Buying a Pushchair
If you've never had a baby before, you've probably never bought a pushchair before. There are many different types of pushchairs, strollers and buggies on the market, so how on earth are you supposed to choose which one to buy?
A pushchair is a big investment and one of your most important baby-related purchases. You will need it until your child is at least three years old, and maybe a lot longer if you're hoping for a second baby.
It helps to take into account your lifestyle, budget and personal preferences before you start looking. Keep in mind that a pushchair must allow for your baby to lie flat, if you want to use it from birth. This is important for infant spinal development.
What are you looking for?
Narrow down your choices by answering the following questions. This will help immensely when you are ready to start shopping.
- What is your budget?
- Where are you likely to go with your pushchair?
- Will you take it shopping, on regular pavements and/or off-road rough terrain?
- Will you take it on public transport?
- Do you need the pushchair to fit in the boot of your car?
- Will you go jogging with it?
- Do you need a shopping tray to fit underneath?
- Do you want the pushchair seat to be forward facing, rear facing, or both?
- Do you want the pushchair to last for a second baby?
- Where will you store the pushchair at home when you're not using it?
- Will you need to regularly lift it up the stairs?
- Are looks and style important to you?
- Are you bothered if the pushchair comes with accessories or are you willing to buy them separately?
Here are some other things to consider that are more easily addressed by testing out pushchairs in the shop. Don't be afraid to take up the shop assistant's time and ask lots of questions – you could be spending a lot of money!
- Does the pushchair look sturdy and comfortable enough for a young baby?
- Does it have good suspension and strong brakes?
- Will the pushchair hood adequately protect your baby from wind, sun and light rain?
- Is the pushchair the right height for you to push?
- Does it have a height adjustable handle or handlebars?
- Is the handle comfortable to hold?
- Can you walk normally with the pushchair in front of you?
- Can you manoeuvre it easily with one hand?
- Can you apply the brake easily and safely with different types of footwear, including flip flops and open-toed shoes (will your toenails still be attached)?
- Could you easily recline the seat and put it back up with the extra weight of a baby in it?
- Can you collapse the pushchair and put it back up easily on your own?
- How much space will it take up in your hallway and does it fold up small enough for your liking?
- Can you lift it into the boot of your car or anywhere else you have to carry it?
- Can you easily fit your shopping in the underneath shopping tray or will you need extra hooks on the handlebar?
Essential pushchair features
Pushchairs suitable for newborns are categorised as either two-in-one, three-in-one, travel system, all-terrain, double/tandem or stroller and they share a range of features.
We believe a pushchair should include the following features if you want to make your life easier!
- Multiple recline positions – this allows the pushchair to adapt to your growing baby. It starts off fully reclined so your newborn can lie flat, then from three months it can be partly reclined, and at six months it can be fully upright. You still have the option to recline it if your child falls asleep.
- Reversible seat – a reversible seat can be parent-facing or forward-facing. You'll probably want the seat to face towards you at first so you can keep a close eye on your baby, and change it to forward facing when your child is older and wants a better view of the world.
- Adjustable handlebar height – if your partner is taller than you, the pushchair handle can slide up so he or she doesn't have to stoop.
- Easy folding – an easily collapsible pushchair saves you having a fight with it every time you need to fold and unfold it. This is especially important if it's in and out of your car a lot or you use public transport regularly. A one-handed fold mechanism is extremely useful as you can safely keep hold of your baby while you collapse the pushchair.
- Practical weight and size – taking into account the extra weight added by your child and bags of shopping, the pushchair should be light enough to get in and out of the house, mount pavement kerbs, push up stairs if forced to do so, and lift into the car boot when folded up. Make sure it's not too wide to fit through doorways.
- Swivel wheels that lock – swivel wheels move in different directions for better manoeuvrability in shops and through busy town streets. Locking the front wheels makes it easier to steer the pushchair over uneven ground.
Swivel wheels with a lock function give you the best of both worlds, although you may find you prefer one mode over the other.
- Easy clean fabric – you will inevitably need to clean the pushchair covers due to vomit, milk spillages, leaking nappies and general dirt. Wipe clean fabric can be cleaned with water and detergent, and removable covers can be stripped off and put in the washing machine.
- Decent-sized shopping tray – if you want to stash your shopping or handbag underneath the pushchair, you need a fair-sized shopping tray. You can also hang shopping from the handlebar, but heavy bags could make the pushchair unstable. You will miss the shopping tray when you no longer need a pushchair because you will have to carry everything!
- Accessories – we think the 'must have' pushchair accessories are: a foot muff and rain cover for keeping warm and dry in cold and wet weather, parasol for sun protection, and a bumper bar to hang soft toys. You may have to buy accessories separately, but they often come included with the pushchair.
Last piece of advice
Give yourself enough time to research different pushchairs and don't purchase one at the last minute – you could end up with a pushchair you don't like, or worse still, have to fork out for another one. Read lots of online customer reviews, test out pushchairs in the shops, ask friends with pushchairs lots of questions, and keep your eyes peeled for special promotions and discounts.