Let’s count how many carriages you need for your baby. Firstly, you need some kind of portable cradle where your newborn baby can sleep blissfully while you are moving it around the house, or even out of the house (to visit a doctor, as an example). Then, you need a carriage for outdoor activities like walking in parks, or going to a shop. Keep in mind, younger children will be sleeping during walks, but older babies will be examining the world around – so it seems like you need two different carriages for your walks! And lastly, don’t forget about cars, since babies require special child safety seats!
You may feel completely lost when examining all these baby carriage options available on the market. Prams, strollers, carrycots, slings, backpacks – do you really need to purchase all of them!? Not on your life! Unless you are crazy about shopping and your money is limitless. In fact, many experienced moms get by with 1-2 carriages, passing them from the first child to the second and so on. You can do it, too! So, take a deep breath and read our guide to find the baby carriage that fits your lifestyle best.
Many modern moms travel a lot even with newborns, they change planes, trains and buses or simply go places in their cars. So, they need a baby carriage that combines comfort for baby and ease of use for moms. Yes, it would be nice to have a classic pram with a flat and hard enough bassinet to provide the best place for baby’s healthy sleep. However, such prams are too heavy (usually around 33 pounds), large and occupy too much space even when folded.
Fortunately, there is a nice option specifically designed to meet the requirement of moms who make active use of both private cars and public transportation, and it is called a travel system. Many travel systems include a detachable carrycot with a flat and hard base, which is good for infant’s sleep, and a removable car seat, suitable for newborns and toddlers (some systems feature only a car seat unit). In addition, they are equipped with a pushchair unit that provides comfort when your baby is old enough for safe sitting. All the units are fixed on a chassis and you can move your baby in and out right with the unit avoiding waking him or her up. What a relief for a caring mother!
Though comparable with classic prams in size and weight, travel systems are more convenient for mobile moms due to their portable units, removing the necessity to buy a carrycot and a car seat. Besides, you simply won’t be able to use a lightweight stroller until your baby grows up enough to sit well. And furthermore, you can choose a system featuring an umbrella folding mechanism – usually such systems are smaller when folded and weigh about 22 pounds.
When choosing a travel system, look for a lightweight but reliable, strong chassis – the first feature is usually specified in the system’s description, while the second feature can be tested in an off-line store. While you are in the store, it would also be prudent to test the system’s belt fastening mechanism, since its convenience, reliability and safeness are critical for your baby’s comfort and safety. Don’t forget to look at the safety seat’s markings! It needs to say that it is suitable for babies from birth. If not, you would require purchasing an additional seat – but why would you want to?
Lightweight stroller is another comfortable option for moms who travel a lot. Generally, you can use a lightweight stroller when your baby is at least 6 months old, since lightweight strollers don’t feature good head and back support. The lightweight version of a conventional stroller is beneficial for its smaller size, amazing weight (some models weigh only 8 pounds) and easy folding – sometimes you just need to press one button in order to have your stroller folded to an umbrella size (that’s why lightweight strollers are also known as umbrella strollers). Typical lightweight models weigh about 12 pounds and though, of course, they take up more space than an umbrella, they are still very convenient for commuter moms, easily transported in the car trunk and don’t require much space to store.
As a general rule, the cheapest and the smallest strollers cannot boast high off-road performance and comfort. They have small plastic wheels, poor back support and weather protection, zero or very little back recline positions or handy accessories like storage baskets and pockets. These lightweight strollers aren’t recommended for long walks, but can be chosen as a second stroller for travelling with the baby. Pricier lightweight strollers may possess some of the features of regular models, such as an adjustable seat, footrest, handle and canopy, a 5-point safety harness system, some type of suspension, a rain hood, drink holders and other useful accessories. Are you planning on keeping one stroller until your child is old enough to walk steadily on their own feet? Then dip into your pocket and purchase a stroller with all the bells and whistles!
A jogging stroller is an obvious choice for those who will want to get back to their healthy lifestyle as soon as possible. This type of strollers features 3 large shock absorbing wheels, where the front wheel can be fixed or locking swivel, with air-filled rubber tires, effective suspension, large distance between wheels and a lightweight frame. This provides a great maneuverability and high speed stability along with a smooth ride. They are perfect for jogging in the city, overcoming hills and curbs easily, and they are really good on uneven road surface due to the fairly steady and wide wheelbase.
Unfortunately, the large wheels and wide wheelbase turn out to be a drawback when it comes to compactness. You may face problems with entering elevators or shops, as well as with maneuvering up and down stairs. Though many of the jogging strollers feature an umbrella folding system, they are still heavier and bulkier compared with lightweight models, some of them weigh about 25 pounds – just like classic prams (but yielding to four-wheelers in stability).
As an alternative, you can choose a jogging stroller with a detachable carrycot and/or baby car seat, thus replacing a conventional pram and a regular stroller by an all-purpose baby carriage with greater maneuverability. Modern jogging strollers come with a variety of useful features and accessories to choose from, but you’d better focus on safety. Make sure that your would-be stroller is equipped with a 5-point harness, safety tether, parking brake, sling-styled seat with enough padding and a canopy to protect your child from the sun and the rain. Want more hi-tech features and don’t mind paying more? Then search for advanced adjustability: adjustable tracking of the front wheel, a handlebar and suspension.
Don’t intend to spend a fortune on all these carriages, do you? You do not need all these fancy designs and other cool hi-tech stuff – you just want a reliable and functional thing to carry your baby from A to B! But is there a chance to buy a carriage for several years to last from childbirth to up to 3-4 years? The good news is that there are actually two available options!
Convertible prams are prams which combine a cot and pushchair unit. Unlike travel systems, they don’t feature detachable parts like a baby car seat, but rather allow inserting removable carrycot into the stroller unit. Thus, they are suitable for infants, since they provide a good level of back support for healthy sleep, and they can be used by older babies, who can sit well. Some of them are rather bulky and heavy (over 30 pounds), but they have large wheels, good suspension and wide wheelbase providing higher stability and cross-country option. Besides, there are convertible prams weighing about 22 pounds that makes them comparable with travel systems and conventional strollers.
When choosing such a pram, place greater focus on the stiffness of the back frame, since soft back is bad for your child’s spine. This is especially true about movable carrycots – they have to feature flat and firm bottom. The back with multiple recline positions is a plus, as well as an adjustable handlebar – you don’t want your arms and shoulders aching after long walks, do you? Also, it would be great to test several transforming mechanisms to choose the most convenient, yet reliable one.
Naturally, you might not be quite satisfied with larger size and greater weight of convertible prams. Here is an alternative solution – standard strollers. Though standard strollers are recommended for babies over 6 months, there are models combining pram and pushchair features that can be used from the very birth. As a rule, they have smaller wheels and a compact frame, making them lighter and easier to fold and to store. Depending on a design, standard strollers may have a choice of useful options like adjustable handles and footrests, reversible and reclining seats, hand and foot operated brakes, not to mention all kinds of accessories. But if you are going to use this stroller for a newborn, you should look for quality in a stroller, rather than fancy accessories.
Just what are those quality features? Front or back suspension provides shock-absorption, while foam or air-filled tires can handle various road surfaces. If you choose a stroller with the swivel wheels for improved maneuverability, give preference to those equipped with locks or you won’t be able to make them run straight when it is necessary. Flip-flop brakes, as well as one-hand and self-standing fold ensure much comfort in use along with user-friendly, yet reliable harness clips. And at last, remember that you will have to clean your stroller somehow – you are sure to like removable and machine washable parts.
Our bottom line is that it really is possible to get all you want from one baby transport unit if it is reasonably chosen. Now you know the advantages and disadvantages of various types of carriages and the features which you should consider first and foremost – focus on them and choose the best for you and your baby!