Will your Stroller pass my “one-handed” test?
Law of Parenting: Only one hand is available for use at any one time so I’ve developed a “one-handed” test for strollers. Will your stroller pass my “one-handed” test?
Here’s what I look for in a stroller. Read this before going to the store and use it as a guide to put the various strollers through its paces. The only way to figure out whether the stroller meets the requirements is to test it out since some of the features will work differently for you.
* Can I lift the stroller easily with one hand into the trunk? We got a full sized Peg stroller but it was soon left behind in the house because it was too heavy and bulky. 15 lbs seem to be my limit. But please note that total weight is not the key but how the weight is distributed. A heavier stroller, if designed properly, can still be lifted directly out of the trunk with one hand. Otherwise, the stroller will be a pain in the back (literally!!) to use. Also note that if the stroller does NOT fit into the trunk of your car, it automatically fails this test.
Can I lift my infant car seat from the car directly onto the stroller with one hand? I’ve spent months sitting my infant car seat on top of my stroller/carriage and it works very well. The key is that the stroller needs to have a the following: Front bumper BAR so that the car seat can rest against it for support; Reclining Back to make enough space for the car seat; and deep enough seat so that the car seat can fit snugly. So get the best/safest car seat possible and just make sure your stroller will fit it (Some strollers by Combi have special attachments to ensure a safe fit). When you use your stroller in conjunction with you infant car seat, you don’t need the “reversible direction” feature on many fancy strollers. Just turn the car seat facing backwards or forward. The shade is also not so much an issue for infants since you can just drape a tower over the car seat handle for instant shade. When your child outgrows the car seat, you’ll still have a perfectly useful stroller unlike the “snap and go” systems that are popular right now for car-seats that can’t convert to a stroller.
Can I fold the stroller with one hand? . Good luck if you have a 2 year old and it takes more than 10 seconds to fold or unfold a stroller. There is no universal “easy” fold. Different people find different types of strollers easier or harder to fold. Hard to tell till you actually try it. Extra credit if you can fold the stroller and put it on the bottom of the shopping cart in one fell swoop with one hand.
Can my toddler get in and out of the stroller while I hold the stroller steady with one hand? The stroller automatically fails the test if you have to carry your toddler in and out. You get extra credit if you can undo the seatbelts with one hand while the toddler is itching to get out.
Nice to have features
Can I roll the stroller along with one hand> How many times have you heard: “Mommy/Daddy…I want to get out of the stroller and walk”. Now imagine: One hand is used to hold the kid’s hand and the other is left holding everything else. Will the stroller be easily controlled and rolled with one hand? Will the stroller roll easily even if it is folded (i.e. when folded, the handle is on top at waist level and the wheels are at the bottom)? The ability to lock the swivel on the front-wheels should help prevent the stroller from zig-zagging when you only have one hand to push. Extra credit if the stroller comes with a strap that you can carry over your shoulder and leave both hands free (See forkid’s review of the Combi Savvy stroller that has this feature — http://www.epinions.com/kifm-review-7BCD-7A16FC5-37DE9A6E-bd2).
Can I hang plastic grocery bags around one of the handles?. Let’s face it. The storage baskets on most strollers are inadequate. What most parents do is to hang purses and bags around one of the handles of the strollers. So umbrella type strollers with two separate handles will pass this test.
Can I drop soiled stroller parts into the washer with one hand? . Accidents do happen and this is a nice feature. The stroller automatically fails this test if you can’t put it back together again after it comes out of the washer. It’s hard to evaluate this feature at the store without incurring the wrath of the storekeeper, but I look and see if I can figure out how to remove the cloth seats without having the read the instructions.
Can I make the stroller recline with one hand? . This feature is needed if you want to use the stroller for infants since they don’t have the head support. It’s also a needed feature if you want to use the stroller with the infant car seat.
Don’t buy a stroller just because it has these features
Cupholders . Cupholders are fine it they come with the strollers. But it’s so easy to buy a cupholder that you can clip to a stroller that it’s not a major issue in stroller selection.
Extra Big wheels . Extra big wheels are useful because they help make for a smoother ride. But I’ve found that the construction of the wheels actually matters just as much as the size. The key test is this: Do the wheels rattle and shake when running across the store with the baby? They should not if the wheels are constructed of good materials and have some ability to absorb shock. Of course, the bigger the wheels, the heavier it is and harder to fold.
Shade/Hood . The shade is especially important for infants. But if you put the infant in the car seat on top of the stroller with a towel over the handle, the need for shade becomes less important. Having a shade makes a stroller 3 times more difficult to fold. Admittedly, the shade is a useful feature, so my new stroller has a removable shade. It olds easily and I can always attach the shade on the 4 days out of the year when it’s needed.
Storage basket . This feature is overrated. I prefer handles you can hang your diaper bag and stuff around. Again, this feature increases bulk/weight and makes it difficult to fold. Of course, this is a matter of personal preference — so think carefully before you get your stroller where the storage basket is really a valuable feature for you.