Buggies – what types are there?

We explain the difference between a pram, buggy, pushchair and travel system and show you how to pick the one that's perfect you

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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.

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More manufacturers are making carrycots that are suitable for overnight sleeping.  These carrycots have undergone specific safety tests and come with mattresses that are approved for overnight sleeping with the carrycot.

The advantages of using a pram, rather than a buggy with a lie-flat seat, is that a pram allows a baby to lie completely flat.  They are also 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.

See the best pushchairs for a newborn here.

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

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!  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. 

These are the top 20 travel systems on the market 

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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.

Check out the best 3-wheeler buggies you can buy.

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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.

 Here are the best all-terrain buggies on the market 

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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 £1000 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.

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