The better buggy buying guide
Ask yourself some key questions before you make that all-important investment, writes Deirdre Rooney
For first-time parents-to-be, preparation is everything. Having the right colour on the walls of the nursery or stocking a six-month supply of nappies ahead of baby's arrival can be very comforting. It gives you a feeling of control in the face of the unknown. But there's one task that can throw even the readiest of parents off - choosing a buggy.
Where do you even begin? What's the difference between buggy, pram, pushchair, stroller and travel system - and why do some cost almost as much as a small car?
To avoid some sleepless nights (there'll be enough of those when junior arrives), this guide will help you narrow down what it is you're looking for. But first things first - just what exactly is what.
Pram - this is used for newborns and young babies that need to lie flat on their backs. This position is important as it supports their back and helps with their breathing.
Pushchair - for older babies and toddlers, it can be rear facing or forward facing, with an adjustable seat that can recline at various degrees.
Stroller - this is lightweight, forward-facing, easily collapsible for older babies and kids.
Buggy - simply another word for either stroller or pushchair
Travel system - a combination of pram/buggy and car seat, with all the bells and whistles needed to use the two simultaneously, i.e. the car seat can sit atop the frame of the pram/buggy.
With prices ranging from around ¤80 for a stroller, to over a ¤1,000 for a travel system, it's one of the most expensive items you'll need for baby. So ask yourself the following questions and you'll soon know exactly what it is you need and how much you'll need to spend.
1 Do you need it from birth?
A pram, or lie-down seat on a pushchair, is essential for newborns. Most brands have two-in-one prams and pushchairs so there's no need to buy two different frames. Some come with a separate carry cot and seat, others with the one seat that adjusts from a horizontal position for newborns to an upright back for older babies. Babies from six months on generally don't need to be lying down, so a normal pushchair is fine. Prams with separate carry cots take up a lot more space, but they do have the added benefit of being able to separate the carry cot from the pram frame. This is particularly handy when you don't want to disturb a sleeping baby but can still transport them into the house off the frame.
2 Are you planning on having another child soon after your first?
This is important as it will save you money in the long-run. If you are hoping to have another child, even a year after your first, it's a good idea to buy a single buggy that can be adapted into a double buggy. Double buggies can carry both a lying-down newborn and upright toddler or older baby, and then later, two upright kids. If you are expecting twins, however, you will need a double buggy that can accommodate two newborns. Double buggies can be tandem or side by side.
3 Do you have a car?
If you have a car and are planning on driving with baby, there are a couple of things to consider. Firstly, you need a travel system - i.e. a pram/pushchair and car seat bundle. By law you need the car seat, and car seats are often sold as bundle with the pram. The car seat will fix on top of the buggy frame which is great for moving a sleeping baby from car to pushchair. Secondly, consider your car boot size. If it's big, then any buggy will fit. If however, it's quite small, be sure to choose something that folds up neatly.
4 Where will you be using the buggy?
If you're a city dweller, a smaller, neater buggy is best. So something that's small-wheeled, lightweight and can be collapsed quickly for public transport - this is a skill that may need to be mastered with one hand as you'll also have to hold your baby while doing it. If you'll be using it on rougher terrain or off-road, big wheels are more suitable. Big-wheeled buggies travel better on grass and even go on sand. If you're a jogger, a three-wheeled, big-tyred buggy is perfect. Three-wheelers are also easier to manoeuvre with one hand.
5 Can it hold your shopping?
Baskets underneath the seats vary in size. So again, if you're without a car and your buggy is something you'll depend on for carrying a load, be sure to pick one that can hold more than a changing bag. You may also want to consider whether there's additional space to carry a rain cover for the buggy, and whether it will take up the space you've got earmarked for your shopping bags.
6 Where will you store it?
Finally, if you're stuck for storage space at home, a big buggy with separate carry cot and seat might be too much of a tight squeeze. So think small and compact. If you need to fold it away every time you store it then the ease with which you can do this is worth some investment of your time.