Pushchairs buying guide
Choosing how to move your baby around can be overwhelming. With such a wide range of pushchairs, prams, buggies and travel systems in the shops, in lots of different combinations, it's easy to get it wrong.
Some models have reversible or lie-back seats. Some double as car seats. Others have a one-handed folding action. This guide will help you decide which of the thousands available will suit you best.
Choose a pushchair to suit you child's age
Not all prams, pushchairs and buggies are suitable for use from birth. If you're buying for a newborn baby this is a crucial first check.
Most pushchairs that are suitable for newborns are adaptable - as your baby grows, they will also suit an older baby or toddler. These are a good purchase in the long term.
From the age of three-to six-months old (depending on the model you choose) babies can move to a lightweight, folding buggy. So if you are considering this as a main option for later on, it's not worth spending too much on a pram (or travel system) that you'll only use for the first few months.
Think about what pushchair will suit you
A pushchair, buggy or travel system can be expensive.You won't want to buy another one if the first doesn't work out.
However, some parents do prefer to buy a sturdy pram as their main baby transport, and then buy a lightweight folding buggy after three months, that may be more suitable for travelling on public transport or going on holiday.
Travelling by car:
If you use the car a lot, the size of your boot space – and how much is available once the car's full of shopping¬– will be a consideration.
If you can fit the folded-down frame in your car, a travel system is ideal. The detachable car seat doubles as a pushchair seat for younger babies and for short trips. You can lift it in and out of the car (and on and off the frame) without disturbing your baby.
On public transport and around town:
If you travel by public transport regularly, you'll need a pushchair that's easy to fold, and is lightweight and simple to manoeuvre. You'll also want to choose a model that has a detachable rain cover and, if you often walk to the shops, a spacious shopping basket underneath.
If you live in the country:
Three-wheeled pushchairs are brilliant for coping with uneven terrain (and wonky paving stones in towns and cities).
Some mums like to jog behind three-wheeled pushchairs, as they're lightweight and easy enough to steer with one hand when necessary.
If you live in an upstairs flat:
Living in an upstairs flat or a maisonette means that, unless you can leave the pram or pushchair downstairs, you'll need something lightweight that folds easily.
You don't want to be lugging heavy equipment and shopping, plus your baby, up and down flights of stairs.
If you have more than one young child:
If you have an older baby or toddler, a double buggy is ideal. Twin pushchairs tend to be harder to get through doorways, but they let your children sit next to each other.
Tandem pushchairs, where the seats are located one behind the other, are rather long but easier to get through narrower spaces.
Choose the style of pushchair
Suitable from birth, a pram/pushchair will take you from newborn to toddler stage. The seat unit lies flat to act as a cosy pram for your newborn and either lifts away to be replaced by a more upright seat, or converts to a pushchair seat as your baby grows.
Some pram/pushchair models also let you switch the seat between forward or rearward facing.
Tandems are generally suitable for two children of different ages.
A tandem pushchair features two seats, one in front of the other. The rear seat reclines for a newborn, and then converts to a forward-facing seat later on.
The seats can be independently adjusted, whilst the pushchair itself is designed to be lightweight and easily foldable.
A twin pushchair has side-by-side seats, which is good for children of a similar age, as the weight distribution isn't too different. Some have fully reclining seats, making them a good buy if you have twins.
A three-wheeler is a fashionable option and some are suitable for all terrains, so they're ideal if you do a lot of walking, either in town or out in the country. They usually have pneumatic tyres, offering a more comfortable ride for your baby.
Some three-wheeler pushchairs are also car seat- and carrycot-compatible, offering a full 3-in-1 travel system.
Lightweight, easy to manoeuvre and fold, a buggy is ideal for use on public transport, for taking on holiday or for keeping as a spare, either in the car boot or at teh grandparents' house.
Buggies that recline fully flat are suitable from birth; those that don't are generally suitable for use from threeor six months, so check before you buy. Some models have swivelling wheels at the front or all around. Others have pneumatic tyres for rougher terrain.
A travel system is suitable from birth and is compatible with a Group 0+ or Isofix car seat, which lets you carry your baby from car to pushchair (or vice versa) without disturbing them. The car seat will attach securely onto the pushchair chassis.
However, if you're planning a trip out of more than an hour or so, you should use the pushchair seat unit or carrycot. It's not good for your baby's developing spine to be in the car seat for long periods of time.
Some travel systems also let you add a carrycot or soft-bodied cocoon to make them even more versatile. Travel systems can be based on lighter-weight buggies or sturdier pram/pushchair combinations.
Consider add-ons and extra features for your pushchair
There's a great selection of accessories available for your pushchair. Consider the following things and do some more research into your preferred models before making your final decision.
- Safety harness: Most pushchairs are fitted with a five-point safety harness for when your baby can sit up. This is essential, but if your chosen model doesn't have this important feature you can still buy one.
- Hoods, covers and parasols: Rain hoods with viewing windows, foot muffs, cosy covers and sun parasols help protect your child whatever the weather conditions.
- Baskets and travel bags: These provide a space to store your shopping safely, without having to hang bags on the handles. Using the handles can be unsafe, as the pushchair can tip backwards, with your baby inside it.
- Suspension: If your pushchair has front or rear suspension, your child will have a smoother ride.
- Handle height: An adjustable handle height on your pushchair is very useful if your partner, or anyone else who will be pushing it, is shorter or taller than you, or if you are well above or below average height. If the handle is static, make sure it suits the height of the main user before you buy.
- Storage: At some point, you'll need to store your pushchair in a tight space, so check that it can stand on its end. Also remember that travel systems need more storage space than folding pushchairs and lightweight buggies.
Checks to make if you're buying a second-hand pushchair
First, start with some obvious ones:
- Test the brakes and suspension
- Check for wear and tear
- Look for possible finger traps
Check the chassis or seat cover for a label stating compliance with BS 7409 or BS EN 1888. This is an important safety standard.
Also, all pushchairs must have a primary and secondary locking device on the folding chassis, too. Check they both engage and work properly.
This is just one of our comprehensive buying guides to help you choose from the huge range of baby products available. Check out our other guides to help make the best informed decisions for your family: