How do I choose the right buggy?
Pushchair, stroller, pram, buggy – here at MadeForMums we use the name ‘buggy’ simply to refer to all pushchairs – whether they have one seat or two – as well as prams and pramettes, 3-wheelers and lightweights. The ‘buggy’ term can also include travel systems, which have a rear-facing car seat and possibly a carrycot.
Almost every parent-to-be buys a buggy – it gets you and your baby from A to B. The trick to finding the best one for you from the enormous selection on the market is to carefully think about your needs before you take the plunge.
What do I need if buying a buggy for a newborn?
There are generally two different age ranges for buggies: from birth and from 6 months. If you are using a pushchair from birth you will need:
- Complete pushchair frame and either a
- Carrycot or
- Lie-flat seat
The carrycot or lie-flat seat will allow your infant to lie-flat when in the pushchair.
Why is it important for a newborn baby to lie flat?
It is essential that your newborn baby lie flat in a buggy for his or her overall healthy development, because if your baby is scrunched up then his or her breathing can be compromised. You can find out more about why your newborn needs to lie-flat here.
More and more carrycots are being made to be suitable for overnight sleeping. These carrycots have undergone specific safety tests and come with mattresses that are approved for overnight sleeping with the carrycot.- but make sure you have the room in your home for another piece of baby equipment, especially as you baby will only really need it for the first six months.
What do I need if buying for a baby from 6 months?
There are a large number of buggies that are suitable from 6 months, when your baby can sit up unaided. If you are using a pushchair from 6 months you will need:
- Complete pushchair frame
- Seat unit
Many lightweight options fall into this age range. By this age, many parents want something lighter and more compact for everyday use.
If you plan to carry your baby in a sling or baby carrier for the first three months, you may not need a buggy that’s suitable from birth, but remember the 2-hour rule.
At MadeForMums we recommend parents use a carrycot over a lie-flat seat or car seat when using a buggy from birth.
What style of buggy do you want?
There’s huge range of buggies to choose from and your choice will be determined by your daily routine:
Pram – used from birth (includes a carrycot)
Travel system – a buggy with car seat (may include a carrycot)
Standard buggy – used from 6 months (includes a rear and forward-facing seat unit)
Lightweight buggy – most suitable from 6 months, low in weight, compact and easy to fold
3-wheeler – a standard buggy with 3 wheels
ATP (all-terrain pushchair) – a buggy with large tyres for heading off-road
Jogger buggy – used from 9 months, with big wheels and good suspension
Twin buggy – two seats side by side (can be used from birth or 6 months)
Tandem buggy – seats sit one behind the other (can be used from birth or 6 months)
Do you want forward facing, rear (parent) facing or both?
There’s plenty of theories on the pros and cons of the direction you baby faces, but almost all pushchairs have reversible seat units (excluding the cheaper strollers).
That means they can either be positioned to face you (known as parent facing or rear facing) and look out at the big wide world (known as forward facing).
We’ve got more info the rear facing vs forward facing buggy debate.
What is a Travel system and will I need to use one with a newborn?
A travel system usually combines a buggy with a detachable car seat. It may also feature a carrycot.
While they are sold to as a system for newborns, it’s worth noting that car seats are vital safety tools for keeping your child secure when travelling in a vehicle. They aren’t meant to be used over long periods of time or a as a device where your child can sleep or be in for longer than 2 hours.
What do you need the buggy to do?
Every parent’s needs are different. And although it may seem obvious, you should make a list of the top 5 things you need your buggy to do every time you use it, before you spend any money. Things to consider can include:
- Will you use it every day? Or will you use it occasionally?
- Do you need it for pushing along town pavements or do you want to take your baby off road?
- Do you live in the town, country or by the sea?
- Do you need it to hold a lot of shopping?
- Will it easily fold and fit into your car?
Do you need to take it on public transport? If so you’ll need to think about the width of the buggy.
- Is it suitable to take on holiday?
- Are you buying it for one child or two? Are you planning on having more children and need the buggy to last?
- Do you need to lift it up and down stairs? Weight can be a deciding factor if you have to pick the buggy up and put it down regularly. It becomes ever more difficult with a baby inside the buggy, so try it out with something heavy (like a 6kg bag of rice). You could also come and test out a variety of pushchairs at the MadeForMums Buggy Testing Track.
We’ve got a guide on choosing a buggy to suit your lifestyle to help you pinpoint what features you’ll need.
Do you need a compact fold?
Buying a buggy that doesn’t leave you hot and bothered when trying to fold it is essential, whatever your circumstances. But before you choose a model, have a think about where you’re going to store it and how much space you have available. Will it be left permanently folded in your car boot or is your living space large enough that you can just wheel it in and out of your home?
Size when folded varies enormously, so have a look at its folded dimensions. Also see whether it’s easy to carry when folded – some have an ingenious carry handle, while others will stand on their own once folded, which is great for storing.
Finally, some have various attachments that need to be removed before folding, such as a carrycot or even the seat, both of which take up extra room in the boot/home, and you may find those big wheels you covet need to be removed for a compact fold.
We’ve got more advice on the different buggy folding mechanisms you’ll come across.
Where do you start?
Before you begin your buggy hunt, have a look at our in-depth reviews and pick of the very best products, so you can make a stress-free and informed purchase: