How We Tested Stroller & Car Seat Combos

By:
Juliet Spurrier, MD and Wendy Schmitz

Last Updated:
Sunday


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As in every other product category we review, first we researched the top rated, best-selling and most popular strollers that accept car seats on the market. From those, we selected the top options to thoroughly test and compare side-by-side in various metrics.

Our testing categories are based on real world considerations, which can make or break your experience with a stroller, as well as performance and features that parents look for. Each of these metrics is further broken down into sub categories, which are designed to ferret out the strengths and weaknesses of each product. The following explanation is meant to shed light onto the importance and depth of each metric.

Ease of Attaching Car Seat


Our testing in this metric earned each stroller a significant percentage of their overall score because how the car seat attaches to the stroller is paramount in this category. We focused primarily on how easily one can safely attach a car seat to each stroller and whether or not there were any obstructions. There are several methods for connection, and during this review we tested the three primary types: strap-in, click-in and partial click-in (strap/click hybrid). Some strollers offered click in attachment for their native brand car seat and a hybrid for other brands they also sell adapters for.

We first tested each connection method to see if it was possible to incorrectly attach the car seat. Specifically we looked at potential for user error and products that could be unintentionally or intentionally misused. Combinations earned points for how easy the seats were to attach and lost points for restraint straps and canopies and seat material that got in the way of a clear connection.

Once attached we then tested the security of the stroller/seat connection by subjecting the stroller to pushing and pulling at various angles while weighted with a test dummy baby.
One of 30 different stroller lab tests  our sideways tip-over angle test shown above gives us a measure of which strollers are more tippy than others
One of 30 different stroller lab tests, our sideways tip-over angle test shown above gives us a measure of which strollers are more tippy than others

Weight and Folded Size


This metric included weighing and measuring the strollers when folded and ready for car seat attachment. This includes removal of the canopy and toddler seat if required and with adapters in place if necessary. The measurements were made using the same tools and by the same tester. We made our own measurements of weight and folded size rather than rely on the manufacturer's claims.
This is the second most important metric for a group of this kind because many new mothers may be limited in how much weight they are allowed to lift or push, especially if they had a C-section.

Maneuverability


To test maneuverability, we took each stroller fully loaded through an everyday obstacle course of crowded supermarkets, sidewalks, and a torture test obstacle course we constructed to compare each in identical conditions. To make sure we were thorough, we strolled into elevators and bathroom stalls, to the grocery store, coffee shop, post office, and other locations. While walking through each environment we collected data on the products performance through tight turns, narrow aisles, and crowds of people.

Ease-of-Use


In our ease-of-use testing we looked at several factors that affect a person's experience including the canopy and whether or not it can stay on the stroller with the car seat, the storage bin and how easy it is to use and what we could manage to get inside, and the convenience features like a parent console and child's tray.

This metric also includes how easy products are to fold including how many hands and steps are required, whether or not bending is necessary, and if the fold is easy or difficult to accomplish. Strollers earned points for self-standing, auto-locking, and carry handles. They also earned points for their ability to commute, including negotiating public transportation and sitting in cafes.

Using each product and the features helped us score them side-by-side and against use expectations on how these options should work.

Ease of Setup


We recorded setup time for each stroller and adapter assembly and included how well the manual was for ease of use and understanding. Some strollers were more difficult to assemble than others and having clear, easy to understand directions played a major role in how long assembly took.

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by Juliet Spurrier MD and Wendy Schmitz

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