Sunday, December 09, 2012

Stroller Reviews - Helping You Make The Right Stroller Choice

By Grace J Barnes

One of the happiest times in your life is when you bring a new life into the world and with everything to get ready and your emotions all over the place, the last thing you need is to start worrying about minor details such as stroller features. Unbiased stroller reviews will help to explain these features so that you can make an informed choice.

This will be one of the most important baby related purchases you make at the start. You're in the market for something that could, depending on choice, last you and your child years, even up to the age of school. So what exactly do you need to consider when looking at strollers for the first time?

In this article we're going to explain in detail the 10 essential areas to research and how to use this information to make your decision.

1. Age & Weight - very much self-explanatory, but be aware that some stroller systems can take a child through from birth up to the age of 5 or 50 pounds in weight. For instance, the Graco Travel system includes a car seat for new-born babies and the pushchair part can hold up to 40 pounds, which is more than most 5 year old children weigh.

The weight of the stroller can be key if you have to constantly move it from vehicle to house and back. Ideally you'll desire a lightweight model for transport purposes.

2. Type - the choice for modern strollers is staggering sometimes. A very popular style at the moment is the modular system, which covers all ages of baby and toddler thanks to the quick attachment of toddler/car seats and bassinets. The UPPAbaby Vista is a fine example of the modular option.

Maybe you prefer a lightweight or easy to fold stroller like the umbrella range which includes the Peg Perego Si. These strollers are perfect for commuting parents who have to take their children places via public transport or in their own vehicle.

If innovation and technology are your thing you're spoilt by the range of tech-savvy strollers around these days, but for baby-bonding look no further than the high-seated and highly priced, Stokke Xplory.

Jogger models, twins, doubles and harsh terrain strollers further enhance the types you'll be faced with when choosing your ideal buy, just ensure you pick a stroller that suits your family best.

3. Seat - the comfort of the seat will clearly affect the enjoyment for your little one. If the seat is well padded and soft, then baby or toddler can sleep with ease and make your life easier as a parent if you don't have a crying baby to contend with.

Safety harnesses are always padded in modern strollers, but look for extra padding around the top of the seat, which would give added support to the head and neck of your baby.

4. Canopy - to ensure your baby remains in comfort they need to be protected from the elements. This means a good canopy should act as a barrier against wind, rain and even bright sunlight. Look for nice large canopies that are fully adjustable, but still allow good airflow around the head of your baby.

Make sure the canopy extends far enough down to shield from rain, wind and sun and ensure that some system of air flow exists at the back of the hood. The Bugaboo Cameleon bassinet even includes an air flow window on the bottom under the head area.

5. Material - along with the style of seating the material will affect comfort, durability and general cleanliness. Most stroller seats are made from polyester, which is hard wearing and easy to keep clean, but the Quinny Buzz uses neoprene over memory foam to really up the ante in the comfort stakes.

The ability to remove the seat material is important and a clear aid to cleaning after your little one has made a mess all over the seating cover.

6. Frame - the overwhelming majority of stroller frames are made from aluminium, which is lightweight, strong and sturdy. Due to the uniformity of the material across the product range, simply check for a solid, well manufactured construction, that parts fit together and don't have any play between joints.

7. Suspension, Wheels & Brakes - these three components put together are what generate a quality ride style. Different brands and models offer different quality levels for these components, such as wheels, which might be plastic on some models and pneumatic rubber on others.

BOB Revolution have produced a stroller called the SE which handles off-road footpaths easily and suits parents who jog with their baby. It can achieve this by utilizing three large rubber inflatable tires and separate suspension across the three wheels. Models which run on smaller plastic wheels are generally more suited to the pavement.

Brakes don't add comfort to the ride, but provide stability and safety when the stroller isn't in motion, which makes it a very important factor.

8. Adjustment - some types of stroller such as the modular range are all about adjustments, but even simple models need to be quick and easy to adjust.

Most strollers should feature options to adjust the handlebar height, canopy and seat recline angle, but make sure you also look out for attachments, so that you can convert the stroller to a double in the future, fit a stand-on board for a toddler or even so you've got somewhere to attach a drink holder.

Umbrella strollers take the lead here, often with simple one-handed foldaway and pick up movements. The Inglesina Trip is a fine example of this technology.

9. Storage - in the modern world strollers aren't just for pushing your baby around in. Many parents have to take the stroller round shops and pick up groceries at the same time, so storage options are important. Certain models make carrying shopping home a breeze, whereas other models leave you lumbering around with bags dangling from the handlebar.

The Vista from UPPAbaby is reasonably spacious under the seat and will fit a decent amount of shopping in the basket. The same can't be said for Bugaboo and Stokke with the rather more space-lite Cameleon and Xplory models. Think how often and how much shopping you're likely to do whilst out with the stroller.

10. Price - usually a deciding factor for most things in life and strollers are no different. You can easily spend between $700 and $1000 on a swanky Bugaboo, UPPAbaby or Stokke stroller or you can spend the budget wisely and get a lot for your money with the Graco Spree System for around $200. Mid-range strollers come in at around $200 to $500 and you'll have plenty to choose from.

You should spend whatever you feel comfortable with. If you intend to buy a stroller system that will last for years, you can spend more money, whereas if you want a lightweight, umbrella stroller as a second option, why break the bank, when there are strollers around for $50 to $60.

Additional extras like cup holders and stroller boards will also cost more from the top brands, so you'll pay a higher price twice to get the full setup. Make this a known feature of your budget.

About the Author: