After seven years, the pushchair days are nearly over. Amy chooses to walk wherever possible and we now only really take the pushchair out if we’re going to be out all day or might need somewhere to put bags and coats. We can go weeks at a time without using it at all – in fact when my car was in the garage recently we accidentally left the pushchair in the boot so we were without it for three weeks and hardly noticed.
In the last seven years we have had six pushchairs ranging from full on travel systems to lightweight umbrella folds – they have all had their advantages and some were loved more than others.
As a family we do like to get out and about, be it a walk to the local park, the daily school runs or a weekend away somewhere further afield. Of course this impacts on the way in which we use our pushchairs and what we need from them.
With that in mind, I’m sharing six tips on choosing the right pushchair for you if you like to travel:
1. Consider who the pushchair will be used for?
This might seem fairly obvious, particularly if you’re buying a pushchair for the first time for your newborn however it’s worth bearing in mind that you might be using this pushchair for a few years – will it last till your newborn is a toddler or will you need to invest in something else later? Some pushchairs have the option of being converted into a double pushchair at a later date which is worth considering if you’re planning to expand your family in the future. Because our children were all born relatively close together, I’ve tended to find I needed a pushchair which would suit the needs of a six month old and a two and a half year old – meaning that I could baby wear if need by whilst my toddler hopped in the pushchair, or if the toddler was happy walking the baby could be in the pushchair – this is especially worth thinking about it you are planning long days out or travels further afield. We only had a double for a very brief period with my eldest two and found it to be more hassle than it was worth.
2. How will the pushchair be transported?
Is your pushchair only ever going to be used for walking around your local area or are you going to need to be able to put it in the boot of your car, on a bus or in the hold on an aeroplane? This is a hugely important question as some pushchairs can be a bit of a pain to fold up – especially if you’ve got a baby in the other hand – which means getting on the bus can be tricky if there isn’t a space for your pushchair. We’ve only taken an umbrella fold buggy on flights as it meant we could take it right up to the gate and fold it up quickly to pass to the staff to pop into the hold and not really worry too much about it getting damaged. It’s also worth bearing in mind how much boot space you have – our first travel system was enormous and took up most of the boot in our Golf, in fact I seem to remember having to remove the wheels to get it in – this really isn’t something you want to be faffing about with when you’re trying to sort a baby out as well! So, when it comes to thinking about how your pushchair will be transported, size is everything!
3. Where do you want to go with your pushchair?
Are you planning on exploring the busy city streets or taking leisurely strolls down by the river or even a wander along the beach? Considering the terrain your pushchair will be most likely to encounter is important as it will make life much easier for you in the long run. For example, if I lived by the coast or took lots of beach holidays, I would be looking for a pushchair which was able to cope with sand – most can’t and you have to drag them backwards across the sand to be able to get anywhere (this is also a useful tip for snow!) There’s a whole range of “city” pushchairs, “off road” pushchairs and even pushchairs designed specifically for running. They will all cope differently in different situations so your “off road” pushchair may well turn out to be too big and bulky for nipping about the busy streets of Manchester City Centre, but your tidy little city pushchair will be too bumpy and get stuck in the mud if you try to cross a field in it . . . (this is where baby-wearing can be a god send!)
4. How big is that basket?
This might seem fairly minor but I promise you it isn’t. A spacious, accessible basket is really important when you want to be getting out and about with your pushchair. Our first travel system didn’t have a basket as such, just a sort of net we could put things on. It was a real joy to experience a proper shopping basket on the stroller we bought after that! Whether it’s for shoving in your changing bag and a few coats or even a full picnic and bucket and spade – you’d be amazed at how useful that basket can be. (And also how frustrating it can be when you can’t get at it easily – this often seems to be a downfall of parent facing pushchairs in my experience)
5. How often will you need to use the pushchair?
For me this is a money question. If I’m looking to buy an umbrella fold specifically for taking on holiday, for chucking in the hold or keeping at my parents house as a spare then I don’t want to be spending much money on it. It won’t be used very often and the risk of it getting damaged on holiday becomes less important. If this is going to be my day to day pushchair which goes everywhere with me and basically becomes and extension of my own arms – then yes I’m going to invest more in it to make sure that not only is my child as safe and comfortable as possible, but also that it makes life easier for me. Pushchairs which are awkward to manoeuvre, hard work to push or don’t fold easily are not worth saving money on.
6. Does the pushchair comes with accessories?
It may be surprising to know that not all pushchairs will come with a rain-cover as standard ,which I think is utterly ridiculous as a well fitting rain-cover is vital! Generic rain covers rarely do the job as well as one which has been specifically designed for the pushchair! My favourite rain-cover (as if I even just wrote that) was on which zipped on to the hood so there was no chance of it slipping off. Of course it isn’t always raining . . . you may need a parasol, a mosquito net, a foot muff . . . The list is endless and depends entirely on your own need. I’ve always found parasols to be a bit of a pain and have preferred to use a specifically designed sunshade (never a muslin or blanket – this is really dangerous). One of our pushchairs came with a mosquito net which never left the house – however had we been travelling abroad or using the pushchair in the summer it could have been really useful.
Oh and one final point which has just popped into my head – not all pram carrycots are suitable for baby to sleep in overnight so definitely check that out!