Stroller Buying Guide Canada: Making buying a stroller easy
Let’s save some money and pick a great stroller. I wrote the stroller buying guide (Canada edition) to help fellow Canadian parents find a great stroller at a great price. Not that this guide won’t apply to our friendly parents around the world either.
My wife and I have 3 amazing boys. We’ve had 4 strollers over that time and tried out many more. We liked some strollers and hated others and I’ll help you pick the right one for your family too.
And the best part of this guide? My top recommendation isn’t a referral link and I stand to make no money from you taking my advice. You won’t find another stroller buying guide on the internet with that claim.
Enough with the rambling already. Onto the guide.
Types of strollers
- Umbrella strollers
- Traditional Strollers
- Full-Size and Travel System Stollers
- Double+ strollers
Umbrella Stroller Buying Guide Canada
Umbrella strollers are lightweight, foldable strollers that can go anywhere. Like everything on this list there are pros and cons so let’s get on with those:
- Small – even with a kid in them
- Great in crowded spaces
- Easy to get into tight spaces
- Can’t be used with a clip-in cart seat
- No cupholders
- Small wheels
- Hard to push with bigger kids in them
- Limited or no storage
- Not suitable for newborns
Is it worth it?
Umbrella strollers are at times a necessary addition to your travelling circus. I know every time you leave the house with your kids it looks like you’re moving again. But having an umbrella stroller in the trunk is nice when you’re heading into a tight-quarters situation.
We’ll discuss the travel systems further on – and they’re great – but if you’re in a store with tight aisles they can be difficult to maneuver. Heading on the bus or subway? Grab the umbrella stroller and you’ll be thankful for how light it is. The small size lets you get in and out of places with ease.
They can’t be used with newborns though. I’m not going to be your expert on safety tips for each stroller type – and honestly, I don’t feel comfortable giving that advice. What to Expect has an article here saying not before 6 months. But as always be sure to read the stroller’s manufacturer recommendations and play it safe.
Modern umbrella strollers come as a slimmed-down version of full-size strollers. These strollers are $150.00 and up. I wouldn’t recommend these. That’s too pricey and they aren’t comfortable enough to be used as a full-time stroller. Unless your space requirements dictate it, I would go with one of the options below.
There are $40 versions of umbrella strollers. If you can add this to the budget I would add one of them to the arsenal. We have 3 kids who are all out of strollers now and we didn’t use ours often. But $40 to easily get your kid around a tight store or through a crowded place is worth the price. Avoid the high-end ones though unless this is your full-time stroller.
Traditional Stroller Buying Guide Canada
The traditional stroller is the jack of all trades, master of none. They are all-purpose strollers that will get just about anything done well but not great. Heavier and less maneuverable than an umbrella stroller. But lighter and more maneuverable than a travel system.
- Rarely in a situation, you can’t make work
- Won’t need a second stroller
- Decent storage
- Doesn’t excel at any one thing
- Most can’t be used by newborns
- Give and take with features depending on model
- No options for bike-style wheels
Why wouldn’t I buy one?
You can’t go wrong with a traditional stroller. They are generally maneuverable and have a good weight for their sturdiness. You’ll have lots of options to pick from with a traditional stroller as it is the most popular class of strollers.
A traditional stroller will rarely be in a situation you can’t handle. They are typically small enough to fit around tighter areas like an umbrella stroller. But not so small you lose the front tray, storage below the seat and comfortable handle.
So why wouldn’t I buy one? I just don’t like that it doesn’t excel at anything. For $40 I can buy a very lightweight umbrella stroller if I’m going into a really tight area. The bike-style inflated wheels you can get on some travel system strollers are so amazing I can’t imagine having another stroller without them.
You can’t go wrong with a traditional stroller and I wouldn’t fault you for the purchase. Some come with great features and at reasonable prices. But as I will talk about next – I’d recommend something else.
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Full-Size and Travel System Stoller Buying Guide Canada
Travel systems are strollers that are compatible with a clip-in car seat. These systems are the best thing since sliced bread. I’m spoiling this but get one of these. Don’t forget though my best tip is coming last!
The advice in this section will apply to both full-size and travel system strollers. They are the same stroller but travel systems will allow a seat to clip into them as well. You don’t have to go that route and can instead transfer your baby from seat to stroller if you wish.
- Full-size stroller
- Storage ability
- Easy to push
- Cup holders and tray
- Wide variety of options
- Can come with all-terrain wheels
- Don’t have to take the baby out to get from the car to the stroller
- Typically larger strollers
- Can be expensive (see my last tip for cost savings)
- Some systems come with a lesser-rated seat or stroller
- More difficult to maneuver in tight spaces.
So should you buy one?
Travel systems are so convenient you just find a way around their limitations in size. We used one extensively with all 3 of our kids. Not having to transfer your newborn between a car seat and a stroller is fantastic. The transfer is effortless on all travel systems we have tried. Push a button and lift to remove the infant seat. Push down until you hear a click to attach the seat. It really is that easy.
There is a sub-class of travel systems which are the jogging stroller travel systems. And this is what I recommend you buy and what we ended up loving with our kids. The jogging strollers come with larger rubber wheels on aluminum spoked wheels similar to bike wheels. Even if you don’t plan to run with your baby – god knows we didn’t – the wheels make getting through trails, pumpkin patches, and other off-road situations a breeze.
As your child gets older and too hard to lift in and out in the car seat itself – our model was good up to 35 pounds – you can use the seat permanently in the car and then lift your child out into the stroller. The stroller then gets used like a standard stroller with your child sitting upright and sitting forward.
You will need to test specific stroller models to see if they fit in your vehicle as they can get larger, especially with the larger wheels. But if you can make these strollers work with your space constraints, a travel system would be my number one recommendation for parents.
This class of strollers will come with cup holders and a tray. When they get to the age of sitting upright in the stroller the cup holders make great snack cups. Your kid can snack along for the walk and have their water in arm’s reach. You can also get toys that strap on to that tray to keep them entertained. It’s a nice feature and a huge advantage over umbrella strollers.
New from places like Babies R Us, travel systems are in the $500-800 range. Reminder though, keep reading on for my last tips on saving money on your stroller purchase. If you want to splurge you can spend well over $1,000 here but that is not necessary.
If you decide to go with a full-size stroller and separate car seat – keep in mind your newborn won’t be able to sit upright in the stroller for at least 6 months. The advantage to going this route is you can get car seats that convert so they will fit your child from newborn to the booster. They’re expensive and would get incredibly dirty over that time but it can be done. There is some money to be saved going that route.
You can’t beat the convenience of being able to transfer a baby from a car to a stroller without waking them up. Or if they are sleeping when you get to dinner, you can leave them in the seat for a little longer nap.
Double Stoller Buying Guide Canada
- You need it
- You can get your two kids around
- Everything else
Do I need one?
If you’re the happy new parents to twins or were crazy people like us who had babies 13 months apart – you need one.
When we bought our double stroller we were able to buy one that fit our clip-in travel car seat with another seat in the front. We loved that part of it. But a word of advice – try out these strollers if you can. We hated how short the handle was on the stroller which meant our feet hit the bottom of the stroller with a normal walking stride.
Some of the other doubles we tried had awkward seating arrangements. There are strollers where the older kid has to sit almost laying down staring at the underside of the seat above. We weren’t a fan of these and it would make getting a kid in and out a chore.
Things to consider when buying a stroller
- Ease of use
- Ease of cleaning
- Storage space
Make sure your stroller fits into your vehicle and house. Stollers will fold in different ways making some take up more room than others. Consider the size of the stroller with your kid in it – will the stroller fit in places you typically go?
Some strollers are lighter than others even if they are the same size. You’ll be throwing the stroller in and out of your car often so make sure it’s easy for you to move around. A lightweight stroller will make hills a little less intimidating as well.
When we tried out several strollers at Babies R Us you get a feel for how different the strollers steer. If you’re fighting your stroller on every walk you’ll start to dread taking it out. We had a stroller wheel end up bent on an airplane and it became a nightmare to use.
The larger rubber and aluminium wheels make for a far more maneuverable stroller. They also make it much easier to go “off-road” with the stroller.
Ease of Use
Each stroller will have different ways of folding, adjusting the angle of the seat, and other features it may have. If you’re able to try out your stroller before buying it make sure you’re comfortable with how each adjustment works.
We had one stroller that had a horrible mechanism for adjusting the seat incline and was very difficult to fold up. Our travel system stroller was an easy press of the button and fold. Even if two strollers look to do the same thing on the surface – they’ll operate in different ways when trying to use them.
Ease of cleaning
Make sure your stroller – and car seat for a travel system – are easy to clean. They should have a removable cover or wipeable surfaces. There will be spilt milk, Cheerios, and mystery stains on your stroller. You’ll be thankful you have one that’s easy to clean up for when the inevitable mess comes.
Your car and housing situation is going to be different from mine. Depending on your car, trunk space, stairs, and space in your home you’ll have to take into consideration how large the stroller is when it folds up. At one time we had a stroller that barely fit in the trunk of our car and it was always a pain to get in and out.
How to save money on a stroller
Strollers are expensive! Like really expensive. When we had our first baby we got a great “deal” on a travel system jogging stroller – which we loved – but we spent over $600 on it at Babies R Us.
The next single stroller we bought – we went a much better way.
We bought used!
Buy a used stroller
This will depend a bit on where you live. But if you live near a city, you’ll be able to find some amazing deals on strollers through Facebook’s marketplace.
When we sold our first single stroller thinking we were done with babies – whoops – we sold it for only $60. That was competitive with the pricing on other listings on Facebook and was in fine working condition.
The area of concern for most people will be buying a used car seat. I’m not going to go into the safety of that here but if you don’t feel comfortable buying a used car seat that’s no problem at all. You can buy a new click-and-go car seat and base and a used stroller and still come out far ahead.
In fact what if I told you more than $300 ahead? Remember, the links below are not referral links. I stand to make no money if you buy anything I’ve linked to. Just looking to help fellow parents save money.
As I write this, in the Vancouver area there are 2 Graco Click-n-Connect strollers available for $60. I did not do an exhaustive search, there are probably more. This is the stroller we had and also sold for this amount. We LOVED this stroller.
A new Graco Click-n-Connect car seat from Babies R Us is $400. With a new seat, you’ve spent $460.
If you were to go with a new travel system it would cost $780.
Total savings – $320
Word of warning: warranty generally expires when a second owner purchases a stroller. Also, car seats do have expiry dates and are not safe to be used again after an accident. You can’t know if a used seat was involved in an accident or not.
Make sure the new seat you are buying is compatible with the used stroller you buy. The store should be able to help you with this and adapters can be purchased as well.
Choose a Stroller with the Right Safety Features
Safety should be your primary concern when purchasing a stroller. Look for the following features to ensure your child’s protection:
A five-point harness secures your child at their shoulders, hips, and between their legs. This design prevents them from slipping or falling out of the stroller and is more secure than a three-point harness.
Choose a stroller with easy-to-use brakes that lock the wheels securely. Test the brakes before each use to make sure they’re functioning correctly.
A reclining seat allows your child to nap comfortably and safely. For newborns, the seat should recline almost flat to provide proper support for their developing neck and spine.
A stroller with a wide base is less likely to tip over. Check the stroller’s stability by gently pushing it from different angles.
Certified safety standards
Look for a stroller that meets or exceeds safety standards set by organizations
The Stroller Buying Guide Canada – Final Notes
Be sure to check for safety in anything you’re buying for your new baby. Look for defective parts and when in doubt leave a used stroller behind to find another one.
The Canadian government has issued a warning about buying seats from the USA. You can read that here.
With careful diligence on marketplace, you can find an amazing deal on a great stroller and save yourself a bundle of money.
Best of luck with your little one and if you have any feedback let us know below in the comments below.