Strollers come with a variety of accoutrements – some included and some optional and sold separately.
Umbrellas: It helps to check out this feature carefully because not all umbrellas are created equally. Some only cover a small overhead space, leaving your baby exposed to the elements, while others extend out quite far and provide good coverage. Some umbrellas are fixed at the back, while others move completely to the other side of the stroller – good for when the sun is head-on.
Baskets: Stroller baskets come in all different shapes and sizes. If you plan to take long walks or be out on the town for the day, having a decent-sized basket is optimal – that way a bag with a change of clothes, snacks, diapers, and so forth will fit. When you test-drive your stroller, make sure the basket is easy to access when your child is in the seat (in some strollers, the child’s weight makes the basket less accessible).
Cup holders and trays: A lot of strollers come with cup holders and a tray for your toddler to use while eating and drinking (just be sure she’s not chomping on something that could pose a choking hazard while you push). And many also have a cup holder for parents located near the handles that also includes compartments for cell phones and more, so you don’t have to reach down into the basket whenever you need access to your own stuff.
Adjustable handlebars: Stroller heights vary widely, so make sure you test-drive and measure for both you and your partner. Umbrella strollers are notoriously short, but some strollers, like the Bugaboo Bee or the Mamas & Papas Sola, already have an adjustable handlebar. The feature “adjustable handle” can also mean that the handlebars move from the front to the back of the stroller, which allows you to change the position your baby is facing. When you’re shopping, look for adjustable handlebar height versus an adjustable handlebar or seat position.
Rain cover: A rain cover is exactly what it sounds like – a see-through, waterproof covering for the stroller that protects baby from the elements. Most rain covers have to be purchased separately. You can search for a multipurpose rain cover on Amazon, for example, that can be used with many different stroller models. Or, for strollers with unique shapes like the BOB Revolution, you may want to buy the cover made specifically for that brand and model.
Five-point harness: The gold standard in safety is a restraint belt that goes over your child’s shoulders and also comes around the waist and through the legs (similar to the design of car seat belts). Some strollers, especially the simple umbrella style, only have a three-point harness and no shoulder straps, making them a less safe choice.
Suspension: Many strollers have some form of shock absorption, which provides a smoother ride for your child and easier navigation for you. Look for words like “suspension system,” or “front wheel suspension,” if you have comfort and long walks in mind.
Wheels: Many of the jogging strollers have air-filled tires that make for a more comfortable ride (and an easier time going over curbs or down stairs). These strollers are also usually easier to push and maneuver, especially when the front wheel has the option to swivel. The front wheel of many strollers can be switched from swivel-mode to a locked position. Just remember that if you go for the bigger, air-filled front tire, the stroller will be bulkier and heavier, which will affect how you store it.
Weather boots: If you live in a cold climate, you might want to consider a warm, fuzzy boot feature to keep your child’s feet toasty.
Adjustable recline: A seat that reclines will really help keep your kids comfortable. For example, little babies or those who are napping can recline a lot, while older kids sometimes like being upright to see the world. A range of recline positions is a plus.