For first-time parents, being confronted with the purchase of a stroller can be confusing. There are so many different kinds! You’re left thinking: What type of stroller do I need?
(For non-US readers, a stroller is a pushchair or baby buggy.)
I know I hemmed and hawed over the purchase of a stroller for our daughter. If you’re as confused as I was, read this article!
Because I’ve done the hard work for you. I’m giving you a cheat sheet to the different types of strollers you may need.
Settle in with your pumpkin spice latte or whatever coffee you got goin’ and let’s take a little stroll together.
What are the 5 different types of strollers you may need?
One word of caution here: stroller types go by many names. But below are the major types, and once you familiarize yourself with their main features, you should be able to determine which type is in front of you.
1. All-in-one stroller
Best for: country living, large cars, longer strolls, newborns
All-in-ones are full-sized strollers with typically 3 different types of seats that attach to a chassis (frame).
So basically you have the “skeleton” of the stroller, including the wheels, handlebars, and brakes, and you’re simply switching out the seat.
The different types of seats are usually:
Bassinet (baby is lying down completely flat)
Newborn car seat (baby is slightly upright, with a harness)
Regular seat (for babies about 6 months and older who can sit upright on their own)
Those 3 seats are attachments that you simply clip into the unfolded chassis.
The huge benefit of having an all-in-one stroller is that you can adapt it to your child’s age. You could get by with having just one of these strollers for the duration of the strolling period, as it were.
Now, if you don’t have a bassinet, you can still adhere to this 2-hour rule by regularly taking your baby out of her car seat or other stroller attachment.
Another great feature of the all-in-one stroller (and, in my opinion, the best part) is that you can transfer your baby to and from the car and the stroller without having to move her around too much, because she can stay in the car seat.
Imagine: your baby finally fell asleep after a marathon scream-fest in the car, but you just arrived at the shops! Instead of taking her out of the car seat and putting her into the bassinet attachment, just leave her in the car seat and clip it into the chassis.
Last, you have a regular seat for the chassis, which is larger for babies who can already sit upright on their own. You’ll be surprised at how fast they grow out of the bassinet and newborn car seats!
Best for: country living, sporty outings, larger cars
The all-terrain or jogging stroller has more to do with the chassis than the attachments.
You can have an all-in-one all-terrain stroller, if you want!
This is not a compact stroller. The thing to remember here is that the wheels will be much larger and made of rubber. There are 3 wheels: 1 in the front and 2 in the back. Some even have suspension.
Why would anyone need all that? Why, to jog along with your baby in her stroller, of course!
If you’re serious about jogging, you need an all-terrain stroller. But even if you are not a jogger, the all-terrain will be great for country outings. The all-terrain stroller will be no match for sand, mud, grass, gravel… the list goes on.
Because of its design, the all-terrain stroller tends to be on the bulky side. But you can still fold it up.
C’s Peg-Pérego stroller was also all-terrain.
3. Compact stroller
Best for: city living, smaller cars, older babies, travel (especially train/plane)
The opposite of an all-terrain stroller is a compact stroller. These typically have 4 small plastic wheels and they are best for city dwellers.
The main draws are, of course, the small size and lightweight chassis. Compact strollers marry convenience with quality. They fold up into impossible pretzels, and you can lift them with one hand—super convenient when your other hand is full of baby.
They are also roomy enough when unfolded to provide comfortable seating for babies about 6 months and older, who can sit upright on their own.
However, some compact strollers offer the option of a bassinet that you can clip into the chassis, but this is an extra purchase.
Compact strollers even come equipped with a canopy and a basket under the seat.
Best for: short walks on pavement, older babies, travel (especially train/plane)
The umbrella stroller is probably the one you think of first. It is also compact, but it folds up tall, like a collapsed umbrella.
(If umbrella strollers fold up hot-dog style, then compact strollers fold up hamburger-style… if that makes sense to anyone else who went through public school in the US!)
Umbrella strollers are small and lightweight, but the way they fold can be less convenient than a compact.
Also, they do not always come with a canopy or a basket underneath.
In my experience, they tend to feel flimsier. It’s really a just-in-case stroller.
Personally, I never felt the need for one, and I don’t highly recommend you get one. They are definitely not suitable for the duration of your baby’s time in a stroller.
5. Double stroller
Best for: anyone who has more than one baby to push around!
If you’ve got twins or two young babies who both need the convenience of a stroller, you need a double stroller!
Double strollers have 2 types, with the children sitting either side-by-side or one in front of the other.
Definitely consider where you are going to be taking your stroller before you decide which type of double stroller to purchase. Think about doorframes, going around corners, the size of your car, etc.!
How to choose the right type of stroller for you
You need to consider the following when choosing a stroller:
Size (folded and unfolded)
Number of babies you have (for double strollers)
You really need to think when you are going to need the stroller.
For example, could you carry your baby in your arms or in a baby carrier/scarf in areas where a stroller would be less convenient?
Do you prefer to have your newborn lying flat, or will the car seat do?
Do you live up a flight of stairs? Remember, you have to carry the thing.
How easy is it to fold and unfold? Does it seem sturdy throughout this process?
Will it fit in the trunk of your car? Even with other purchases and sundry baby essentials shoved in with it?
How much traveling do you do? Are you getting in and out of the metro every day? Are you in the car a lot?
How about outdoor strolling? Will you be on paved or unpaved roads?
You need to weigh the pros and cons of each type of stroller as you consider these questions. If you are still stumped, ask yourself what’s most important to you in a stroller.
You may find that you need TWO strollers… or none at all…
How many strollers do you need?
If you plan on carrying your baby in your arms or in a baby carrier, you could forego the use of a stroller entirely until your baby is too heavy to carry.
I say this because maybe you want to bypass the strollers for newborns: the ones with a bassinet or car seat attachment.
Then, when your baby can sit upright, you could purchase a compact or umbrella stroller. I say this because it would defer the expense of a stroller until your baby is around 6 months old.
But there will come a time when your baby is too heavy for you to carry. She will probably not yet be walking, and even when babies have been walking for months, they often don’t want to walk very far!
The all-in-one strollers are a great option that adapt to the needs of your baby as she grows. Use the bassinet or car seat in the chassis at first, and then just pop in the regular seat attachment when your baby is ready.
You have different components, but they all work together in a system.
We got by with one stroller for C, the Peg-Perego one, until we were confronted with air travel…
So we borrowed a compact stroller, the Babyzen Yoyo, from our friends. Fortunately, C was barely able to sit upright at the time.
We held on to this stroller for about a year. So we had 2 during that time.
The all-terrain stayed at home, and we took it on walks around our house with hills and sand and rocks and mud. It worked great!
I kept the compact stroller in the trunk of my car at all times, because it wasn’t good on walks around our house and it was always handy for city walking and squinching through doorframes downtown.
The right type of stroller you need
I hope this article helped you determine what type of stroller you should purchase based on your individual needs.
If at all possible, test some first! Ask friends if you can borrow theirs. Push an empty stroller around where you will be doing it for real soon. Fold it and unfold it. See if it fits in your car. See how it performs!
If you are buying a used stroller, remember to ask the seller about their experience, why they are selling, and how many children the stroller went through already.
If you are buying a new stroller, try to go to the store and speak to a sales associate. They will sell you a stroller like they are selling you a car! Seriously, they know about all the options!
Getting ready to welcome bébé? Check out my other articles here on Mamas Café Society:
Jessica is an American expat living the dream in Normandy. She is wife to a French hubby and mama to a Franco-American daughter, born in 2018, and one whippet. Passionate about all stages of writing, this Francophile created her blog in 2020 to help others navigate motherhood with a focus on conscious parenting and bilingual parenting. Bonne lecture !
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