I have a little bit of a stroller obsession. Okay, there I said it. (My hubby is probably reading this and saying “well, duh”.) It was the first baby item I researched and got excited about when I got pregnant with Isabelle and I was dead set on finding one hell’uv’an amazing stroller. Now, let me start by saying that no stroller is going to be perfect. Take it from someone who has owned and used 18 strollers (I kid you not, I listed them all out just to make sure that number is accurate). But you can absolutely find the perfect stroller for your family. The key is to figure out what features and uses are most important to you, and which ones you are willing to overlook.
To help new mamas (or mamas transitioning from one to two kids and wanting an upgrade), I’ve made it super simple with 10 questions you need to ask yourself before deciding on a stroller. And make sure to check out why I think the gorgeous new UPPAbaby CRUZ is a stroller to put on your short list!
[ 1 ] What is your budget?
The very first thing you need to figure out is what you’re able (or willing) to spend on a stroller. These days, a high end stroller can cost you well over $1000, so it’s important to know your budget before you even start looking so you don’t fall in love with a stroller that is out of your price range. Now I personally think a good stroller is absolutely worth the money. I’ve had plenty of frustrating moments with “cheap” ones that I am definitely in the splurge-on-your-stroller camp. Good strollers will also hold their value longer so you can get some money back when you sell it in a few years time. That said, you will absolutely be able to find something that will serve you well in every budget.
[ 2 ] Do you have a stroller-aged child or do you plan on having another baby in the next 2.5 years?
If you currently have (or are about to have) two stroller-aged children, then it’s a no brainer – you will need a stroller that can transport more than one child. There are essentially three options for “double” strollers. Your first option is a side-by-side, where both kids have the same size of seat. This is perfect for twins or where both of your kids will be in the stroller for a while to come. The upside is both kids have a good view and room to grow, the downside is it’s going to be wide. A tandem stroller (one seat in front of the other) is your second option. There will be a primary seat with the option of adding a second seat to the stroller to make it work for two kids. The second seat is usually smaller with fewer features but is great if you only need a double for part of your stroller years or if your older child isn’t always in the stroller. The downside is that often the smaller child will have to go in the second seat since it has a lower weight limit (even though they are the primary stroller rider). The second seat also often takes up valuable basket space (as that is where feet will go). The last option is a single stroller with a ride-on board. For older toddlers who usually walk but are sometimes too tired or when you want to get somewhere faster than your slow-going toddler will let you go, this is a great option. It folds up and out of the way when not in use and is way quicker to use when your toddler keeps changing their mind about stroller riding vs. walking (buckling and unbuckling a squirmy toddler every 3 minutes is no fun).
[ 3 ] Do you want one stroller that does it all or multiple strollers for specific occasions?
More strollers are going to require a larger budget and more storage space in your home, but if you want a great stroller for every scenario, you’re going to need more than one. I personally think three is the magic number for me. You’re probably thinking: what?!? But hear me out. I have an everyday stroller that I use for walks in my neighbourhood and running errands. It has a big basket and larger wheels, a ride-on board for Isabelle when she gets tired, and a lot of other bells and whistles that make for a great all-around stroller (reversible seat, extendable handlebar, and so forth). I then have a super lightweight and compact travel stroller for air and car travel. I’ve travelled with larger strollers often enough that I absolutely think a light and compact stroller is the way to go even if it means it’s not perfect on every terrain. Being able to fold it quickly and easily, carry it up and down subway steps, load it into cars, buses or trains, and all-around taking up little room (especially if it’s permanently living in your car) outweighs any shortcomings of something super light and small. Thirdly, I have a stroller for dedicated exercise since I love running, rollerblading, and biking with the kids (we use a bike trailer for all three).
That said, there’s an argument for a only one stroller as well. If you’re not really an avid athlete, you probably don’t need a dedicated stroller for exercising with your kid(s). (Trust me, it’s not like you have a lot of free time as a new parent.) If you don’t travel a lot, don’t have a tiny car, and are okay with a few extra pounds when you lift the stroller in and out of your boot, there are definitely great everyday strollers with lots of features that’s aren’t all that heavy. You need to be the judge of what you truly need.
[ 4 ] What kind of storage options do you have?
Before we moved into our house, we lived in a condo and, let me tell you, stroller storage was interesting. We ended up mounting a garage-style tracking system in our front hallway and would hang up our strollers (it made for a pretty tight squeeze through certain parts of the hallway). You definitely need to consider where you’ll be storing your stroller before you purchase a monstrosity that won’t actually fit anywhere. If you’ve got a big garage, it’s not an issue, but if you’re dealing with apartment living or no garage / shed / etc. you’ll want to make sure your stroller can be stored somewhere without taking up too much room.
[ 5 ] Do you need to carry your stroller often?
Do you live in a building without an elevator and lots of stairs? If so, you’ll want something that folds in one piece (aka you don’t have to take the seat off the base to fold) and is lightweight enough to carry a baby up in one arm and your folded stroller in the other. (You’ll probably have to juggle several shopping bags as well, let’s be real.) While you’re at it, make sure the fold can be done with one hand because where are you going to put baby whilst you use two hands to fold your stroller? A carry strap is another really great feature if you need to carry your stroller for longer periods of time (aka up several flights of stairs several times a day).
[ 6 ] Do you do a lot of car travel?
Do you want to be able to put your bucket car seat straight onto the stroller frame? If so you’ll need a stroller that takes an adaptor to make the car seat easily click onto your stroller. Being able to fold with the adapter attached is a bonus. You might not think you need to be able to do this, but nothing is worse than waking a sleeping baby and being able to transfer a sleeping newborn in and out of a car without waking them up is solid gold in those early days.
Even if you’re not going to go the infant bucket on stroller route, if you’re planning on keeping your stroller in the car you’ll want to make sure if fits in the trunk (and you can still get your shopping in there as well). Light enough to lift in and out of your car without giving you back problems as well as a relatively simple fold / unfold is also important for frequent car travel.
[ 7 ] What kind of terrain will you be using the stroller on?
If you’re living in the city and using mainly sidewalks and they are relatively smooth, small wheels are all you need. If you want to take your stroller onto rougher terrain (gravel, grass, sand, European cobblestone, etc.) on a regular basis, then you’ll want to think about the size of your wheels and whether or not you want suspension. Bigger wheels are better here, and air-filled tires are the holy grail if you want to go off the beaten path.
[ 8 ] Will you be using your stroller for (non-car) errands?
One word: basket. If you will be doing all (or most) of your shopping on foot with just a stroller, you’ll want a big basket. Besides the necessary baby items (diapers, a change of clothes, etc.), you’ll want to be able to squeeze all your shopping in there as well. Pushing a stroller with one hand while holding 5 heavy grocery bags in the other is no fun. Make sure the basket is also easily accessible because a stroller basket where you can’t put a bag in and out of easily is not going to do you all that much good. Also check that your stroller basket is tested to take some weight! A super flimsy basket won’t hold up for long.
[ 9 ] How short / tall are the people pushing the stroller?
Most strollers that don’t have extendable handlebars are made for the average women’s height, not men’s. If your parter is tall, make sure he’s able to push comfortably without bending down or kicking the bar between the back wheels with his long stride. I personally love a telescoping handlebar (vs. a rotating one) as it moves further away from the stroller as it grows taller, so it’s perfect for tall individuals with long gaits, however this feature adds weight to the stroller so it’s not (usually) an option for lighter strollers. Whichever stroller you’re leaning towards, make sure everyone who plans on pushing the stroller on a regular basis (this includes older children!) try it out and feel that it’s comfortable.
[ 10 ] What features really matter to you?
Most people will differ on what they think are must-have features for them. Some love the ability of adding a cup holder, others don’t need it. Some want an adjustable handlebar, others don’t. Some want three wheels, others want four. Some want an easily accessible pocket for keys and a phone, others always bring a purse so it’s not necessary. Only you can decide what is a must-have vs. what is nice to have or completely unnecessary.
With that said, there are certain features that are universally loved by well-seasoned stroller users such as myself.
[ a ] Large and easily accessible basket . You can never have too much basket storage. And it needs to be accessible. If you can fit a giant bag’s worth of stuff in your stroller basket but you need to add and remove items one at a time through a narrow opening, that’s definitely not very helpful.
[ b ] Magnetic peak-a-boo window . Peak-a-boo windows aren’t necessary but are a really nice option if you’re doing a lot of stroller naps and want to sneak a peak to see if baby is sleeping without risking waking an almost-asleep babe. But a peak-a-boo window that uses velcro is beyond useless as that will definitely wake an almost-sleeping or even asleep babe. I honestly can’t believe that so many strollers still come with velcro peek-a-boo windows!
[ c ] Adjustable footrest . Having a footrest that moves up is really great for older babies and younger toddlers who’s legs aren’t long enough yet to dangle down properly. Without an adjustable leg rest, they just sort of slouch into the stroller because their short thighs pull them forward as their bent knees pull them down.
[ d ] A great fold (if you need to fold your stroller often). And by that I mean one-handed (because you’ll probably be juggling a baby on one arm already), one-piece (who wants to deal with multiple pieces?), and stands upright easily when stored.
[ e ] Easy-to-use harness . I’ve encountered so many harnesses that are hard to do with a squirming babe behind them. They require such precision and break apart into a million pieces, etc. so each time buckling and unbuckling takes forever. Go with something easy and simple. Sure, your kid might be able to get out when they’re three, but I mean no kid is going to allow you to buckle them at that stage anyway.
Now let me tell you about this beautiful stroller that I’ve featured in all of these photos. It’s the new 2017 UPPAbaby CRUZ and I am in love! First of all, it looks amazing. The brown leather accents combined with the hunter green is seriously gorgeous. And everything else looks so sleek and well designed.
It doesn’t just look well designed, it is well designed. Let’s start with the push. I’ve dealt with enough strollers that push nicely without a baby or with only an 8-pound newborn only to fail once the stroller is full loaded. I had my 30-pound 1-year-old in the seat and 35-pound 3-year-old on the ride-on board and it still pushed and turned easily. It also moved easily and well over uneven terrain like grass, gravel, and the boardwalk here.
The features on this stroller are impressive. A reversible seat reclines in three different positions and the footrest is easily adjustable. The hood moves up and down to accommodate taller kids (I have it on the lowest setting and Nicky is very tall for his age) and has an extra piece that makes it extend really far down which is great for sun protection / sleeping babes. There’s a telescoping handlebar that works great for parents of different heights and a huge basket that fits everything you might bright with you.
Most people know UPPAbaby’s full-size stroller – the Vista – and I want to point out the few key differences for those who are debating between the two strollers. The biggest difference is that you can’t add a second seat to this stroller (although you can add UPPAbaby’s ride-on board). It also doesn’t come with a bassinet but you can purchase one separately. So if you need a stroller past the newborn stage, this is a great option as you’re not paying for (and storing) a bassinet you won’t ever need. The CRUZ is also the smaller of the two, both lighter and narrower, which makes it great as an everyday stroller as well as a good travel stroller. It’s a one-piece fold although you do need two hands to fold the stroller – that said, a one-hand fold for a reversible stroller is extremely rare (I’m not even sure it exists). The basket on the CRUZ is also a little smaller than on the Vista but for everything but an UPPAbaby it’s still a huge basket.
The only thing that I can think of that would improve this amazing stroller is if UPPAbaby offered a removable seat for their ride-on board as a few of their competitors have. It’s definitely not necessary but it’s something that is nice to have for avid ride-on board users like Isabelle.
All in all I am in love with this stroller and I can’t wait to use it in bassinet mode with my (soon-to-be) newborn nephew. Isabelle has already stated that she’ll be pushing her baby cousin whilst Nicky rides on the ride on board. Sounds good to me!
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by UPPAbaby. All thoughts and opinions are my own.