11 best compact strollers
Take your little one from A to B in a safe, comfortable and easily manoeuvrable transporter
Don’t make do with an unwieldy pushchair that costs the same as a second hand car, yet takes up all the storage space in your boot. Pushchairs have come a long way in making lives easier, with models available that enable you to fold with one hand while you’re holding your baby, and even ones that fold-up small enough to fit into the overhead cabin on a plane.
But compact strollers aren’t just for globetrotters. Yes, it’s handy to have a lightweight pushchair that packs down to a tiny, travel-friendly size if you’re a jet setter, but plenty of parents want a streamlined, nippy set of wheels that won’t cause gridlock at their favourite cafe.
The word stroller is an Americanism for what we’ve always called a pushchair, but it’s typically used to describe a lighter than average pushchair; the kind you might take on holiday or stash at the grandparents’ house for occasional use rather than every day.
That said, all the pushchairs we’ve listed here are more than up to the task of carrying your precious cargo on a daily basis – they’re not just for travel use. If you’d like a sturdy pushchair that you can store in the hallway without spending your life tripping over it, look no further. And if your car boot is on the bijou side, there’s a good chance these will fit comfortably but still leave plenty of room for your luggage or shopping.
Strollers typically have fixed, forward-facing seats. Go for one with a parent-facing seat if you like the idea of being able to chat to your baby and maintain eye contact when you’re out and about. Some of the pushchairs in this list can convert to travel systems, which means you can remove the seat unit and attach a compatible infant car seat or carrycot (suitable up to six months) to the pushchair frame. That can be useful if you plan to use the pushchair from birth (in which case check it’s suitable for newborns), but if it’s for an older toddler, you don’t need those features.
If you’ll be using the pushchair from birth, keep in mind that babies under six months should lie flat when sleeping, so avoid naps in the car seat and choose a compact stroller with a seat that reclines fully-flat or, better still, a lie-flat carrycot.
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Cosatto Whoosh XL pushchair: £279.95, Cosatto
This is a real head-turner – expect strangers to strike up conversations with you about the striking, stylish print. We tested Mister Fox, which comes complete with a cute foxy cuddly toy, and we adore it. Suitable from birth to 25kg and weighing just 6kg, this pushchair is a breeze to fold and you can do it with one hand. It’s a brilliant all-rounder as it handles the rigours of daily life with ease, but also impressively light and compact when folded, so we’d happily take it on holiday too. The UPF100+ double-length hood and visor is great for sunnier climes and it comes with a well-fitting rain cover included – very practical.
Babyzen YoYo+ pushchair: £369, John Lewis & Partners
If you’re looking for a pushchair you can take on a plane, this is it – it’s almost unbelievably compact when folded. It’s suitable from birth and has a parent-facing seat and a lie-flat ‘nest’ for newborns. You can also use this as a travel system – just attach a BABYZEN iZi Go Modular by BeSafe case seat onto the stroller frame using the adapters, which are provided.
From six months, you can swap the seat round so your baby can see more of the world. This really comes into its own as a travel pushchair but if you need something you can stash behind the front door without it bashing you in the shins every time you walk past, we think you’ll like this. Add the YOYO+ bag (£84.95) for somewhere to stash everything except the kitchen sink.
Familidoo air pushchair: £169, Cheeky Rascals
Another plane-friendly pushchair, this weighs just over 6kg and comes with a handy storage bag – we found it to be the perfect set of travel wheels. We were easily able to fold it with a baby in our arms – a must have feature if you’re travelling alone with your baby and it’s suitable from birth to 15kg. Yes, it feels a bit like a budget option – the clicky noise made by the hood disturbed our tester when she nodded off – but it’s well-designed and so affordably priced that we can’t help but love it. And you can literally slide it under a bed when not in use – bonus!
Joie pact flex signature stroller: £189, Mothercare
We like the way this folds flat – it’s easy to find a nook to slide it into if you need to stash it out of the way when it’s not being used. Classy touches like the faux leather push bar make it look pricier than it is. Its big design appeal is the flex suspension system which supposedly offers a 50 per cent smoother ride than other strollers. It’s hard to quantify this but we were certainly impressed with how it handled different terrain for such a light, affordable pushchair. It’s suitable from birth with a fully lie-flat seat – ideal for naps on the go – and it’s compatible with selected car sears to create a great value travel system. A travel bag and rain cover are also included.
Maxi Cosi laika pushchair: £224.10, Amazon
We were very impressed with this super-compact pushchair because it feels so neat and compact when you’re pushing it (ideal for navigating busy city streets), yet there’s plenty of room in the seat. We did find it a little tricky to fold and unfold, resulting in profanities and bruised shins, but we think we’d get the hang of it eventually, particularly as this was by far the easiest pushchair to use straight out of the box, fully assembled.
We love the leatherette handlebar, but the shopping basket is tiny. A compatible carrycot and car seat are available to buy separately, turning it into a travel system. The hood is a bit noisy when you adjust it, however, and the seat recline is fiddly to adjust if your baby nods off. The lie-flat seat and adjustable leg rest meant our little tester managed a comfy, lengthy snooze in this pushchair rather than the usual short-lived power nap. This model is suitable from birth to 15kg.
Mima Zigi pushchair: £550, Cheeky Rascals
This is seriously easy to fold and free-standing when folded so you can pop it in a corner out of sight when it’s not in use. It’s reasonably lightweight (8.4kg) but feels much more robust than some of the lighter models we tested. It can be stowed as cabin luggage and the canopy with three UV sun visors is invaluable if you’re jetting off to the sun, although we found it a bit overcomplicated to adjust.
This handles well on different types of terrain, thanks to front and rear wheel suspension, but the seat unit is only suitable from six months – you’ll need the carrycot if you want to use it from birth. We love the height adjustable handlebar – essential if you and your partner aren’t perfectly matched in stature – and the mechanism to adjust the seat recline is fabulously easy to use. It comes with a storage bag, compact when folded and fairly easy to fold, although we needed both hands free to do so.
Ickle Bubba globe ultra compact travel stroller: £199, Ickle Bubba
Wow, we love this stroller. It’s small enough to fit in the overhead storage compartment on a plane or train, yet impressively robust. You can attach a compatible car seat and we love the handy carry strap – invaluable on a frantic dash through the airport.
The extendable UPF 50 hood is larger than average so offers good protection from the elements, and the viewing window is handy for keeping an eye on your sleeping tot without disturbing her. We were delighted to discover that this was a rare pushchair with a hood that doesn’t make a loud clicking noise when you adjust it.
The raincover is included and ours came with a gorgeous, cosy foot-muff and a cleverly designed bag for stashing your valuables. Our only complaint is that the basket is very small but, other than that, this has everything, including a foot rest, leatherette handle and a cup holder.
Bugaboo fox stroller: £979, Amazon
At the top end of the price spectrum, this travel system offers a smooth ride even on a sandy coastal path, thanks to chunky tyres and all-wheel suspension, and it feels truly effortless to push. While it’s bulkier than many of the pushchairs on this list when it’s up and running, it’s surprisingly compact when you fold it, especially if you take the seat unit off. It’s suitable from birth (you’ll need the carrycot) to 17kg and a great option for those seeking an all-singing-and-dancing travel system that won’t fill your car boot or block your hallway.
Diono traverse stroller: From £179, Diono
With a telescopic handle so you can pull it behind you like a suitcase when you’re travelling, this forward-facing stroller folds easily and is free-standing when folded. It weighs just 5.6kg and comes with its own zip-on travel bag. It’s also small enough to fit in an overhead cabin on a plane. It has near-flat seat recline for comfy naps and the basket is a good size and easy to access.
Silver Cross jet stroller: £246.50, John Lewis & Partners
Another travel-friendly pushchair that can be wheeled like a suitcase and stashed in the overhead cabin, this is suitable from birth to 15kg and comes with its own storage bag. We love the lie-flat seat and adjustable leg support. The UPF50+ hood with viewing window is handy for holiday naps and you can convert this to a travel system using adaptors and the Silver Cross Simplicity car seat. The seat fabric could be plusher but there are touches of Silver Cross class throughout the design. It weighs just 6kg so it’s ideal for hopping on and off public transport with an older child or as a reliable holiday pushchair that you’ll get years of comfortable use from.
Ergobaby metro compact city stroller: £299.90, Ergobaby
This is a revelation. Of all the compact strollers we tested, we reckon this is the one we’d choose to take on holiday. Somehow they’ve managed to pull off plush comfort as well as ultra-compact practicality. It fits in the overhead cabin on a plane but it’s also notably more manoeuvrable than many of its competitors, thanks to larger back wheels. It also has all the extra features we value in a compact stroller, such as an adjustable leg rest for comfy naps, a roomy basket and a storage pocket for stashing your valuables.
The mesh seat will keep your baby cool in warmer temperatures, and this is one of the few compact strollers that we really could fold with one hand. It’s certified back-friendly and we can see why – it’s a dream to push. It’s suitable from six months to 18kg (or from birth if you buy the Newborn Kit separately) so it’ll be outgrown sooner than many other compact strollers we tested, but if you’re off on an adventure and need a super-light (6.3kg) compact pushchair that’s up to tackling any terrain, this is it. You can also buy a backpack-style carry bag for easier travel use.
The verdict: Compact strollers
Only pushchairs that truly impressed us made this list, so we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them all as worthy investments. If forced to pick a favourite, we’d choose the Cosatto whoosh as it’s such a joy to use – practical, stylish and fun. It’s by far the easiest to fold and carry, and we love that it can be used from birth all the way up to 25kg and that it’s suitable for taking on holiday without feeling like you need to buy a second, lighter set of wheels.
In a sea of black, samey strollers, it’s fun to find something that feels a little bit different. The globe ultra compact travel stroller by Ickle Bubba really stood out for us too as an impressive bit of baby gear – and the price is amazing!
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