Whoa! Have you walked down the stroller aisle yet? There are more choices than ever, and buying a stroller is confusing enough when you're a first-timer. To help you with your wheeling and dealing, we've rounded up a baker's dozen to consider.
First up is a luxe-look model that comes in at just $250: the Britax B-Agile. Its deep, reclining seat sits atop a first-class wheel-suspension system that ensures your baby glides along smoothly. We adore the big canopy, too, for shady naptimes. We added a Skip-Hop seat liner, made with memory foam for extra comfort ($30). The liner has a secret storage pouch so you can tuck away a stroller blanket.
If a snack tray and roomy basket are on your "must" list, check out Chicco's Cortina, voted our readers' favorite stroller in 2012. The seat, which can recline flat for a newborn, has a "memory," so that it always returns to the last position you had it in when you unfold the stroller. On its own, the stroller is $200. Buy it with the award-winning Chicco KeyFit car seat for $350.
Do you plan to go jogging with your stroller? BOB's Revolution SE ($400) has enormous air-filled tires to sail over any terrain. The front wheel locks in place, the safety strap ensures you and the stroller stay connected and the seat is deep and comfy. For safety, don't go running together until baby is 6 months old or older.
If you love the ease of the Revolution, but want a compact, everyday stroller, check out their new Motion, for $350. It has many of the same features.
Graco strollers are affordable (starting at about $140!) and compatible with Graco's bestselling SnugRide car seat. Graco wheels (which are small and light to keep the stroller easy to lift and fold) do best for short treks or mall walks. Their latest models have a FastAction Fold that lets you close them up in one second. (We've timed it.) We also like the snack tray and parent tray. In addition to the stroller or the travel system (the stroller and car seat sold together for about $230), you can now get a FastAction Fold Sport, an easy-to-steer stroller that looks like a jogger but is made for daily life ($150).
How cute is this three-wheeler? It's convenient too; in addition to having storage both underneath and on the sides, the Jeep Liberty Limited Urban Terrain Stroller has a sound system for your iPod or MP3 player. Your baby gets a steering wheel on his snack tray, and the supersized tires keep your ride as smooth as jazz ($180).
Baby Jogger's strollers get rave reviews from our readers. Their design allows for deep seats, sturdy wheels that can execute sharp turns, and a simple, speedy fold that makes storing one a snap. Love the huge canopy, too, especially welcome in sunny climates! The City Mini, their most compact model, is $250.
This amazing little stroller converts from a pretty, traditional pram to a standard upright stroller with not much more than a tilt of the seat. Made by the Simmons mattress folks, the Tour Buggy is comfy! It lasts from birth all the way through childhood for $300.
The hottest big-city stroller? UPPAbaby's Vista. The Vista Stroller System ($730) includes a frame with shock-absorbent wheels, a pram for a newborn, and an upright seat for a baby. The seat can face in either direction, and the canopy pulldown sunshade is an SPF 50+. Unlike some systems, the Vista can be folded without removing the seat from the frame.
Cybex strollers are gaining a following in the US; we've spotted them with celebrities. They're full of thoughtful design features, such as UV-50-plus canopies that zip out to keep your baby sheltered from the sun. The wheels fully rotate for tight turns, and they're fast to fold. The Cybex Callisto has a grab bar for attaching toys and sells for $350.
If price is your first consideration, Evenflo offers some of the best bargains around. We like their Journey 300 travel system, sold with the Embrace 35 car seat. You get both for $180; less if you find them on sale! We like that the stroller stands up after you fold it (no need to hang it or lean it) and that the car seat is light, making it easier to lug your little one!
BabyHome's Emotion stroller is a lightweight model with supersturdy design. It's made of aluminum so it's easy to fold and carry, but the well-designed wheels ensure that it glides smoothly. You get a rain guard and mosquito net along with it. The Emotion is $300 but holds up to 55 pounds, so you can use this until your child is in kindergarten!
The word "zippy" comes to mind when describing Maclaren strollers. They're compact, perfect for moving through store aisles and getting past crowds with a minimum of fuss. A Maclaren is lightweight, and folds so small you can tuck it behind a door. They've been the wonder wheels of city parents for years! We like the Quest Sport model ($370), with its comfy seat, rain cover, and strap on the back so that when you're taking it out to the car, you can sling it over your shoulder.
Talk about all the bells and whistles. The Origami, a premium stroller from 4Moms, can unfold and fold itself with the touch of a button. It has headlights, and a control panel that can tell you the temperature and track how far you walk. It charges its own batteries as you stroll, and can charge your cell phone, too! All that technology makes it heavier than your average stroller, but that helps it feel sturdy and roll smoothly. At $850, it's top-of-the-line, but devotees say it's worth the price.
Quinny's update to their Zapp stroller, the Zapp Xtra, lets you reverse the seat, so your baby can face you or face out. It can be folded with the seat still attached, and the front wheels swivel for easy turns. At $350, it's less expensive than many other strollers with a reversing seat.
Portions of this were originally published in the June 2011 and June 2012 issues of American Baby magazine.