Graco, originally a manufacturer of car parts in the USA, turned its hand to baby products in the 1950s and has sold them in Europe since 1997.
A powerhouse in the American juvenile products market Graco is credited creating the first ever automatic swing for children, the Swyngomatic, back in 1982. It is also the first company to make a portable playpen, the Pack’N’Play in 1987.
Nowadays the childcare manufacturer produces over 15 different types of pushchairs, 5 car seats and countless other baby product, so to say its collection is huge is not an overstatement.
Its ethos is to offer affordable products that are tailored to different lifestyles and surroundings and the Graco Ready2Grow certainly delivers on cost and versatility, as it can comfortably carry two children at different stages of their lives.
It includes a neat bench seat and standing platform for older children and can also be used as a travel system with the Graco Junior Baby 0+ Car Seat 0 – a combination which makes it suitable from birth.
If you search for ‘Graco Ready2Grow’, it is worrying to find an article warning that the pushchair has been labelled a “don’t buy product” by a US consumer group because of problems with brakes.
However, a spokeswoman for Graco assured MadeforMums that “there are no faults with the brakes on the Ready2Grow,” but I’ll come back to the brakes later.
What’s in the box?
- Instruction booklet
- Child’s Tray
- Parent’s Tray with pivoting cup holder
- Standing Platform
What extra accessories can you buy?
How easy is it to assemble?
The Graco Ready2Grow is reasonably straightforward to assemble – it took me about 10 minutes to get fully set up with all the various add-ons to clip into place.
The instruction booklet could be better designed though as it offers visual diagrams separate from the text instructions so I found myself puzzling over some of the images before discovering the useful comments further back.
This pushchair is sold on its versatility, but how versatile is it?
The pushchair will fit two children from six months up to 15kg (approx. three years) or it is suitable from birth when used with a Graco Junior Baby 0+ car seat.
The bench seat and standing platform can be used with children up to 20kg – or until your little one reaches the age of six-years-old.
According to Graco, this means there are 12 different riding combinations available to suit your varying needs – for example, you could use it with two car seats for twins, or with one car seat for a newborn baby and an older child seated on standing in the pushchair.
My older son absolutely loved both the standing platform and bench seat – perfect for those journeys home from the park when they decide they don’t want to walk any further!
And I love the two trays – the front child’s tray can be swivelled open using a lever so your child can climb into the seat, rather than you having to lift them in and the parents’ tray with a pivoting cup holder is ideal for holding a coffee and keys.
It’s a shame you can’t have both children facing forward at the same time in a seated position though.
What are the seating options?
I reviewed the pushchair with my 21-month-old in the front seat, my 4-year-old (who is on the small side and weighs far less than the specified 20kg maximum) on the bench seat and standing platform, and a friend’s 7-month-old in the elevated rear seat.
The front seat can easily be reclined by pulling a tab down, although doesn’t go too far back. I didn’t have access to the Graco car seat during the review, but taking the elevated rear seat off so my 4-year-old could use the bench seat and standing platform was effortless and easy to do.
It’s a lovely touch that with the rear facing seat you can interact easily with your child, although it does mean you can’t see your second child in the front seat as easily.
So how does it ride?
The Graco Ready2Grow is really long, like pushing a supermarket trolley, so this takes time to get used to – on our first trips we kept bumping into things. But it’s actually quite narrow for a tandem buggy, which makes it less cumbersome and easier to fit through doors.
We tried it across a multitude of terrains and locations. We took it on a bus journey, walked to our local park, around the supermarket and in shops, and packed it in the car.
It also faced a range of challenges, including cobbled paths, snow, ice, slush, grass and uneven paths! The wheels are made of rubber and don’t feel very robust for our rural lifestyle.
On smooth surfaces, the pushchair felt solid yet light and was easy to manoeuvre. But anytime the surface was slightly uneven, the whole pushchair seemed to judder and the front wheels looked like they wouldn’t last long!
It is recommended that on uneven surfaces such as gravel paths and grass that you lock the front wheels, but this in turn made the pushchair so heavy to turn. And at 18kg it’s also rather heavy to pick up and move. The pushchair also didn’t fare too well in the snow, even with the wheels locked.
After our first journey, the tyres had picked up lots of little stones, which had got stuck in the rubber and left dents when removed.
The brake is operated using a large foot lever between the back wheels, which is a doddle to flick on and off with your foot, although the pushchair still seemed to move slightly even with the brake on.
The handlebars, however, have a nice foamed grip and make the Graco comfortable to steer. It is recommended that you don’t attach any bags to the handlebar, which is a bit of a problem for me, as I like to hang my changing bag over the handles of my current Bugaboo for easy access.
Is it comfortable for your little ones?
It’s ok, the seats, although lacking padding, seemed comfortable for the younger children who appeared content in their seating positions.
I thought the front seat was a little on the small side for my 21-month-old, despite him weighing less than the recommended 15kg limit.
As it’s quite a shallow seating position, he looked a bit squashed in it with the children’s tray attached, so would be better suited for younger tots.
The 5-point harness on the front and elevated rear seats, which includes two shoulder straps, two waist belts and a crotch strap, can be adjusted to suit your child, but it is a little fiddly to fasten and the shoulder pads constantly fall off. The bench seat uses a 3-point harness, which is straightforward to use.
Because there are two hoods/canopies, it ensures both children have their own shade and cover. While the rain cover is a good size and can be rapidly thrown on to the pushchair and fits well.
How does it fold?
The Graco Ready2Grow is so easy to fold this pushchair away – you can even do it one-handed!
And it’s equally as easy to open it up again, as it effortlessly clicks back into place with a simple storage strap.
It also stands nicely by itself when folded, providing quick and easy storage, although its bulk means it still takes up a lot of space.
Does it fit in your car boot?
No, we had a real problem trying to get the Graco Ready2Grow into our Ford Focus car boot.
The only way we could get it to fit was by removing the tray for the front seat and the hoods/canopies, which became quite irritating when we travelled somewhere – who has time to dismantle a pram, while getting two kids in the car as well.
Even when we got it inside the boot, it took up that much space that we had little room left to carry anything else.
Is it travel system compatible?
Yes, with the Graco Junior Baby 0+ car seat.
What is the basket like?
I love, love, love the mesh shopping basket as it is huge and easy to access! I do a lot of trips to the local supermarket on foot and I was able to stock up on larger items, which fitted neatly into the bottom with room to spare.
How does it look?
If you like a bit of colour in your life, the Graco Ready2Grow isn’t for you as Babies R Us only offers the pushchair in black, although there is a splash of silvery-grey!
The fabric looks and feels a bit synthetic and the chassis is plastic-looking, especially when you compare it to flashier and pricier models such as the iCandy Peach 3 Blossom.
However, it is sturdy-looking, gender-neutral and still rather stylish.
The Graco Ready2Grow is versatile, affordable and offers multiple seating options to suit different ages. My child simply loves the standing platform and bench seat – it’s a real stand-out feature. It’s so easy to fold and I love that it stands unassisted when closed and the massive basket is a joy.
But the Graco Ready2Grow doesn’t feel very practical for a family like ours that lives in a rural town with uneven surfaces and stony paths with its swivel rubber front tyres.
It’s also a shame that the pushchair when folded is still too large to fit practically into our car boot. But for city dwellers and people with a more generous car boot space, this is a pushchair worth considering.