For most parents a pushchair is an essential purchase, but the range of options is pretty dazzling. You can get pushchairs for under a £100, but some cost thousands. What’s the difference? Is it worth spending so much on a pushchair?

Many of the most expensive pushchairs are really nice designs and look great, but they aren't always the best option. Some people trade their big expensive pushchairs for a lighter strollers at around 6 months while other people use them for years. You wont know in advance how long you will use it for, but don’t spend more than you can afford.

A fun and bright looking pushchair next to a pond with lilypads
There are so many different pushchairs, how do you choose which one to buy?

What Are The Different Types of Pushchairs?

Prams

A pram lies flat with a carrycot on the top. Newborn babies should lie flat (or be carried) most of the time. Traditional prams are rarely used now and most modern prams can be transformed into a pushchair when the baby is ready.

Pushchairs

Pushchairs have a seat for the baby or child. The seat often reclines and some will lie completely flat or can have a carrycot added on so that one frame can take you from newborn to toddler.

Strollers

Lightweight pushchairs are often referred to as strollers. They normally fold up smaller than pushchairs and they are less adjustable, but are great for toddlers. Some of them can be used from newborn, but they generally don't have as much support.

Travel Systems

Travel systems will differ in what they include, but you can generally expect: a pushchair,  a carrycot and a car seat which will attach to the pushchair.

What To Think About Before You Buy A Pushchair

Size

The key dimensions you will want to check are the width of the pushchair and the size when folded. Some pushchairs are actually so wide it can be a struggle to get them into the house. As for the folded size: not all pushchairs will comfortably fit in small car boots, then there storage at home to consider and if you might need to fold it up on a bus or other types of public transport.

Weight

Do you have steps to get into your property? Are you likely to be using trains or buses? You may need to pick the pushchair up regularly, even if it’s just in and out of a car. Some pushchairs are pretty heavy so if you will be lifting it a lot check the weight.

How will you be using it?

If you regularly use the car make sure that when folded your pushchair will fit in the car boot (ideally with space for shopping too). You will also want to check if it can be folded as it is, or if the carrycot or seat needs to be taken off first. Some pushchairs need taking apart to be folded which gets frustrating. If you mostly go out on foot then you might rarely fold the pushchair so this will be less of a concern.

Will you mostly be using the pushchair on pavements and in shops? All pushchairs will manage these surfaces, but if you are going to regularly walk on rougher terrain including grass or woodland then you will need bigger wheels and a pushchair designed for off road.

You can also get special pushchairs for particular interests like jogging pushchairs. Running buggies often have 3 wheels, secure harnesses and hand operated breaks to make it easier and safer to run with. 

Multiple Children?

You may be buying for one now, but are you hoping to have any more children in quick succession. If you have more than one child under 2 you will want something that converts to a tandem or double pushchair. It might feel too early to think about now, but if looking at buying one of the more expensive pushchairs it is definitely something to consider having one which adapts, or if it is better to buy something cheaper for now.

Travel system?

Some pushchairs come as travel systems (which basically means they come with a car seat). Lots of people prefer the flexibility of choosing their car seats separately, but handily many popular brands of pushchairs and car seats are compatible with the purchase of adaptors eg you can get adaptors for Maxi Cosi baby car seats to clip on to Bugaboo, iCandy etc. The information about compatibility will be on the brand's website.

You can also get carseats like the Doona which have handles and can be used as a pushchair BUT remember the safety advice about the maximum time newborns should be left in carseats that don't completely lie flat (in most the baby is at least slightly curved). Babies under 3 weeks old shouldn't be in a car seat for more than 30 minutes at a time.

Age of The Child

If you are buying for a newborn your pushchair needs to be able to lie completely flat. Some pushchairs have separate carry cots for the baby stage which you then swap out for a seat when they can sit up. Others will fully recline and might have some sort of cocoon that keeps your baby snug.

If buying for a child 6 months or older and they can sit independently sit this feature isn’t necessary (although you will still want a seat to decline for naps).

Colour

If you just love that pink pushchair, go for it, but think through if both you are your partner are happy with it and if you mind pink for a baby boy (for this or subsequent children). Lots of popular pushchairs can have different coloured hoods and seats and these can often be replaced in the future while keeping the same frame. 

Parent facing?

Which way do you want your child to face when they are in a sitting position?  Some parents like to have their children facing outwards so they can see more of the world, but there are many advantages to having them facing you including: easier communication, reassurance and being able to see what they are doing (are they heading for a nap? trying to escape?). Some pushchairs let you have the seat either parent or outwards facing while others (especially strollers) are fixed in the outwards position.

Handles

Strollers tend to have two separate handles, while most pushchairs will have a single bar handle. The bar has the advantage that it’s a lot easier to push single handed and with this style you can often adjust the height of the handle to make it more comfortable when using for longer periods. If you, or your partner, are much taller or shorter than the average woman that fixed handles will cater for, it is helpful to look at what heights the handle can be adjusted too. This is particularly an issue for tall men.

How To Choose A Pushchair

When you have considered all the factors above try to visit a store to see a range of styles. See how they feel when you push them around, how easily they fold etc. 

You can often get great offers at Baby Shows and see a huge range, but it's a good idea to know more or less what you want first so you can be confident when you buy. It's always worth comparing prices at local shops and online to see where offers the best price. You might get a better deal if you buy your car seat at the same time too.

Before you buy remember to check:

What comes with it (hidden costs): some pushchairs (often the more expensive ones) come as a frame and then you need to buy the other bits you need like a cot and seat.

The size of the hood, some are quite small which isn’t ideal for providing shade on sunny days. 

How big is the raincover? They are normally included as standard, but some cover more of the pushchair and basket than others. Some stroller covers aren't big enough to cover toddlers feet, but this might not be an issue if they tend to wear waterproofs.

Size of the basket: some baskets are huge and will take shopping plus everything else you might need, others will only fit a few items.

Post by Kate, mum of 3