Everything You Need to Know About Double Strollers
Whether you are expecting multiples or are expecting a new little brother or sister, you may be in the market for a double stroller.
Strollers that can accommodate more than one child are perfect for getting you through most any situation with two (or in some cases, even more) kids. Going to the grocery store? No problem. Park day with the gang? Strap them in!
But wait: what features should you be considering? What is worth paying for and what is just another bell and whistle? What is the difference between a side-by-side and tandem stroller?
Well, what you need depends on how varied your needs are, the space you have available, and the temperaments and ages of your children.
The experts at The Baby Cubby always recommend asking yourself these three questions before going through this guide:
- Where will you take your stroller?
- What are your children's temperaments (how well do they get along)?
- How much space do you have on a regular basis in your car trunk?
Got your answers? Good. Let's get you on your way to finding the double stroller of your dreams!
The First Choice: Which kind?
When it comes to double strollers you have two main options: the in-line (or tandem) stroller where one seat is (generally) higher than the other; and, the side-by-side where each child has their own space. Both have their pros and their cons, and both types are better for different activities.
There are also other types of double strollers to consider for specific reasons, such as having an older child along with a baby or for a very active lifestyle.
Read on for tips to help you determine which type of double is right for you!
Why You Would Want an In-Line
In-line strollers are one of the fastest growing sections of the double stroller industry. Parents love their sleek looks, versatility, and easy handle. There is a lot to be said for these beauties, but let's talk about the nitty gritty details.
Although there are some in-lines on the market that feature built-in seats that do not move (much like a side-by-side, but just stacked in front of one another) the up and coming models are what the industry refers to as single and double modular strollers. What does this mean? That either one or both seats can be turned to face forward, or face towards the parent (AKA backwards). What does this mean for you? More versatility. Think about when your three- or four-month-old baby is finally ready to go in the stroller. Do you really not want to be able to see them? With a modular stroller all you have to do is turn the seat around to face you! That way, they're not missing out on the wiggle room and you're not missing out on all that face-to-face time. Or, what if you have two children and have both seats on? Are they bored? You have the option to turn the seats to face each other and the kiddos can play together while you get all of your shopping done! (Or at least you can dream they will.) In any case, versatility is the name of the game when it comes to parenthood, so it's no wonder in-line modular strollers are quickly making a name for themselves.
For example, the Baby Jogger City Select stroller features over 16 different configurations, making it possible to stick with one stroller from the birth of your first baby until two little ones are preschoolers. It's also available in tons of colors, including your choice of frame color.
Check out this You Tube video for more information on how this inline stroller functions.
Maneuverability can sometimes be a tricky thing for double strollers, but that is where in-lines are mom's new best friend! Because of their “stacked” design, they tend to be shorter than the old “limousine” models that you may have grown up with. This makes for easy meandering around tight corners or spaces. It is important to keep in mind though that because the weight is centered on a line ahead of you, some models can be more difficult to push than others. That's why when looking for in-lines you will want to check their tires. Ask:
- How large are the wheels?
- What are the wheels made of?
Let's address question 1 first –
Have you ever seen a jogging stroller? True joggers have very, very large wheels – some even up to 15″. Why? Because the larger the wheel the smoother the ride. Same goes for every other stroller on the market. Thus, if you are getting larger wheels on your in-line double you will most likely be getting a smoother ride.
On to question 2 –
Stroller wheels come in many forms. They can be small, hard plastic wheels; hybrids filled with a gel foam, or even air filled bicycle-like tires. With that in mind, the best in-line strollers will feature a hybrid tire. Why? Because they provide some of the suspension and ease of an air-filled tire with the hardiness of a plastic tire (AKA, never having to fill up a flat!). The air-tire quality allows for a smoother glide and easy handling of all that weight!
Fold Size & Type
Something to note with in-line doubles is their fold. Most double modular strollers do not allow folding with the second seat attached (although the Britax B-Ready does, along with other improved features for the 2017 model, which is amazing), so you are required to remove it prior to putting away your stroller. This means that you will basically have a 3 step fold process:
- Remove second seat.
- Fold stroller over.
- Lock stroller frame (unless it has an automatic lock, which can be found on higher end models)
This could make for a little more hassle when getting your little ones in and out of the car since you will have to re-attach that second seat once you are ready to place your children in the stroller again. It may also take up more room in your trunk, due to the extra fold and bulk of the seats. So, what should you do? Go to your local store and see if they will let you try out the stroller in your trunk. Consider how much you carry in your trunk day-to-day or when you go grocery shopping. Will you still be able to fit what you need to around the stroller and second seat?
Unlike most side-by-side double strollers where only some will allow a second car seat to be attached, most in-lines will allow for attachment of two infant car seats with the help of adapters. This makes in-lines ideal for mothers of twins, who want the convenience of a travel system. Travel systems allow you to transfer your child to the stroller without waking them up after they doze off in the car. You can just click the car seats into the stroller and be on your way.
What Kind of Mom Wants an In-Line?
The experts at The Baby Cubby always recommend in-line doubles for 4 types of mothers. Those who are: (1) Are expecting multiples, (2) Generally use their stroller in tighter spaces, (3) Are not planning to use it in too many intense outdoor conditions, and (4) Want the added versatility of modular seating.
Why You Would Want a Side-by-Side
Side-by-side strollers are your traditional double stroller setups. However, newer models are getting slimmer, easier to maneuver, and easier folds than ever before!
Although you cannot switch the seats to face forwards or backwards like on an in-line stroller, the side-by-side boasts its own kind of versatility: comfort, view, and no-contact. With a side-by-side stroller each child basically gets their own stroller – even though you're just pushing one. That means that when they want to recline, they can! When they need the canopy up, they can! And it won't bother the other child at all, like it sometimes can with an in-line stroller. Plus, they won't ever have their sibling in the way, which means no kicking each other (on purpose or on accident).
This is the big one with side-by-side strollers. They tend to have a reputation for not being very maneuverable. This is true — if you're in a tight space. However, most side-by-side strollers nowadays are pretty slim. Many of them are about 1.5 the width of a regular stroller rather than the same as 2 strollers. This means that while they will be able to fit through doorways just fine, they may still not fit through those tight clothing racks at the store.
That being said, if you hardly ever take your kiddos shopping with you and instead spend most of your time in the outdoors – a side-by-side could be the perfect fit! Some side-by-sides feature either true all-terrain tires or hybrids (as discussed in the in-line section). This means that they will be able to handle gravel, grass, and bumps easily. Some strollers, like the Baby Jogger City Mini GT Double, have been known to maneuver wonderfully with just one hand even with two kids weighing it down. When your stroller is that easy to handle, you know that you'll be able to take it anywhere.
On the other hand, if you would like to take two kids jogging, or over rough terrain, check out the BOB Revolution Flex Duallie jogging stroller.
Fold Size & Type
Side-by-side doubles are known for having great two-step folds and relatively small sizes (obviously depending on the model). With a majority of side-by-sides all you do is fold the top half of the stroller down and then pull up on a strap (usually located under the seat) to fold completely. Some side-by-sides, like the Baby Jogger City Mini Double, fold in just one step. These ones you simply pull up once on the straps in the middle of the seats to make the stroller collapse backwards. While the two-step fold tends to make the folded stroller shorter, the one-step folds tends to boast a slimmer profile. If you have a taller trunk, either fold will most likely not affect you too much in terms of space. However, if you have a shorter trunk you will want to decide if you would rather have more space in either height or width.
Unfortunately, the majority of side-by-side double strollers do not feature accommodations for two infant car seats, only one. So, if you are a mom of twins who wants the convenience of a travel system, these are most likely not the stroller for you. That being said, because many of these strollers' seats are able to lay completely flat, you can place an infant in them from birth to create a makeshift bassinet. Plus, as they get older, your twins will have their own space in the stroller. They won't have to fight about which one gets to see more, whether they're closer to mom, or be able to kick and bug each other. Those features alone can save a twin mom's life!
What Kind of Mom Wants a Side-by-Side?
The ideal side-by-side stroller mom can range from the (1) jogger mom to the (2) outdoorsy mom to the (3) travel mom. There are no joggers or all-terrain strollers currently on the market that are in-line doubles, making your only choice as a jogger or outdoorsy mom a side-by-side (this is due to the weight balances and suspension considerations when it comes to jogging or being outdoors). If you're traveling a lot, side-by-side double strollers make it easy to create more space in your trunk and no hassles when you're folding up the stroller over and over again. They may also be lighter (if they are not an all-terrain or jogging double), making them easier to carry through airports!
There are a few other options for transporting multiple kids if you have circumstances beyond the norm.
The Active Mom: If you are a really active Mom (or Dad) you aren't going to let two kids slow you down. The best choice for the Mom who needs to bike, run, is the Thule Chariot Cougar 2. This stroller can function as an everyday stroller out of the box, but can also be converted into a super-sturdy jogging stroller or bike trailer with additional kits. This is a legendary stroller for active families with a great balance of features making it the only stroller you will need to bring kids anywhere and do anything.
The Large Age Gap: If you have an older child and a baby you may not want to deal with the bulk of a double stroller … but you still need an option for your older child to hitch a ride once in a while. The Joovy Caboose, available in an Ultralight version, is the perfect solution. It allows the younger child to have the complete range of stroller features, including car seat adapters and a deep recline for naps while the older child can simply hop on and off the back or sit with the addition of a second seat for the back.
Ride Along: Ride on boards can be a great solution for a couple of problems. If you simply don't have room for a double stroller, as long as at least one child is able to stand you can use a ride-on board to create a double. This also works for families that don't need a double all the time, such as if an older child spends most of the day at preschool but needs a “ride” home. Also, although triple strollers aren't very common, if you need a way to transport a third child adding a ride on board to a double can work very well. Some strollers have their own compatible models, or you can find a universal version.
Other Things to Note
Phew! That was a lot of info. But we're almost to the end! There are just a few things to make note of so that you know exactly what you are getting into.
In-lines could save you money in the long run.
If this is your first child (when people are more willing to help you out on big purchases) an in-line stroller may be the way to go. You don't need to purchase the second seat until after you have your next child, but you can purchase the frame and the first seat now. Second seats usually range anywhere from $80-200, where a decent side-by-side could cost you at least $300. That's a pretty hefty savings the second time around.
Second seats on some in-lines have a lower weight capacity
Most second seats are referred to as “rumble seats” in the industry, meaning they are smaller and, sometimes, a more simplified seat. For instance, of them may not have an adjustable footrest, or may have a smaller canopy. Be sure to find out if you are getting a full-featured second seat or a rumble seat to avoid any surprises.
There you have it. Guaranteed you now know more than any other parent on your block about double strollers and how to choose one. Now, go to your local store and test drive those strollers!
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