Features That Matter To Me
- What: Stroller assets
- When: Birth and beyond
- Why: Some things matter more than others
- Where: Any brand of stroller
In case you haven’t noticed, I have very strong feelings about strollers. I either love or hate them. I’ve been searching for the perfect stroller – one that can go anywhere and handle anything – since I got pregnant with my first child. Seven years later, I still haven’t found the perfect stroller, but I have discovered the features that matter most to me. In no particular order, here they are.
Brakes seem obvious, but I not only want brakes to be a feature, I want the brake to be obvious. I don’t want my husband or parents or anyone else not using the brake because they can’t figure it out. And I don’t want to break the brake trying to unlock it. The brake mechanism needs to be painfully obvious or sensibly common.
I also place high value on a flat reclining seat. You can’t use a stroller without a decent recline until your infant reaches six months of age. And I like to use my stroller for those first six months, when they can’t complain in words about being stuck in the stroller. I want to get all the months I can out of my purchase. But more importantly, once they can ride in the stroller, I want it to be as nap-friendly as possible. For me that means a full recline option, even if I don’t use it.
I need to maneuver the entire loaded stroller with only one hand. I have three kids, and even if I manage to put two in the stroller or one in a stroller and one in a carrier, I have to have my other hand free to hold onto the third child. At the airport, I like to have a hand for my roller board suitcase or beverage or any number of other things. Leaning on a stroller to push it with my elbows is not a good look for me. This feature can get frustrating because an easy one-handed push isn’t often included on a list of attributes when shopping online, unlike a full recline or other features might be. You have to try a stroller out in person to know for sure. As a quick reference, I’ve noticed strollers with a single handlebar rather than two separate handles tend to have a better one-handed push. But I haven’t tried every stroller out there, and there could be some exceptions.
I need storage. And I need the storage to be both accessible and a decent size. It doesn’t have to have room for an entire kid there, but if it wouldn’t say, hold my cat or a bag of groceries, what’s the point? I’m not pushing a stroller so I can haul everything else on my back. I’m unloading my burden onto wheels to make my life simpler. I need storage I can shove things in and out of quickly and easily.
I love extra capacity, and I don’t mean the kind where my husband shoves a kid into the storage compartment. I mean the kind that comes with an additional seat or a board to ride on the back. I have three young kids. I want to push as many of them at once as possible, or we are never going to get anywhere, much less on time. I don’t like side-by-side stroller models, as I find it nearly impossible to get them in and out of doorways. And I like using doors. I don’t like parking my stroller outside and unloading two kids just so I can run in and grab something necessary, like food.
I’ve already harped about storage, but it turns out my kids want it, too. And I prefer pockets on the inside of the seat for my kids. That means they stash all their goodies in the pockets. Instead of rooting around for the source of the bad smell later, I can empty the pockets after each ride and prevent smells and other things from escaping.
I also feel strongly about a sunshade. A canopy that only covers the top of their hand, but doesn’t actually block rain or sun seems silly to me. I like a sunshade that creates a cocoon out of my stroller, whether it’s for keeping my kids dry and comfortable or creating a dark nap environment. I also want a peekaboo window in the sunshade so I can see my child even with the shade fully extended.
Last, but definitely least, I need a stroller that can handle all kinds of terrain. I don’t need to handle snow or ice on a regular basis, but I won’t complain if the stroller can handle that. I do need to be able to navigate the cracks and uneven sidewalks that plague my neighborhood, as well as a curb. If I have to lift the stroller by hand every time we encounter a curb, I will not have a long relationship with that stroller.