If you are in the market for a baby stroller, it won’t take long to realize that there are hundreds of different types of strollers, strollers, and carriages out there. If you’re not up-to-date on your baby stroller lingo, you could be in deep trouble when it comes time to drop some dough on junior’s new wheels.
Take a moment to read the following terms and concepts before you go baby stroller browsing, and when the salesperson starts using fancy stroller words, you’ll know exactly what they’re talking about.
- 3-Point Harness
A three point harness is a series of safety straps used to secure babies in their stroller, like the seat belt in a car. A three-point harness has two straps that come together over a child’s hips or stomach, and a third strap that comes up between the child’s legs.
- 5-Point harness
A five-point harness is a more advanced version of a three-point harness. In addition to the three safety straps that make up a three-point harness, a five-point harness also has a strap over each shoulder that locks in place over the child’s stomach. This is similar to the safety belt style in professional race cars, and is more of a safety harness than a seat belt. A five-point harness is designed to keep your child as safe as possible.
- Active Stroller
An active stroller is a baby stroller specially designed for today’s active parents. An active stroller, sometimes called a jogging stroller, is designed for maximum convenience when running or jogging and contains such features as over-sized bicycle tires, extended handle grips, and shock absorbers. Active strollers tend to be difficult to manoeuvre do to their lack of swivel wheels, but they are built for speed, not handling.
- All-Terrain Wheels
All-Terrain wheels are tires that have been designed for parents who enjoy nature walks and time away from the city. These tires are oversized and usually filled with air for extra comfort. In many ways, they are exactly like off-road mountain bike tires in that they are thick and make use of studs for extra traction.
A bassinet is basically a mobile bed for new babies. They are usually equipped with lots of padding and covers for a baby’s comfort and protection. Some Stroller manufacturers have designed their baby strollers to clip on to bassinets, making a full baby carriage. Although this is handy for new babies, it is not safe for toddlers to ride in bassinets as they are often without safety systems and don’t fold up for the child to sit.
A canopy is essentially a “roof” for a baby stroller. Canopies are meant to cover the baby and protect it from the sun, wind, or rain. Most canopies are made from cloth or another lightweight material, and often come with windows made for vinyl mesh or plastic.
The carriage is the formal term used to describe any non-folding, bassinet-style baby strollers. This baby carriage has been around since the 1700’s and until 1965 was the only style of baby vehicle on the market. Antique carriages are now highly sought after both as collector’s pieces and by parents looking for the classic image of a baby stroller.
- Collapsible Stroller
The collapsible stroller was first designed by Owen Maclaren in 1965 as a gift for his daughter and new grand-child. Collapsible strollers are now industry standard in the baby stroller market; the idea is used by every stroller manufacturer in the world for it’s simple design and convenience.
- Foot Strap
A foot strap is a strap used as a place for children to put their feet while they are riding in a baby stroller. Most foot straps are simply a piece of cloth or plastic used as a "step" so that children do not have to dangle their feet. Dangling, although fun, can lead to loss of circulation in the legs if done for extended periods of time.
- Full-Size Stroller
A full-size stroller is similar to a baby carriage except that it can fold up into a chair for a child to sit in. Full-size strollers are the most comfortable strollers for children to sit in as they come with lots of extra padding and many features for parents to make use of. They are big, solid, and very stable vehicles with large rubber wheels for comfort and very large storage areas. Unfortunately, they don’t usually fold down for storage, can be quite heavy, and can be very expensive.
- Harness Closure System
The harness closure system is the safety device that holds a baby in place while travelling in a baby stroller. Harness closure systems are usually a series of safety belts designed to keep the baby in the middle of it’s seat by fitting snugly in place. Harness closure systems are usually either three-point harnesses or five-point harnesses.
- Light-Weight Stroller
Light-weight strollers are the smallest strollers on the market. They are characterized by their stripped down, bare-bones design and compact storage capacity. Umbrella strollers are a perfect example of a light-weight stroller, which typically weighs five pounds or less and can easily be steered or put away with one hand. Light-weight strollers are generally not recommended for new born babies due to their lack of head support, but are good as a second stroller for toddlers.
- Mid-Size Stroller
Mid-size strollers are usually combination strollers, such as travel systems or stroller/carriage combinations. These are strollers where the chair can be folded down flat to make a bed for new babies (or tired ones) and then folded up to make a seat. They are much more comfortable than umbrella strollers and come with more storage space.
A baby pram is another name for a baby carriage. It is a back facing bassinet-style stroller with high wheels and extra padding. Prams were common in the 1800s and made famous when Queen Victoria bout three for her new children in the 1840s. At the time, fashion was heavily influenced by nobility, and the popularity of the pram made it an overnight success. Despite being too tall to be safe as well as highly unstable, many people still seek out these old bassinets on wheels for their antique charm.
- Reversible Canopy
A reversible canopy is a canopy that can be used on either side of a baby stroller. This is done so that parents can use it to block elements like the sun or rain coming from behind them or in front of them as needed.
- Reversible Handles
A reversible handle on a baby stroller is a handle that can be switched from one side to the other in order to drive the stroller backwards. This can be a handy feature if you need to have the baby facing you for any reason.
- Storage Basket
A storage basket is the basic storage space on larger strollers. The storage basket is usually located underneath the seat of the stroller, and provides a parent for space to keep spare clothes, diapers, bottles, and the millions of other things that a baby needs during the course of the day. Storage space is an important factor in deciding if a baby stroller is right for you or not.
A baby stroller is considered the ultimate travel system for parents of small children. It is a fold-up child seat that is light enough and compact enough to allow for easy storage. The original baby stroller was created in 1965 by an aeronautical engineer from Britain named Owen Maclaren.
- Swivel Wheels
Swivel wheels are the basic steering mechanism of a baby stroller. Swivel wheels are made to rotate easily so a stroller can be driven from the rear and steered with ease. They are similar to the front wheels of a shopping cart or wheelchair which allow the driver to point the vehicle in any direction they desire.
A tandem stroller is a multi-child stroller where the seats are lined up in a row as opposed to side-by-side. Tandem strollers were traditionally the domain for three or four-child vehicles, but recently have been gaining popularity with double baby strollers. The thinner style means added control and easier access, but can sometimes lead to arguments between children, especially when one seat faces the front and one faces a parent.
- Travel Systems
A travel system is a mid-size combination stroller. Mostly, these are child seats that can be attached to a frame and wheels for ease of transfer from one vehicle to another. Additionally, the wheel section can be folded down, maximizing storage ability. The seat itself acts as a bassinet, which means that that a baby can be moved from the car to a stroller and then removed from the stroller when needed. Many parents consider this to be the ultimate convenience, especially when their children are sleeping soundly and there is no need to wake them.
- Umbrella Stroller
The umbrella stroller is the smallest and cheapest stroller on the market today. It is designed for toddlers, and is essentially a cloth or vinyl chair on a basic frame with mall wheels. Umbrella strollers are so-called because of their curling double handles that resemble umbrella handles, and their ability to fold up into a very small package. The best umbrella strollers can weigh as little as five pounds, making them excellent back up strollers or for when a parent is planning a short trip and doesn’t want to haul a lot of extras with them. The umbrella stroller was invented in 1965 by Owen Maclaren.
A window on a baby carriage is located in the canopy. Windows are usually made out of nylon mesh or plastic, and serves double duty as a place for a baby to view the world and as protection from the elements, or other hazards such as insects.
Now you know all there is to know about baby strollers. You are ready to go out and find the one that’s perfect for you. Knowing what you’re looking for can be a big help when it comes down to making a decision. You don’t want to pay a lot of money for a stroller that doesn’t suit your needs. Worse, you could end up with a stroller that you can’t use at all!
With these terms and concepts firmly under your belt, you’ve got help when it comes to buying a stroller. Your best tool when buying anything for children is information. There are many, many different makes and models out there, but only one is right for you.
Bill Schnarr is a successful freelance writer providing valuable tips and advice for consumers purchasing jogger style strollers, as well as designer diaper bags & backpacks and fleece baby blankets. His numerous articles offer moneysaving tips and valuable insight on typically confusing topics.