Age Range: Birth to 18 mths or 25 lbs | Dimensions: 18″W x 7.5″H x 25.5″L
Long usage span
No padding on bottom
The Boon Naked is a multi-stage tub that collapses to store nearly flat. This makes it ideal for those living in tight spaces, or you need to take their infant tub with them. We especially appreciate that the legs snap into place and can only fold down with the press of a button, making accidental closure nearly impossible. The asymmetrical shape of the basin can accommodate babies from birth up until 18 months. A shallow incline on one side offers suitable support for newborns, while the other end of the tub is more upright, offering more subtle support for babies with better head control. A raised crotch support in the center of the tub provides extra stability for babies of all ages. The sidewalls are made of a soft rubbery material, which we appreciate for the extra cushion and grip. A drain plug in the bottom of the basin allows you to empty the remaining water with ease.
We love the Naked tub; however, we feel there could be a few improvements. Some parents complain that there is no grippy material on the bottom of the tub, making it easier for your baby to slide around during bathtime. It is also one of the most expensive tubs in the review, and we don’t think that many parents will feel that it is worth the cost. However, if it fits within your budget, the Boon Naked is a high-quality tub we recommend for small spaces and traveling families.
Runner-Up Best Bathtub
Age Range: Birth to 24 mths | Dimensions: 21″W x 10″H x 37″L
Durable and sturdy
May be slippery
The PRIMO EuroBath is an extra-large, sturdy tub perfect for those who want a single product to take baby from infancy through the first two years. With multiple positions for infants, babies, and even toddlers, it is perfect for babies to grow into or enjoy extra space to splash around. One end of the tub has a gently reclining position with support between the legs to keep infants stable. The other side allows older babies to sit more upright. PRIMO states that EuroBath is lead, phthalate, and BPA-free.
Unfortunately, this tub is large and bulky and is inconvenient to stow after bath time is over. There is a notch on one end that allows it to hang, but that isn’t practical for most families. Also, due to the lack of anti-slip material in the tub’s inside, wiggly tiny infants may have trouble staying in place despite the contoured shape. The PRIMO is devoid of any cushioning, making it less than cozy for sensitive booties. However, if your home has room for this spacious tub, and you want a durable bath made for the long haul, then the PRIMO fits the bill.
Best Bathtub Bargain
Angelcare Bath Support
Angelcare Bath Support
Age Range: Birth to 6 mths or 20 lbs | Dimensions: 13.5″W x 21.5″L x 9″H
Short useage span
The Angelcare Bath Support is a newborn bathing device with a rubbery mesh back that flexes to cradle small infants during bath time. The tub’s shape is perfect for adding an extra sense of security and preventing your baby from sliding around in a tub that is too large for them. The foot of the support is lined with a grippy rubber material that keeps the base stable. The entire product is compact, lightweight, and easy to lift and store. Although it has a shorter lifespan than some other tubs, the low cost makes it a good purchase in our book. Many parents also love that the mesh backing keeps your baby up above any used bathwater.
Without a basin to hold bathwater, the Angelcare Bath Support will need to be placed in a larger bathtub or sink. However, it is large enough that it will not fit in most kitchen sinks. This limiting factor makes it useful only in specific situations. Additionally, the perforated back allows airflow all around your baby, so you must take extra steps to ensure your child stays warm. Overall, we like using the Angelcare Bath Support and think it is one of the best ways to add a measure of security to your newborn bathing routine.
Best for Travel
Age Range: Birth to 6 mths or 17 lbs | Dimensions: 25.2″W x 0.8″H x 26.4″L
Doesn’t fit all sinks
Magnets come undone
The Puj Tub is a soft foam tub with an innovative design that folds to fit in the bathroom sink. Not only is the durable material comfortable for babies, but it is also BPA and PVC-free, and the smooth coating makes it mildew and mold resistant. The unique folding design and magnets allow it to fit almost any sink and lay flat for storage. Puj also sells Puj Nubs (peel and stick hooks) to hang your tub. The compact nature of the bath makes it a perfect space-saver for smaller bathrooms with limited storage. We like that it offers a safe area to bathe your baby in a supportive manner, and this tub makes bathing your infant easier.
One of the significant drawbacks is that it won’t fit every sink. The manufacturer gives sink dimensions of 12-15″ for length and width and 6.5-9″ for depth, so measure your sink before purchasing to avoid fit issues or purchase from a retailer with a forgiving return policy. This tub is only large enough for infants, so it isn’t a perfect long-term solution. With a max-age of 6 months or up to 17 lbs, you’ll need an additional plan once your baby reaches this milestone. Lastly, there are reports that the magnets that hold it folded together can come undone unexpectedly. Despite these hiccups, we like how easy the Puj is to use and how comfortable it is for babies. It is an excellent choice for small bathrooms or those with limited storage.
Best for Adorable and Cozy
Blooming Baby Bath
Blooming Baby Bath
Age Range: Birth to 6 mths | Dimensions: 32″ tip to tip
Possible microbe growth
The Blooming Baby Bath is a new spin on your traditional baby bath. This colorful and cushioned flower offers a cozy seat for your baby while bathing in the kitchen or bathroom sink. The petals fold in various positions to cradle little ones in softness in a wide variety of sinks. The soft terry cloth material helps keep your baby warm, and the textured surface prevents slipping. This unique design has a loop hanger for easy drying and storage. It is washer and dryer friendly, making it a breeze to keep clean and hygienic.
The Blooming Bath could potentially accrue microbial issues from a contaminated kitchen sink or mildew from an improperly cared for flower. Therefore, it is essential to disinfect your sink before every use and adequately wring and dry the petals between uses. If you live in a humid climate, it may be best to toss the entire cushion in the dryer to eliminate moisture that could lead to the build-up of bacteria. This baby bathtub is only suitable for infants up to 6 months (approximately), so you may need to look for another bath if they aren’t ready to sit unassisted in your home’s tub. But, if you are looking for a comfortable and compact tub for your infant that is also adorable, it is an excellent choice.
Not Recommended: Counter Safety Concerns
Age Range: Birth to 6 mths | Dimensions: 9.8″W x 5.3″H x 14.2″L
Soft cradle material
Dirty water drain
Although we like the BPA-and phthalate-free soft material that cradles little ones in a supported incline position on the Munchkin Clean, there are similar and better tubs without a countertop safety concern. According to the Munchkin website, this product works in a tub or on the countertop near the kitchen sink, and we strongly believe a countertop location creates serious safety issues as the tub or baby could fall from counter height, and placing your baby on the counter in or out of a bathtub is dangerous. It is too easy to accidentally knock the tub or your baby off the counter, resulting in disastrous results. We would prefer the bath if Munchkin did not encourage countertop use. The current version is one we don’t recommend because of the safety concerns associated with the preferred and recommended usage outlined by the manufacturer.
Important It is extremely vital for your child’s safety to never leave them unattended in the bath due to potential drowning risk, which can occur even in the shallowest of water. It is also advised to always keep your hands on your baby.
Each product in our review was purchased and hands-on tested before being scored and ranked
Why You Should Trust Us
Bathtub selection and testing took some serious and thoughtful consideration because of the related safety concerns surrounding babies and water. Leading our team is founder and board-certified pediatrician, Dr. Juliet Spurrier, mother of two. Dr. Spurrier uses her education, background, and experience as a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to select products with safety in mind. Other contributing team members include Senior Review Editor and BabyGearLab review analyst, Wendy Schmitz. Wendy is a mother of two and works closely with testers with all types of baby gear, from bottles to strollers and everything in between. Wendy has worked at BabyGearLab since 2014 and has an education in the scientific method and testing processes. Senior Review Editor, Molly Bradac brings her unique insight and knowledge to this review, as she holds over 14 years as a professional Nanny and Newborn Care Specialist, bathing more babies than most parents will in their lifetime. And, our in-house test team is led by Abriah Wofford. Abriah has been on the review team since 2015, holds experience as a childcare provider, and she’s the oldest of a big family (fun fact: she’s one of seven siblings!).
We purchased and tested each product in this roundup for side-by-side comparisons to determine which option is the best for each situation and lifestyle. We used the baths with real babies in real life, as well as in our in-house lab.
Analysis and Test Results
Bath time can be a wonderful part of your baby’s routine, and we want you to select a product that best suits you and your little one’s needs. To rank our favorites, we used each product and evaluated the competition with key factors in mind, such as tub stability, baby comfort, ease of use, and portability. Also influencing our overall ranking is user feedback.
The price range of bathtubs is surprisingly wide, and our review includes an option for any budget. The PRIMO EuroBath is an award-winning tub with a great design, a noticeable quality that feels indestructible, and its price tag is wallet-friendly. If it’s still too expensive, consider the Angelcare Bath Support, which is cozy and gets the job done. While the First Years 4-in-1 did not win an award, it is an inexpensive option that will likely work longer than a few months thanks to its 4-in-1 design, as long as you don’t plan to use it for travel, your bathroom real estate is not limited.
The PRIMO EuroBath is extra-large, and if you have the bathroom space to spare, it is easy to use and clean
All contenders in our review share the common goal of safely cleaning your sweet baby, but each bathtub style varies. Therefore, we evaluated each tub’s design, particularly assessing features of stability, which we consider to include a non-skid base, level of recline, a tub’s contour and shape, and if non-slip material is present on the tub’s inside.
Among the competition, the PRIMO EuroBath and Angelcare Bath Support stand out with high scores in this metric. We did dock the PRIMO a little due to its smooth plastic interior that is slick for wiggly babies. But, given its significantly contoured body, recline, and design features that support babies and toddlers, it still scored high as it’s nearly indestructible and incredibly stable, possibly outlasting multiple children. The Angelcare incorporates multiple qualities of stability that we appreciate, including non-slip rubber coating around the tub’s base, a mesh portion that cradles your baby with non-slip material, and a recline that is gentle for newborns, which helps keep most babies from sliding around.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Munchkin Clean scoring low as the manufacturer’s website mentions it is acceptable to use it on the countertop. We’re anxious about this location as we believe it increases the potential for safety concerns, mainly falls, leaving us not to recommend this product to a friend or use it ourselves. Also, the Summer Infant Comfort Height has a detachable base that can raise the bath center, and the tub and basin snugly connect together with locking tabs. Use of the base is optional, but we know this feature may be appealing to parents, especially for those who feel back strain from leaning over while bathing baby or those with deep bathtubs. Although we did not experience any issues, it is logical to believe that extra height may be more tippy.
The Fisher Price 4-in-1 Sling ‘n Seat is a convertible tub, meaning it adapts as your baby grows, utilizing the sling to sitting support insert
For this metric, we took a look at the amount of padding, the contour style, the tub’s material, and its ability to keep your baby warm. If you seek luxury, the Blooming Baby Bath is one to consider, thanks to its plush material, which is comfortable and welcoming for babies to sit and enjoy bath time.
A few contenders that did not rank as high in this metric include the Munchkin Sit and Soak and Mommy’s Helper Inflatable Bath, mainly due to lack of contour and support. The Munchkin Sit and Soak’s design is more upright, which works for slightly older babies, but we think infants need a gentler incline. The Mommy’s Helper has a few raw edges that could be uncomfortable for children’s delicate skin, and it is also more suitable for older babies than infants.
Ease of Use
This metric is all about usability for parents and whether a tub is easy to clean and maintain, fill and drain, plus set up and disassemble. A few tubs that rank near the top include the Boon Naked, Munchkin Sit and Soak, and the PRIMO EuroBath. These options are quick and easy to set up, fill and drain, plus they’re manageable to clean.
Among the competition, the Blooming Baby Bath is more involved and requires ongoing effort to maintain its cleanliness. To avoid mold growth, we think it is best to toss this product into the washer to rinse and spin, and even the dryer. Also, with a sink insert, it is recommended that the bathroom or kitchen sink where you’ll bathe your little one is scrubbed and clean before your baby’s bathtime; so, keep in mind, there’s some upfront prep work with this tub style.
Another product in our lineup that we experienced trouble using is the Mommy’s Helper Inflatable Bath. It was difficult and time-consuming to inflate (we even used a bike pump to speed up the process), and it did not remain inflated after time due to slow leaks. Given its prep time and low quality, this product earned a low score, and we think there are other products in our lineup that are more enjoyable to use.
The Blooming Baby Bath is designed for bathing your baby in a sink and could be a travel companion if you have laundry access and are willing to manage its cleaning care
It may be essential to have a travel-friendly bathtub for baths away from home if you’re the traveling type. We consider the Puj Tub to be one of the best to hit the road with you and your little one. Its unique folding design is space-saving, and it folds to fit most standard bathroom sinks, making it qualify as a potential traveling companion.
The Blooming Baby Bath may also work as a travel companion. The material is easy to fold and fit into luggage; however, we think this option is best under certain circumstances. Since it requires drying time before hitting your suitcase, we believe it best for stays with laundry access where you can send it through the rinse and spin cycle before the dryer or allow it to air dry (whatever you prefer). But, if your vacation is hotel-based, we think this option may be more of a hassle than helpful.
Keep in mind, stand-alone plastic tubs will likely not be travel-friendly, and an example includes the PRIMO EuroBath. This tub is extra-large and not suitable for life-on-the-go. It is best if you have bathroom real estate to spare, where it can stay without interfering with the traffic of daily life until bathtime rolls around.
Before purchasing a product, we suggest determining which tub style will work best for your lifestyle and needs
A great baby bathtub can take away the stress of bath time and create an enjoyable moment for you and your baby. Creating a safe atmosphere is key in making a great tub. The right product can be a valuable piece of baby gear that we encourage parents to consider. With practice, bathing your baby can be a bonding and relaxing experience, but not if your tub is subpar. Choosing the right bathtub for your needs, mastering the basics, and following straightforward and essential safety measures means you’ll be a baby-bathing pro before you know it.
Which travel crib is the best for your baby? After researching over 25 options, we bought more than 10 portable cribs for testing. We conducted side-by-side testing of the travel sleep spaces for ease of use, portability, quality, comfort, and more. After months of side-by-side testing, we learned details that can help you find the right option for your little one and goals. Continue reading to learn more about travel baby cribs and which stand out from the pack.
Best Overall Travel Crib
BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light
BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light
Weight in Bag: 12.8 lbs | Packed Size: 19.5″H x 23.6″L x 6.6″W
Easy to use
Harder to put a baby in
The BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light is easy to use, lightweight, and compact, making it a super portable option great for travel. It uses materials free of flame retardants, and it has the most comfortable mattress in our tests with a soft but firm pad wrapped in a softer cover. We like that the BabyBjorn is easy to set up and fold with a useful travel bag that the crib fits in nicely without a struggle.
The price for this option is high compared to much of the competition. While this might make the Bjorn a no-go for tighter budgets, we think it’s an excellent choice if your budget allows it. This crib is a quality option that feels sturdy using high-quality materials.
Cool Side Open Crib
Lotus Travel Crib
Lotus Travel Crib
Weight in Bag: 13.9 lbs | Packed Size: 12.6″H x 24.8″L x 9.3″W
Zippered side access
Involved mattress attachment
The Lotus Travel Crib by Guava is a stylish, portable crib with a unique zippered side opening for snuggling with your little one. This eco-healthier option lacks flame retardants and has a soft mattress. It folds into a compact and lightweight travel-ready package with a unique backpack bag with straps that leave your hands free. The Lotus is easy to set up and easy enough to close once you read the instructions and watch the company video on how to do it properly.
While this option isn’t as high quality as the BabyBjorn, it comes close and is just as comfortable for your baby with a lower price that is easier on the wallet. If a budget-friendlier price and straightforward hands-free bag are high on your list, then the Lotus is one to consider.
Best Portable Crib on a Budget
Baby Joy Travel Crib 2-1 Playpen
Baby Joy Travel Crib 2-1 Playpen
Weight in Bag: 10.25 lbs | Packed Size: 22″H x 24″L x 7″W
The Baby Joy Travel Crib 2-1 Playpen is an easy-to-use, less expensive travel crib that still gives you the features and functionality you need without breaking the bank. This lightweight and smaller compact travel crib is a good choice for parents who need something for travel but perhaps don’t travel often or aren’t sure how frequently they will use it. This crib has a quick setup time, feels sturdy when open, and features a side zip panel for in-and-out play or easy comfort in the middle of the night.
This crib may have potential eco-health concerns as we aren’t sure about the exact materials and can’t find information on the product or the internet about the contents. The pad isn’t as comfortable as some competitors as the foam pad compresses easily, and little ones are hitting the plastic board quickly. However, despite these imperfections, we think this option is similar to higher quality, more expensive choices and will give your little one their own sleep space no matter where the road takes you for a price most families can afford.
Good Longterm Value
Graco Pack ‘n Play On the Go
Graco Pack ‘n Play On the Go
Weight in Bag: 20.3 lbs | Packed Size: 10.6″H x 27.7″L x 10.3″W
Good quality for the price
Possible flame retardants
Harder to transport
The Graco Pack ‘n Play On the Go is a budget-friendly portable crib/play yard with a bassinet for infants. This crib is average for ease of setup and folding, with a travel bag that is large enough to prevent frustration when it’s time to pack up. The best thing about this option is its longer lifespan and various uses. While it might not hit the mark for all families, we like that it can serve as a bassinet, travel crib, or play yard all in one.
This option potentially uses flame retardants. It is also heavier and larger than most top competitors, making it a no-go if your space is limited or you have difficulty lifting heavy things. Despite this, it is a good choice for families with a tight budget who long for a multi-use option with above-average performance. If you must have a travel crib or play yard and a bassinet wouldn’t hurt, then this Graco is tough to beat for value over the product’s lifespan.
Not Recommended: Not an Actual Travel Crib
Dream On Me Travel Light Playard
Dream On Me Travel Light Playard
Weight in Bag: 10.6 lbs | Packed Size: 20″H x 24″L x 6″W
Good quality for the price
Not for sleeping
The Dream On Me Travel Light Playard is not a travel crib. Despite showing up in searches online for travel cribs, this product is not designed for sleeping babies. The company recommends children do not sleep in it and suggest supervision at all times and the movement of little ones to an appropriate sleep surface should they fall asleep inside the playpen. We worry that parents will mistake this product for a travel crib as it looks almost identical to popular travel cribs. Even we didn’t realize this was not a travel crib until we purchased it and read more about it. We worry parents will make the same mistake we did, which is why we decided to include it in this review as a Not Recommended option since it is not a product designed for sleeping. We believe it would be helpful if the manufacturer provided clear and accurate information about this playpen to help parents avoid making the false assumption that it is suitable for sleeping.
Why You Should Trust Us
We’ve been testing baby gear for over 9 years with multiple updates to our travel crib review, including purchasing and testing over 15 different products. The portable crib team is led by our founder, Dr. Juliet Spurrier. Dr. Spurrier is a mother of 2 and a board-certified pediatrician. She uses her knowledge as a physician and her background as a mother in the crib selection process focusing on safety and quality. The test team includes Bob Wofford, father or 7, and our Senior Review Analyst. Bob performs side-by-side testing for each metric, comparing the products against one another before moving on to our real-world parents. Wendy Schmitz and Abriah Wofford, Senior Review Editors, round out the team and participate in testing and analyzing the final results to help select winners and final product ranks.
We purchased and tested each option in this review with side-by-side testing to see how it compares to the competition. This testing process provides insight like no other, as we are uniquely poised to determine which products outperform the competition with the most useful features and designs. Unlike a review of a single product with no comparisons, we include the details on why some options stand out from the pack and which have the features that can make your travel life easier.
Analysis and Test Results
We tested 10 popular portable cribs using a rigorous process, including in-house lab testing and real-world use, to determine the most important features and which cribs offer the best performance. Testing is designed to expose the details you need to find the right travel option for your family and wallet.
Award-winning cribs for travel should be easy to set up and fold into their travel bags. They are lightweight, relatively compact, and easy to carry or fit in smaller spaces, so you can quickly stow them on public transportation or in crowded trunk spaces.
Create a Safe Sleep Environment
For more information on safe sleeping and decreasing the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related death, please follow the American Academy of Pediatrics “back to sleep” guidelines. Creating a safer sleep environment is a must, easier than you think, and will give you peace of mind for a restful night’s sleep.
Because a travel crib isn’t truly an essential piece of baby gear, the budget may be more of a consideration when making your selection. Luckily, some options perform well and have reasonable price tags, or there are high-quality options that can be used for more than one child, thereby dispersing the price over a longer lifetime. The Graco On-The-Go Pack N Play is a versatile travel crib that works as a playpen and infant bassinet. Multiple functions build a value that goes beyond its low price. The Baby Joy Playpen is a higher ranking option with a reasonable price that gives parents an easy-to-use crib that is lightweight and set up in around a minute. The Lotus Travel Crib is more expensive. Still, the quality is evident, and the crib can also be used as a smaller playpen and bassinet increasing its overall use and extending its lifetime.
How easy it is to set up a crib can be the difference between fun with baby and a headache
Ease of Use
Testing ease of use for portable cribs includes set up, fold, and fitting it in the travel bag. We did not test the accessories for these products, as these varied widely and were not comparable, but depending on what they are, you may want to take a closer look at them and how they might meet your needs.
Setup time for these products varies significantly between 1 minute to over 27 minutes for the initial setup. Set-up time decreases considerably with practice, but the harder cribs remain challenging because they have more steps or assembly. While practice can make perfect (or at least quicker), you can’t change a convoluted process into a simple one, no matter how many times you practice.
The BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light earns the high score for ease of use with a 9 of 10 and an average setup of 1:37 minutes after multiple tests. This option requires unfolding, locking the legs (above left), and securing the mattress (above right). This short turnaround time means you can have a sleeping baby resting peacefully quickly after a day of travel. The Baby Joy also has a quick setup of 1 minute on average once you know what you are doing. The Phil and Teds Traveller, on the other hand, earns the lowest score with a 2. This crib takes an average of 8:34 minutes to set up even after significant practice. The Traveller requires complete assembly and dismantling every time you use it. It comes with more parts than the competition, and by the time you assemble it, your baby could be wide awake and crabby. This time seems excessive to us; it feels even worse when you consider that the second-longest setup time is half that of the Traveller at 4:12 minutes for the KidCo TravelPod. Most of the competition is closer to 2 minutes as the Graco Pack ‘n Play On the Go takes an average of 1:47 minutes, and the Lotus Travel Crib requires 2:13 minutes.
The Phil and Teds Traveller requires complete assembly each time you set up (parts on the left) while the BabyBjorn has only two parts and sets up quickly
We also test the ease of folding and fitting the cribs into their included travel bags. This experience varies between easy and painfully frustrating. The BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light is easy to open and close and is the easiest to fit in its travel bag thanks to its smaller size and well-designed bag that includes some wiggle room. Alternatively, the Lotus Travel Crib is easy to set up but a struggle to fold and fit into the bag (why can’t they make the bag a wee bit bigger?). Sometimes we failed to fit the Lotus in the bag and had to open and refold it to fit it in the bag (this feels like a design flaw to us). The Phil and Teds Traveller is the hardest to open, close and fit into the bag. The crib parts need to be precisely arranged in the bag to ensure everything fits since it doesn’t fold like the competition; if you get it wrong, you’ll be taking everything out of the bag to try again.
The Lotus Travel Crib is the only product we tested that offered a hands-free carrying option like the backpack straps
The primary use for travel cribs is providing a safe sleep location for your baby when you are away from home. If a crib is too heavy to lift and carry or too large to stow in small spaces, it could be a stress creator instead of useful gear. For this reason, we think portability is one of the most important features for cribs you use for travel. The smaller and lighter a crib, generally speaking, the better.
Depending on your fitness level or the kind of travel you plan to do, you may have some wiggle room in this metric. If you are a bodybuilder with an SUV and drive to your destination, a more substantial option might work. If you are petite and traveling alone with your baby on a plane, then the weight and stow-ability will likely override most other considerations.
The Phil and Teds Traveller is the lightest product in this review, with an in-bag weight of 7.4 lbs. It also happens to be the smallest when folded/dismantled, measuring 6.5″H x 27.2″L x 8.8″W. However, it didn’t score well in other metrics, and the setup time of over 8 minutes may negate the small size and lighter weight. Of course, if you’re packing this crib for a longer distance, maybe you will find the arduous setup acceptable to have the lighter weight.
On the other hand, the BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light weighs 12.8 lbs, measures 19.5″H x 23.6″L x 6.6″W when folded, and scored well in every metric earning the top overall score. The addition of 5 extra pounds may seem like a lot, but when you consider that the Joovy Room2 weighs 26.8 lbs it will seem feather light in comparison. Probably a good compromise of higher performance and lightweight is the Baby Joy Playpen, which is 10.25 lbs and measures 22″H x 24″L x 7″W when in the carry bag.
The Phil and Teds Traveller earned a 10 of 10 for portability, with the BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light, Baby Joy, and the Lotus Travel Crib all earning 8s. The Joovy Room2 and the 4moms Breeze came in at the bottom of the pack with scores of 2. The 4moms Breeze is the largest folded option measuring 12.1″H x 30.7″L x 12.2″W in the bag. This option feels more like something you’d take on a road trip, but perhaps not on an airplane.
Given the strict safety regulations governing this type of gear, you’d think that the competition would be similar in their relative comfort level. However, the materials and design of each sleeping surface vary and influence the comfort of the crib.
Most contenders have a soft mattress that ranges from dense and hard to ultra-squishy and so soft that your baby is quickly hitting the hard support bottom.
The Phil and Teds Traveller has a unique self-inflating mattress similar to a camping mattress
The Phil and Teds Traveller has a unique self-inflating mattress that we struggle to inflate fully and was somewhat bowed even with the baby’s weight in place. Without full inflation, the pad is uncomfortable and provides no support (think poorly inflated air mattress that results in your baby sleeping more or less on the ground). The KidCo TravelPod only earned a 2 of 10 for comfort with a mattress so soft it has permanent indentations in it from being folded. We worry that it will continue to lose its shape and ability to support a baby after repeated use. The Baby Joy has a similar problem of an easy to compress foam pad that results in the baby resting almost directly on the hard plastic board under the foam. This design earned it a 3 for comfort.
On the other end of the spectrum, the BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light (above left) and the Lotus Travel Crib (above right) earned 7s thanks to soft, thicker cushions with support that didn’t squash to a thin mattress under a baby’s weight. It was easy to see the difference in the quality of materials and the designs that helped one crib mattress earn higher scores over another in a side-by-side comparison.
The 4moms Breeze impresses with quality materials and construction
The quality of the portable cribs varies significantly. Some of the products are sturdy with tightly woven mesh and durable fabric with even stitching. Other options are somewhat wobbly when we press on the top rails, and the mesh easily stretches, or it has loose threads and off-kilter stitching.
The Joovy Room2 and the 4moms Breeze earned top scores of 9 of 10. Both cribs have sturdy frames and tight mesh with impressive attention to detail.
The 4moms Breeze impresses with quality materials and construction
The lowest score for the group is 4 for the KidCo. This option has soft, flimsy fabric with lots of loose threads and mesh that easily indents. The BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light and the Lotus Travel Crib earned an 8 and 7, respectively, with higher-end materials and solid construction in simple designs that the manufacturers execute well. The less expensive Baby Joy earns an impressive 6 overall for quality, making it the highest quality, budget-friendly option in the review.
Best Travel Crib
In January 2014, 15 baby gear categories were found not to pose a fire safety risk and were made exempt from meeting flammability standards. This exemption means the manufacturers of these types of baby products are free to make products without harmful flame retardants. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean they all make an effort.
Flame retardant chemicals are harmful to humans. In our opinion, we feel that exposing little ones to these kinds of chemicals should be limited whenever feasible. Only a handful of products in this review provide information about what materials and chemicals they use (or don’t use) to create their portable cribs. We think transparency is important, and parents should demand more information from companies before making buying decisions. The Center For Environmental Health (CEH) surveyed leading manufacturers of baby gear on their use of flame retardant chemicals. The CEH list the following survey questions on their website:
CEH’s survey asked four simple questions:
1) Does your company currently sell baby products made with intentionally added flame retardants?
2) If some products still contain flame retardants, which ones?
3) What is your timeline for removing these flame-retardant chemicals from your products?
4) How will you let consumers know that your baby products do not contain flame retardants — through labeling or (for web-based companies) information offered online at the point of purchase or via product websites?
The manufacturer’s responses to the survey were used to rank the companies based on their efforts to remove the harmful chemicals from their products. While not all manufacturers are listed, it is a good starting point for parents looking for more information on what chemicals are in their baby’s gear. The list also shows which companies provide transparency and express an openness to divulge information to consumers.
This color-coded chart shows information for some brands and their use of flame retardants. Companies shown in green are free of flame retardants while companies shown in red either didn’t respond or potentially use chemicals in their materials.
Credit: The Center for Environmental Health
The BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light and Lotus Travel Crib earned 10 of 10 for eco-health. BabyBjorn states that their product is “free from harmful substances and approved according to Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Class 1 for baby products” they go on to say “materials do not contain any harmful or allergenic substances.” The Guava Family company makes the following statement about the Lotus Travel Crib, “The Lotus Travel Crib has been thoroughly tested for chemical emissions and is certified to the GREENGUARD GOLD standard, making it the only travel crib in the world to have received this rigorous certification.” They go on to say that the Lotus is “… free of PVC, Lead, Phthalates, Formaldehyde, Heavy Metals (Cadmium, Arsenic, Mercury, etc.) and many others.”
The majority of portable cribs in this review scored a 1 of 10 and failed to provide information about chemicals and flame retardants on their websites, owner’s manuals, or to the CEH. Luckily, except for the Graco Pack ‘n Play on the Go and the Baby Joy Playpen, the majority of award-winning products in this review are free from harmful chemicals and impressed during testing of other metrics earning the top two overall scores.
We purchased and tested each product in the review for a comparison and performance testing process to give you all the details you need to make a buying decision
You can travel sans a portable crib, but a great travel crib can make life easier on the go. Travel cribs can provide a safe sleep and play space for little ones when you need a moment (pee break anyone?). In our opinion, finding products that make traveling with a baby simpler is money well spent. Gear that helps keep a baby’s normal sleep schedule? Well, trust us, that is priceless. Our winners include impressive options for most budgets, with features designed for various goals. We hope our details help you find the best crib for your traveling tot, even if our award winners aren’t the best choice for you.
Ready for a baby plate? Check out our lineup of kid-friendly dishware. Our review ranks 2021’s top 9 baby and toddler plates. To determine the best, we researched the market before purchasing top contenders to send through hands-on testing. We assessed and compared each for qualities we consider important, like eco-health, ease of cleaning, ease of use, and more. We are confident our review with expert recommendations will guide you to the perfect product that meets your needs.
Best Overall Dinnerware Set
Kiddobloom Dinnerware Set
Kiddobloom Dinnerware Set
Material: Stainless Steel | Suction: No
If your toddler is ready for a dinnerware set, the Kiddobloom Dinnerware Set may meet your needs. Encouraging a tot’s sense of independence is important to us, and we think this child-size set may be a handy mealtime accessory in that quest. The set includes a bowl, a cup (an item no other competitor offers), and a three-sectioned divided plate. Besides the plain stainless steel design, an option with frog engravings is available – if you would like to add a dose of cuteness. All the pieces have smooth edges, and the material is inert stainless steel, which is non-toxic and doesn’t impart flavor to the contents. Its durability will withstand the rage of toddlers, and we are confident this set will last the test of time.
Although dishwasher safe, the packaging lists some particular care instructions. The manufacturer recommends removing the dinnerware after the last rinse cycle and allowing it to air dry, which will help avoid discoloration and corrosion. They further advise not to use detergents containing bleach or chlorine solution. This option does not offer suction or anti-skid material, so you may want to look elsewhere if this is a feature you seek. The Kiddobloom’s cost is an investment, but considering the durability and longevity of stainless steel, there is potential for this set to last long enough to be an heirloom. With that said, we believe this dinnerware is non-toxic and healthy for your toddler, which we believe significantly outweighs minor drawbacks. If you feel the same, we highly recommend the Kiddobloom to you.
Best Budget-Friendly Option
Munchkin Splash Plate & Bowl Set
Munchkin Splash Plate & Bowl Set
Material: Plastic | Suction: No
Inexpensive & good value
On a budget? Check out the Munchkin Splash Plate and Bowl Set, which includes two plates and two bowls made of BPA-free plastic. The set is durable, and the colors are vibrant. If pink and purple are not ideal, a blue and green option is also available. We believe the plates and bowls are easy for little hands to carry. The plate offers three sections with deep sides, and the bowl is deep, too, making it great for snacks, yogurt, and cereal. The set is microwavable and dishwasher safe, plus it has anti-skid material on the bottom to reduce slipping. For the sake of organization, we appreciate that the plates and bowls are easily stackable.
Although the set is microwavable and dishwasher safe, we suggest doing neither as high heat is not great for plastic or food contained on/in plastic. We understand that handwashing is not always convenient, but we think the task is relatively easy, plus avoiding high heat is worth the effort. Also, users report that the plates and bowls easily scratch, and we suggest avoiding metal utensils. Although plastic is not a material we prefer, it is less expensive. We recommend this plate and bowl set to families with toddlers looking to purchase multiple plates and bowls without breaking the bank who don’t mind the occasional use of plastic.
Best Bamboo Option
Bamboo Fox Suction Plate
Bamboo Fox Suction Plate
Material: Bamboo | Suction: Yes
Impressive suction power
Adorable and attractive
Make mealtime fun with the Bamboo Fox Suction Plate. Bamboo is a renewable resource; therefore, this plate is eco-friendlier and a healthier option than some of the competition. The bamboo plate also features top-notch suction power—honestly, one of the best in the bunch. The suction base is removable for when your child outgrows it, and the plate comes in various shapes and suction base colors.
Bamboo is similar to skin, and the more it is exposed to elements, such as water, the more it becomes dry, eventually leading to cracking and splitting. Therefore, this plate will require some maintenance. An application of oil, like coconut oil, should be applied once a month to keep the material hydrated. Also, bamboo is not immune to drops like silicone or stainless steel options, and we wonder about long-term durability. This plate is not microwavable or dishwasher safe, and it requires handwashing with warm soapy water. When handwashing the plate, you need to remove the silicone base to allow the product to dry thoroughly. If not, trapped moisture can encourage mildew. We recommend this eco-friendly and healthy, non-toxic plate to those who do not mind some minor maintenance.
The Bamboo Fox Suction Plate is not dishwasher safe and you will need to wash it by hand
Why You Should Trust Us
Led by a pediatrician and mother of two, the BabyGearLab team has been testing gear since 2013 and holds an incredible amount of experience and knowledge. Conducting our review is Molly Bradac, Senior Review Editor, and nanny with over 14 years of experience. So, when it comes to mealtime and dishware for babies and toddlers, Molly is the perfect expert to help guide your search. We purchased each product in our review, and each contender experienced hands-on testing and a side-by-side comparison to evaluate performance.
Analysis and Test Results
Our lineup includes a range of plates with varying qualities. Therefore, it’s important to evaluate each contender across key metrics, such as eco-health, usability, and ease of cleaning. Our testing included lots of use and washing to emulate everyday real-world use and compare performance.
Depending on the plate’s material, a product’s cost will vary. We consider the Munchkin Splash & Bowl Set to be a budget-friendly set among the competition. It includes plates and bowls, which sport anti-skid material to reduce the dishware from sliding around. If your budget is not limited, we encourage selecting products that use healthier materials, such as stainless steel or bamboo, like the Kiddobloom Dinnerware Set. This dishwasher-safe option offers outstanding durability and longevity, making it worth the splurge. The value is in the long-term use you get with this set.
Kiddobloom Dinnerware Set
Plates come in various materials, and each one holds pros and cons. To score eco-health, we assessed a product’s material, the material’s projected lifespan, and where the product is manufactured. We value manufacturers who make a conscious effort to create products with less impact on the environment and carry fewer health concerns. Products that fit this profile rank higher.
Among the competition, the Kiddobloom Dinnerware Set is an environmental and health-conscious winner, scoring 10 of 10. Stainless steel is one of the healthiest materials out there, an essential quality when dealing with developing bodies, and it offers impressive durability and longevity. It will likely be of service beyond your child’s needs and perhaps a family heirloom to pass on. With landfills engorged with plastic that will never be recycled or degrade, we think stainless steel is worthy of consideration. Of course, one downside of this material is that it is not microwavable. However, we don’t recommend microwaving silicone or plastic either. So, this drawback isn’t as significant as it may seem at first.
Considering plastic degradation over time and the potential chance of chemicals leaching into food, we are not big fans of plastic. Plastic doesn’t compare to stainless steel, and it shows in our test results. The First Essentials by NUK Tri-Suction and Munchkin Splash & Bowl Set are plastic contenders that rank low, scoring 1 of 10. Our investigation and evaluation show that these products do not have any significant nods to environmental-friendliness. We believe this material is less likely to provide durability and longevity than other contenders, such as stainless steel. A shorter lifespan increases your chances of purchasing additional plates in the future, causing waste and expense. With that said, the Re-Play Divided Plates is another plastic contender that ranks slightly higher. Re-Play uses recycled milk jugs to produce products, giving new life to plastic that would otherwise end up in a landfill; therefore, a slight increase in its score reflects this eco-friendly effort.
Since you’ll be washing the plate after each use, select one that works for your needs
Ease of Cleaning
We are big fans of convenience, and there is no doubt that a dishwasher saves time. However, not all products are dishwasher safe. We believe that plastic should be hand washed with soap and water as the dishwasher’s high temperatures can break down plastic and potentially increase the chances of leaching chemicals. Other factors that influence scoring in this metric include the product’s susceptibility to staining and if it requires ongoing maintenance.
The Kiddobloom Dinnerware Set wins a gold medal in this metric, scoring 8 of 10. Stainless steel is dishwasher safe, making the cleaning task easy-peasy. Keep in mind that the manufacturer does advise some special care instructions, such as using non-bleach and chlorine-free solutions and removing the set from the dishwasher after the final rinse cycle to air dry. Of course, you’ll not always be available for this step, but we think the product’s dishwasher compatibility overrides this drawback.
On the flip side, the silicone plates in our lineup rank the lowest, scoring 5 of 10, and these contenders include the Bumkins Silicone Grip Dish, Kiddiebites Flexible Plate, Kirecoo Owl Plate, and ezpz Mini Mat. A common complaint among users is that a soapy taste can develop on the silicone plate over time. Some manufacturers say oil residue from dish detergents, such as those with anti-bacterial agents, oils, or moisturizers, may leave a soapy taste. Others say phosphate-free soap is to blame. Although we did not experience this issue while testing, we believe there’s potential for silicone to require extra attention and cleaning care. In contrast, our lineup’s plastic and stainless steel contenders don’t necessitate any notable ongoing maintenance, which is why they scored higher. Nonetheless, if you select a silicone plate, we recommend checking to see what the manufacturer suggests for soap.
Silicone, as seen on the Bumkins, is flexible and shatterproof
Ease of Use
To score this metric, we focused on essential qualities, like the plate’s durability and whether or not it offers suction or anti-skid material, giving bonus points to contenders with outstanding, removable suction.
Among the competition, the Bamboo Fox Suction Plate and Kiddobloom Dinnerware Set rank high, scoring 7 of 10, but for different reasons. The Bamboo plate sports impressive suction. Of course, no suction will not stop a determined child from lifting a plate to toss onto the floor, but a good suction may deter or give you a few extra seconds to react to your tot’s decision to explore cause and effect. Keep in mind, the table’s surface plays a significant role in a product’s suction performance, and you’ll likely experience better results with a smooth, non-porous surface. The Kiddobloom holds a superior spot, mainly due to its strong durability, which is others can’t match.
The suction on the First Essentials by NUK is minimal and not the strongest
The First Essentials by NUK Tri-Suction is the lowest-scoring product in this metric, scoring 2 of 10. The plate feels low-quality, thin, and flimsy, which doesn’t scream durable. Also, its suction power is weak, leaving us unimpressed.
The Re-Play Divided Plate is made from FDA approved recycled milk jugs
Mealtime is an opportunity for children to develop and strengthen self-feeding skills. Of course, each child will progress at different rates and ages. Whether your little one is beginning to explore food or you have an experienced toddler, we are confident that our review and recommendations will guide you to a plate that will satisfy your needs and budget.
Most parents will find themselves alone in the car with their baby from time to time. And unlike that tentative first car ride home from the hospital — when one parent sat in the back keeping an eye on the baby and the other drove way too slowly — when you’re alone in the car with a baby, you have to keep your eyes on the road. Hearing a baby cry in the backseat can make a parent feel powerless to help — which is why so many parents find comfort in using a baby car seat mirror. Unlike rearview mirrors, they allow parents to see babies sitting in rear-facing car seats. By glancing back at your baby, you can reassure yourself that they’re only crying because of a dropped binky or misplaced toy.
But that convenience doesn’t come without risks. Baby car seat mirrors provide a tempting distraction, encouraging parents to look away from the road. “Anytime you take your eyes off the road, you put yourself and your child at risk,” says Gina Duchossois, an injury prevention expert with the Injury Prevention Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Chair of Safe Kids Southeastern Pennsylvania. “It only takes a second for cars to stop suddenly in front of you, someone to change lanes, merging traffic or other hazards that you may miss in that second. A parent can be distracted enough to be involved in a car crash and should keep their eyes on the road at all times.
Plus, car seat mirrors, like other car seat accessories, are not governed by any federal safety standards. Many are labeled “crash-tested” or “shatterproof,” but since there are no standardized tests to evaluate these claims, we can’t know for sure how safe they are. While most car seat mirrors attach to the headrest of an adult seat, Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, chair of the AAP Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention, warns against those that attach to the actual car seat, since, he says, these kinds of accessories “fundamentally change the way the child fits in the seat.” In the worst-case scenario, they could make a car seat less effective. Duchossois takes it a step further, discouraging the use of any accessory besides those that come with a car seat.
Another question left for parents to parse, without standardized testing, is how these products will act in the event of an accident. “Some manufacturers of unregulated items can claim that their product meets all safety standards because there are no standards that apply to them. Some will crash-test their products, but if they are not tested by the specific car safety seat manufacturer with a specific car safety seat, these tests cannot be trusted,” Hoffman says.
In a car crash, anything in the car that’s not tightly secured can become a projectile, Duchossois says, so a car seat mirror that’s loose or heavy can be particularly dangerous. “The heavier the mirror, the more restraining force will be needed to keep it secured,” Duchossois says. She also worries that in a frontal crash, as the car seat moves towards the front of the vehicle and then rebounds back, it could collide with a mirror attached to the seat, causing injury to the child.
The instinct to want to glance back at your baby while in the car is understandable, but it’s not necessary from a safety perspective. “If your car seat is installed correctly and the infant is correctly harnessed in the seat, it is not necessary to worry,” Duchossois says. If you really can’t stand hearing your baby cry and not being able to see them, there are some criteria to keep in mind for finding the safest car seat mirror. “If a parent makes the choice to use a mirror, it should be lightweight and have soft edges. Also, it is critical to make sure it is securely fastened to the vehicle headrest so it doesn’t dislodge and become a projectile,” Duchossois says.
The Best Baby Car Seat Mirrors — If You Must
All of these mirrors have soft edges and are more lightweight than other options on the market. None of them are terribly adjustable, since the pieces that enable mirrors to be tilted tend to add significant weight, but they large enough to provide a good view of your kid. They also have multiple straps and clips for securing to a headrest, as opposed to a flimsy piece of velcro found on some mirrors. Just remember to keep your eyes on the road.
This sizeable car seat mirror is on the light side, has a two-strap harness for securing it to a headrest, and according to reviewers, a plastic, toy-like mirror (though the manufacturer lists it as made of glass).
This option is similarly lightweight and easy to secure, but has an extra-large mirror, making it easy to spot baby from the rearview mirror.
This adorable jungle mirror has soft edges and a sturdy system for securing it to a headrest, plus two plush animals that hang off of it and move as the car moves, providing entertainment for the baby.
Every product on Fatherly is independently selected by our editors, writers, and experts. If you click a link on our site and buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.
After putting the top jogging strollers through months of testing, we learned a lot about what makes one stroller better than another, and which features make the best jogging machine. Our goal is to share the lessons we’ve learned so that you can make the best buying decision for your family.
You may also enjoy our related review of the top standard-size strollers.
How to Choose a Stroller for Jogging
Jogging with baby is a great way to get out of the house and bond while improving your mood and physical well-being.
Why Buy a Jogging Stroller?
After 9+ months of pregnancy, a lot of Moms find themselves ready for exercise or time outside. A stroller you can jog with is an investment in your health and mental well-being that happily, is a form of exercise you can share with baby once they have developed strong enough neck muscles to handle the stress of jogging (8-12 months with your pediatrician okay). Most babies love to go jogging, and most parents find that it is an easy, cost-effective way to get active and into an exercise routine. Even if exercise isn’t your goal, getting out of the house and into the sunshine can do wonders for your emotional and mental well-being which could be out of whack with fluctuating hormones.
The following details will guide you through the important features of jogging strollers and will help you decide which stroller and features are right for you.
Safety in Jogging Strollers and Child Bike TrailersRunning with your baby in a jogging stroller and biking with your little one in a child bike trailer, can expose your baby to stressful forces that can be harmful. Consult with your pediatrician to ensure your child has sufficient neck and core muscle strength before you begin using a jogging stroller or child bike carrier.
Dr. Spurrier, a pediatrician and founder of BabyGearLab notes, “It’s important to avoid running and biking with young babies due to the jarring and jostling stresses that can occur. All babies need to have adequate neck and core muscle strength before they can safely participate in any jogging or biking activities. This strength generally does not occur until at least 8 months of age.”
One of the top manufacturers of joggers, BOB Gear, recommends waiting until your baby is at least eight months old before jogging. We would go one step further and say that running and biking with your baby should be strictly limited to smooth surfaces between 8 to 12 months. At a minimum of 12 months, children can begin to ride on rougher terrain, provided they are adequately restrained in a 5-point harness with proper padding and support. Also, children riding in a child bike trailer should wear an appropriate bike helmet. All of this is still true even if your younger baby is in an attached infant car seat carrier.
The 3 wheel stance of this Bob Revolution Flex is a telltale sign you are looking at a stroller intended for jogging.
How are Joggers Different?
Traditional strollers are not safe for jogging with a baby. They lack the design features necessary to reduce the jarring shocks a baby could experience as parents jog over uneven surfaces. It’s hard to avoid hazards like bumps in the road, curbs, uneven sidewalks, and sections of non-paved surfaces when you are running, and non-jogging strollers lack the ability to navigate these hazards at speed safely.
Jogging strollers have several features designed to reduce the impact of the road:
Larger pneumatic (air-filled) rubber tires —A jogger typically has 16+ inch wheels in the rear and a 12+ inch wheel in the front (double the diameter of most traditional strollers). These larger wheels roll over bumps easier and result in less stress for the baby. The bigger wheels also create less rolling resistance, so long runs require less effort. Traditional strollers usually have smaller plastic wheels that do nothing to reduce shock and are not suitable for running.
Effective suspension systems —A jogging style stroller should include some kind of suspension to reduce further jarring. Most joggers have rear suspension and a sling-style seat that helps absorb some of the motion involved in jogging.
Locking/Fixed front wheel — If you try to jog with a traditional stroller, or even a jogger with the front wheel unlocked, you will find that the front wheel(s) start wobbling. This wobble creates strong vibrations in the stroller and makes jogging uncomfortable for you and your baby. This movement can also result in the front wheel(s) turning so sharply that the jogger tips over. All strollers designed for jogging provide the ability to lock the front wheel fully, and the better products offer adjustable tracking for straight movement.
Long distance between wheels —Strollers designed for jogging push the front wheel forward and away from baby’s center of gravity. This allows the front wheel to bounce in the event of a bump in the road with less stress transferred to the baby’s body.
The Expedition has a deep recline for easy napping.
Your Multi-Purpose Stroller
Many jogging strollers could be considered as a multi-purpose solution, doing the work of a jogger and traditional stroller in one product. We rate each product on its run-ability, and our test scores favor running performance, but many parents rely on their jogger as a stroller for everyday activities as well. Because of this, we rate each jogger on a variety of additional metrics that impact serious running and daily activities. This information can help you decide which stroller will work best for you. So while the award winners may be great for jogging, many are often good for “running” errands as well.
While the Baby Trend might not be the best option for dedicated runners, it is a budget friendly stroller and good for everyday use with the occasional jog.
Overview of Basic Features
The common features you might see in a jogging style stroller are:
Three wheels with pneumatic (air-filled) tires: This means a smoother ride, but also that you’ll need to check the pressure regularly like bicycle tires, and you’ll need a pump to inflate them should they go flat.
The recommended pressure for inflating stroller tires is often different than the pressure shown on the side of the tire. ALWAYS double-check the stroller manual or company website for inflation guidelines. Do NOT rely on the pressure shown on the tire.
Five-point harness: Goes over the shoulders, across the hips, and between the legs to secure baby in the seat and minimize injuries in case of a crash, similar to the harness in infant car seats. The 5-points are crucial in the event of a stroller flip due to user error or a faulty front wheel assembly.
A safety strap with one end attached to the stroller and the other end worn around your wrist. This strap prevents the stroller from rolling away from you and could save your baby’s life if you accidentally let go of the handle with traffic or water nearby (please use it, we can’t stress this enough).
Parking brake: It is critical to engage the parking brake every time you park the stroller. Double-check that the brake engages fully by attempting to move the stroller back and forth before letting go.
This will protect your baby from the sun and potential headwinds. The larger the canopy, and the more ways you can position it, the better.
Peek-a-boo window: Usually a covered window on the canopy to keep an eye on your child while jogging.
Reclining seat: For baby’s comfort.
Under-seat storage basket: Storage for the things you and baby might need when out and about. This storage area is key since the low center-of-gravity helps keep the stroller stable and avoid tip-overs. You should never put heavy objects, such as your purse or diaper bag, on the handlebar. These items can cause the stroller to tip and create a safety risk.
Wheels that are easy to take off and put back on: The majority of strollers we reviewed have mechanisms that make it easy to install and remove the wheels, making them more compact and easy to store. When replacing wheels, use caution to ensure they are mounted correctly.
Folding mechanism: All of the strollers we tested are relatively easy to fold, but keep in mind that folded joggers are not small. And, even though the wheels can be taken off, joggers still may take up more space in your trunk than other kinds of strollers.
The BOB’s optional Handlebar Console has a zippered pocket and two 5 inch deep cup holder pockets. Caution never put hot drinks in cup holders because they could fall out and land on baby.
Cup holders: While a cup holder is convenient, we fear they invite temptation to place hot liquids above your baby’s head. Adding to that fear, most of the cup holders we tested were relatively shallow, and in our experience most resulted in falling water bottles when going over small bumps. A cup holder less than 3 inches deep is unlikely to retain a tall water bottle as you navigate the stroller. Please be very careful with items placed in a cup holder; just because it has a holder, doesn’t mean it is safe to use it. If you rely on a nanny or caregivers, you might consider removing the cup holder, to eliminate the risk that a hot cup of joe will be placed there at all.
Never drink hot liquids while pushing your child in a stroller. Use the cup holder on your stroller for cool liquids only. Seattle Children’s HospitalAvoid carrying children while holding hot beverages; never place a hot beverage in the cup holder of a stroller.
The Hamax Outback with Jogger Kit is a two-seater bike trailer you can stroll and jog with if you have the right accessories.
How do I decide which stroller is best for me?
There are many jogging options on the market. However, no stroller has it all, so you should choose the features that best fit your lifestyle and goals. For most parents, this means being honest about your real running prowess. There is no judgment in this realm. However, there is also no need to buy more running stroller than you need, and being honest with yourself can translate into saving money and time. If you are a regular runner, who ran avidly before pregnancy, then you will likely want to invest more in your jogger. If you jog once a week and are more likely to find yourself running to catch a bus than running for fitness, then you probably don’t need the highest-end model and will be happy with a cheaper option.
First: Fixed or Locking Swivel Front Wheel
The photos above show the fixed wheel on the Thule Glide 2 (above left) and the swivel wheel of the Thule Urban Glide 2 (above right).
Jogging style strollers come with either a permanently fixed front wheel or a locking swivel front wheel. When jogging, having the front wheel fixed (or in locked mode) is a must! The locked wheel ensures that the stroller tracks straight and doesn’t shoot off in an unexpected direction as it goes over a bump or loose debris. This feature also makes turning difficult, so you aren’t able to accidentally make a sharp turn at high speed and risk rolling the stroller with your baby-on-board. Some serious runners believe that a fixed wheel is the only way to go for running, and as a result, they shy away from the options with a locking swivel wheel. However, in our tests, we discovered that this isn’t as big of a concern as it used to be. Some of the new swivel wheel designs have locking mechanisms that not only lock the wheel with little to no play at all, but the rotating wheel adds functionality to the stroller that makes it easier to use for everyday activities outside of running.
The front wheel on the BOB Revolution Flex can be locked by moving the red ball and the tracking can be adjusted by turning the black knob below the wheel lock.
A swivel front wheel offers better maneuverability and provides easier navigation in tight or crowded spaces like a store or festival. All of the swivel wheel products we reviewed can lock the front wheel in place, a necessity for jogging. However, some of the locked swivel wheels aren’t as stable as a fixed-front wheel. We gave an Editors’ Choice award to the Thule Urban Glide 2 and the BOB Revolution Flex 3.0 because we feel both are an exception to this dated belief that fixed wheel is best. When the front wheel is locked, both products perform better than their fixed wheeled counterparts made by the same companies.
You might ask, “If the Thule Urban Glide 2 performs as well as a stroller with a fixed front wheel, and it offers the maneuverability of a swivel wheel, why would I consider a fixed wheel stroller?.” Well, you may not want too. We understand this statement flies in the face of a long-held belief in the world of runners, but the newer swivel wheeled strollers performed as well, or better than, the fixed options in our tests.
The new handbrake on the Glide 2 twists forward and is easier to use than the old brake. We think this unique twist is a smart take on a features runners love.
On the other hand, there are some perks to the fixed wheel you should know. Many of the fixed wheel models sport a handbrake that makes slowing the stroller easier as you go downhill or up to a traffic light. This slowing mechanism can be an important safety feature, and it also helps tired runners ease to a complete stop with less exertion than body power alone. While it does not stop the stroller by itself, and it is not a parking brake, it is something to consider when looking at fixed wheel options. Only a few of the swivel wheel options have a hand brake, and none of the top scoring swivels had them. Also, most of the fixed front wheels we reviewed have a larger front wheel than the swivel products (16-inch vs. 12-inch). Some long-distance runners, looking for speed and reduced rolling resistance, may prefer the larger wheels for an easier push. Last, some of the fixed wheel options are lighter than the swivel wheel products making them easier to push for long distances.
Given that the smaller swivel front wheel is easier to maneuver in small spaces, and the larger fixed front wheels are better for running long distances, it is important that you consider how you will be using your stroller when you decide which type to buy.
The images on the locking wheel mechanism of the Urban Glide 2 make it easy to switch between a swivel wheel and a fixed one.
If you are serious about running, run more than a few miles every day, and you don’t plan to use this stroller for other kinds of trips, then you might go for a fixed front wheel stroller with a handbrake; it’s tough to beat the performance and safety features. You may also want to consider a handbrake if you run in a hilly community where the downhill slide might be easier with the use of a handbrake to slow your roll. However, for those that mainly walk, take frequent shorter runs, or the occasional jog, a locking swivel wheel stroller is a better all-around solution that gives you the best of both worlds but can still graduate up to serious running if it turns out to be a hobby that sticks.
We believe the Thule Urban Glide 2 has the best features for both worlds, and that serious runners and occasional hobbyists alike will enjoy the quality and performance no matter what the day has in store. Alternatively, our professional runner/tester indicated she preferred the BOB Revolution Flex over all of the competition. The BOB Rambler is similar enough to the Revolution that if budget is a concern, you might consider this swivel wheel winner.
The adjustable tracking on the Urban Glide 2 helps it run straight and true.
Arguably, a more important feature than a fixed vs. swivel wheel is the ability to adjust the tracking of the front wheel. The better jogging products have adjustable tracking to keep the front wheel running straight. If the stroller pulls or veers in one direction while running on a flat surface, you can use the adjustment mechanism to keep the front wheel tracking straight and the stroller moving on course. Think of it as a quick front end alignment on your stroller like you regularly get on your car. Alternatively, those products without adjustable tracking can result in chronic veering and constant manual correction while running. The manual correction will increase overall fatigue, and the experience of running will be far less enjoyable. All of our award winners, with the exception of the Baby Trend Expedition, have adjustable tracking. While it lacked tracking adjustment, we found that the Baby Trend we purchased tracked straight enough for the occasional jog.
The BOB Revolution Flex has an adjustable height handlebar, that rotates on a pivot point.
Second: Adjustable Handlebar
An adjustable handlebar can come in handy if you (and anyone else who will regularly use the stroller) are taller or shorter than the average person. The average height of American women is 5’5 inches tall; the average male is closer to 5’10 inches tall; this alone is a big disparity if mom and dad plan to use the same stroller and are within the average range. To further complicate the issue, if one of you is over 6 feet tall, the non-adjustable handle might change your running style and could result in inefficient running, possible injury, or increased fatigue. Luckily, stroller companies seem to be “grasping” the handlebar height significance, and several offer an adjustable handlebar. The top-scoring Thule strollers, the Thule Urban Glide 2 and Thule Glide 2; both have adjustable height handlebars, as does the BOB Revolution Flex 3.0, and Thule Chariot Cross 2 with jog kit.
Before purchasing a stroller without an adjustable handlebar, make sure its height works for you and anyone else who might use it. As a guide, most people feel comfortable running with a handlebar close to belly button level.
The handlebar on the Thule Glide 2 adjusts on a pivot point to accommodate runners of different heights.
In the past, we felt that most of the adjustable handlebars made the stroller feel sort of “squishy” due to the up/down play found at the adjustment point. However, the handlebars in this review are very easy to adjust and generally do not have noticeable play. On the contrary, they seem to have similar precision responsiveness as the fixed handlebars. In the end, we feel that being able to adjust the height of the bar is a crucial component of running if you aren’t in the average height range. Given that it can impact your running biomechanics, and thus your ability to run for longer durations and avoid injury, we can’t find a reason not to choose an adjustable handle.
The BOB Revolution Flex offers adjustable suspension.
Having good suspension provides smooth strolling over uneven terrain, just like in your car. Most joggers offer shocks on the rear wheels to help prevent baby from jarring bumps in the road and to make the whole experience more enjoyable. Most true jogging products will have excellent suspension. Historically, BOB strollers set the standard for great jogging products, in part because they have an impressive adjustable suspension that can be altered depending on the type of terrain you are going over and the weight of your child. Not to be outdone, the Thule Urban Glide 2 and Glide 2 options also have nice rear wheel suspension (though they aren’t adjustable). The Thule Chariot Cross 2 also has adjustable suspension similar to the BOB strollers.
What kind of suspension to consider will depend on how often you plan to run and the kind of surfaces you plan to run on. In short, the rougher the ground, the better the suspension should be. Many of the cheaper models in our review did not have individual shocks, which leads us to believe that the manufacturers don’t really expect you to run with them. Our Best Value winner, the Baby Trend Expedition, is a good example of this. Its lack of shocks and adjustable tracking make it a poor choice for serious runners, but its other features make it good for moving over uneven surfaces.
This is the under side of the hard plastic seat of the Chicco Tre. This hard bottom can be significantly harder on baby than the sling seat because each bump causes baby to hit on the board. This could lead to a cranky baby who quickly decides running is no fun.
Other features that can help cushion the blows associated with jogging are the style and padding of the seat. All the products we tested claim to have a padded or comfortable seat for baby, but not all seats are created equal. To complicate things further, the style of the seat seems more important than the padding. The sling style seats, which suspend from the surrounding frame, offers a more comfortable experience for the baby because they lack a hard surface for baby to bounce. It is similar to the difference between sleeping in a hammock or on a hardboard. The hammock will give with the bumps, and you won’t be banging against a hard surface as you bounce up and down, while the board creates a hard surface to hit.
The BOB Rambler has a cozy almost flat seating area good for napping with ample protection from the elements with a larger than average canopy.
Given that happy cooperation from your baby will directly affect your running experience, you’ll want the baby to be as cozy and safe as possible. Most of the true running strollers in this review had sling style seats with enough padding to help adequately cushion the baby from any jolts remaining after the shocks work their magic. Alternatively, the Graco FastAction Fold Jogger and Chicco Tre both have hard plastic seats that don’t absorb any impact from running, despite the added padding.
Additional features are nice to have, like the parent console on the Baby Trend Expedition, but it is hard to utilize a cup holder while running, so keep your list of must have features to the bare minimum.
Fourth: Additional Features
Extra features like cup holders, pockets, snack trays, built-in speakers, and odometers came with some of the models we reviewed. Some features are essential, such as infant car seat adapter for strolling with babies under 8 months old. Others are handy, like a parent tray with space to store your keys, wallet, and cellphone. Still, some are useful, but have trade-offs, like snack trays for the baby that add to the stroller’s weight, make it less aerodynamic, protrude in awkward ways when folded, and are virtually useless for a baby when you are moving quickly. However, some features are rather useless in practice, like built-in speakers. In the end, a boatload of features can be useful in a standard stroller, but keeping joggers simple is usually best.
While tipping to turn is a necessity for running, we like that the Urban Glide 2 has a swivel wheel setting for tight indoor spaces.
Final Consideration: Tell the Truth
The most important factor you need to consider, above all other things, is how much running you will REALLY do. This consideration is important because for everyday errands you will value good maneuverability and ease of use over run-ability. You may be able to save a few dollars by skimping on the running features if you aren’t a daily runner. However, if you are a serious runner, you will need a stroller with high marks for run-ability with the performance and features necessary for dedicated running. The more extensively you plan to use your stroller for running, the more you should be willing to pay for the sake of improved performance and safety for your baby.
The Thule Urban Glide 2 can make a great everyday stroller with covered storage and swivel wheel maneuverability.
We believe that joggers have improved so much in quality and design that you can have it all. You can have a swivel wheel for better maneuverability around town, and you can lock that wheel in a fixed position for running and fun outdoor adventures. The Editors’ Choice winners, the Thule Urban Glide 2, BOB Rambler and the BOB Revolution Flex 3.0 offer versatility, high-quality, and functional features that will last for many years and babies to come. These strollers came in top overall, and in key metrics like run-ability and maneuverability. The upside is all of these options are less expensive than some of the higher ranking traditional strollers.
The Expedition is a budget friendly jogging stroller you can use for everyday activities, but it isn’t the best for serious runners and did not score well in our tests for run-ability.
Alternatively, if you aren’t really a jogger, and the majority of your time will be spent walking with only the occasional run, then our Best Value choice, the Baby Trend Expedition, is a nice stroller with useful features that has a locking swivel wheel and is easy to push and turn. This stroller is a budget-friendly choice for parents who want the jogging style but aren’t committed to the jogging lifestyle.
We think a good jogging stroller, like the BOB Revolution Flex can be used as your only stroller. If this is your intention we encourage you to find one with a locking swivel wheel that offers great maneuverability and has ample storage.
Can a jogging option be my only stroller?
Depending on your specific situation, you could use a locking swivel front wheel jogger as your only stroller. But remember that joggers do not fold small, are sometimes heavier, and are cumbersome to carry around, so they are not the ideal stroller for commuting or city life. Also, if you plan to stroll with a baby younger than 6-8 months, you’ll need to make sure that the stroller is compatible with an infant car seat. Joggers also offer a smoother ride for baby, especially on rough roads, so if you are moving over a variety of surfaces the versatility of a swivel wheel jogger could be a good fit as your main/only stroller, as a standard stroller may not have the best performance over uneven terrain. The BOB Rambler is smaller and lighter than some full-size options and most joggers which means it could be a viable everyday choice for city life depending on where you live and your needs.
Some of the top jogging strollers we tested (Several new and updated models not shown in this original picture).
Jogging strollers are really cool, no two ways about it. In general, they are the most versatile, high-performance strollers on the market in any category. We like that most of them offer suspension, easy folding, giant sun shades, 5-point harnesses, sling-style seats, and a wide child weight/age range for years of use. We also think these strollers can work for many families as their only or primary stroller.
All of our award winners are great options depending on your needs, and a few of the other products have features you might want but are not available on our winners. The Thule Urban Glide 2 has the best of many worlds with high scores in most metrics. The Baby Trend Expedition is a good all-around option that is a budget-friendly and functional enough for everyday use with the occasional jog. And the BOB Revolution Flex 3.0 was preferred by our expert in the field.
The Bumbleride Speed is an easy to maneuver jogger with better than average run-ability.
A final word of caution for this category of strollers is that most of the lower-priced models lacked in performance or quality, and in the end are not the best options for parents who want to run with their baby. While the price tags for the better joggers are higher, they are still lower than most of the top-performing full-size strollers, and we think parents should look at this factor when deciding what jogger to buy or if their jogging stroller could be their only stroller.
About the Review Team
Our review team for jogging strollers including our usual BabyGearLab research analyst team for testing the basic functionality, such as folding, maneuverability and more. But, we also created this review hand-in-hand with a professional running coach and national class runner, Carrie Vickers.
Carrie is a running expert and a mother of three lovely little girls. She is a professional consultant in biomechanics for running, and an avid runner herself. You can read more about Carrie’s background here.
This article provides the background information you’ll to choose the best stroller for your needs. It is related to, and intended to complement, our comprehensive side-by-side review of the top-rated full-size strollers.
How to Pick a Stroller that is Right For You
Why Get a Stroller?
Most parents feel a natural urge to buy every little thing baby might need. A stroller is no doubt on the list, but do you need one?
The answer is maybe not, at least not in the first year. Here’s why…
The purpose of any strolling product is to make it easier to transport your baby while you walk. At its purest, it is just an alternative to carrying your baby in your arms or on your hip. And, your baby will almost always prefer to be held instead of riding.
Wearing your baby in a carrier can be a joy for both baby and parent.
A good alternative, especially in the first six months, is wearing your baby in a baby carrier. Infants love the snug hold of being carried on your chest, and toddlers often like to be carried on your back. The best carriers distribute weight so well that you can wear your baby for hours, leaving your hands free to perform other tasks. While strolling is very convenient, a baby carrier offers a practical alternative, and baby carriers are a lot less expensive. The other plus is, carried babies are often less fussy than babies in a stroller.
A great baby carrier can help you get things done while you bond and nurture your little one. We find that holding baby helps reduce baby meltdowns and increases your freedom to resume your normal daily activities.
Health Benefits of Wearing Your Baby
It is also worth noting that too much time in a car seat, bouncer or baby swing can contribute to plagiocephaly, or flattening of the back of baby’s head. What does this have to do with strolling? In the first six months, most parents use their car seat for strolling, connecting it with a car seat adapter to the frame of a stroller. Pediatricians consider it relatively acceptable for a baby to spend 1.5 to 4 hours per day in a combination of car seats, bouncers or swings. However, if your little one spends more than 4 hours in these devices, especially in the first few months when baby’s skull is soft, they will have a higher risk of developing a flattened area in the back of the head. Using a baby carrier in a parent-facing chest position can help by taking pressure off the back of the head, and in combination with supervised tummy time, can help prevent flattening of the head.
The Thule Urban Glide 2 is very easy to maneuver with a swivel front wheel that manages tight spaces with ease and rubber air-filled tires that can traverse almost any terrain.
Strolling is Easy
For most of us, even the most hard-core fans of baby carriers, the convenience of strolling makes a stroller an essential tool that will get daily use for years. The main advantages are:
Easier on you — pushing your baby on a stroll is a lot less work for you than carrying, even with a quality baby carrier.
Soothing for baby — a gentle stroll, like a drive in the car, is a tried and true technique for soothing a baby, which in turn could mean more sleep for you.
Safety — strolling provides a safe environment for your baby, with a sunshade, a protective frame, and a safety harness. Wearing your baby is lovely in many ways, but you need to be careful not to bump into things, and take care when bending over to avoid spilling Baby out. Remember, you should never drink a hot liquid like coffee or tea, over a baby in a carrier. It is much easier to keep Baby out of harm’s way and enjoy your hot coffee, with your little one safely off to the side (never put a hot drink in the cup holder, where there is a risk of it spilling on baby).
Carry all your stuff — ample storage enables you to comfortably take all the things you and Baby might need while out walking such as a diaper bag, extra clothes, bottle(s), snacks, toys, and personal items.
Do some light shopping — for things like shopping, having both hands free is a must. While you can pull off shopping with a baby carrier, it can be awkward at times. While storage is somewhat limited, picking up a bag of groceries or laundry can be convenient when out for a walk.
Get some exercise — getting back into shape is a challenge with a baby needing constant attention, but strolling provides one way to combine quality time with exercise. A brisk walk can be invigorating for you, and joyful for your baby. But, if you want to go jogging you’ll need to get a specially designed jogging option that includes additional suspension systems to protect your baby from dangerous jarring impacts while running, and you shouldn’t go jogging until the baby has more head control (8+ months depending on the jogger).
A Little Extra Investment is Justified
Unlike many other baby products, a quality strolling option will serve you for years. We consider this to be one of the categories where you might want to spend extra to get what you want in a stroller. A quality stroller will serve you between the ages of 6 months to 3+ years, and it can work well for multiple kids, or as a hand-me-down to friends and relatives. Many of the best products, such as the BOB Revolution, enjoy a significant resale value.
Types of Strollers
There are six main types of strollers:
A traditional, standard-size stroller is the most common type. These full-featured products offer ample storage, comfortable seats, bigger canopies, more maneuverable wheels, and weigh 16-37 lbs. Most offer a car seat adapter of some type, and a minority offer a sufficiently flat fully reclined seat (less than 10 degrees) that can work as an alternative to a bassinet (all recline, but most end up at too steep to be safe for infant sleeping). Some higher-end products, such as the UPPAbaby Vista and Bugaboo Cameleon3, include a bassinet for infants.
Car Seat Frame
Less well known, but one of our favorite options for the first 6-12 months, while your baby is in an infant car seat, is a frame stroller. These products provide a frame that the car seat can click in. For a first-time parent, this seems like an odd approach, but many second-time parents wish they knew about them earlier. A car seat frame is inexpensive, compact, and light with the average weight being 11 to 16 lbs. This lighter weight can be good for moms who’ve just had a baby or C-section and may be limited to what they can carry.
Great for travel, Lightweight strollers (sometimes referred to as “umbrella strollers” because of their small folded shape) are light and more compact, usually weighing between 8-17 lbs. But, they cut some corners compared to full-size strollers. For starters, most don’t offer car seat adapters and thus aren’t usable until your baby is at least six months old. They also use smaller wheels, and this makes them less maneuverable and more difficult to push on rough surfaces.
Outfitted with large air-filled tires and shock absorbers, jogging strollers are specially designed to roll smooth and straight while running and reduce the impact of bumps and curbs on your baby. Most weigh anywhere from 23 to 31 lbs.
A double stroller provides two seats side-by-side or in tandem, and is essential with twins. A double can also work for two kids, such as a baby and an older sibling, but we think using a baby carrier and a single is often more convenient. Most are in the 21-36 lbs range and narrow enough to fit through most doorways. If you are expecting twins, keep in mind that car seat frame strollers come in double versions, and maybe a better option in the first year. Plus, some double strollers won’t accommodate two infant car seats making them virtually unusable until your babies are at least six months old.
Technically, these are not a type of stroller, but just a bundle package that combines a car seat with a strolling product in a single package. We advise caution before buying a travel system as many parents later regret the purchase. Why? Because the product quality in these bundles is often lower. While these bundled systems have attractive prices, they are typically bulky and heavy compared to a car seat frame stroller and may offer poor performance in the long-term compared to competing products sold separately.
Needs Change After 6 Months
We advocate splitting your thinking into two periods:
Car-seat Strolling from birth to 6 months — for the first six months, your baby can’t sit up and lacks sufficient neck strength to be seated upright. In this period, you’ll use either a bassinet, a fully reclined seat (if less than 10 degrees) or a car seat adapter. Of the three, we believe the car seat is the safest and easiest option.
Full-size Strolling from 6 months to 3+ yrs — starting at about six months, once your baby gains sufficient neck muscle strength to hold their head up comfortably, they will increasingly enjoy (demand) sitting up and watching what is going on while strolling. At this stage, a baby is bigger and requires more stuff (bottles, food, snacks, toys, clothes, diapers, wipes) than needed in the first six months. At this time, a full-size product’s advantages (more storage / increased maneuverability) kick in, especially for extended walks around town and in your neighborhood.
Helpful Tip: Consider holding off on buying a full-size product until your baby is 6-12 months old. In the meantime, get a car seat frame stroller that works great until your child outgrows their infant car seat at around 9-12 months.
A car seat frame stroller, like the Chicco Keyfit Caddy, is light and compact. Weighing only 11.5 lbs, it makes strolling with an infant car seat simple, fast, and effortless.
Start Strolling in the Car Seat
We encourage new parents to consider starting off with either a car seat adapter for your stroller, or a car seat frame (and delay buying a full-size product until you have a better sense of what your long-term strolling needs will be). While most full-size products offer car seat adapters, a full-size product with a car seat adapter is more cumbersome and more laborious to use than a car seat frame product. A notable exception might be the Baby Jogger City Mini that weighs 17.5 lbs and offers car seat adapters for many of the top infant car seats including the award-winning Chicco Keyfit 30.
In any event, make sure you get a car seat adapter or frame stroller that provides a click-in method of securing your specific model of car seat rather than a strap-in. The click-in way is much faster and easier than using the two-step strap process.
Why start with using a car seat for strolling?
Here are a few reasons to consider:
The car seat provides safe, secure, and comfortable support for baby in months 0-6 (and up to 1 year)
Transitions from driving to strolling are much faster and easier if the baby remains in the car seat
If baby falls asleep while driving or strolling, you can transition without jostling baby awake (if you don’t already appreciate the maxim, “never wake a sleeping baby,” you will soon)
Car seat frame strollers are lighter and more compact than a full-size with a car seat adapter, which makes them a lot easier to use and get in/out of the car
Only a few of the products in our tests provided a fully reclined seat with an angle of fewer than 10 degrees. Higher sleeping angles are believed to increase the risk of infant suffocation in which baby’s mouth and nose end up pushed to the side, blocking their airway.
Bassinets are available for some products, and can be a good solution for the first few months, but have limitations as noted in the section below.
Important Safety Tip: do not use an infant car seat as a replacement for a crib. Always take the time to transition your sleeping baby to a crib rather than leaving them in the car seat. Only use a crib for unobserved sleep.
Having an included bassinet helps make the Vista a versatile family option that is easy to use no matter what age your baby may be.
A Bassinet is a Luxury
OK, we admit it. We love a bassinet. But there are limitations you should know.
Some high-end strollers, such as the UPPAbaby Vista comes with a bassinet that can attach to the frame, and may (or may not) be suitable for sleeping. The UPPAbaby website prominently notes that their bassinet is appropriate for overnight sleeping as well as strolling. But, as you’ll read below in our safety tips, we’re a bit anxious about bassinets for unsupervised sleeping due to suffocation risk.
As much as a bassinet is dreamy for strolling, we feel obligated to note that it is a luxury you will only use for a brief period, typically no more than three months. Once your baby can move around, a bassinet is no longer safe for sleeping or strolling because they are shallow and lack a safety harness. It is easy for a mobile baby to fall out of one and become injured. A crib is a better investment for sleeping, and your baby can sleep in a crib from day one. On the other hand, a bassinet is nice-to-have, fun for strolling in those first few months, and allows baby to be right next to you for night feedings.
From a practical point of view, a car seat can work much like a bassinet for infant strolling; the advantage is one may walk for a full year instead of only a couple months, and maintain greater utility and improved safety. Transitions between car and strolling are vastly simplified. Plus, using your car seat eliminates the need for an extra piece of baby gear.
In the end, a bassinet comes and goes so darn fast. If you are on a tight budget or even an above average budget, this is one place to save some money that you can put to better use elsewhere.
Important Safety Tips: if you use a bassinet, please keep in mind the same guidelines to prevent SIDS in cribs apply to bassinets. Avoid having soft bedding, loose pillows, plastic bags, or stuffed animals in or around the baby’s sleeping area. The mattress should be firm and tight. In one study, looking at data over a 14 year period, 74% of babies who died in bassinets had blankets, pillows, or plastic bags in them.We’re also concerned that safety standards for sleeping in bassinets haven’t caught up with crib standards. For example, padded bumpers are no longer recommended for cribs, due to the risk of the baby getting into a position where their mouth and nose is pushed up against the side, and suffocating. We have concerns that the sidewalls of bassinets presents a similar suffocation risk, but haven’t been given as much attention as cribs. Because of this, we advise parents to closely supervise a baby sleeping in a bassinet (or use a crib instead). Also, the lack of a restraining harness in a bassinet increases the risk of falling accidents or tip-over. Be extra careful.
We’re not saying don’t use a bassinet; we like them ourselves. But, parents who use a bassinet should be aware of the risks and use appropriate caution.
The Full-Size Sweet-Spot: 6 months to 3+ years
Many people buy a full-size product for strolling earlier than they need to when their baby is an infant (or before their baby is born). Most parents find that they stroll most when their baby is between six months and three years.
To find the right option for you, first, try to envision how and where you’ll stroll on a day-to-day basis when your baby is older. It takes a little imagination when your infant is one month old to contemplate what your daily routine might be with a one or two-year-old, but doing so can help ensure your purchase is satisfying in the long-term.
We can provide some rules of thumb that may be helpful.
If you are like most parents, you will start taking more extended strolls as your baby becomes a toddler, and you’ll spend more time at parks nearby. As your little one gets older, you may want to take in museums, the aquarium, or visit other baby-friendly venues that take you further from home.
Rather than a quick out-and-back, your walks with a toddler become longer expeditions and the stroller will become your base camp. You’ll be bringing more stuff to support an extended time away from the house. That means storage for a well-stocked diaper bag, food, bottles, extra clothes, and extra toys too. But, storage is not the only way your needs will change over time.
You may need to move across a broad range of terrain, the grass and gravel areas of parks being most common, and you may travel more often in a car or on public transportation as you start venturing further from home.
Mostly in Your Neighborhood?
A lot of people concentrate their walks in their neighborhood, at least initially. When strolling out your door, a more substantial product is not a problem (in fact, its additional storage and performance can make it great). Two of our favorites: the BOB Revolution Flex and the UPPAbaby Vista are both over 25 lbs. However, what they lack in weight and folded size, they make up for in everyday performance. If you are mostly strolling around the neighborhood, a few extra pounds and added dimension are not that big of a deal. Still worried about weight? The BOB Rambler is similar to the Revolution but shaves about 3 lbs off the weight and is smaller when folded.
Frequently Driving Before Strolling?
If you think you will frequently drive or use public transportation before strolling, a larger folded size may become annoying. A light and compact product, like the Baby Jogger City Mini or the Britax B-Lively, have significant advantages in this kind of situation.
If you travel frequently, you might want to consider a lightweight umbrella stroller such as the Inglesina Net to augment or replace a full-size product. It can be very convenient to have both a lightweight product when on-the-road, and a standard size for use in your neighborhood. But, you’ll need to consider whether the convenience justifies the additional expense.
Every day that you stroll, the maneuverability performance of your stroller will be noticeable, and it degrades as your baby gets heavier. During the period you’ll do the most strolling, ages six months to three years, your baby will grow from an average of 16 to 32 lbs. The extra weight of your growing baby and the pile of gear you’ll need to bring will increasingly impact maneuverability. Almost all products are easy to maneuver when empty.
Trying out products in a store can be misleading, especially if you push them empty over a smoothly polished floor as most people do. In our tests, we found significant differences in maneuverability between competing products, especially when fully loaded. And we pushed them all, over various terrain and with varying weight in the seat.
Test Drive One-handed and with 25 Pounds of Weight
To properly test a product in a store, we recommend that you put 25 lbs of weight in the seat, simulating an average 1.5-year-old and a diaper bag; now try to maneuver it with one hand. We’re not kidding. It’s when you load them with the weight that you can feel the differences, and one-handed steering will help you appreciate subtle differences between products.
Consider whether the parks near you will require pushing over unpaved surfaces like grass and gravel. If you need to push over 50 yards of grass or gravel, your small-wheeled product may seem Sisyphean. Will winter change the game for you? Most people go on strolls year-round. If you suspect you will be pushing on unpaved surfaces or dealing with seasonal ice and snow, then you’ll want to focus on products with higher maneuverability and larger wheels.
You may never traverse through snow, but we tested various terrains so you don’t have to.
We’ve read some buying advice guides that describe three-wheeled products as superficial; just going after a “jogger” look. These same “guides” suggest that there is no benefit to these features.
We beg to differ.
In our tests, some of the three-wheeled products kicked some serious butt in maneuverability tests. One of the top performers is a jogger.
The Revolution is the easiest stroller in the review to push and turn. It excels over uneven terrain and off-road hiking with rubber pneumatic tires and dense wheels that make it easy to push even with one hand.
Intuitively, the three-wheeled products, with their big air-filled tires, are significantly more substantial, and bulkier when folded.
But the reality is not as dramatic as you might expect. One of our Editor’s Choice winners, the BOB Rambler, is 25.1 lbs and the average for the group of full-size products is 24.1 with several in the group weighing more. Plus, thanks to the large tires and other features, it scored way ahead in maneuverability, arguably one of the most important metrics for this kind of product.
Key Functional Elements
There are key features that make the difference between an easy-to-push stroller and a frustrating experience. After pushing, pulling, turning, and finagling more strollers than we can count, you can trust we know a thing or two about strollers.
Front wheel comparison. The BOB Revolution on left is a pneumatic tire (air-filled), and the UPPAbaby Vista on right uses foam core rubber tires. Both are high quality wheels. The BOB scored 9 of 10 on maneuverability, in large part due to its smooth, easy rolling wheels, compared to the UPPAbaby which scored 7 of 10.
Wheel Size Matters
The one product component that most dramatically impacts performance, both good and bad, is the size and type of wheels. Maneuverability is directly affected by these, and thus, the best scores were obtained by larger rubber wheels using air-filled tires, most commonly found on the jogging options. As we noted earlier in this article, maneuverability is one performance factor that will impact your strolling experience every day.
In our tests, we found bigger wheels to be significantly easier to push and roll over bumps and non-paved surfaces. That translates into less effort for you and with less stress on your baby. Air filled tires make for a smoother ride, but they can go flat just like a bicycle tire. Some people prefer to avoid the larger air-filled tires because they are heavier and might go flat. Our view is that air-filled tires are worth it if you stroll longer distances, over unpaved surfaces, or over rough pavement. Flats are rare, but you might want to get a spare tire tube and have it available in case you need it.
Some of the higher-end products offer “never-flat” tires that use a foam-filled rubber to provide more cushion than solid wheels, but without the risk of flat tires. We found these are a good compromise if you are anxious about a flat. While not as smooth rolling as an air-filled tire, the foam-filled tires did absorb bumps better and performed well compared to their plastic counterparts.
So, why not get the biggest wheels possible?
The downside of bigger wheels is that they are heavier and bulkier. For those who frequently need to load in and out of the car, or travel on public transportation, large wheel size can be a negative. Several in this review have larger foam-filled rubber tires that aren’t as big as those found on the jogging products but are more significant than the traditional wheels that used to be the gold standard for this kind of stroller.
Our review includes specifications of both front and rear wheel sizes, as well as the type of wheels. This information is presented to help you compare competing products.
The Fold-Release handle for the City Mini GT is located in the center of the seat and easy to operate. The B-Agile and City Mini Single are very similar in their operation.
Our favorite folding mechanisms can be operated with one hand, like those found on the Baby Jogger City Mini and Britax B-Lively. We like the capability and simplicity, but should you walk away from products that require two hands to fold? No.
While it is convenient to be able to fold your stroller with one hand, we think manufacturers make a bigger deal of the feature in their marketing than it deserves. Neither of the two Editors’ Choice products offers a one-handed fold, and both scored above average for ease folding.
Simply put, using one hand over two doesn’t mean your other hand is free to do your taxes or diaper a baby. Folding is a quick process that doesn’t give you time for anything else. So even if your stroller is a one-handed fold, it’s over so fast that your free hand will likely be doing nothing or it will be supporting the product and thus still involved.
The inside of the UPPAbaby Vista storage bin has several individual pockets for quick organizing that makes smaller items easy to find.
All of the products offer a basket for storage underneath the seat. A large storage basket can make daily-use more convenient. In our storage rating, we factored in the size of the basket, ease-of-access, and whether additional storage is provided such as a pocket behind the seat, or seat-pockets next to the baby.
The Cruz offers the second largest storage bin in the review and holds up to 25 lbs of supplies. We fit our extra large diaper bag inside with no problems.
The UPPAbaby Cruz and UPPAbaby Vista offer the biggest storage bins in the review with high maximum weight allowances and super easy access. Both options can carry just about any supply you will need in addition to groceries or gifts you find touring the zoo.
Seats, Padding, and Materials
The quality of seating materials and padding varies considerably between brands. We suggest looking for a generously padded seat covered with a durable material that cleans easily. Additional pluses include the use of eco-healthy materials, and for seat covers that remove easily for cleaning.
In our review, we note whether handlebars are adjustable. But, is it necessary that handlebars be adjustable? We don’t think so.
The theory of an adjustable handlebar is that it makes pushing more comfortable for parents who are taller or shorter than average. Since many moms are shorter than dads, it would seem that many couples would find this feature useful. But, our testers of different heights found comfort more related to maneuverability than to handlebar height. Simply put, a highly maneuverable product was comfortable for testers short and tall, even if the handlebar was not adjustable.
It gets a bit more complicated. We found that many of the adjustable handlebars introduced some “play” into the steering, and this means that maneuverability performance can feel “loose” and potentially degraded. As a result, an adjustable handlebar is a trade-off.
The photos above show the BOB Revolution Flex handlebar and its rotating adjustment (above left) compared to the UPPAbaby Cruz handlebar with a telescoping adjustment (above right).
Another factor is how the bar adjusts. Some adjust by rotating on a pivot point on each side, so when the handlebar is at its highest point, the pusher is closer to the frame, which results in several testers kicking the back of the strollers while walking. Other handlebars adjust by telescoping in and out of the frame sides, and when the bar is at the highest point, the tallest pusher is furthest away from back wheels, and thus less likely to kick the frame. The products with telescoping handles had less flex or play in them than those with the pivot point.
A parent tray would seem a simple and logical feature to add. Why not offer a convenient place to store keys or personal items, and one or two cup holders?
Well, not one of the top scoring products in our review came with a parent tray as a standard feature (all offer it as an option with costs ranging from $20-$40). Only four products in the entire review offer a parent tray with the stroller.
Similar to adjustable handlebars, a parent tray offers both a positive and a negative. On the positive side, a parent tray increases ease-of-use by providing some additional storage at your fingertips. But, on the downside, they can get in the way of folding, and make for a bulky, awkward folded size. Also, most parent trays have cup holders that are too shallow to securely hold a water bottle (over your baby’s head). Shallow cup holders translate to items falling out of the console and onto your baby while strolling.
Our two favorite parent consoles are both optional and cost an extra $25, for the UPPAbaby and the BOB. Both use a similar design of soft neoprene that provides a deep (somewhat grippy) cup holder and a zippered compartment for keys. Neither inhibits folding, or increases folded size as the plastic trays do.
A child tray also seems like an obvious feature and one that should be on every product. But, in fact, similar to parent trays, none of the top scoring products offered a child tray as a standard feature, and only five products offered it at all.
Funnily, only the products with lowest list prices seemed to offer a child tray as a standard feature (every product in our review with a child tray cost under $250).
A child’s tray is an accessory marketers love, and new parents intuitively think is essential, but in practice, neither you nor your baby need one. More importantly, like a parent tray, a child tray can be detrimental in practice making folding more awkward and bulky. Alternatively, the BOB Revolution Flex 3.0 and the Thule Urban Glide 2 have two passenger stow pockets on the inside of the seat, which is very useful. These pockets can hold most bottles and sippy cups, don’t drop items while moving, and children don’t have to reach forward to use them. Interior pockets a better alternative to the plastic tray that sticks out from the front and can be hard for a baby to reach while buckled and too shallow to adequately hold anything.
Nine Tips for Safer Strolling
We don’t want to scare you, but we do want to make you aware of the types of injuries that happen and introduce some expert advice on how to stroll more safely.
Use the Safety Harness
According to studies published by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the most common strolling related injuries are a result of falls, representing more than half of all injuries. The second most prevalent cause of injuries is tip-overs. Experts believe that most of these injuries were preventable if the baby was properly restrained with the safety harness.
Each year a few strolling-related deaths are reported. Again, experts believe that the use of the safety harness would have prevented most of these fatalities.
The CPSC advises to use the safety harness every time:
In 2010, the Consumer Products Safety Commission issued a Safety Alert warning that serious injury or death can occur if children are not properly restrained. An infant’s body can pass through the leg holes or handlebar, but their head and neck can become entrapped. The risk of strangulation is highest for infants under 1 year of age asleep in a fully reclined seat.
Every full-size product sold in the US offers a safety harness. In our tests, we found that the best provide a 5-point harness with an easy-to-use latching mechanism. We suggest parents make a habit of buckling their baby into the stroller with a properly fitting harness every time, no matter what, to avoid accidents and injuries.
Keep Baby Away When Folding
One of the most disturbing strolling related injuries is the amputation of a baby’s fingertips after being pinched in the hinge while folding. This type of accident only occurs rarely, but as recently as summer 2012 Kolcraft recalled 36,000 products following reports of three fingertip amputations. In 2009, Maclaren announced a recall of more than 1 million products following reports of 12 fingertip amputations (another five fingertip amputations occurred in the two years after the recall).
To help avoid this problem, always ensure your baby is a safe distance from the stroller before folding or unfolding.
Make Sure It is Locked After Unfolding
It is easy to only partially unfold and leave the product in a state where it might collapse under a baby’s weight. Make sure to listen for a reassuring click sound indicating it has reached its fully locked and ready-to-use position before use (depending on the model). Also, ensure you are using all the applicable safety features that keep it open.
Double Check the Parking Brake
We discovered some products in our tests, specifically, the Chicco Bravo LE had parking brakes that could appear locked but would occasionally release when bumped. If such an unplanned brake release occurs in a train station or near a busy road, the results could be tragic. We recommend always giving a little shake after setting the parking brake to ensure the brake is fully engaged. It takes only a moment, but it could prevent injury or death.
The CPSC notes one report of a stroller that rolled off of a dock and into a bay, which resulted in the child drowning.
Never Put Hot Liquid in the Cup Holder
We love a hot coffee every morning as much as anyone, but cup holders (which are typically too shallow in our opinion and placed dangerously above your little one’s head) should never contain hot beverages. A spill of hot liquid can result in terrible burns that not only hurt but leave scars that last a lifetime.
Avoid drinking hot liquids while pushing your child. Only use the cup holder for cool liquids. Seattle Children’s HospitalAvoid carrying children while holding hot beverages; never hold a cup of hot coffee or tea in the beverage holder. The Burn Center at St. Barnabas
Use the Elevator
Although fall injuries are the most common strolling-related risk, most result in minor injuries to the head and face. However, stairs change the potential risks in a fall.
One fatality reported to the CPSC occurred when a parent attempted to take a stroller containing an unrestrained and sleeping baby up a set of stairs, and the baby tragically fell out, resulting in a fatal injury.
Falls are the most common injury related to strolling, and a fall on stairs is obviously significantly more dangerous. Escalators add the additional hazard of moving mechanical parts. Experts advise that you should never take any strolling product on an escalator or stairs. Find a nearby elevator or ramp and use it instead. If there is no alternative, get some help. Take the baby out of the harness, and carry the baby up or down the stairs or escalator, holding on to one handrail. Have someone else bring the empty stroller up or down separately.
Do not try this at home folks, we’re professionals…
While we test products going up and down curbs and stairs loaded with a test dummy in our review process, these tests are intended to determine if a product has a risk of tip-over or collapsing, not to prescribe a recommended use with an actual baby. We do not use real babies during in-house lab testing for potential safety hazards or concerns.
Check for Recalls
It is wise to make a quick search on the Consumer Products Safety Commission website to see if a product is part of a recall. This research is particularly important for hand-me-down products from relatives or friends, or any used products. The CPSC does a good job of documenting any active recalls, and their database is easy to search by product name.
Do Not Run if it’s Not a Jogger
We cringe when we see user reviews where someone says they have been jogging with a standard product, or any jogging before eight months of age.
Because a baby’s head is large, and their spine and neck muscles are not yet fully developed. The jarring bumps and shocks encountered in normal jogging are not bothersome to the parent but can present real health risks to a developing baby or toddler.
You should never run with a stroller unless it is specifically designed for jogging, and even then not before the manufacturer’s recommended minimum age. Very often we find parents confused that products manufactured by “Baby Jogger” such as the popular Baby Jogger City Mini, or products that look like a jogger, such as the Mountain Buggy Swift, are NOT designed for jogging.
Joggers incorporate additional suspension systems, reclined seating, and locked front wheels to reduce the impact and make them suitable for running.
Even so, most jogger manufacturers recommend waiting until a baby is at least eight months old before using the product for running or jogging. Before then, brisk walks and a strolling workout can help get you back into shape.
Despite the brand name being Baby Jogger, none of the Baby Jogger products in this review are intended for jogging.
Don’t Hang Anything from the Handlebar
Tip-over is the 2nd most common cause of injury when using a stroller, and back-tipping is the most dangerous since your baby is more likely to fall on their head or sustain injuries.
We test for front-tip, side-tip, and back-tip risks in our review process.
But, many parents make the back-tip risks more severe by hanging a diaper bag or groceries on the handlebar.
We understand why. It is so compelling to hang a bag on the handlebar, where it is easy to access and might seem stable. But, don’t do it! Depending on the product, the weight you put on the handlebar, the weight of your baby, the angle of the terrain, and the weight in the bottom storage basket, tip-over risk varies dramatically. In many cases, just going up or down a curb can turn a seemingly stable situation into something dangerously tippy. Tip-over is most common with infants, who are lighter and provide less counterbalancing center weight.
Place your items in the bottom storage basket instead of hanging them from the handlebar. Doing so will increase stability by adding more weight at a low center of gravity.
How do I determine which option is best for my family?
There are a few simple steps you can walk through to find the best product for your needs. Asking yourself the following questions can take the guesswork and frustration out of finding the right stroller at the right price.
These are some of the strollers we tested in combination with infant car seats in our car seat stroller combo review.
Step 1: Car Seat Compatibility
If you never intend to attach your infant car seat to any contraption for strolling, then you can skip this step. However, if you do plan to use your infant seat while strolling, we suggest you choose your infant car seat first. Why? Finding a quality infant seat that is easy to use and safe is more important for baby’s overall well-being given that you will likely be using it more frequently, or at least it has the largest related safety risks. So choose your infant car seat, then follow the remaining steps for the options that are compatible with your choice.
The BOB Revolution Flex is a nice quality choice that is put together well even if it lacks the sleek styling of many modern day full-size strollers. This BOB earned the highest score for maneuverability, easily moving over almost any surface.
Step 2: What terrain will you be strolling over?
Maneuverability is important. Being able to stroll with ease is arguably one of the most critical aspects of this kind of product. Pushing with one hand, and the ability to turn in tight spaces is important, as is being able to roll over various surfaces. If you plan to stroll only inside the mall or around a paved sidewalk, you can choose almost any of the contenders we tested. If you need to roll over grass or gravel for any period, a green belt outside your house or a nearby park, then you have fewer options to choose from. The BOB Revolution Flex, BOB Rambler and the Thule Urban Glide 2 are the easiest strollers in the group to push over any surface you can encounter.
The UPPAbaby Cruz offers many features, like a storage bin, canopy, adjustable handlebar, adjustable leg/foot rest, belly bar and cup holder accessory (sold separately).
Step 3: What features do you need?
There is a difference between the features you think you need and those you truly do. There is also a difference between a product that doesn’t offer a feature, like a parent tray, and one that offers an accessory for purchase after the fact. You should consider which features are important to you and which you can do without. If you love a particular product that doesn’t have one of these options, determine if you can purchase it after the fact, or if you’d be without it forever. We think some non-negotiable features include a reclining seat, giant canopy, and storage basket with at least 10 lbs of maximum storage. Interesting, but not necessary features, include parent or child tray, cup holders, bumper bars, and a one-handed fold. None of the top products in this review offer all the features you may need or want, but they have parent consoles/cup holders for purchase, which many parents feel are non-negotiable. The UPPAbaby Cruz has excellent storage with a 25 lb capacity, adjustable leg/footrest, recline, and handlebar, and an excellent canopy with large peek-a-boo window.
The pull handle on the City Mini is conveniently located on the seat.
Step 4: Do you need to carry it?
The last thing to potentially consider is whether or not you will need to fold and transport or carry it frequently. All of the products are relatively easy to fold, but the Britax B-Lively and the Baby Jogger City Mini have quick, easy folding mechanisms with a one-hand pull and carry strap. They are also the lightest and most compact in the group, which makes them easy to carry and transport in a trunk or on a bus. It isn’t that the BOB Revolution Flex or the UPPAbaby Cruz are hard to fold or carry, they just aren’t something you likely want to do multiple times a day in a hurry, alone with your baby, a diaper bag, and shopping supplies. Alternatively, if you stroll out your front door and are unlikely to use public transport or need to fit it in your trunk, then the UPPababy Vista is a good choice. This impressive option can grow with your family up to three passengers, has the largest storage in the group, and offers more versatility than any of the other products we tested.
We tested a myriad of different full-size strollers over the course of several updates to this review. Several of these options are pictured here.
There are so many options to meet your strolling needs that it can be overwhelming trying to narrow them down to find the best stroller for your family. After testing over 20 tops models over the years, we feel uniquely qualified to help you decide what performance metrics and features are most important. If you stick to the basics, you can find the right option for you. We think there are several possibilities in the award winners and top scorers. While we pick winners with real families in mind (after all we have kids too), they may not meet your specific needs, which is where the comparison feature in our Best in Class review comes in handy. With this comparison tool and our insider details, you can determine which stroller meets the needs of your family and budget.