Visit any baby superstore and you'll be bombarded with large strollers, compact strollers, jogging strollers, umbrella strollers and double strollers. Some strollers cost nearly as much as my first car did, and others cost as much as my weekly childhood allowance. How can new parents and moms-to-be wade through this sea of strollers and find the right wheels for their family?
The stroller/infant seat combo: This is such a convenient package, and is recommended by many parents. It consists of an infant-sized car seat that can be both snapped into a base installed in a vehicle, and secured into the reclined seat of the stroller. There is a lot of value in being able to switch a sleeping baby from car to stroller without disturbing him. Once the child outgrows the infant seat, the medium to large size stroller components can still be used for many years.
Double stroller: This will certainly come in handy for parents who plan on having more than one child in less than five years. To save on space, buy a double version of the stroller/infant seat combo. Many are designed so an older child can ride upright in the stroller while leaving space for the infant seat to also be snapped in.
Umbrella stroller: While not really necessary, some parents appreciate having an umbrella stroller on hand for quick errands, or for trips to crowded events where a bulky stroller can be cumbersome. Since these are often used infrequently, it is not advised to invest a great deal of money on a top-of-the-line model. You should be able to find a basic one for $10 to $20.
Jogging stroller: This may be necessary for a parent who runs regularly and likes to keep a fast pace. Most standard strollers are fine to run with at a moderate pace, but very proficient runners may prefer a jogger to keep from tripping. Avoid spending too much, since this will usually be a secondary stroller.
Everyday stroller: Even if you plan to use it every day, there is no need to spend $1000+ on a stroller. Any stroller priced above the $200 mark is more status than function. Yes, they are very nice strollers, but you can also get a very nice stroller for less if you are willing to forgo the high-end brand name. Look for a model with a seat that can be adjusted to various points between completely upright and completely reclined. Sun shades and cup holders are also essential.
Make sure to take any strollers you consider for a test drive. Here's what to look at:
Leg room: for the child, AND for you. If you have long legs, walk with the stroller at a brisk pace and make sure your feet don't kick against the backs of the wheels
Storage: If you can't fit your purse or your shopping bag in the storage area, you'll definitely be struggling when it comes time to start lugging a diaper bag.
Ease of folding: You'll quickly begin to despise your stroller if you have trouble folding or unfolding it.