|Three-wheeled strollers have become extremely popular in recent years; and if you’re considering this style for your baby or toddler’s ride, ’tis the season to decide which will best meet your needs come springtime.Start by asking yourself a few basic questions: Will you be using your three-wheeled stroller frequently as part of your running or fitness-walking regiment? Do you like to go hiking off-road over rough, soft, or uneven terrain? Do you live in an area with old, bumpy sidewalks? Is the mall perhaps more your strolling scene? No matter how you’ll use your three-wheeler, you’ll find one that fits your lifestyle, but understanding the differences between their features is key to making the smartest choice.
You often hear the term “jogging stroller” used in reference to any three-wheeled stroller. However, there are very significant differences between true fitness strollers and your average three-wheeled mall stroller. If you’re a serious runner or fitness walker, here are the most important features to consider when choosing a jogging stroller:
- Wheel Size – The larger the wheels, the easier it is to push and the smoother ride; so yes, size matters. A jogging stroller has three large wheels, usually between 12″ and 20+”. Twelve-inch wheels will handle smooth surfaces and light off-road use. Twenty-inch wheels or larger are best for frequent long-distance running and heavy off-road use.
- Alloy Wheels – Alloy wheels and hubs, rather than steel, are lighter and won’t rust if you live in a salty climate, such as a wintery state with salted sidewalks and roads, or ocean-side.
- A Fixed Front Wheel – A front wheel that does not swivel is ideal for jogging because it provides stability and the straight tracking you need for a serious run.
- Frame construction – Jogging strollers with a welded aluminum frame, although more expensive, are very light and offer virtually no pushing resistance. They’re also much sturdier than a metal tube frame with plastic joints.
- Arm/Wrist Tether – Standard on most jogging strollers, a “leash” with a loop for your wrist, attached to the back of the stroller, should be always be worn so that if you accidentally lose your footing you won’t have a runaway baby.
- Hand Brake – A parking brake keeps your stroller from rolling while you’re not holding onto it. Again, this avoids the potentially disastrous scenario of your stroller, with your baby is strapped into it, taking off without you.
- Weight Limit – Babies grow into toddlers who grow into preschoolers. If you plan on jogging with your child for several years, consider the stroller’s weight limit. Higher-priced strollers usually have larger wheels, a stronger welded aluminum frame, and can support the weight of an older child while still gliding along with little to no effort.
- Deep Seating – Look for a model that seats your child deep into the stroller, away from the wheels, even while reclined. Make sure, however, that in every position, the seat is far enough from your legs that even in full stride, your legs won’t strike the back of the seat.
Please note the following important safety information:
- Experts say your baby is not ready to go jogging for at least 6 months or until good head support has developed. Some sources even recommend waiting a full year. Consult your pediatrician for the best advice.
- Shop at a trusted USA Baby to be sure there are no current recalls on any stroller you’re considering. For the most comprehensive, up-to-date information on product recalls, consult the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s website.
- Height, quality, and personal preferences are all difficult to measure if you don’t handle the stroller in person. You’ll also want to take your baby for a test drive (or run) before buying, so visit your local USA Baby, receive expert advice, and try out various strollers rather than purchasing online.
All-Terrain (or “Hybrid”) Strollers
Depending on what type of terrain you encounter on your walks or runs, you might want to consider a stroller with a shock-absorbing suspension system. If speed walking through the mall is the only action your stroller is going to see, then don’t waste your money on this feature; but if uneven sidewalks or trails, roots, mud, or soft sand are on your route, you want a stroller that’s versatile and easily maneuverable. All-terrain strollers have a swiveling front wheel, which can be locked in place for fitness walking or light jogging; they’re perfect for navigating busy shopping areas; and their rugged tires do well on uneven, ungroomed paths as well.
Important Features for Any Stroller:
- A Five-Point Harness – Straps that secure your baby over each shoulder, around each thigh, and between the legs are optimal for safety. A five-point harness comes standard with most strollers today, but they’re especially important when running or off-roading with your little one.
- A Canopy – Make sure your baby is shaded and comfortable underneath a large, adjustable canopy – or else your run or walk home may be verylong indeed.
- Seat Construction – Look for a comfortable, reclining, padded seat. Reclining seats are great for naptime and for newborns with poor head control.
- One-Step Folding – Make sure it doesn’t take two people and the owners’ manual every time you need to fold your stroller. Have your USA Baby salesperson demonstrate, and then practice it a few times yourself. Models that require you to take off one or more wheels should have quickrelease mechanism.
- Size – Does the folded stroller fit in your trunk? Some strollers are still huge and cumbersome even when folded, so depending on the size of your car, make sure the one you want works for you.
- Adjustable, Padded Handlebars – If you’re tall, buy your stroller at a USA Baby where you’ll be able to ensure that it’s the right height for you. Determine your correct handle height by standing up straight, shoulders back, arms at your sides, then bend your elbows up 90 degrees, parallel with the floor. This is your optimal handle height.
- Safety – Most strollers in the United States meet voluntary safety guidelines set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). If a stroller has a seal from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), that means it has been tested and conforms to the ASTM guidelines.
Three-Wheeled Strollers to Consider
Based on the quality features described above, two brands of strollers come highly recommended by USA Baby:
- Baby Jogger City Elite – This stroller offers ”Quick-Fold Technology”; a swivel front wheel that also locks in place; 12″ forever-air quick-release tires; under-seat basket; multi-position sun canopy; plush, padded reclining seat; an adjustable, soft handlebar; front wheel suspension; adjustable, padded, five-point safety harness; hand-operated parking brake; “auto-lock” to keep stroller folded; and a generous 75 lb. weight limit.
- Bob Revolution –– This stroller offers a swiveling front wheel that locks forward; easy, two-step folding; lightweight frame; adjustable suspension system; easy attachment of BOB Infant Car Seat; ultra-padded, adjustable reclining seat; five-point padded harness; multi-position canopy; high-impact polymer composite wheels with pneumatic tires and tubes; cargo basket; parking brake; padded handlebar; wrist strap; and fold-lock.
One final thought: Investing in a quality stroller assures greater ease-of-use in every way, as well as durability that lasts – no matter how many consecutive children benefit from its comfort and safety. With this type of stroller, you really do get what you pay for.