The stroller is perhaps the most crucial piece of equipment you will buy as a parent of multiples. Unless you plan to remain confined to your home until your children can walk themselves to school, you will need a good stroller to maneuver them through the world. Many families find that their stroller remains a convenient and safe method of transportation for several years, so it is worth investing in a quality product that will withstand some wear and tear. Think of it as a vehicle for your babies and give your purchase as much consideration as you would if you were buying a family car.
The Stroller Style Debate
Ask any parent of twins about their stroller, and they'll likely give you a passionate response as to why their model is the best choice available. However, there is no one perfect stroller; if there was, everyone would own it! Your perfect stroller is the one that meets your family's needs. It may be that there isn't a single stroller that fits your requirements, and you'll want to consider purchasing more than one for different types of outings.
There are two basic styles of strollers. Tandem, or stadium seating, strollers have seats arranged in a straight line, with one behind the other. The seats may both face forward or face each other. Side-by-side strollers, as their name implies, feature two adjacent seats. Each style has advantages and disadvantages, and according to informal polls, parents are pretty evenly split in their preferences.
Tandem double strollers are more readily available because they aren't exclusively used for twins. Most models are actually designed for two singleton siblings. One seat may be a bit roomier or positioned higher to accommodate a toddler or preschool-aged child, while the other space is made for a smaller infant. Because they appeal to a broader market, they are more likely to come with handy accessories such as sunshades, drink holders, and snack trays.
Tandems are generally longer and more slender than side-by-side models. For this reason, some people find them easier to maneuver through narrow spaces, such as shopping center aisles and doorways. But there are also aspects of tandem strollers that don't work well with twins. In many models one of the seats, designed for an older child, does not fully recline. Until your babies' neck muscles develop sufficiently to hold their heads up, they need support. An upright seat is useless with younger infants and napping babies.
Many parents of twins rave about the new travel system of strollers that function in combination with infant carrier/car seats. Simply snap the seats into the stroller base and wheel your babies away. This convenient system eliminates the hassle of buckling and unbuckling-and buckling and unbuckling again—as you transfer your babies from the house to the car to the stroller and back.
Side-by-side strollers are a more traditional type of twin stroller. They operate most efficiently with two children of equal weight, and provide adequate leg- and headroom for both as they grow. One distinct advantage of the side-by-side style is that it positions both children with an equal viewpoint, which is the arrangement most twins seem to prefer.
Side-by-sides are wider than tandems, but have a shallower profile. That gives the stroller pusher more control and puts the babies in a closer arm's reach. Unfortunately many parents find their width hard to deal with in crowded or constricted locations, or when they need to go through single doorways or down narrow passageways.
Manufacturers have been slow to equip side-by-side models with some of the fancy features consumers expect. Storage baskets, bumpers, and sunshades are becoming more standard, but as of yet, there is not a side-by-side product that accommodates the handy travel system feature that works in conjunction with car seat/infant carriers.
One other potential problem to consider with side-by-side models: They put your twins in full view for the whole world to see. There is no chance of being anonymous! Twins, especially baby twins, attract a lot of attention when you take them out in public. It feels like everyone (especially perfect strangers) wants to look at them, compare their characteristics, interrogate their parents, and relate their own family's history of twinning.