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Cheapism: Best budget umbrella strollers

May 22, 2013 at 12:59 PM ET

This Ignite stroller from The First Years boasts many features found on more expensive models.

With LCD dashboards, smooth handling, and independent suspension, high-end strollers can sound like luxury cars. They can also be tough to fit in the back of a car, not to mention a public bus or train. After about six months or so with a full-featured travel system, many parents look to add a lightweight alternative to their arsenal of baby gear. Cue the umbrella stroller. Like its namesake, it has curved handles, collapses into a narrow column, and can be carried in one hand. What’s more, you can find well-reviewed models that cost no more than $60.

Here are the top picks from Cheapism.com:

  • The First Years Ignite (starting at $60) is a hands-down favorite in this price range, with overwhelmingly positive reviews online. It earns plaudits for its agility and easy one-handed folding, as well as an abundance of features many buyers say they didn’t expect to find on a budget model. Those include a five-point harness, a big selling point for safety-conscious parents; an adjustable and removable sunshade; a reclining seat; and a large pouch on the handles for convenient storage, as well as a basket underneath. This model is on the hefty side for an umbrella stroller, at 14.25 pounds, but it holds children up to 50 pounds. (Where to buy)

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  • The First Years Jet (starting at $39) is cheaper and more svelte than the Ignite -- it weighs 11.5 pounds -- yet it has the same 50-pound weight limit. It also comes with almost all the same features, save for swiveling front wheels that lock into place. Even without that feature, the stroller maneuvers easily, reviewers say, and provides a comfortable ride. (Where to buy)

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  • Babies R Us Umbrella Strollers (starting at $20) likewise come in two similar versions at different price points. An extra $10 buys a model that weighs just 6.5 pounds and sports a storage pouch and a larger, retractable canopy. Parents appreciate that both strollers are so light and compact. They have only three-point harnesses, but reviewers report that children seem very secure in the sturdy straps and comfortable overall. These strollers can transport children up to 35 pounds. (Where to buy)

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In general a five-point harness, which includes shoulder straps, is preferable to a three-point harness, with straps only around the waist and between the legs. Even umbrella strollers that recline, such as the models above from The First Years, don’t lay all the way flat, so they aren’t suitable for newborns. Mayo Clinic staff and other experts recommend waiting until babies are about six months old before putting them in one of these lightweight strollers.

If you can, try out an umbrella stroller before you buy it and make sure you can manage it easily. It should be comfortable for you as well as your child. Reviewers note, for instance, that the tall handles on The First Years strollers save them from having to bend over to push.

Related from Cheapism:

Umbrella strollers buying guide

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