Let’s face it, it’s hard to do much of anything with a baby on your hip. Do you want to go grocery shopping, run an errand, or chase around a busy toddler? It’s just not going to happen with one arm occupied! That is why finding the best stroller (or strollers!) for your family is so important. As a busy mom who has spent over 50 nap times researching strollers, I want to share my picks for the best of the best strollers.
I’ve also purchased more strollers than I can count on both hands, and I want to save you from this fate. There are truly so many options when it comes to strollers. This list will share my favorites in three common stroller categories.
Determining the Best Strollers for Your Family
Starting with brand or price? No way! You first have to determine the type of stroller that best suits your family’s needs. No longer is a stroller simply a seat with four wheels and a handlebar! Strollers come in all shapes, sizes, and configurations to make life easier for every unique family. This post will break down the ins and outs of three common stroller types so you can determine the best strollers for you. I will also give my top pick for each of these categories:
- Modular strollers
- Travel System Strollers
- Umbrella strollers
Let’s get to it!
What is a Modular Stroller?
A modular stroller is a stroller that parents can convert into several different “modes” depending on the arrangement of seats and accessories. Simply put, a modular stroller contains a stand-alone frame that is compatible with one or more seats. This can include car seats, toddler seats, a jump seat, or a standing board. These are the best strollers because of their all-around versatility.
As such, modular strollers are extremely versatile. Families can use them with one child (or as many as three children) using the same frame. Many parents love the option of having one stroller that they can use forever, even if they add additional kids to the family! While the adaptability is a definite plus, modular strollers tend to be heavier than a single stroller. This is true even when a modular stroller is used with only one seat.
Best Strollers – Modular Stroller: UPPAbaby VISTA
The UPPAbaby VISTA is my pick as the best modular stroller because it is truly top-of-the-line for versatility and parent experience. Notable features include:
- 10+ configurations to accommodate one or two babies, one or two toddlers, a baby and a toddler, or even three kids of varying ages!
- Compatible accessories include toddler “rumble seat,” toddler “kickboard,” parent organizer, and adapters for a variety car seats
- Shock-absorbing suspension for a smooth ride
- Standing fold for convenient storage
- One-handed multi-position recline
- UPF 50+ sun canopy with expandable panels
- Removable and washable seat and canopy fabrics
- Included rain and bug shield to protect children from the elements
Why Parents Love It
Parents universally love the VISTA because it adapts to whatever situation the family needs. If you have kids, you know being ready-for-change is the name of the game. Parents say that it “turns on a dime” and “pushes like butter” thanks to the shock-absorbing suspension. It also has a luxurious feel due to a smooth leather covering on the handlebar. The handlebar also telescopes to accommodate parents of different heights.
Another feature that parents love is the super large storage basket at the bottom. Storage space in a stroller is prime real estate and the VISTA gets it right. Finally, the VISTA includes a bassinet attachment that can be used for nap-time walks or errands.
This bassinet can also be used safely for overnight sleep if the parents prefer. UPPAbaby even sells a bassinet stand that you can put in your bedroom for this very purpose. Goodness knows I love a product that is multi-functional and the VISTA delivers.
In addition to the features highlighted above, a major benefit of this stroller is that it allows for reversible seats (so your kids can either face you or face away from you for a different view). It is compatible with many different models of car seats, and it features high weight limits (up to 50 lbs). The biggest benefit, however, is that this stroller ensures that you will not have to buy another stroller in the event that you have another child.
While a stroller like the UPPAbaby VISTA is a big investment, the same stroller could be used for a decade or more to meet the needs of a growing family. This alone makes it one of the best strollers and a good investment.
Flaws (But Not Deal Breakers)
While there are many advantages to the UPPAbaby VISTA, you will want to consider a few flaws as well. Most of the desirable accessories that make the VISTA so versatile are not included in the base price. This means that the cost of the stroller (which is already near the top of the market) can increase quickly!
If you want a parent organizer, travel bag, second seat, or “kickboard,” for example, it is going to cost you extra. Additionally, the VISTA is a heavy stroller. The frame plus a single toddler seat is 26.6 lbs, and with two toddler seats, it is nearly 34 lbs. That’s before you add the weight of two toddlers! Add an older child on the “kickboard” and you are looking at 75-100 lbs to push around.
One of my other issues with the VISTA is that the toddler seat must be removed in order to use a car seat (if using with a single child). This means that if you going on vacation and need the car seat for travel but want the toddler seat while there, you either have to put the stroller into 2-seat configuration or carry around the toddler seat in your luggage. I prefer a car seat that snaps on top of the toddler seat to minimize this hassle.
What is a Travel System?
Want a stroller that will allow you to snap a car seat on top of a toddler seat? A travel system is for you! A travel system stroller will allow you to seamlessly take an infant carrier from your car and put it in the stroller without waking a sleeping baby.
Note that this is only true for infant car seats. If you have a child in a convertible car seat or a booster seat, this feature will not work for you. A travel system is a perfect solution for those who want the streamlined functionality of a full-featured single stroller with the convenience of a car seat attachment. These are the best strollers if you travel often.
Best Strollers – Travel System:
The easy winner of the best strollers in the travel system category is the . It is user-friendly and relatively adaptable while being a workhorse single stroller. Notable features include:
- 3-wheel design for easy maneuverability
- Handle for a one-handed quick-fold
- Single foot brake that locks both rear wheels
- Multi-position recline
- 3-panel sun canopy with UPF 50+ protection
- Curved handlebar for easier one-handed steering
- Compatibility with a child up to 50 lbs, 44”, or 5 years
Why Parents Love It
As the name suggests, the is loved by urban dwellers. Its narrow footprint and easy maneuverability make it a favorite among those winding through crowds or alleys. The one-handed fold feature means it can be folded while also holding a child (or a bag of groceries) in the other arm. Plus, it is nearly flat when folded. This makes it perfect for a small apartment or even a small trunk.
The is available in a number of color combinations, including rarer stroller colors like green and purple. It also includes smart details like “peekaboo” windows in two of the three canopy panels which allow a parent to check on a strolling (or sleeping) child. Additionally, the is compatible with the Baby Jogger Glider Board which makes it a nice choice for families with a new baby and an older toddler who would be content to ride standing.
The is a relatively light stroller at 17.6 lbs. As mentioned above, it has a small footprint when folded. It offers adapters for many brands of car seats, and is able to securely click in the car seat with or without the base. This is a huge advantage when traveling.
Most importantly, the car seat nests on top of the toddler seat which means there’s no extra seat to carry if being used with the car seat. The also includes a mesh pocket on the back of the toddler seat for a bit of extra storage which is always a plus. Finally, it has an accessory mounting bracket on each side of the seat to attach a number of accessories including a car seat adapter, a belly bar, or a toddler snack tray.
Flaws (But Not Deal Breakers)
While the offers many benefits, flaws to consider include its small storage basket which some parents may find hard to access. Additionally, many of its desirable accessories (like a parent cup holder) are not included and must be purchased separately. The handlebar does not rotate or telescope, and it also does not stand when folded which can be challenging for storage.
Lastly, though manufactured under the brand, the is NOT actually intended for jogging.
What is an Umbrella Stroller?
Looking for something simpler or more straightforward without the frills? Want something lighter or more budget-friendly? An umbrella stroller is your best bet! An umbrella stroller is typically under 15 lbs and collapses inward to create a compact fold. Umbrella strollers typically trade features for function. They prioritize small size and lightness over the amenities typically found in a full-size stroller. These are the best strollers if you need to do things quickly.
Best Strollers – Umbrella Stroller: Summer Infant 3DLite
The Summer Infant 3DLite takes the cake for best strollers in the umbrella stroller category. With its sleek design and smart use of space, the 3DLite is a great option for everyday use or for travel with an older toddler. Notable features include:
- Aluminum frame that’s just 13lbs
- 4-position seat recline
- 5-point safety harness
- Adjustable sun canopy
- Included parent cup holder
- Compatible with a child up to 50 lbs
Why Parents Love It
Parents love the 3DLite because it lives up to its name– it’s light! It’s perfect for throwing in the car or for use in an airport, and it even includes a shoulder strap for easy transport. It has a surprisingly large basket under the seat, plus it includes an extra storage pocket on the back of the seat for small items like a snack or a cell phone.
Parents also love that it is easy to recline with a simple lever system and reclines nearly flat. This is a rarity with umbrella strollers. This feature allows sleepy kids to snooze while on the go.
The 3DLite is a cost-effective option for families who want a stroller that is easy to haul around. It is small when folded which makes for easy storage in a garage, closet, or trunk. Even so, it is safe and comfortable to use with a toddler up to 50 lbs.
Additionally, it has many color combinations available and it includes some nicer amenities rare in this category, including a padded seat and padded shoulder straps.
Flaws (But Not Deal Breakers)
The Summer Infant 3DLite is a great option for many, but it does have a few flaws that are important to note. First, the two-handle design of this stroller makes it nearly impossible to steer with one hand. This is a challenge if you’re trying to roll a suitcase or hold a coffee in the other hand.
Additionally, the sun canopy is not long enough to truly provide optimal sun protection. There are also no windows in the canopy that would allow you to see your child while you stroll. Lastly, the 3DLite is not adaptable or versatile in any way, meaning that it can only be used with one child in the seat as designed.
Frequently Asked Questions
If all this stroller talk has left you feeling a bit confused, I’ve answered some common questions to help you on your journey.
Q: Do I really need a stroller?
This depends on your comfort level carrying a child in your arms or in a wearable carrier. For me, a stroller was a must-have item because of a years-old back injury. That said, many parents without a medical need buy a stroller simply because it’s convenient!
Strollers allow parents to travel with their child while knowing that the child is safe, comfortable, and contained. A stroller also allows the child a unique view of the world around them. Simply put, strollers provide parents with a convenient way to get around while still having full use of their arms.
Q: How long will my kid(s) use a stroller?
How long your child will use a stroller depends on a few factors. It begins with how quickly they learn to walk and/or how comfortable they are walking long distances. Secondly, it depends on how quickly they meet the height or weight restrictions of the stroller. All of the strollers reviewed in this article safely hold children up to 50 lbs, which is estimated to include children 5 years and younger.
While your child may want to leave the stroller behind much younger than that, a stroller is still a great option to have for older kids. You may want to continue to use a stroller for a 4 or 5-year-old when pursuing activities that involve a lot of walking or very large crowds. For instance, a day at an amusement park is much easier with a stroller.
Q: Are strollers safe for sleeping babies?
While experts recommend that infants sleep in a designated crib, it is not always possible to be home during nap time. Parents should read the user manual and safety information for any stroller that they purchase. This will help parents determine whether the stroller provides a safe sleeping environment. Parents or customers should direct any additional questions about safe sleep to a pediatrician.
Q: What should I consider when selecting the best strollers?
If you are unsure where to start when thinking about strollers, you’ll want to consider the following:
First, know that any stroller that is on the market must meet basic safety and quality guidelines. Even so, it is important to check safety ratings to make sure that you are aware of and comfortable with the level of safety provided. Additionally, you will want to make sure that there are no active recalls for a stroller that you are considering.
Buying secondhand? Make sure that the stroller has never been in an accident (which may impact the structural safety of the stroller). Safety and recall information can be found via Consumer Reports. Regardless of which stroller you buy, you will need to make sure you assemble it correctly and always use the provided harness.
Deciding on a brand for your stroller may be based on a number of factors. You will want to determine which brands fit within your budget, which brands have features that are important to you, which brands match your style or have colors or prints that you enjoy, and which brands include safety features that are non-negotiable.
You may also want to consider a brand that is compatible with a car seat (if applicable) to reduce the chance that you will have to spend extra money on an adapter. Lastly, you will want to choose a brand that you like. Select a brand that seems honest, reputable and that has good customer service. You never know when you may end up needing another buckle or a spare wheel!
Size, Weight, and Portability
You will want to consider a few things here! First, how tall and strong are you? Certain strollers have handlebars that may be too high for a 5’1” mom! Others may be too heavy for someone who doesn’t exercise frequently (like me).
Second, where will you be storing the stroller? If you have a garage, the stroller’s size may not matter. If you have a compact car or will be storing it in a coat closet, you will probably want a stroller that is small when folded.
Third, do you travel a lot? Consider whether or not the stroller will be used primarily at home for errands. If not, you may need one that’s adaptable to different environments (like an airport, a city street, or even the beach).
Most strollers contain one of two harness types: a 3-point harness or a 5-point harness. A 3-point harness includes two straps that wrap from the back, around the belly and buckle between the legs. A five-point harness has the same, plus two straps that come over the shoulders to a buckle between the legs.
If you have a particularly squirmy child or one who is going to fight being in the stroller, a 5-point harness may be a safer bet for you. If you have a child who is easily frustrated or who has sensory challenges with a strap rubbing their skin, a 3-point harness may be a better option.
Questions to Help You Make the Best Decision
If you’re in the throes of stroller shopping (or even if you’re just getting started) these questions will guide your thinking and will help you figure out your priorities when it comes to buying a stroller:
- What is your budget?
- How often will you be using the stroller?
- What terrain will you be traversing?
- How many kids (present or future) will need to be accommodated?
- What’s your climate?
- What does your storage look like?
- How big is your car or trunk?
- How important is the “look” of the stroller?
- What are your must-have amenities?
- What are your “that would be nice” amenities?
- Are there any features or amenities that are not important to you?
- Are there any characteristics that are deal breakers for you?
Final Thoughts on Finding the Best Strollers
While any stroller can free up your hands, the best strollers will give you the peace of mind and convenience to go wherever it is you need to go. You can enter the stroller-buying process with confidence. Just make sure you consider what you value, what you need, and what you are willing to spend.
My best piece of advice is to ask around to your friends about what strollers they have and push theirs around. Parents often find it helpful to feel the weight of a stroller and the glide of its wheels before making a purchase. Happy shopping!