Baby products seem to get more and more complex by the year. Toy stores that once held a small series of wooden and plastic toys are suddenly rife with electronic equipment, noisemakers, toys with hundreds of small pieces, and toys reportedly offering a large variety of educational implements. Unfortunately, strollers seem to be no different; there are numerous types available, in different colors, with different safety protocols, and offering different amenities (such as designs for jogging, and designs for specific age groups). Some of the most common questions have been addressed below to assist parents (both new and old) in understanding and navigating the sometimes-long and confusing world of infant products.
What Are Umbrella Strollers?
- Why are they called “umbrellas”? What makes them different from other walkers?
Umbrella strollers are so called because the handles resemble the “J” so commonly seen adorning the ends of umbrellas. Umbrella carriers are known for their lightweight and simple design, offering families a means of transporting their children without hauling a hefty device about. These particular devices are small enough to be carried under the arm or over the shoulder of the average person. The design is simple, offering parents four wheels, a solid metal frame, and sturdy, bucket-shaped fabric, and, on occasion, a canopy.
- Are umbrella strollers safe for infants?
Unfortunately, umbrella strollers are not equipped to handle the needs of newborns and small infants, as they do not provide support for children’s necks and backs. Because this type of carrier is generally only comprised of a thin sheet of fabric and no cushioning or molding, an infant’s head would be allowed to flop about as the carrier moves, and could prove damaging to neck and back.
- At what age are umbrellas considered safe?
These strollers are considered safe only after a child is a minimum of six months, as children typically develop greater neck and back strength at that age. Parents should note, however, that some children may develop these muscles later and should be closely monitored before it is assumed that an umbrella stroller is a wise transportation choice.
- Are double strollers really necessary?
Double baby carriages may be necessary for some families and more of a luxury for others. These carriers are typically of great use for parents of twins, as they need a stroller with the ability to carry two little ones of similar ages and needs. Parents with children of differing ages might consider a single stroller and baby carrier combo, or even a single stroller and stand-up combo (a stroller with a footstep for toddlers to stand upon).For this reason, many parents regard the difference in children’s ages as the greatest deciding factor when considering a double stroller purchase; children with much older siblings may not require a side-by-side or front-to-back stroller, but may instead be satisfied by using a stroller with one child and allowing the second child to walk alongside or stay held in a wearable carrier.
Stroller Travel Systems
- How do stroller travel systems work?
Travel systems are carriage/car seat combinations designed to offer parents ease and comfort with their children—particularly the youngest infants whose tendency toward sleep seems especially marked during even brief car rides. Travel systems, though they may seem like something of a luxury, offer parents a convenience not frequently offered by other strollers: the extreme comfort and safety of a newborn. This allows families to readily and easily transition from the car to a stroller, or the reverse.
- How are car seats integrated with strollers?
Car seats are integrated with strollers in unique ways, depending upon the system in question. Some systems are designed to have the seat clip in over the top of the existing seat, while others require users to flatten the original seat in order for the car seat to snap into place.
- Do travel systems require matching brands?
Again, this will depend upon the brand of stroller or car seat. Some strollers are made with generic or separate brands in mind, allowing families to purchase strollers and car seats from different companies, while others prefer to “keep it in the family”, and will only work with components made by the same company. Before purchasing a carriage or car seat, be sure to check the product specifications to determine what type of seat or carrier you need to purchase.
International Travel with Children and Strollers
- How do you check strollers in at the airport?
This will vary greatly depending upon the airline. Some airlines announced their intent to treat carriages as luggage, requiring passengers in possession of one to check it at the ticket counter along with checked luggage. Other airlines require passengers to check the stroller at the gate, and will have the stroller ready and unloaded upon disembarking from the plane. Check with your particular airline before deciding which stroller to take, as there may be weight or size restrictions.
- Size restrictions?
Yes. Some airlines may have weight and size restrictions associated with their stroller policies. As such, parents of older children should be encouraged to use umbrella strollers where possible. Newborns and infants, understandably, are not as versatile in their traveling needs, and may not use umbrella strollers. For this reason, parents should take care to choose a lightweight, compact travel stroller designed with infants or newborns in mind. Baby carriages should be regarded as luggage just as much as traditional baggage, and must be factored in when preparing for travel—both domestic and international.
There are many factors to take into consideration when looking at strollers, and many things to research before making a purchase. The type of stroller purchased will play a significant role in its use, as some strollers are designed for use with a select age group, while others are designed for use within a particular demographic. When looking at strollers, use the information outlined above to make an informed decision and determine which type of stroller is right for you and the needs of your family.
Because many strollers require a significant investment, performing thorough research and taking any future plans for children into account are both pivotal aspects of making a purchase, and should be regarded as such. Equipped with the knowledge above, however, parents and families should be able to make a decision with relative ease.