Stroller Buying Guide

What's more important than your baby's safety? That's why a stroller is one of your most crucial purchases. Even if you try it out in the store, it's hard to know how it will handle in real life. Consumer Reports buys and tests dozens of strollers, with you and your baby in mind. 

There's no single type of stroller that's best for everyone. The best stroller is the one with features that fit your child and lifestyle at a price that matches your budget. You can spend less than $100, or well over $1,000. Styling, lightweight materials, and added features boost the price, but our tests found you don't have to spend a fortune to get a good, safe stroller. 

Lab-Tested for Your Baby
CR's testers put dozens of strollers through their paces in our labs and outside, to assess which strollers are easy to use, highly maneuverable, and, of course, safe.

Testers use each stroller the way a parent would, complete with a weight that simulates a child for most of our testing: We adjust the harness, backrest, and wheel brakes, and fold and unfold each model as you would when moving it into and out of a car. We collapse and carry each stroller, too, noting the folded size and weight.

Time for a walk. We push each stroller, with "baby" on board, through a test course with S-curves, and steer it on pavement between cones, up and down a curb and then over obstructions, including grass, mulch, and tree roots. And finally, we assess safety by subjecting each stroller to standard safety tests as well as CR-designed stability and braking tests.

You'll see dozens of single strollers in our stroller ratings, and a handful that can take two children out and about. The strollers are from over two dozen brands, including Britax, Bugaboo, Chicco, Graco, Maclaren, Mountain Buggy, Peg Perego, Stokke, UPPAbaby, and more. 

Newborn to Six Months

You'll need a stroller seat that reclines to a near flat position, can accept an infant car seat, or do both. Another option? Choose a car-seat carrier to safely support your strapped-in infant until she develops neck and head control and can sit up on her own. We note in the Features & Specs section of our stroller ratings which are suitable for infants ages 6 months and younger. A stroller that comes with a car seat, or that's compatible with one you already bought, can simplify your life. 

All-In-One Travel System
It consists of an infant car seat, a car-seat base, and a stroller. Once your baby can sit up, you'll have the flexibility to use the stroller without the car seat snapped in. Some travel systems, however, have a stroller seat that reclines to a near flat position, meaning it can be used for an infant not yet sitting up. A travel system may cost more than buying the items individually, but is a good value because the stroller can be used after your child outgrows the infant car seat, unlike a car-seat carrier frame.

Infant Car-Seat Carrier
The lightweight frame lacks a seat, so you use it with a compatible infant car seat. Simply remove the car seat from its base in the car, baby and all, and attach to the frame. This a good choice if you'll be taking your infant in and out of a car frequently. Some manufacturers offer car-seat carrier frames that are designed for their brand of car seats. Universal carriers, on the other hand, can accommodate a variety of car seat brands.

Baby Buggy Basics: Six Months to 3+ Years

Once your baby is sitting up, you're likely to take him on adventures and playdates. Are you traveling by car, or taking mass transit? These could be deciding factors in the stroller you choose.

Mass Transit vs. Suburban Crawl
If you rely on subways, buses, and cabs, you'll need a lightweight, compact stroller that’s sturdy and folds easily and quickly. A car-seat carrier frame would work well until your child reaches about one year old, or consider a lightweight travel system and an umbrella stroller. We note in our stroller ratings how much each tested stroller weighs. If you have a car or take cabs, be sure the stroller fits easily into the trunk or back seat.

If you live in the suburbs or a rural area, you'll probably be in and out of the car, making a travel system or stand-alone stroller that is compatible with your car seat a good choice, especially for long walks. Some parents buy one of these strollers, plus a lightweight stroller for traveling or a trip to the zoo. 

TEST DRIVE
Whether you're shopping for an infant or a toddler, be sure to check out the stroller at a store before you decide. Bring along a measuring tape, just in case. Here's what else CR's experts recommend:

1. Inspect the frame. It should feel solid, not flimsy.
2. Check if the brakes or swivel lock mechanisms are easy to use and the handles are comfortable. Do your legs or feet hit the wheels as you walk?
3. Lift and carry the stroller, both when open and folded.
4. Check maneuverability by adding weight, such as a heavy handbag, to the stroller seat, then push.
5. Adjust the backrest—is it easy to do? And is the harness easy to fasten and unfasten?
6. Open the stroller, with one hand and then both. Now close the stroller doing the same.
7. Note the storage space. If you'll carry lots of gear, make sure there’s room for it.
8. Take the floor model out to your car to be sure it fits in your trunk when folded, and if you can't do that, measure it.
9. Evaluate warranty and return policies.
10. Check certification. All strollers sold in the U.S. must comply with the mandatory federal safety standard, but for added reassurance, look for a JPMA-certified sticker. It means that the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association has certified that this stroller meets the mandatory requirements plus the JPMA's additional requirements. And check our stroller ratings  to find out how well a stroller performed in our safety tests. 

Single Strollers

These strollers are designed for one passenger, and include lightweight strollers weighing as little as 11 pounds, traditional or travel systems weighing less than 20 pounds, and heavy-duty strollers that weigh 35 pounds or more. 

A single traditional stroller.

Traditional

This all-purpose stroller is a smart long-term investment. Many work on busy sidewalks, paved streets, in a park, and 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, good maneuverability, and easy to use. Look for features that are most important to you because they can vary by model.

Cons: Often heavier than umbrella strollers, this may not be a good go-to stroller if portability and public transportation are deciding factors. Some might not accommodate infants under six months; we tell you which tested strollers can't in the features & specs section of our stroller ratings.



Traditional strollers Ratings
A single combo stroller.

Combo

Also known as modular strollers, these allow you to adapt the stroller to suit the changing needs of a growing child. 

Pros: Use it from the first day of your baby's life, if you choose a stroller that accommodates an infant car seat, has a bassinet, or a stroller seat with a full recline. Some are sold as a complete package, with a bassinet and a reversible seat, but options vary.

Cons: Can be costly. You'll probably need to buy a car seat with a base and possibly a car-seat adapter for the stroller. Many are limited to carrying up to 40 pounds, but you might not need a stroller at that point. Important accessories are sometimes optional, such as a rain cover. 

Traditional strollers Ratings
A lightweight stroller.

Umbrella

Lightweight strollers that fold compactly and are easy to transport are known as umbrella strollers, making them ideal for travel or quick trips around town with your child. Many tested models have curved handles. 

Pros: Lightweight, convenient, and usually easy to fold. 

Cons: Many we tested aren't appropriate for babies younger than 6 months who can't sit up on their own since the seat doesn’t recline fully or the stroller can't accommodate an infant car seat. Older babies and toddlers may feel cramped, especially when dressed in heavy winter clothes. Some umbrella strollers lack suspension and seat support so they don't provide the cushiest ride, and some have small, plastic wheels that offer limited maneuverability.


Traditional strollers Ratings
A travel-system stroller.

Travel System

This consists of an infant car seat, a car seat base for your car, and a stroller.

Pros: Allows you to move a sleeping baby, undisturbed, from car to stroller. Some have a stroller seat that reclines nearly flat, meaning it can be used with a baby 6 months old or younger. When your baby is ready to sit up on her own, the backrest can be adjusted to a comfy position. Many travel systems are good values because the stroller can be used after your child outgrows the infant car seat, unlike a car-seat carrier frame.

Cons: Can be bulky, and while some are easy to push, some we've tested can be cumbersome. 


Traditional strollers Ratings
A transformable car seat and stroller in one.

Car Seat/Stroller

A car seat is 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: One less product you have to buy, since your car seat is also your stroller.

Cons: May be heavy to lift even without a baby in the seat. 

Traditional strollers Ratings
A car seat/carrier stroller.

Car-Seat Carrier

This lightweight frame lacks a seat, so you add a compatible infant car seat. Also known as stroller frames, some work with more than one brand and model of infant car seat. 

Pros: Compact, lightweight, and inexpensive. When you move a baby in an infant car seat from the car to the stroller frame, you're less likely to wake her. Carrier frames that allow you to just snap your infant seat in are the easiest to use. 

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. Most universal car seat carriers, which accept a number of brands, do not let you just snap the car seat into place—a strap is used to secure it, adding one more step for you.




Convertible

It can convert to a travel system or pram by adding an infant car seat or bassinet, or switch from a single to a double stroller. Some allow you to add a standing platform, or have a removable seat with a bench seat under it, for a third older child. 

Pros: Flexibility. You may be able to position your baby so that you’re face-to-face, or so that he’s looking out to the world. Adding a passenger? The number of configurations vary by stroller, including two stroller seats facing either forward or back, one stroller seat plus one car seat, or two car seats. Be sure the stroller can accept two infant car seats if you’re having twins, and that it allows the seats to face each other so that later, when your twins are toddler, they can sit facing each other. 

Cons: Can be heavy, and expensive.

Double strollers & multiples Ratings
A jogging stroller.

Jogging Stroller

It usually has three large air-filled tires, including a front wheel that can both swivel and be locked into a straight-ahead position when you want to run.

Pros: Air-cushioned tires offer a comfortable ride and make the stroller easy to push. May have a longer useful life than traditional strollers because they can accommodate heavier children.

Cons: Large and sometimes heavy, it might not fit into your car trunk, so think twice about making this you're only stroller. You'll need to check the tire pressure and add air occasionally. If it has a bicycle-style quick release front wheel, be sure that it's installed correctly and that you know how to use it—a bicycle shop can help. Most jogging strollers are not suitable for infants younger than 6 months, and CR's experts recommend waiting until your child is one year old before she rides in any stroller when you’re jogging. Note that CR does not test strollers in jogging mode at this time. 




Double and Convertible Strollers

If you have twins, or two little ones under the age of 4 or so, a double stroller can take you places. And like the car-seat carrier highlighted above, double car-seat carriers are an option for newborn twins. Also consider the multi-functional convertible stroller. It converts from a single to a double stroller, and more. 

A double side-by-side stroller.

Double Side-by-Side

Two seats are attached to a single frame, or a unit resembling two strollers are bolted together. The side-by-side set-up is easiest to maneuver with children of about the same height and weight.

Pros: With two kids on board, it can negotiate curbs more easily than a tandem. If you're shopping for infant twins, look for a side-by-side stroller in which both stroller seats recline nearly flat, and note that some models allow you to attach infant car seats side-by-side.

Cons: If children of different weights ride in the stroller, it can pull to one side. Some can't accept an infant car seat, while others will accept just one. It might be a tight squeeze fitting some side-by-side strollers through a doorway, so check the width in the features & spec section of our stroller ratings


Double strollers & multiples Ratings
A tandem stroller.

Double Tandem

On some, you can arrange the seats so your children face each other, while some have a stadium seat that allows the child in back to see over the one in front. 

Pros: Tandems fit through standard doorways and elevator doors more easily than side-by-sides. A folded tandem takes up just a little more space than a folded standard mid-sized stroller. Some tandems accept an infant car seat in one or both stroller seats (check which car seat brands are compatible, and whether you'll need an adapter).

Cons: Steering can be difficult, and it can be tricky getting over curbs. Tandems are long and often quite heavy, so a petite person may find it difficult to maneuver. Some models have limited leg support and very little legroom for the child in back. 


Double strollers & multiples Ratings
A jogging stroller.

Convertible

It can convert to a travel system or pram by adding an infant car seat or bassinet, or switch from a single to a double stroller. Some allow you to add a standing platform, or have a removable seat with a bench seat under it, for a third older child. 

Pros: Flexibility. You may be able to position your baby so that you’re face-to-face, or so that he’s looking out to the world. Adding a passenger? The number of configurations vary by stroller, including two stroller seats facing either forward or back, one stroller seat plus one car seat, or two car seats. Be sure the stroller can accept two infant car seats if you’re having twins, and that it allows the seats to face each other so that later, when your twins are toddler, they can sit facing each other. 

Cons: Can be heavy, and expensive. 

Double strollers & multiples Ratings

Stroller Add-ons and Extras

Some features will make your baby's ride safer and more comfortable, while others, such as shopping baskets, are more useful for busy parents. Features include seats that face forward or back; handlebars that reverse and adjust in height; consoles that hold cups, car keys, and a cell phone.

Even if you buy a lightweight stroller, you may still want accessories such as a parasol, rain cover, bug netting, and drink holder. The options are numerous and can drive up the stroller price. If you know what you want, pay a little extra up front for a stroller with built-in holders for baby bottles, adjustable handlebars, and a special clip for your cell phone. 



Brands in CR's Ratings

There are more than two dozen brands currently in our stroller ratings. Here's a snapshot of some of them. When models are discontinued, we pull them from the ratings, and as we test more strollers, we'll add brands to this list. 

The original creator of the three-wheeled jogging stroller still produces joggers and all-terrain strollers (singles and doubles) in the mid-priced range, and it also makes traditional strollers for everyday use. Available at specialty stores, baby superstores, and online.
Baby Trend makes a variety of baby gear that's sold online and in stores, like Amazon, Buy Buy Baby, Target, and Walmart. Their strollers are typically under $200.
Britax is a British manufacturer of childcare products that have been sold in the U.S. for over 20 years. The company acquired BOB, a manufacturer of strollers and other gear, in 2011. Britax strollers are available at independent and mass retailers, and online, including Amazon.
A high-end stroller manufacturer headquartered in Amsterdam, Bugaboo makes strollers and car seats that are sold at Buy Buy Baby, specialty stores, among others, and online—Amazon and Nordstrom, for example.
Pronounced "kee-co," this Italian brand was established in 1958, and specializes in making clothing and equipment for babies and toddlers, including strollers, high chairs, and car seats. Available online and at Buy Buy Baby, Target, and Walmart.
Graco manufactures a full line of juvenile products, from nursery products and activity centers to strollers and car seats. Widely available in stores and online.
Maclaren is known for its lightweight buggies. They're sold online, including Amazon and Buy Buy Baby, and at Walmart, for example.
This British company makes strollers that are sold at specialty stores and online, including Amazon.
"Life without limit" is this company's motto, and it all started with a father wanting to head to the mountain trails of New Zealand with his baby. The "all-terrain" buggy resulted and their offerings include high chairs and car seats. The strollers are available online, including on Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Buy Buy Baby, and in stores.
This Italian company has been making strollers, car seats, high chairs, and other products for decades. These products are available at Buy Buy Baby at Amazon.
Stokke started in Norway, and makes a variety of products for children, including high chairs, carriers, car seats, and strollers. This high-end brand offers strollers with a modern look.
UPPAbaby was founded over a decade ago by a couple (and parents). The company makes strollers and car seats that are sold online and in stores, including Amazon, Bloomingdale's, Buy Buy Baby, Pottery Barn Kids, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and specialty stores.
You'll also see Babyhome, Dream on Me, GB, Inglesina, Joovy, Kolcraft, Maxi-Cosi, Mutsy, Nuna, Quinny, and Summer Infant in our ratings.

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