Single Traditional Strollers
The workhorses of the stroller world, many go from birth until you and junior no longer need it. And traditional doesn’t mean stodgy or sluggish. Many are very maneuverable and work in a variety of situations (busy sidewalks, paved streets, in a park, on a trail). Some have fully-reclining seats that allow infants to ride safely; some are infant car seat-compatible, and quite a few do both.
Pros: Sturdy, solid, and easy to use. A good all-purpose stroller choice that can come with a range of standard features. Good maneuverability, durability, and a smart long-term stroller investment. Look for features that are most important to you because they can vary by model.
Cons: Heavier than umbrella strollers; a good go-to stroller if public transportation and portability is not a deciding factor. Some traditional type strollers might not accommodate infants under six months, so check the manufacturer’s specifications carefully.
Single Combination Strollers
Also called modular strollers, these strollers adapt to the changing needs of a growing child. Some accept an infant car seat, but you will likely have to buy the car seat separately, as well as an adapter to secure the car seat to the stroller. Some feature a removable seat that reclines nearly flat to give your baby the resting area of a bassinet. Others have reversible seats, so the baby can sit facing forward or looking at the person pushing.
Pros: Use it from the first day of baby’s life, if you choose a model that accommodates an infant car seat, or has a carrycot, or stroller seat that reclines flat. Limited to carrying up to 40 pounds, you might not need another stroller. Some combos are sold as a complete package, with a chassis, bassinet, and a reversible seat, but options vary.
Cons: Can be costly. You will likely still need to buy a car seat with a base and a car-seat adapter for the stroller. Important accessories are sometimes optional, such as a rain cover, tire pump/pressure gauge/maintenance kit (if the stroller has air tires), and under-seat storage space.
Umbrella and Lightweight Strollers
These lightweight strollers often have curved handles, like an umbrella, and are easy to fold. Perfect for travel, or for quick trips around town with babies who can sit up. Some now offer car-seat compatibility; an adapter may be needed, and possibly included. New models may be packed with features, with accordingly higher price tags.
Pros: Lightweight and convenient, usually easy to fold. Newer models may feature seats that recline completely flat, and others models may accept a car seat.
Cons: The compact size may cramp older babies and toddlers, especially when they’re dressed in heavy winter clothes. They sometimes lack suspension and seat support; they don’t provide the cushiest ride, and small, plastic wheels offer limited maneuverability. Most aren’t appropriate for babies younger than 6 months. The seat rarely reclines fully, and a few don’t recline at all.
Travel System Strollers
A travel system consists of an infant car seat, a car seat base for your vehicle, and a stroller.
Pros: Like an infant seat with a carrier frame, a travel system allows you to move a sleeping baby, undisturbed, from car to stroller. Some models fully recline, and offer the option of closing off the leg holes to create less-expensive version of the combo stroller. Some have a stroller seat that reclines flat, a good option to look for when choosing a travel system. Later, when your baby is ready to sit up on her own, the backrest can be adjusted to a comfortable position. Many travel systems are good values.
Cons: Like many other types of strollers, travel systems can be bulky. Some are smooth and easy to push, but others can be cumbersome.
Transformable Car Seat/Stroller
This newcomer to the market is a car seat fully integrated with a stroller frame. The stroller frame folds under the seat, allowing the car seat to be installed in a separate vehicle base for car trips.
Pros: There’s one less product you have to buy, since your car seat is also your stroller.
Cons: When we tested the Doona Car Seat Stroller, the only model of its kind on the market at the time, we found that there’s a learning curve, and some features are just not intuitive. It’s heavy to lift even without a baby in the seat; a new mom who has had a C-section may have extreme difficulty lifting it. Doona has no storage at all (no basket or pockets). If you want a storage bag, you must buy it separately.
Car Seat Carrier Strollers
A lightweight frame with no seat of its own; it may accept more than one brand and model of infant seat (though some only accommodate their own infant seats), and allows your baby to go strolling while still in his car seat. Note: You can also find tandem-style versions of the single infant car seat carrier. This is a viable option for parents of newborn twins.
Pros: Compact, lightweight, and inexpensive. When you move a baby in an infant car seat from the car to the frame, you’re less likely to wake her.
Cons: Once your child outgrows the infant car seat stage—at about 1 year, but sometimes younger depending on the child—the frame can no longer be used as a stroller.