July 10, 2013

Things to consider before you buy a baby stroller - How to Choose the right stroller type for your baby 

 

Baby Stroller Buying Guide


Whether you favor style, ease of storage, stability, or the savviest bells and whistles, there’s a stroller out there to suit every parent’s needs and lifestyle.

Here are some things to consider before you buy a baby stroller:


For the first six months to a year or so, if you'll be taking your infant in and out of a car a lot, a lightweight car seat carrier frame might be just the ticket. These bare-bones, universal frames let you attach an infant car seat. (See Stroller types.) Simply remove the infant seat from its base in the car, baby and all, and snap it right into the frame. It's great for letting your snoozing baby continue his nap. When you're done strolling, you simply snap the car seat back into its base inside the car. Stroller frames are inexpensive, and because of their light weight they're handy for quick trips between parking lot and supermarket, or for hauling on a bus or train.

An alternative is an all-in-one travel system, which consists of an infant car seat, a car-seat base, and a stroller. They can be heavy and take up more room than just a stroller frame, but once your baby reaches 6 months and can sit up and control his head and neck movements, you'll have the flexibility to use the travel system's stroller without the infant seat snapped in. A travel system is costlier but a good value because the stroller can be used after your child outgrows the infant car seat, unlike a car seat carrier frame, which is useful only for as long as your baby uses her infant car seat-anywhere from 9 months to a year or more, depending on your child's height and weight.

A variation on the theme is a combo stroller. Some of these resemble a "bassinet on wheels" (sort of like an old-fashioned baby carriage) to a regular stroller as your child grows. Some combos can accept an infant car seat but you will likely have to buy the car seat separately (infant car seats come with a base to hold it in place inside your car). In some cases, you'll also need an adapter to secure the car seat to the stroller, which may cost extra.

Combos tend to be costly, and though they are essentially a stroller chassis with wheels, may weigh more than car seat carrier frames. But they are also usable for a much longer time period than car seat carrier frames. All things considered, you might decide you don't need the bassinet feature that may be sold separately from your combo stroller. Some combo models, now offer a removable seat that reclines nearly flat to give your baby the same resting area provided by a bassinet without the need for that extra piece of equipment.


Mass transit or suburban crawl?


If you're a city dweller who relies on subways, buses, and cabs, you'll need a lightweight but sturdy stroller that folds quickly and is compact. A car seat carrier frame would work well, or a light, basic travel system. A sturdier stroller, perhaps one with larger tires, may be easier to push if you'll be going for long walks. But a bigger, heavier stroller might be harder to lift and fit into your car trunk, or to use on public transportation.

Some traditional and all-terrain strollers may have better shock-absorption, a three wheel configuration, and a seat that gives your baby more support than a simple umbrella stroller. This is also true of jogging strollers, but there's no reason to buy a jogger unless you're going to run with it. If you'll be tromping through snow or on unpaved roads or grass, a model with large wheels is a great option. Under those same conditions, a stroller with small plastic wheels, such as those found on some car-seat carrier frames, some umbrella strollers, and some traditional strollers, might be difficult to push. If you want to run, use a jogging stroller only, with a fixed front wheel, or locked swivel wheel.

If you do have a car, make sure whatever stroller you choose fits inside easily. And give some thought to where you will put a folded, standing stroller in your house. Do you have the closet space for it? Or will it block a hallway if you have to store it there? A folded stroller in the hall, or standing inside a closet, might also be a tip-over hazard for a curious baby or toddler.

Some parents may start with a travel system and later add a lightweight umbrella stroller for easier quick trips when baby is a bit older. If a second child comes along, you can consider a tandem double stroller, in which, with some models, an older child can sit in the front, and the infant can ride in the back, snug in her car seat. If one parent will be on his or her own with the kids, consider getting something that's not too heavy, if possible, since you may also be carrying a diaper bag and a baby. A stroller you can open and close with one hand also helps, but many strollers don't have this feature. A deep storage basket can also make a big difference when you're out running errands. Owning a stroller that comes with a car seat (such as a travel system) or is compatible with an infant car seat you own can also simplify your life.

For two children, you can buy a tandem or a side-by-side stroller. Depending on the model and configuration, some of these can be used with children of different ages. You might see strollers with a little platform in the back so an older child can stand up and ride along while a younger sibling is in the stroller seat in front, but we don't recommend these, since the standing child could slip or fall. We have not tested these ride-along seats.


What about the extras?


Even if you buy a nice modern lightweight stroller, you still may find yourself needing (or wanting) accessories such as a parasol, rain cover, netting to keep out bugs, drink holder, and more. The world of accessories is huge -and, of course, they can drive up the final price of a stroller. Instead, you might be very happy to pay a little extra up front for a stroller with built-in cup holders for your baby bottles, adjustable handle bars, and a special clip for your cell phone.

If you're baffled by the choices, you can always start with a basic universal seat-carrier frame for your infant car seat, then decide what might work best after you get used to going out with your baby.


Recommendations


Make sure you have enough room in your trunk for the stroller you're considering if you'll put it there. Here are some other factors to consider:


Love the one you're with


Strollers are popular baby gifts and shower presents. But make sure you put the one you want on your registry, and shop for it yourself by pushing a few different models around at the store. If you end up using your stroller heavily, and your baby will spend a lot of time in it, you should love the one you end up with and baby should be as comfortable as possible.


A range of options


As you can see in this Ratings, there's a wide price range among stroller types and brands. What makes one stroller worth $100 and another $1,000 or more? Several things drive up the price, but remember: You don't have to spend a fortune to get a good stroller. There are good models in a wide range of prices.

More expensive strollers may be made of high-grade, lighter-weight aluminum, making them easier to lift in and out of a car or bus. These strollers may also offer more design-centric color schemes and fancier seating options. Many models now let you change the direction your baby faces--out toward the world or looking at you. But you can find less-expensive strollers that are lightweight and packed with features, including features that were previously found only at the high end.

So remember, a higher price doesn't always mean higher quality. Consumer Reports' tests have found that some economical strollers perform as well or better than models costing hundreds of dollars more. Models of any price range can perform well or have flaws: frames that bend out of shape, locking hinge mechanisms that fail, safety belts that come loose, or buckles that break.

In the end, a less-expensive stroller might serve you well. A lot depends on where and how much you'll use it. For infrequent travel or trips to the mall, a lower-end umbrella stroller (less than $100) might be all you need once your baby is old enough to sit up. But if you're going to be out more often and in all kinds of weather and conditions, or you'd like the stroller to last for more than one child, consider spending more. Your child will be more comfortable, too. Good-quality traditional strollers start in the low $100s.


Test driving-real and virtual


Many stroller companies have extensive photo galleries, video demos, and virtual test drives posted on their websites. You can watch videos of parents pushing their children while walking (or running, while using a jogger). Some websites will show you strollers being closed, opened, and reconfigured like a Transformer toy made for modern parents. Our engineers have found that some manufacturer websites' how-to-use videos can be much more helpful than their user manuals.

Even if you plan to buy online, it's best to check out strollers in person, at a store that puts them on display. Are you comfortable with the handle height and the grip? Are the brakes or locking mechanisms easy to use? Compare maneuverability between models, and practice opening and closing the strollers--with one hand as well as two. See if it's easy to adjust the backrest, lift and carry the stroller, and apply the brakes. Make sure you can stand erect when you push the stroller and that your legs and feet don't hit the wheels as you walk. If you're going to share the stroller with a partner, both of you should try it out. If possible, take the floor model out to your car to be sure it will fit in your trunk when it's folded, and bring along a measuring tape. Also, jiggle the stroller; the frame should feel solid, not loose.


Consider your child's age


Since newborns can't sit up on their own, they need a stroller that lets them lie on their back for the first few months, or one that can accept an infant car seat. Don't put a newborn or young infant into a traditional stroller that doesn't fully recline, including umbrella-style models. Wait until he or she can sit up, usually at about 6 months. This is important because a young infant who can't hold his head up is at risk of positional asphyxia if not properly reclined, meaning that his head could fall forward, restricting his breathing.

If the stroller you buy doesn't have a bassinet feature but fully reclines, make sure it has enclosed sides or some means of containment. Some strollers have features to prevent your baby from slipping through the leg openings. No matter which type of seat you use, make sure you fasten the baby's harness each and every time. It's the easiest way to keep your baby safe and prevent injuries.

Some strollers accept a car seat. If you buy a stroller that allows you to adjust the seat angle for babies of different ages, be sure you recline the seat properly for a newborn. Ideally, a newborn would lie flat, or very nearly flat. Also make sure you read the manual; some combination strollers that come with a bassinet, for example, also come with a stroller seat, but you aren't supposed to use the stroller seat until your child is able to sit up on his own--around 6 months old. With any stroller, it's important to use the harness at all times.


Check certification


Search the stroller's carton or frame for a sticker showing that the manufacturer takes part in the certification program administered by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). Until the stroller standard becomes mandatory--slated to happen in late 2013 or early 2014--that symbol means that the product meets the minimum requirements of ASTM International (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials). Some of the key tests are for the stroller's restraint system, brakes, leg openings, stability, locking mechanisms that prevent accidental folding, and the absence of sharp edges and points that can pinch, shear, or scissor the user or the child. The certification program is voluntary, and so models from uncertified companies might be as safe as those from certified ones. Plus, our testing has found that JPMA-certified strollers don't always meet ASTM standards. Still, to be on the safe side, choose a certified model. Check the JPMA's website to find stroller brands that are JPMA certified.

Evaluate warranties and return policies


Most stroller manufacturers and retailers offer warranties that cover poor workmanship and inherent flaws, but they won't necessarily take back a stroller if it malfunctions. You might have to return to the store for a replacement or ship the stroller back to the manufacturer for repair--at your expense--leaving you stranded without baby wheels. A puncture to the wheel of your high-end stroller may not be considered a manufacturing defect, and you'll have to pay to repair the tire or possibly get a new inner tube for it. If your stroller has air-filled tires, make sure that it comes with a repair kit (pump and patch kit or replacement tire tube) that you can keep in or on the stroller at all times. Your best bet is to purchase the stroller from a store, catalog, or website that will let you return it if you're not satisfied. Some manufacturers have 30-day money-back guarantees.

Shop at a retailer with a flexible or long-term return policy since you might buy or register for your stroller many months ahead of your due date. And keep the stroller's packaging until you're sure you're happy with it.

Tags :
baby stroller buying guide, jogging stroller buying guide, double stroller buying guide, baby car seat buying guide, baby crib buying guide, baby travel system buying guide, how to choose a baby stroller, best strollers for newborns, stroller types
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source : www.consumerreports.org

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4 Comment(s):

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