Well, for us I guess it would be more like we've gone through strollers like...chia seeds. Or coconut oil.
Anyways, just doing a quick count here and the tally is eight. Three of those have been double strollers. Brands have included Safety 1st, an older Peg Perego, Valco Baby and some randoms. Styles have included chariot, jogging, umbrella, Sit 'n' Stand, and...regular?
Walking is very important to me, as it's the only way I fit intentional exercise into my busy days. Having a stroller that is easy to push, fits everyone/everything, and stores compactly is necessary for me. If I am wrestling that thing around corners and running over strangers' toes at the post office, I'm not going to feel motivated to get out for some exercise and fresh air with the littles.
Along the way I've gained some valuable insight on what to look for (and what to avoid) when choosing a stroller.
First, you really need to identify your needs! Unfortunately, not all strollers are created equal. Although the concept of a seat with wheels for small children seems simple enough, they are really designed with various priorities in mind (I.e., jogging, malls, compact for travel, twins, etc.,)
The things that are important to me in a stroller are:
- Ease of use: how hard is it for me to push the stroller in any weather, with the weight of children, and some cargo thrown in (diaper bag, purchases, etc.,) I really recommend that you load your child(ren) in the stroller you are considering before making a decision. It is deceiving how much easier it is to maneuver an empty stroller on an even store floor compared to a full one over rough terrain and slush. Try going around some corners, there are far too many systems that frankly suck at turning. How annoying is that? I don't know how many people only have errands to do or parks to walk to that require zero turns, but I am certainly not in that crowd. The stroller I currently use pretty much pushes itself with three children on board. I'm not kidding, I actually have to reach out and grab it if I stop for a minute. It makes me so happy, I almost giggle every time. But that would be weird, so I don't.
- Capacity: I know many moms (myself included) who start out with a single stroller, and then end up having to upgrade to a double within a couple of years. It makes sense, if you're having your first baby, you would probably feel silly pushing a double around. But if you're planning on expanding your family, consider the possibility of purchasing a stroller that can be added to. There are so many cool strollers now that are well-built and have options for purchasing additional seats to convert them from a single to a double, triple, or even a triple with a hitchhiker board for an older kid who gets tired on a long walk. Pictured on the left is the Valco Baby Tri Mode EX Twin, which is the stroller I am currently using.
- Compactness: How easy is it to fold your stroller and tuck it into the trunk for a road trip? Obviously if you are considering a double stroller, it's going to be a bigger package even when folded up. However, there are some pretty impressive models out there, such as this single one from Qunny, which folds small enough to stow in the overhead storage on an airplane! If bringing a stroller along with you in a vehicle isn't a regular occurrence, this may not be a priority for you.
- Other factors to consider are:
- Wheel size and whether they swivel/lock: (for jogging, you want the wheels to be able to lock, for maneuverability in store aisles you want 360 degree swivel action for changing your mind in the middle of an aisle. Ours has a dial on the front wheels which adjusts this is in a snap, I'm sure other brands do as well. I personally leave mine on 360, it makes me feel unpredictable and wild.) Make sure you've got good-sized wheels if you are planning on going ANYWHERE! The bigger, the better here.
- Type of tires (inflatable or solid): Ours are air-filled, which makes for a super smooth ride. But this disappoints the kids, who think a bumpy stroller is really fun.
- Height or adjustability of handle: generally for taller dads or petite moms. Oh boy, we definitely had a little umbrella-type stroller that we kept in the car which had such a low, close handle that even I was hunched over and kicking the stroller basket when I tried to push it...my husband felt like he was playing with a doll stroller! It was not something I even thought about when I bought it.
- In-stroller storage: This is somewhat of a personal preference, but chances are if you're a parent, you're not travelling light. I often stop to pick up the mail/parcels, grab items at the grocery store, and always have a diaper bag with me, so this is something I consider when looking at strollers. Unfortunately, with my current stroller, this is the biggest issue for me. The Valco Baby Tri Mode Twin is built to hold triplets, so it has a sturdy support bar down the middle which incidentally divides the storage basket below the seats. This makes it annoying to access and less useful since I can't even fit a diaper bag in there!
- Length/width: For double strollers, there are three main styles which will affect length. There are side-by-side models, Sit 'n' Stand styles (pictured below) and ones where the seats are inline. I've discovered I prefer side-by-side, as both kids can see everything and it doesn't feel like I am at the end of a train and am not even sure if the front child is in fact still on board. I love the idea of a Sit 'n' Stand but after vowing to my husband that it would surely be the perfect stroller and buying one, it proved to be the worst thing ever. I don't know if it was just my brand (Safety 1st), but it was SO HARD to turn corners with that thing. The wheels were too small to go over anything that wasn't a showroom floor, and the Sit 'n' Stand part for the older child didn't have a canopy, which seemed kind if mean-spirited, if you ask me. The two side-by-sides I've used have been my top two, just make sure if you go with this style that it isn't wider than 32", as you want to be able to fit through standard doors.
- Carseat compatibility: If your stroller doesn't have seats which can recline fully, you will probably want to have a carseat adaptor so that you can attach the carseat right into your stroller during those early infant days. Make sure that the stroller or adaptor (if a separate purchase) are compatible with your carseat brand/style. Or have your handy husband modify one to suit your needs, which both myself and a friend have done in the past.
- Price: Obviously important! Of course, you can get your dream stroller if you have a fabled money tree, but for most of us, we need to balance functionality, quality and budget. I was very blessed to buy a barely-used high-end stroller for only $200...valued around $850. Check out your local kijiji or Facebook yard sale pages for a good deal near you.