Tandem vs. Side-by-Side Double Stroller

News of having twins or adding to your family is exciting and parents are ecstatic to hear about their little bundle (or bundles of joy). But that happiness can soon turn into panic when you realize that you have to buy two of everything and you literally see your bank balance dwindling away. Or it could be that you sold your crib, bassinet and other baby items because you thought your family was complete.

In either case, one thing you will definitely need is a twin stroller. If your older child is less than 4, a twin stroller will make your life easier. The age-old question is what type of twin stroller to get – a tandem (where one child sits behind the other) or a side-by-side?

Each style has its advantages and disadvantages, and until you understand the features and benefits of each, you won’t be able to make a truly informed decision.

Tandem And Side-by-Side Stroller

Left: Tandem Stroller      Right: Side-by-Side Stroller

Width

The biggest difference between a tandem and a side-by-side is the width.

Tandem: A tandem is usually no wider than a single stroller, with the average width about 41.5” x 21.5” x 37” (height, width, length).  Many models are able to accommodate infant car seats.

Typically, the seat in the back reclines so that infants can be more comfortable; this allows an older child to sit in the front where they can see more clearly.Generally, a tandem stroller will be easier to navigate through doorways and narrow passageways.

Side-by-Side:  These are obviously wider than tandem strollers, because children are sitting beside each other. Typical dimensions are 49” x 32” x 40” (length, width, height). When two children are sitting in the stroller, it allows for easier maneuverability and handling. The seats recline individually but not all the way back.

Twins vs. 2 Kids of Different Ages

Tandem: If your children are not twins, and your toddler likes to walk for part of the way, there are ‘stand on’ variations of a tandem stroller. One example is the Joovy Caboose Ultralight Stand-on Tandem Stroller.

This allows your older child more flexibility; they can ride along or walk beside you. This gives them a bit more independence, something most toddlers strive for.

Side-by-Side: This type of stroller puts your twins on a more ‘equal’ level; they are both able to see clearly, with unobstructed views.

Each child will have his or her own tray and some models actually have a narrow bar separating the seats, giving a more individual feel to the seats. An example is the Instep Safari Swivel Wheel Double Jogger.

Travel system

Tandem: Most tandem strollers will have one seat that accommodates an infant car seat, making the stroller a travel system for when you’re on the go. These are ideal for those with an infant and an older child. Some models can accommodate a car seat with both seats, making it a good choice for twins.

Side-by-Side:  There are few, if any, side-by-side strollers that can accommodate infant car seats.  You will have to transfer the babies from the car seat to the stroller, which can take up valuable time. When you have twins, time is of the essence, even if you are just taking a quick trip to the store.

How to Decide between the Features

Pros of Tandem Strollers:  Some models can accommodate infant car seats in the front and back, making them true ‘twin’ strollers. It is easy to navigate and some brands have ‘stadium seating’ allowing the child in the back to sit up a bit higher, allowing them to see better.

Tandem strollers usually come with standard accessories, such as snack trays, canopies and storage baskets.

Cons of Tandem Strollers: Because it is longer, it can be hard to have easy access to the child who is in the front seat. Many models do not have rear seats that fully recline; this means that you will have to wait until your baby’s neck muscles develop so they can hold their heads up; or you need to find a stroller that accommodates an infant car seat.

Pros of Side-by-Side Strollers: These are true ‘twin’ strollers and are generally meant for children of the same age. They operate best when they have kids riding that are the same weight. It positions both children so that they have the same vantage point, which is something children tend to prefer.

They are shallower than tandem strollers, giving the pusher more control, and better access to both children.

Cons of Side-by-Side Strollers: The market is not as broad for side-by-sides so finding cool accessories can be an issue. Because the children sit side-by-side, arguing can ensure, which is certainly typical of toddlers.

Manufacturers have been slow to add accessories such as storage baskets, trays and canopies although they are becoming more readily available.

Summary

Ultimately, you will have to ask yourself what you’ll be using the stroller for. Indoors? Outdoors? Parks? Day trips? Your choice will have a lot to do with whether you have twins or whether you have a toddler and an infant.

Personally, I prefer the tandem style, simply because of the size. I didn’t want to deal with trying to get in doorways or navigate the mall with a wide stroller. But then, I don’t have twins, so a tandem made more sense in our situation.

If you have friends or family with a double stroller, try it out and get a feel for it. Do some of your own research and find out what each style can offer you and your family.





Comments

  1. Thanks so much for writing this comparison of tandem vs side-by-side double strollers. My first baby’s 20 months old and my newest is only 3 weeks, and already I’m seeing the need to buy a double stroller. Your input has been incredibly helpful to me in making a decision–looks like a tandem is the definite choice for our growing family! :)

  2. strollergy says:

    Glad you like it. Congrats on your newborn!

  3. I love ths article.
    What tandem stroller can you recommend for a new born and 2 years old child?
    I would like a fully reclining stroller for both kids and of course under 300 dlls :)
    Thank you

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