Buggies - what types are there?

There are so many buggies to choose from, but which one is right for you? Here are the main styles you'll see on shelves and online...

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  • Pram

    A pram is essentially a carrycot on wheels. A pram allows a newborn baby to lie-flat and is used for the first 6 months of their life, or until they can support their head unaided. Some buggies come with a detachable carrycot, or carrycot that converts into a buggy seat, so they can be used first as a pram, then as a buggy.

    A pram may come supplied with a mattress. Some pram units, or carrycots, detach from the chassis and can be used as a temporary Moses basket (you will usually need to buy an additional mattress suitable for overnight sleeping).

    The advantages of using a pram, rather than a buggy with a lie-flat seat, are that it’s spacious and gives a wide, open view on the world. But a pram is big and bulky. The chassis (frame) may fold down but most pram units don’t and as a result, they can be a hassle to store.

  • Travel system

    A travel system usually combines a buggy with a detachable car seat. It may also feature a pram unit, or carrycot, for babies up to 6-months-old so your newborn can lie flat.

    While car seats are vital safety tools for keeping your child secure when travelling in a vehicle, please remember it's made to be used in a car, not as a device where your child can sleep at home, on long walks or on a shopping trip.  

    You shouldn't keep him (or her) in the car seat for longer than 2 hours, with the exception being a lie-flat car seat.  But if you're in any doubt contact your car seat manufacturer.   

    A travel system is great for a young baby - being able to click or slot a car seat onto the frame makes the transition from car to buggy easy. However, unless the car seat and buggy come as a package, it can be expensive to buy all the component parts. Attaching the car seat to the frame may require adaptors that can easily be lost, or left at home!

    Our buyer's guide to travel systems will take you step by step through buying the right one.

  • 3-wheeler buggy

    A 3-wheeler buggy has one wheel at the front and two at the back of the chassis. The front wheel is free to swivel or can be locked, so that the buggy goes in a straight line. There are several types of 3-wheeler that vary in size, weight and potential use: all-terrain pushchairs (ATPs); urban 3-wheelers; 3-wheeler travel systems and twin or tandem 3-wheelers.

    A 3-wheeler is generally easy to steer and manoeuvre (thanks to that front swivel wheel) but some can be wide and bulky, especially those designed for off-road use. A minor problem is that when you try and mount a kerb, the single front wheel can swivel sideways and send you off track. It doesn’t happen if you’ve locked the front wheel but doing this makes it harder to steer.

    Our buyer's guide to 3-wheeler buggies will take you step by step through buying the right one.

  • ATP – all-terrain pushchair

    An all-terrain-pushchair (ATP) is designed for use off-road as well as around town. It’s larger than a standard buggy and feature pneumatic tyres and good suspension. The chassis, or frame, is robust and build to withstand the bumps and bounces that come with travelling off-road.

    Many ATPs are 3-wheelers - the front swivel wheel makes it easier to steer over rough ground.

    The major disadvantage of an ATP is its size. They can be very wide, making it hard to get into lifts and down narrow shopping aisles. You’ll also need a large storage area, because an ATP can be bulky even when folded down.

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  • Standard buggy

    Most standard 4-wheeler buggies are suitable for babies over 6 months of age. However, some have a lie-flat option that lets you use them from birth.

    Standard buggies vary in their design. Some have four wheels at each corner of a square chassis and others use a triangular chassis, with the wheels attaching at a central point. They range hugely in price from high-end designer buggies that cost in excess of £500 to value-for-money models around £150.

    On paper, 4-wheelers may not be as manoeuvrable as their 3-wheeled counterparts but the difference is often hard to spot.

    Our buyer's guide to buggies will take you step by step through buying the right one.

  • Lightweight buggy

    A lightweight buggy, or ‘stroller’, is appealing if you travel a lot or use public transport with your baby. They are also a godsend if you need to nip around town. A lightweight buggy can weigh less than 6kg and usually folds down into a compact package, or with one-hand.

    But whilst going ‘light’ has many advantages, particularly as your baby heads towards toddlerhood, there are some drawbacks. You probably won’t want to take a lightweight buggy off-road - it rarely has the suspension needed to absorb big bumps. And don’t overload the handles with shopping – a lightweight buggy is very easy to unbalance.

    Our buyer's guide to lightweight buggies will take you step by step through buying the right one

  • Jogger buggy

    A jogging or jogger buggy is suitable for exercising with. It’s easy to spot a jogger buggy because it’ll most likely have large BMX-size wheels (around 10 or 12 inches). It will also have good suspension, to absorb the shocks and bounces that come with pushing a buggy off-road, at speed.

    A jogger buggy can be very long, making it a real bind to use around town. And it probably can’t be folded down without taking off the wheels, so only buy one if you really do intend to run with it.

    A jogger buggy isn’t suitable for use with a baby under 6 months because it doesn’t offer enough support for your baby's head and neck.

  • Rear and forward facing buggy

    A buggy can have a reversible seat unit, so you can have your baby face forwards or rearwards (known as parent-facing). It may be a model where you have to detach the seat from the chassis, then physically turn the seat around and slot it back onto the frame. Or, you might opt for one of the few newcomers that see you move the handle instead, so your baby doesn’t have to be disturbed if you want to change direction on the go.

    Some research suggests that babies are more likely to sleep, laugh or interact with their parents if they are facing them in their buggy. However, as babies get older, they get nosey and like to look around. So having the option for both is a bonus.

    A forward facing only buggy can tend to be cheaper, lighter and easier to fold away and store.

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  • Twin buggy

    A twin buggy transports two children, not necessarily of the same age, side by side. It’s not just a buggy for twins. A twin buggy may have a reclining mechanism in each seat, so you can independently operate each seat.

    The major plus points of a twin buggy is that both children get to look out and around, and they’re a good choice for twins or babies born quite close together.

    Pushing two children is hard work at the best of times but the weight of a twin buggy can make it even harder. Look out for lighter models that are under 15kg.

    Most twin buggies are around 75cm wide, so if you intend to spend a lot of time at the shops, a tandem buggy might be a better option for you. If you do decide to buy a twin buggy, check the width of your front door first!

    If you're unsure whether to buy a twin or tandem, here are the pros and cons of each, and our buyer's guide to double buggies will take you step by step through buying the right one.

  • Tandem buggy

    A tandem buggy has one seat in front of the other, or one seat stacked below the other. A tandem can usually carry two toddlers or a toddler and a newborn (one seat usually reclines fully so that a newborn can lie flat). There are 4-wheeler and 3-wheeler versions and even travel system tandems on the market that can be used with car seats and carrycots.

    The tandem style is popular because it is easier to fit through narrow spaces, which takes the headache out of life around town. The seats are also wider than on a twin buggy.

    However, a tandem can be very long (around 130cm) making it hard to steer. Weight can also be an issue and it can require a large storage space – some are bulky even when folded. And if your children are a similar age, using a tandem might provoke jealousy when it comes to who sits up front!

    If you're unsure whether to buy a twin or tandem, here are the pros and cons of each, and our buyer's guide to double buggies will take you step by step through buying the right one.

Last updated on 13 May 2014

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