As I’ve previously said my advice on pushchair buying would be to have a look what’s out there and speak to other parents then sit and have a think about what you actually want and how you will be using it. Our only specification when we went pushchair shopping was that the handle would be adjustable as my partner and I are very different heights. I had some kind of vague idea about travel systems and I quite liked a purple one I’d seen….
What we weren’t prepared for was the question of forward or rear facing, weight, size when folded, ease of setting up, how it will fasten into the car and whether the car is suitable for that (there will be other similar considerations for public transport if that is what you will be using. I recommend starting to pay attention to other parents when out and about). My partner then threw in the requirement of it being compatible with an isofix base (a base that is fitted in the car which then makes it possible to just clip the car seat into place without having to strap it in each time. Not all travel systems have them and not all cars are compatible with them so do your research. We also found that you then restrict your choice further as a lot of travel systems that are compatible with them do not have the option of having your baby facing you when in the pram. Apparently some seatbelts are also not long enough to go round some of the car seats. A good shop should have this information and/or allow you the opportunity to try it out in your car whether that be at the store or with their refund/exchange policy.
I got thoroughly confused by one brand which had one chassis but seemed to have several different tops – pushchair, pram, travel seat. The Britax one that we went with has, I think, lots of different options to but the sales assistant eventually clarified it for me. The travel seat that can be removed from the car and clipped into the chassis is very useful for short trips away from the car but a baby should not be in a travel seat for longer than two hours without a decent break out of it. Apparently with that in mind the car seat is just that and does not have any places to stick the rain cover to and has no sun protection aside from the half-hood. The other fitting we have is the pram which lies flat while the baby is, well still a baby, and then converts into the pushchair when needed. I believe there is a separate pram fitting which the sales assistant suggested would be more useful for a winter baby, however we also bought a maxi-cosy warmer which I have recently fitted and it appears to keep baby very toasty.
Speak to people other people about what they like/dislike about their pushchair and why. This will help you get some sense of what is important to you. You have to consider how you will be using it. My partner has recently nicknamed ours my ‘Massey Fergusson’ as he keeps cleaning the mud off it after I’ve been ‘off-roading’ with it. We have a dog and live near fields so I do regularly find myself ploughing through the mud. This wasn’t something I’d really considered though one of my priorities was to have something I could push with one hand whilst I held the lead in the other. With this in mind we made sure we went for one solid handle rather than two separate ones (see how many things there are to consider?!) So far the Britax seems to be holding up well in the mud. Other considerations are things like whether it is important that it folds down small to put in the boot of a car or to fold up on public transport, or how much space there is to store shopping etc, and whether this will be something you’ll use. As we are not close enough to any shops to walk to I don’t tend to find I use the storage area very much and on the Britax it isn’t particularly big but does suit my needs, however a friend of mine doesn’t drive so found a bigger storage space essential.
Whatever you do don’t forget to include your house/flat/accommodation in your pram planning. Working out how to get it up and down stairs is the obvious one but don’t forget you’ll need to store it somewhere and don’t forget to measure your front door. A friend of mine bought a twin buggy but then couldn’t get it in or out with the children in it and the layout of her house plus the fact her door opened straight onto the street didn’t allow her the freedom to use it much though when she could she said it was the best pushchair she had ever had.
Price is another key factor. We were very lucky that my partners parents wanted to buy the pushchair for us, though that didn’t mean I ignore the price and got carried away! You can buy a suitable, decent pushchair with just about any budget and, as with all things baby-related, you could spend a small fortune but it really isn’t necessary. Once you’ve established what you want, shop around. There are promotions all over the place and if you’re happy to have second hand (previously loved), you’re pretty much guaranteed to pick up a bargain. Never buy second hand car seats though. You don’t know their previous history and if they’ve been in an accident they should always be replaced as they could no longer be effective in an accident.
Another tip, where possible, is to practice pushing other people’s pushchairs (only if you know them and have asked!) It will give you some sense of what you , though I found it felt very alien and awkward. I found exactly the same thing the first few times I pushed my own little one in his pushchair but, like everything with your new addition, it doesn’t take long before you’re used to it. I now feel strange if I’m not pushing a pushchair.
So there are a few things to consider. It may sound daunting, and you’re probably now cursing me for confusing what you previously found was a simple issue. I should mention here that I am not renowned for being able to make a decision. Give me a nice comfy fence to sit on any day…. However, if nothing else I did find that it gave me something else to think about during the long nine (and a bit) months when I was desperately impatient to meet my beautiful baby.
Pushchair Checklist(for if I’ve completely messed with your mind!)
- Use – mainly shopping/walking in paved areas and on proper footpaths or will it be an off-roader.
- Boot space (if putting in a car). Check dimensions when folded down.
- Measurements of doors to house and where it will be stored.
- Type of handle.
- Type of tyres.
- Basket space.
- Height of handle.
- Colour J
- Method of fixing in car. Isofix seats? Seatbelts long enough? Seat compatible with vehicle? Seat interchangeable between other vehicles if relevant?
** Stop Press….. At the baby group I attended today the staff were talking about studies done into forward vs parent facing prams/pushchairs. Please do your own research but the gist of it was that parent facing came out way above baby facing away from you. I have not yet had the chance to look into it so I don’t know if this changes at a particular age (as I always thought it did), but apparently forward facing pushchairs not only have an effect on your child’s development in terms of speech and interaction but it was also found that there was an increase in asthma and respiratory ilnesses due to the child being more exposed to exhaust gasses. Please please don’t just take my hearsay word for it but I just wanted to include it as something else that you may want to be aware of.
***Double stop press…. I couldn’t let the sun set on my previous comment without doing some research. Please see the following link… http://suite101.com/article/forward-or-rear-facing-pushchair-or-pram-a98372 which may be of interest to some of you.