Umbrella strollers are high quality, lightweight, foldable, and durable, and they’re ideal for hopping in and out of cars, traveling, or navigating small spaces. They are particularly well known for being easy to fold and compact, and they’re a favorite travel stroller or toddler pick for the city dweller.
Almost all parents who have a full-size or all-terrain stroller also end up buying an umbrella stroller. Some parents end up ditching their full-size stroller altogether and using this as their main stroller from about two years old on.
Things to consider:
- Ease of use: How easy is the stroller to push? Can you steer it with one hand?
- Weight: Is it a manageable weight? Remember, you’ll also have a growing baby and gear in the stroller once you’re actually pushing it.
- Folding: Is the stroller easy to fold? Can you fold it with one hand? Is it easy to carry?
- Size: How much space do you have in your home? Will it fit your lifestyle?
Features to look for:
- Type of handlebar. While most full-size strollers have one straight handlebar, most umbrella strollers have two curved handles (much like umbrellas). The straight handlebar makes navigating a little easier, but the two curved bars make the stroller more collapsible, so consider the trade-off.
- Leg room (yours!). Spend some time testing how comfortable you are striding behind different strollers, and make sure you have a good fit. The size of the wheels, angle of the seat, and handlebar positions all affect the legroom for the parent.
- Durability. With any luck, you might be able to use your stroller for more than one child. Be sure to consider wheel construction, as plastic wheels can begin to stick and become difficult to maneuver over time.
- Washability. Make sure you consider the stickiness factor and get a stroller that’s easy to clean.
- Cargo space. Just about every stroller comes with a storage basket, though the size and style can vary almost as much as the strollers themselves. Decide if you’re a pack rat or a minimalist, and choose your stroller accordingly.
- Brakes. This safety feature keeps your stroller from rolling away when you’re not moving. Look for brakes that are conveniently located, for when your hands are full. If you live in a hilly city, you might also want resistance brakes that will slow your stroller down on an incline.
- Always use the harness system. When your baby gets older, it’s tempting to let her sit in the seat without the belt on, but trust us, you don’t want to learn your lesson the hard way (such as suffering a spill coming off a street corner).
- Hang diaper bags, grocery bags, purses, backpacks, and other items off the back of your stroller carefully; strollers can tip, especially with little ones in them. Strollers are for sitting or lying down. Don’t let your child stand in the stroller for any reason.
- Make sure your stroller is fully open before putting baby in. Partially collapsed strollers can not only scare your baby, but also pinch a hand or leg. Whether you’re opening or closing the stroller, do it completely and without baby in or around the activity.
- Be careful on hills. Just like bicycles, strollers can gain speed. Busy parents with busy hands should use extra caution going down hills, particularly as hills descend into intersections. This might be a good time to put on that safety strap!
- Just like regular oil checks for your car, periodic maintenance for strollers is a good idea. This is especially true as strollers have become fancier, offer more options, and are built more like high-tech bicycles than old-style prams. Air-filled tires mean tires that can go flat. (Too bad there aren’t oil and lube shops for strollers.)