Your "perfect" stroller buying guide

Your "perfect" stroller buying guide

If you're drowning in the research to find your one perfect 'unicorn' stroller, it can feel like you've fallen down the rabbit hole a bit. So how do you choose, and maintain your sanity?

The first step is to understand what stroller features actually mean (is a one-handed fold the same thing as an easily folded stroller? Spoiler: no), then you can try to match those features to your future lifestyle and you'll have a better idea of what's a priority and what's a nice-to-have.

By the end of this blog article (give it 10 minutes), you will feel a lot less overwhelmed and ready to hone in on your shortlist.

Compactness

Consider the three main categories of prams - I’ll illustrate them with Bugaboo’s range:

1. Full size strollers, a la Bugaboo Fox,

2. City compact strollers, a la Bugaboo Bee, and

3. Cabin-sized strollers, a la Bugaboo Ant.

By and large, the general rule is (and of course, there are always exceptions to rules), as you move down in size, you will start to lose certain features. The cabin-sized prams aren’t designed to handle as well as the full size prams, nor, of course, have as much basket space, etc.

Spend a few weeks taking note of the footpaths (and doorways) where you spend your time (I know this is probably pre-baby, but it’s a decent gauge). If you’re in pokey malls and shophouse alleys, then an über compact cabin-sized stroller is likely the way to go. If you’re spending a lot of time around open spaces like Sentosa, Rob Quay, Botanics or East Coast Park, then perhaps a fuller-featured, less-compact stroller would suit you better.

Winning the compactness category is, of course, the BABYZEN YOYO² with a teeny tiny width of just 43.5cm. Wider (52cm), but competing very strongly with much larger prams in terms of ease of folding, stability and basket space is the UPPAbaby Minu (available from September 2021).

Strollers with back wheels that are narrower than the stroller frame tend to handle better in close quarters than those whose rear wheels are the widest part (which feel more stable). This is because when maneuvering around obstacles, our brain checks the width of the frame and uses that as a guide - if the back wheels stick out, we tend to snag them more easily.

BABYZEN YOYO² From $809

The first ever cabin-sized stroller, the BABYZEN YOYO² is very lightweight and compact (both when open and when folded). The frame itself weighs 6.1kg (or 6.2kg with the toddler seat in place) and you can either attach a newborn lay-flat seat ($319, adds 0.5kg weight) or a full bassinet ($429, adds 2kg weight). To fold it, you need to crouch down and access a button under the stroller. Infant car seat adapters are available.

 

UPPAbaby Minu From $749

One of the sturdiest cabin-sized strollers available, the UPPAbaby Minu weighs 6.6kg and folds incredibly easily with just one hand. It offers a 'from birth kit' ($199, adds 0.2kg) which is part way between a lay-flat newborn seat and a bassinet - this folds with the stroller frame which is a bonus. Infant car seat adapters are available.

 

 

Future-proofing (or expecting twins)

I know it's hard to plan for a lifestyle you aren't yet living, let alone to know if you want a pram that can start as a single then accommodate two or three children later. But if you're going to invest in a high-end stroller, it may break your heart to have to buy another one in a year or two if #2 makes an entrance sooner rather than later. Choosing a single stroller that has the ability to convert to a double later can future-proof your investment.

The UPPAbaby Vista V2 and Mountain Buggy Duet are the best performing single prams that can convert to doubles later. The Duet looks like a tank, but at 65cm wide, it's actually the exact same width as the Vista V2 (it’s ok, I know you won’t believe me, but it’s because the Duet’s rear wheels tuck inside the frame). Both of these fit inside the size limits for taking an open stroller on a public bus in Singapore (which is 70cm wide and 120cm long).

Most strollers can accommodate a buggy board that allows a toddler to stand (or maybe sit) behind the back wheels, but since the older child can't be strapped in place, it may not be an ideal permanent solution for you (unless you have one of those chilled out, compliant children that I hear about in movies).

 

UPPAbaby Vista V2 From $2,099

Considered the best stroller on the market in 2021, the Vista V2 is family-owned UPPAbaby's pride and joy. The frame itself is only 9kg which makes it really practical to lift into the back of a car. It comes with both a bassinet (which has incredible sun protection and ventilation, 4kg) and toddler seat (3.2kg), and while it's a great single, it can also convert to a double later on. It can take one or two infant car seats. 

 

Mountain Buggy Duet From $1,159

An incredibly sturdy and rugged side-by-side stroller, when it's in single-mode the Mountain Buggy Duet has two shopping baskets - one up top and one below. It handles amazingly and it's easy for kids to climb in an out themselves. It has two parent-facing newborn options: the Cocoon ($119) or Carrycot Plus ($339). It weighs nearly 15kg and I don't recommend you take it in cars regularly - instead, pair it with either the Nano for one car seat, or the ugly-but-effective Snap-N-Go double for two car seats. 

 

Car seat compatibility

Broadly speaking, pretty much every top-tier infant car seat is compatible with pretty much every top-tier stroller these days (the exception being Britax who use different adapters). This means if your pram says it's compatible (with adapters) with either Maxi CosiCybexBeSafe or Mountain Buggy car seats, then it's compatible with all of those. Of course, the rare exception exists, so double check with us before you buy.

The trouble begins when your baby outgrows their infant car seat (this usually happens around 18 months give or take a few) and needs to progress to a toddler car seat. If you have a car, then jump ahead to the next chapter, but if you need to use taxis or Grabs, lean in, because it can affect which pram you choose from the start.

While there are fairly unlimited options for taxi-friendly baby car seats, there are only two taxi-friendly car seats for toddlers in the entire universe (for future reference these are the American Cosco Scenera NEXT and the European Urban Kanga). While the Urban Kanga folds in half and can fit in the basket of larger strollers or be toted around in its carry bag, as a forward facing seat, it's five times less safe than rear facing car seats. Because of this, many parents prefer to use the safer, yet bulkier, rear facing Scenera NEXT. And here's the sticking point; the Scenera NEXT is only officially compatible with one stroller: the versatile, compact Mountain Buggy Nano (ok and the Nano Duo).

It can be unofficially 'hacked' onto a few other prams - the UPPAbaby Vista/Cruz V2 and Bugaboo Bee being the least painful hacks - but unless you are prepared to buy the Nano as a second stroller come toddlerhood (which could actually be a great plan - it’s an awesome travel pram anyway), then taking the toddler taxi situation into consideration when buying your first pram can save you a lot of heartache.

 

UPPAbaby Cruz V2 From $1,699

If you find that the UPPAbaby Vista is a bit too big, you don’t need the double stroller option and you don’t want the bassinet, then say hello to the Cruz V2. While you can add on a bassinet ($499), the Cruz is designed to work from birth with an infant snug seat insert ($109). It features UPPA’s award-winning handling, stability and a super easy fold. The frame weighs 8.8kg (very taxi-friendly) and the stroller seat weighs 3.2kg. Infant car seat adapters are available. 

 

Mountain Buggy Nano From $89

Mountain Buggy assumes this will be your second stroller, so they price it that way. It lays completely flat right out of the box, but you can add a lite bassinet ($119) for a parent-facing newborn option. With its in-built adapters, it can take any infant car seat, and it is also the only stroller officially compatible with the toddler taxi-friendly car seat (the Cosco Scenera NEXT, $239). It's cabin-sized and weighs just 5.9kg. From $439

 

Foldability

It's an important distinction to note that a one-hand fold is not the same thing as an easy fold when it comes to prams. Not to say that one-hand folds are tough, but most of the time we're looking for something that's really easy to collapse and sometimes the easiest folds require two hands. If you're specifically looking for something you can fold while holding your baby, that's when the one-hand fold comes into play.

 

All of UPPAbaby’s strollers are incredibly easy to fold. Two other strollers worth noting for their easy one-handed folds are the Cybex Mios and Nuna Triv.

 

Cybex Mios From $1,199

Cybex PLATINUM has a bit of a rep for being a high-fashion brand and their Mios is no exception - each year they bring out a designer pattern. While it doesn’t have a huge basket, you can remove the seat cushion to reveal a full-mesh stroller seat which is great for Singapore’s weather. Works really well with the Cybex Cloud Z car seat. The seat can lay flat in both directions and there's an optional carrycot ($599). 

 

Nuna Triv From $1,199

The Nuna Triv is well-and-truly a city compact stroller. It's not going to handle as well as the full size strollers, but it's narrow, has a very VERY easy fold, and the frame with the car seat adapter is just 6.6kg which is the same weight as the cabin-sized strollers! With the stroller seat, the total weight is just under 9kg and the Triv has a larger basket than most of its peers (but less than the Cruz). The seat can lay flat in both directions and there's an optional carrycot ($399). 

 

Handlebar height

If you or your partner are shorter than 5'4" or taller than 6'2", then you may want to consider a stroller with an adjustable handlebar to make the pushing more ergonomic, comfortable and practical. If the handlebar is too tall for the pusher, it's hard to get enough purchase on the pram to push down the handlebar and pop the front wheels up. This action is called 'kerb pop' and it's critical as the child gets heavier, allowing you to pop up onto a gutter, step, or maneuver more easily over obstacles.

The Mountain Buggy Swift has one of the most adjustable handlebars, with the same maximum height as the UPPAbaby Vista (which is known to be a tall pram) but it can go as low as 59cm. This is one of the reasons the Swift is the easiest city compact stroller to maneuver.

 

Mountain Buggy Swift From $799

The only three-wheel city compact stroller in our line up, the Swift handles like a cat on carpet and turns on a dime. It has two parent-facing newborn options: the Cocoon ($119) or Carrycot Plus ($339). If you find you're having trouble 'popping' a loaded stroller's front wheels up (as you would do to get up a kerb), the Swift will solve all your problems. It can be used for jogging (at your discretion).

 

Bassinets & carrycots

This one is a common dilemma: if you have a pram where the toddler seat completely lays flat, do you really need a bassinet (also called a carrycot)? Let me lay out some pros and cons for you to consider, around aesthetics, comfort, convenience and peace of mind.

First off, most bassinets click onto the buggy and to do this, the stroller's toddler seat needs to be removed completely (or even converted, if the frame for the toddler seat is the exact same frame used for the bassinet, but with different fabric attached). This usually makes the stroller look nicer, but it may make it slower to interchange with the toddler seat or car seat.

Some bassinets are approved for either regular or occasional night sleeping and can give you incredible freedom to take your time running errands, knowing your baby is just as safe and comfortable as they would be in their cot at home. It also means you can carry their bassinet straight to the bedroom if they've fallen asleep while you're out - not having to wake them up (and the opposite version of this: if you're goin gout at 9am they fall asleep at 8:30am, put them to bed in the bassinet in their bedroom, then just carry it to the stroller when you're ready to leave). This is an added bonus if you live in a walk-up - you can leave the pram on the ground floor and just carry the bassinet upstairs.

Finally, there's peace of mind in being able to look at your baby in the bassinet, if your stroller's toddler seat doesn't have a parent-facing option.

Keep in mind that if you're catching a taxi somewhere, then you will be taking the car seat and not the bassinet at all. Hitting the town with your bassinet-fitted stroller makes sense if you can walk or catch the MRT or bus to your destination.

Bassinets can typically be used until your baby can pull themselves up onto all fours (around 6-10 months); most brands will also state a weight limit for the bassinet, so bear that in mind.

 

UPPAbaby Bassinet V2 From $499

Currently the most impressive bassinet on the market, UPPA's V2 bassinet has a full-coverage pop-out sun panel and half the canopy opens up to expose a mesh ventilation panel. It's the only bassinet in our range that can be easily removed from the stroller frame with one hand and has a large, thick mattress that is night-sleeping approved. It is included when you buy the Vista V2 and also fits the Cruz V2. Includes the mosquito net; the rain cover is available separately. From $499

 

Nuna Triv Carrycot From $339

The Triv carrycot folds down really easily and attaches using the same adapters as the infant car seats, so it gets bonus points for usability. It has a full coverage sun panel and mesh ventilation panel, but not quite as much as UPPA's. It's a really good companion to the Triv and improves its usability. 

 

Parent-facing versus world-facing seats

Typically, prams have either sling seats that are semi-permanently fixed to the stroller frame and almost always world-facing or modular seats that easily click in and out of the stroller frame and can be fixed in either parent-facing or world-facing positions.

It seems like a no-brainer to say that we want a parent-facing seat on our stroller so we can see and bond with our baby during the early months, but if you've already decided to get a bassinet (which you may end up using for most of the first year), then perhaps a parent-facing toddler seat becomes less important.

 

Travelling

If you plan to travel a lot with your buggy (when the world opens up again), then investing in a cabin-sized one can make a really big difference to your mobility. Sure, you can take any pram right up to the aerobridge and 'gate check' it, but when your flight lands, you won't get the pram back until it pops out at oversized luggage, which often takes longer than usual luggage to arrive.

The key prams in the cabin-sized category to keep an eye on are the UPPAbaby MinuMountain Buggy Nano, and Babyzen Yoyo 2.

Of course, you can use a stroller check-in bag to help protect your buggy. UPPAbaby has a very clever take on this: when you use their TravelSafe stroller travel bag, any damage incurred during air travel is fully covered by UPPAbaby, under the terms of your original warranty.

 

UPPAbaby Travel Bag $389

An impressively designed and constructed bag (think: snowboard travel bag), the UPPAbaby travel bag will fit the stroller frame and either the bassinet or the toddler seat. If you want to take two seats or a seat and bassinet, there is a second, smaller travel bag that will fit that. The most impressive part is the 3-year guarantee that covers any damage to your stroller while inside the bag. Amazing! 

 

Running

It's totally fine (and normal) to take baby out for a run, so long as you've got the right gear. The general guideline is to wait until bub is six months old and has decent neck strength before bringing them along, but it's always a good idea to check in with your paed. It can even be a nice way for Dad to give Mum a break in the mornings, if she's been handling the night feeds.

The Swift is Mountain Buggy's most compact three wheel pram and can be used for light jogging at your discretion. It's a nice balance if you are working really hard to have only one stroller rather than a second pram just for running. It comes with puncture-proof tyres as standard, but optional air-filled tyres can give your bub added cushioning if you find it's needed. Thule makes a great range of running prams too - the easiest to get in Singapore is the Urban Glide which has whopping 16" rear wheels.

 

Thule Urban Glide 2 From $799

A pretty large pram at 69cm wide, the Urban Glide 2 has air-filled tyres just like a bicycle, so you need to be prepared to get a flat tyre now and then. It can lay flat, but Thule advises you to use either a car seat (and adapter) or the optional bassinet if you want to use it (for walking) for babies younger than six months.

 

Is there ONE magical pram for you?

Now that you understand the features a bit better, I'd like to sow a very radical and possibly unexpected seed: if you have what we term 'competing requirements' for your pram (for example, you want to run with it, and you want it to be cabin sized, or you want it to convert to a double buggy and you want it to fit down the crowded aisle at Cold Storage), then it is worth considering taking your original stroller budget and spreading that over two 'single purpose' prams, rather than blowing it all on one 'multi-purpose' pram.

If all your wish list features are confined to one category of pram (for example, you want to travel with it, take it in taxis, and walk through malls), then it's possible that one pram really could do everything you need it to. But, by and large, the all-in-one prams can usually do all things, but not always so excellently (heed my warning - I ended up owning eight prams in my search for that one perfect stroller, and have finally ended up with two buggies that perfectly complement each other, and my lifestyle).

Want to try before you buy?

If you'd like to touch and feel your dream stroller (and compare it against others) before deciding, pop down to our Pasir Panjang boutique. We're open seven days a week, but exclusively by appointment