Top tips for buying your first pushchair

The bugaboo cameleon was my pushchair of choice when I had Reuben.

The bugaboo cameleon was my pushchair of choice when I had Reuben.

It is a bit of a minefield when it comes to shopping for a first pushchair for your ever growing bump, and I know a lot of people are doing this at the moment with all the fantastic offers that are going on at the moment, so I thought I would put together some helpful tips to narrow down your options that I have found invaluable over the years, not only for myself but also from working in a major retailers of various pushchairs for years.

There are very few rules to choosing a pushchair for a new baby, but you must have something that lies flat – babies up to 6 months need to be flat the majority of the time. This is for spinal development and it isn’t just a marketing ploy to get you to buy a carry cot or a seat unit instead of just using a car seat on the chassis. It is safer for your baby and could save you a lot of heartache and them back troubles in the future.

So, that being your only necessity, everything else becomes a choice that is down to you and your lifestyle and wants! Here’s a few things to narrow down the search:

  • Whereabouts do you live, and what do you do most?

This is an easy question to ask yourself that will help you narrow down a few choices. If you live in a very rural area, walk dogs over fields and do ‘off roading’ off any kind then if you plan to use a pushchair, you really need a three wheeler (or an off road four wheeler, which is uncommon) that will be big, bulky and probably quite heavy. You often find people saying they live in very rural areas, do a lot of trekking and don’t want to baby carry, but they still want something small and lightweight. Sorry, its not going to happen! There is a reason these pushchairs are big beasts, and it is because if they aren’t they won’t be durable enough.

If you live in a less rural area, or would choose to baby carry during your off roading adventures, then you are going to find more or less anything will work for you. You will need to consider the size of your car boot if you use your car a lot, also the weight of the pushchair if you are lifting it in and out a lot.

  • Do you want your child to have a separate carry cot, and the option to attach your car seat to the chassis of your pushchair?

This is something that I have always found people to be really divided over. The benefit of a carrycot, is that baby has almost like a moses basket on top of wheels, so it feels more like a proper bed to them. A lot of pushchairs are suitable from birth with just the seat unit, so the carry cot is an additional extra option. It is totally personal preference, and don’t be fooled into thinking its not. The only reason you have to have a carrycot is if the seat unit of your pushchair isn’t suitable from birth, like with the very popular BabyStyle Oyster.

Attaching a car seat is another option that comes with what we call a travel system (the most popular option for new parents) although it isn’t essential. The benefit here is that if you are nipping into the shops, baby is asleep in the car and all you need is milk, you can attach the car seat to the chassis, run in and do what needs to be done, without ever disturbing baby. Its an easy option, and can be handy but you cannot have baby in the car seat for more than two hours at a time, so its only to make life a little easier.

  • Do you want your child to face you?

Most newborn pushchairs face the pusher so that they can see what is going on, however a lot of very small, lightweight stroller are now suitable from birth, not to mention they are about a third of the price of a travel system. Why doesn’t everyone get one then? They don’t give you many options. With travel systems you can generally turn the pushchair/pram seat unit around to face you or away from you as the child gets older, however almost all strollers will face outwards, and they really do lack the usual cosiness of a travel system carry cot or seat unit. They are, however, the ideal option for someone who is using public transport, especially like the underground, where you are really packed in and have little room for a big bulky travel system. If you do want something that is like a stroller but with the adaptability of a travel system, then you would do well to look into a Bugaboo Bee, designed specifically for this gap between travel system and stroller.

  • Plan ahead?

There are quite a few pushchairs on the market now that start off as single pushchairs, then can be adapted into doubles at a later stage. If you are planning a large family and think you may want to have children close together in age, then this might be something to consider. It saves having to search for a double pushchair at a later date and gives you the option to return to a single pushchair once your eldest has outgrown the double.

  • A few last things

Just a few last pointers.

In my experience the vast majority of people have a good shake of the chassis’ of the pushchair they are investigating and either disregard it for being ‘rickety’ or praise it for being stable. The chassis must have a little bit of movement in it otherwise you will find the metal will snap over time. Its not something many people think about when they are picking faults, but a solid, totally immovable and stiff pushchair chassis is a recipe for disaster. The same goes for something that is ultra rickety, you just need a bit of movement, but you do need it – promise.

Just because your sister’s best friend thinks your should go with this pushchair doesn’t mean you should. Its got to be something you like, you can fold down by yourself easily, and you can see yourself pushing around on a day to day basis. I have known a lot of people over the years who have gone with something when they wanted something else because of other peoples influence, in fact the most common phrase I used to hear was, ‘ Well my Mum is buying it and she hates this  one’. Who cares?! If its for you, its for YOU.

Never order a pushchair or car seat you haven’t seen and put through the mill. Go into a store, any store and have the assistant show you every single pushchair until you are content with your choice. If you want to try it in the car for size, then come back in another car, then walk around the shop for 10 minutes with it, do it. Any good retailer will welcome the enthusiasm for their products.

I hope this helps, and that you get the pushchair thats right for you. If you already have a pushchair, comment below and tell me why you chose that one, how you feel about it and if you have any top tips for new parents picking their first pushchair. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Harriet x

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