Stroller Buying Tips: Consider Safety, Ease of Use
Many first-time buyers opt for a travel system, says Joan Muratore, program leader at Consumer Reports magazine. Travel systems are designed to accommodate a car seat. Parents can snap the car seat onto the stroller frame, which allows them to move the baby from car to stroller without waking it, she says.
Some strollers are meant to serve children from infancy through toddlerhood. It's important that those strollers have a seat back that fully reclines and something that blocks the leg openings so an infant can't slip out, Muratore says. The amount of recline is important for babies who cannot hold up their heads.
Many companies make jogging strollers designed for parents looking to exercise with the stroller. They have three wheels and are built for speed rather than maneuverability, Muratore says.
Jogging strollers are not necessarily the best choice for day-to-day use, she added.
Parents expecting twins or having a second child may need a double stroller. Some double strollers seat the children next to each other, while others put one behind the other. The tandem strollers are generally better for children of different ages because they often can accommodate a car seat. Double strollers can be heavy and cumbersome, so push them around the store a bit before choosing one.
Once you've determined what type of stroller you need, it's time to figure out what features are most important to you. Consumer reports ranks strollers based on weight, maneuverability, ease of use and safety.
Most people opt for lighter strollers because they are easier to push and load into a car or onto public transportation.
Try to find a stroller that pushes easily. Look at how well it takes turns or goes up and down curbs. A wide stroller may be more cumbersome in stores or crowds.
The simpler the stroller is to use the better, Muratore said. Consumer Reports likes strollers with easily adjustable harness straps, a one-touch brake, adequate storage and that are easy to collapse and will stand up once folded.
Storage, snack trays and cup holders also are important considerations. Make sure the storage is reachable even when the stroller is reclined.
Choose a stroller with a smooth fabric and minimal piping or decorations because it will be easier to clean. Most strollers don not offer removable seat covers.
Important safety features include a five-point harness that a child can't undo, good brakes and a sturdy frame.
When you buy a stroller, make sure you send the ownership card back to the manufacturer, says Sarah Chusid, a program director with Kids In Danger, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting children by improving children's product safety.
"It's the only way they can reach you about a recall," she says.
She also recommends checking with the Consumer Product Safety Commission about product recalls.
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