by Anna Karsten

Double Stroller vs Wagon: What’s Best for Your Family?

I always say that there’s no one fits all, or this is the best of the best item because I think it depends on what are your needs, lifestyle, budget and preferences.

Before my second son was born I had certain expectations about a double stroller I wanted to get and I tested a ton… just to find out that there’s really no stroller that’s perfect overall and every single one has some cons.

A wagon is pretty useless because you don’t want to keep pulling it non-stop – you need to think about a stroller wagon that you can push and pull. But, I’m not going to tell you that a stroller wagon is better than a double stroller. It depends on your life situation and most importantly on your kids and for some families certain things will work better or not work at all.

I personally like having both a double stroller and a stroller wagon.

Double Stroller vs Stroller Wagon: Things to Know Before You Buy

Do you need a double stroller with a baby and toddler?

You need something for the kids to ride on. Don’t make my mistake and listen to more experienced parents when it comes to it.

Before my first son was born everyone was telling us we’ll need two strollers: one for home and one for travel. We thought it was completely unnecessary because why have two… 3 months and lots of frustrating situations later when traveling with a baby, my husband was the one who ordered the travel stroller.

When the second baby was born we thought “do we really need a double stroller when the toddler can walk?”. After endless situations that 10 minutes in the toddler started to extend his arms yelling “carry me daddy!” we realized that yes, we very much need a vehicle for both kids.

In Short…

  • If you have a newborn – no need for a stroller wagon just yet
  • If you have twins – easiest solution: double stroller at first, then you can add a wagon after they turn 1
  • If you have one toddler – standard stroller or tricycle is best, no need for a stroller wagon
  • If you have a newborn & toddler under 3 – double stroller until the baby can sit on their own, then switch to a stroller wagon if you wish
  • If you have a newborn & toddler over 3 – might get away with a single stroller and buggy board, then get the wagon for longer trips once the baby can sit independantly
  • If you have multiple kids – get a wagon when most are toddlers and babywear the newborn until he/she can sit comfortable (about 9 months)

However, most importantly, you don’t NEED a stroller wagon. You need A vehicle to transport your children, that’s all. A stroller wagon can be helpful, but if you don’t have the funds or feel like you won’t get too much use out of it, then don’t get it.

I really hate when parents are being talked into various “must-have items” because everyone wants them and celebrities promote them and in reality, and while some might be convenient to use they’re not necessary at all (eg. Doona, Baby Breeza milk machine, or Uppababy Vista stroller). I feel like I’m the worst salesperson by saying it, but that’s the truth.


Who can use a Stroller Wagon?

In general, wagons are used for toddlers and kids between 12 months and 5 years. Most wagons don’t have comprehensive safety protection for younger infants.

However, there are some stroller wagons, that are designed for babies as young as 6 months. Yet, I’d still tell you to wait till the baby is slightly older – I explained it why in my specific wagon review as this one is often recommended for smaller infants.

Portability issues with both

 Portability and folding mechanism depend on the brand. Some fold great, others are giant monsters.

The majority of strollers can fold down and fit in a bigger car – I’m underlining a bigger car because for example, good luck stuffing a double Bugaboo Donkey into my Tesla, on top of shopping.

Some stroller wagons are gigantic when folded and won’t fit into smaller cars. We have one of the most portable wagon strollers and when I was debating bringing it on my trip my husband pointed out that there’s no way it can fit in a trunk of a taxi along with a suitcase. Or bring up the stairs frankly unless two people are involved.

Wagons are not the greatest for travel, public transportation, or long city trip when kids still nap. Most parents agree that they could never get away with just the wagon and no stroller.

Strollers can be used for sleeping

Wagons are really just for sitting, because most seats don’t even offer a recline. While I saw parents converting Keenz wagon and Evenflo Pivot to a sleeping bassinet, it only works if one child sleeps and the other one walks. If you want both to nap, it’s not really possible.

Not every wagon stroller or double stroller can hangle all terrain

Wagons are commonly recommended because they’re claimed to be easier to push and drive on all terrains. I recently read a review of someone who complained their wagon didn’t ride on the sandy beach – of course, it won’t, it’s not an ATV.

Not to mention, if you load an already heavy wagon with multiple kids, cooler and other stuff, you’ll be pushing a huge amount of weight which isn’t easy even on the flat surface.

Quite frankly, it’s much easier to push a double stroller like BOB than any stroller wagon. My wagon rides on all-terrain vs my Zoe double stroller does not, but if I compared a Radio Flyer stroller wagon to any stroller with big wheels it will naturally perform terribly.

Safety features: is stroller wagon safe?

There are many kids’ wagons and stroller wagons on the market, and many have no straps. Get yourself one with a strap for sure.

While most wagons say they’re suitable for 6 months plus, just like the stroller seat, it’s not entirely true. Even buckled in I just don’t feel like there is enough support for a child. In fact, my 10 month old who has been sitting independently unsupported for months now lost control recently and smacked his head into the snack track on my wagon recently.

Comfort of the kiddos

One of the top arguments in favor of stroller wagons is that kids can self-board it. It’s true for some because they might have a zip-door or folding entryway, I’m yet to see any toddler having issues self-boarding a regular stroller as well.

While I enjoy my own wagon, I must say that my toddler has more issues getting into it than he has when it comes to getting into the double stroller. He can still do it though, but he’s basically as high as 4 year old so I guess a standard size 2-year-old wouldn’t be able to do get into the wagon unassisted.

It’s definitely hard to keep an eye on kiddos in a wagon, so it’s more likely kiddos will poke each other, throw things out, or rummage through all the snacks. Even when one is a baby, trust me.

Lenght of use

Both strollers and wagon strollers can last throughout toddlerhood. Strollers usually last from the newborn stage to 3.5 years, then seats become small and less comfortable. Many kids are not interested in sitting in a stroller – my own child hated the stroller even under 2 years of age and would only accept a tricycle, but he still needed something when he had done enough walking.

Wagons can last from 12 months to 5 years so technically they can be used longer. However, at this age, most parents transfer their stuff in it at this point. I personally wouldn’t want to encourage my 5 year old to ride in a wagon instead of walking or using a bicycle.

Storage

Stroller wagons are acclaimed for storage. If you head to a park (well, unless it’s Disney as stroller wagons are banned from Disney World parks) you’ll see families dragging their giant coolers and toys on top of a wagon. The thing is… it’s not entirely true.

If you look at any wagon carefully you’ll realize there’s not much storage if two kids are sitting in it! Some have an extra basket, but they’re fairly small. In a double stroller, there’s normally a space underneath but most wagons just have small pockets.

Alternatives to Double Stroller or Stroller Wagon

I’ll be very real: the vast majority of my European friends don’t have either unless they have twins. Most parents use two separate strollers for two kids because any other option isn’t very practical.

It’s basically one parents = one kid on a stroller. What if you’re a stay-at-home mom, or lucky to get long maternity leave?

Usually with 2 kids, baby starts in our single stroller, and then when my toddler gets tired, you put the baby in a carrier and the toddler gets in the stroller. But, wearing one kid while pushing another isn’t always easy, especially when we’re walking on hills so I don’t see it as a solution for longer trips and this option is not for everyone.

Another option is to teach your toddler how to ride something before the sibling is born. Various parents opt for a scooter or balance bike, as those two provide entertainment and a spot to rest. Plus, it will give your toddler a head start in terms of balancing skills.

Verdict

Wagons are good if you mostly drive somewhere, then walk around. If you take public transit or are out long enough that kids needs a nap, a stroller is probably the answer.

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