What do you recommend for a mum's first buggy?
This month in Practical Parenting it's the big one! I'm looking for mum's tips for buying your very first buggy.
I know there's lots of buggy fans here on MFM so I'd love to know what you think are the most important things to think about when you start shopping around for your first pra.
And what are your favourite brands/particular buggies?
Any things to check a the shop/ask the assistant?
If your getting a travel system always check the car seat fits comfortalby in your car. Super important that it has all the features for a comfy baby & the other bit... have a real good, long push of it round the shop. it's one thing testing out a buggy for a minute or two but when you're on a mission to get somewhere there is nothing worse then dreading going out because the buggy gives you back ache. Ones with adjustable handles are awesome, especially if there is a bit height difference between mum and dad. I bought a double buggy that was the easiers to get in the car boot and the bit for the newborn baby was so hard we had to take a few blankets everywhere for padding and the straps were so loose. I'd say inspect every bit of it and if the shop gets narked with you paying so much attention to detail then go elsewhere. I'm not really a big fan of Mothercare, however, their staff were excellent with picking out our first buggy. We got a travel system which the girl tested the seat in our car (I'd never thought of it before), we had a teddy bear from in the store strapped in to show the snug fit and wandered all over the shop for ages with the display model. Also, just because it costs a fortune doesn't mean it's the best. I think there is was too much buggy snobbery and some if the big stores own brands are incredible value. I wanted a Gracco (forget which model) but it was huge when it folded down. Far too impractical for getting about. The weight is super important too. When you think that you might be lugging a buggy, baby and shopping it can make all the difference. Oh, one last thing. people buying a travel system, look out for the car seat shape inside as some of them nearly bend your baby in half. Instead of a slight curve with some seats, others leave your baby in a sort of V shape. I'd highly recommend testing a teddy bear in it. Sounds a bit loopy but it gives you a reasonable idea.
I agree with the lady above about making a list of things you want and don't want. It helps when you go out looking to narrow the search. My Dad came with me (he hates shops normally) as he's an engineer. He told me not to get a pram with pneumatic tyres as you don't want to be out and about with baby and have to change a flattie! He also advised against 3-wheelers as they are more unstable (especially on uneven surfaces). We went for a Concorde. It's not a brand that is well known in the UK but it has won all the awards in Europe for safety etc. The Concorde car seat is the equivalent of the Britax in the UK but doesn't need a huge plastic base to be fixed into car. Our daughter will be 3 next month and although we mainly use a light-weight buggy (costing £4 at an NCT sale) the Concorde is still in use at my parents house. It is still in excellent condition ready to be used for the next child. Don't just go for the latest trend or what your favourite celebrity is using as you have to go for what will suit your lifestyle. I also agree with Sym about having a good trial in the shop. Don't be scared to take your time - this is what your baby is going to spend a lot of time in (our daughter even slept in the carrycot for the 1st 9 months of her life) so it is very important to get it right. We went to 1 shop where they had a very extensive range but no-one seemed interested in us so we walked out and went to another shop where we spent a long time with the shop assistant. Get them to show you how to fold it, how to change from car seat to pram to pushchair and get them to show you every knob and button and pocket. They should know what they are selling. Don't be scared to haggle either. My Mum managed to get a carrycot mattress and a few other things thrown in. Once you've decided on what you are going to buy get prices from a few places so you have a bargaining point.
I agree with some of the points above:
1) Make a list of things that are important to you and get the buggy which comes closest.
2) Think of the practicalities of life with the buggy, not just how pretty it looks - things like, will it fit in the boot of your car (we have a Ford Fiesta and half the buggies out there won't go in the boot without having to arrange it all very carefully) and can you lift it easily once it's folded down (we were lent a very heavy one which, whilst free, was a real pain to get in and out of the boot).
3) For me, being able to have a rear facing and forward facing seat unit was very important, so I could see baby for as long as possible. I guess, once he's a bit older, he'll want to face outward, but in the first few months I wanted to be able to keep an eye on him.
4) Make sure the seat unit is suitable from birth onwards if that's what you need - some don't lie entirely flat, which means you'll have to splash out on a carrycot (in my view, an unneccessary expense) or use the car seat all the time until baby can sit up.
5) Try out the buggy as much as possible in a shop, even if you're going to end up buying online - if you buy something you've not tried out, who knows if it'll suit you/baby.
We've ended up with a Britax B-Smart 3 wheeler (the 2011 version) which is working out really well. Don't be put off by the negative reviews, they've made the straps a lot longer (although they're still snug when used with the footmuff).
My parents bought my the Mamas and Papas Ultimo 3 in 1 for my eldest daughter 5 years ago, as I insisted I needed a proper pram for a newborn and a parent facing pushchair, I also had the primo viaggio sip car seat. After 3 children the fabric still looks in very good condition, the chassis is still good and easy to push, only the wheels are a bit worn but then it has had 4 years of use and was great with a baby and toddler with a buggyboard attached. I've used the carrycot up to 6mths or able to sit up alone and then gone for parent facing seat unit most of the time with the odd occassion of putting the car seat on mainly to herd 3 under 3s into the doctors safely or the quick dash into the shops as I find the car seat with baby in far too heavy to carry very far with a nappy bag. We also found that forward facing the pushchair unit is at a great table height for babies whilst eating out without having to get a highchair too. I found the seat unit has wiped down very well in spite of all the split juice, milk and sick etc that have been on it at various times. My eldest daughter had reflux and the carrycots adjustable base to raise her to 30 degrees was brilliant, you can also add a harness for older babies to the d-rings and let them sit up. Newer models come with a stand for at home which I think would have been quite useful with a newborn as my eldest daughters used to take the brake off and push their sister around in the pram.
The only problem I had was that I originally got the pram whilst with my parents in their car and as I drove a Toyota Yaris at the time the carrycot had to go on the back seat and the chassis filled the boot, I now drive a Zafira and it still takes up most of the boot! I also found it difficult to get a raincover for it 5 yrs ago and had one that clipped onto the chassis and worked whether I used the carrycot, pushchair unit or carseat but was quite rigid frame and hardwork to put on and off. I eventually found a carrycot cover in a catalogue for my youngest daughter. It is a big pram and pushchair but very sturdy and great value if you plan on more than one child and can get it in the sale or factory shop. Mine is an investment that has been used, replaced but always returned to.
I've had a Jane powertwin, phil and teds sport and a mamu stroller but my favourite is still my massive pram!
My pram was great in the house for daytime naps but if it was wet outside it would have been very handy to have a stand to clip the carrycot onto and avoid wet wheels on the carpets and I found the handlebar restrictive in the house and had to turn the carrycot unit around so I could reach inside easier after a c-section.
We still have the Yaris but have never found an affordable stroller that fits in easily and it was a struggle to get a group 1 carseat to stay tensioned on the back seat so I have the big family car and my husband does his trips to work in the Yaris now.
When I went shopping with my sister for her pram she went for a bugaboo bee with maxi cosi carseat as she has a very small car and it fits easily but they are not the cheapest around. I think it looks more like a toy pram next to mine but she has loved it. My 20mth niece fills it now and seems a bit cramped and prefers to walk but then my 19mth old daughter almost fills her pushchair seat now too but still has plently of wriggling room. We spent hours in mothercare and mamas and papas trying all the different styles and checking they folded easily and were easy to push with a heavy load in the seat (recommended by the sales person in mothercare world)
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