless battles, or the possibility of carrying one child for miles and miles, a double stroller allows everyone to live in blissful harmony. There are two main types; tandem, where the children sit one behind the other, and side-by-side seating; as the name suggests, this is super wide and allows both children to sit beside each other.
A single stroller can weigh in at up to 40 pounds, making it a struggle to manage alone. You need to consider mobility and width - can you get it out of your front door?
A hybrid system is one designed to cover all bases, making life as simple and convenient as possible. Some offer multipurpose travel systems, transforming from stroller to carry cot to car seat and back again in no time.
Others propose to serve more than one purpose, offering the flexibility of an umbrella system with the practicality of a jogging stroller, eliminating the need for multiple items.
There is a risk of being ‘Jack of all trades, master of none.’ A hybrid may lack the proper safety features required for a jogging stroller, or else be less flexible than a true umbrella system
Put simply, umbrella strollers offer far more flexibility and portability than their competitors. They are smaller and lighter, easy to carry and fold up to put out of the way, and lightweight enough to be transported from place to place. Many parents will choose to buy them as an addition to an existing stroller, such as a standard or jogging stroller.
An umbrella is an ideal option for travelling commuting, or when you are simply looking for a compact, light and simple option to make a journey easier.
Their flexibility is boosted by their ability to collapse in on themselves, usually in half or thirds; hence the name. This makes them ideal for storing in small, awkward spaces such as smaller homes, airplanes, trains, cars of buses.
It used to the case that umbrella strollers lacked the special features of more robust models, but this is not necessarily the case, and more and more parents are using an umbrella model as their primary stroller, rather than an addition.
More and more options are adding extras such as leg rests, sun shades, storage baskets and the option for reclining seats, making this an ideal all in one option for parents on the go who are looking to combine portability with practicality.
The age at which an umbrella stroller becomes appropriate depends on the design and style of the individual model. If it is able to recline fully, it is safe to use from newborn age and up.
Most umbrella strollers, however, do not have this function, and lack the correct suspension features to be totally safe for such a small baby. It is usually recommended that you wait until your baby is at least 4, if not 6, months old before switching to this type of stroller.
Many umbrella strollers offer extendable canopies which can be pulled out if required, and an increasing number of these are coming with SPF 50 protection to ensure that your baby is totally protected throughout the day and on any of your travels.
Modern strollers are designed with safety in mind, but there are steps you can take to help enhance this and keep you and your child as safe as possible. The easiest way to prevent accidents and mishaps with strollers are:
Each stroller is different, and every model will have their own method. In general, however, there are a few set steps which every type of umbrella stroller will follow:
Keeping your stroller in tip top condition is essential to help maintain its lifespan and longevity, and will make sure it is safe for your child. The parts of the stroller which will require the most attention are the canopy, the wheels and the seat.
The easiest way to maintain your stroller is to ensure that your selection is top quality to start with. In order to help you make the right choice, consider the following:
Make sure you make your purchase from a credible, reliable and trustworthy source; avoid cheap online deals which seem too good to be true; they may have lower safety standards and not have the required features to protect your child.
Buy new - a second hand stroller may be tempting due to the lower price, but it is impossible to know any previous damage which may have occurred. For ultimate safety and peace of mind, choose a new stroller.
In a similar sense, it is a good idea not to scrimp on price. The cheapest option may save you money but again, may also wear out more quickly and unevenly, and not offer the robust security of a pricier choice. A higher cost will usually require less maintenance, and so can make your life easier.
Always go for the warranty. While not strictly a safety issue this will save you a headache in the future if anything does go wrong or you decide the stroller is not the right match.
No matter the price you pay, all strollers will require some basic maintenance to keep them looking and functioning their best. Here are some top tips for basic maintenance which you can carry out yourself:
All moving parts need to be lubricated with a silicone spray on a regular basis to keep them supple and moving. If left unlubricated, friction may occur and this can result in damage.
Importance are the moving brake parts - crucial for safety - and the wheels, especially the areas around the bearings and axles. If you are active and use your stroller a lot this is of particular urgence, and particularly if you are often crossing rough terrains such as sand, or exposing the stroller to rain or saltwater, all of which can deteriorate moving parts.
any excess debris such as sand, dirt or mud should be washed off regularly using hot soapy water. Any residue which is left to linger can cause the fabric to become stained, or metallic parts to become rusty and dangerous.
The stroller can be left to air dry after washing, but it is important not to place it in direct sunlight; as mentioned, this can lead to the stroller overheating, and can cause colour to fade. The fabric parts of the stroller can be wiped with a smooth cloth and hot, soapy water.
Depending on the model, you may be able to machine wash elements of the stroller, but it is important to to check beforehand as this can be damaging. In general, it is best to avoid tumble drying and using harsh bleaching chemicals as these can cause irreversible damage.
A silicone spray can be added after cleaning to help to preserve the longevity of the stroller, and keep it in good condition for longer. The best option will depend on your individual model, so it is best to check the manufacturers guide before purchasing a protective spray.
As well as regular cleaning, it is important to regularly check over the stroller to make sure it remains in a safe and good condition.
All fixings should be sturdy and secure; if any bolts, screws or nuts are missing, or you notice any damage, do not use the stroller. Instead, take time to research replacement parts, or a possible repair or replacement as long as you have that all important warranty!
Ultimately, selecting the ideal stroller will depend mainly on your own personal needs, requirement and lifestyle. Whether you have a single child or multiple children, if you commute or live in a crowded city, access small stores and buildings, or like to incorporate your stroller into your workout, your choice will be dependent on your use.
It is best to go and pick out a stroller in person, not only to ensure that it meets all of your safety requirements, but also to allow you to physically try out and feel different models and variations so you know exactly what will suit you.
Remember that some strollers can be heavy and bulky, especially if they are being pushed for an extended period of time. Also consider factors such as transport; do you have a car, or will you need to be taking the stroller on or off a bus, train or tram?
Do you have space in your home to store it carefully out of the way, or do you need a model which folds up? All of these are considerations to have in mind when you go to purchase your stroller; they can be quite a financial investment, so it is important to consider carefully.
First priority is always your child's safety; this is crucial, and not something to be scrimped on. While it is important to shop within your means, always remember that spending a little more initially could save you money in maintenance and replacements in the long run.
A cheaper stroller may be made of a thinner, flimsier material - particularly for umbrella strollers which are already lightweight. This may make them more susceptible to breakages and damage from the elements and general wear and tear, and so may need replacing far more regularly.
An umbrella stroller is an ideal solution for those seeking a lightweight, portable stroller which can be taken anywhere it needs to be. It easily folds down, saving space wherever it is stored and making it suitable for any living arrangement, and can be easily transported by vehicle, plane or on foot using the helpful shoulder strap.
They have become so popular that they are losing their status as ‘second’ or ‘spare’ strollers, and are now the go to for busy parents everywhere. Though not always suitable from birth, they are a versatile option for older babies, and do have the potential to grow and adapt with your child as needed.