How To Buy a Pushchair

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How To Buy a Pushchair
Buying your 1st pushchair can be a challenge - you're usually choosing it for someone you haven't met, whose complex needs are hard to understand without hands-on experience.

Your baby will probably be reasonably happy in whatever model you choose as long as it's designed to be used from birth, but your own needs are also very important.

It's easy for 1st-time parents to be drawn to fabrics and design, mistaking something that looks good for the answer to all their baby-transporting problems. But remember nobody looks cool battling an ineffective 1-hand fold pushchair with 1 arm, whilst cradling a screaming baby in the other.

Buying for Infants

Small babies have different needs to older babies and toddlers. You should provide extra support for baby's head with an infant head hugger. Things to remember are:

Bullet New babies need the back support that only a fully reclining pushchair can give. Check the pushchair's back reclines to more than 150°.
Bullet Babies shouldn't sit in a pushchair that doesn't recline until they're 6 months or so (i.e. until they can sit up).
Bullet You shouldn't use a 3-wheeler over rough ground until your baby is about 6 months old - babies' necks aren't strong enough to take the strain of a bouncing head.
Bullet Babies should sleep on a firm horizontal base, so if you're expecting to use the pushchair for lengthy daytime naps, or whole afternoons in the park, consider one with a carrycot and mattress.
Bullet Travel systems including a group 0 child car seat are appealing, as you can transfer your baby from pushchair to car without waking them up, but babies shouldn't be confined to their child car seat for long periods of time.
Bullet Identify your needs. You're unlikely to find a pushchair that meets all your needs perfectly. But thinking
Choosing a pushchair
carefully about your lifestyle and future plans can help you buy a pushchair that serves you well.

How do you travel?

Bullet Pedestrians need a pushchair that's easy to push on a wide variety of surfaces and negotiates curbs and stairs with ease. Protection from wind, rain and sun is important and you'll need plenty of storage space to accommodate changing and shopping bags.
Bullet Public transport users should choose a lightweight and easy-folding design that can be used from birth, with a 1-handed fold mechanism
Bullet Motorists will need to check the folded pushchair and its accessories will fit in their boot.
Bullet Where will you store it?
Bullet You're unlikely to fold the pushchair every time you finish using it. Consider its unfolded size taking up space in your hallway. Those that stand upright independently when folded or are easy to lock folded are easier to store.

How strong are you?

Bullet Even though manufacturers recommend removing your child from a pushchair on stairs, this is often not practical. Some of the larger pushchairs can be very heavy, especially when loaded with child and shopping, so if your local terrain or daily routine features lots of stairs and kerbs, consider buying a lighter-weight model. Lifting some pushchairs from the car boot can also be a challenge.

Will you be comfortable?

Bullet Pushing a fully laden buggy can be quite demanding, so finding a pushchair that suits your size and shape is vitally important. You should always visit a shop and test drive a pushchair before buying. Points to consider are:

Bullet Handle height - If you or your partner are taller than average, you don't want to be stooping to push your baby. Don't assume adjustable handles will automatically be long enough for you.
Bullet Handle grip - Hard plastic grips can be uncomfortable after a time; look for softer rubber or foam grips and handles with soft, rounded edges that are angled to support a natural wrist position. Some handle bars can be adjusted higher or lower to give you a more comfortable grip.
Bullet Will the brake bar shorten your stride or skin your shins?
Bullet Uninterrupted stride - Check you're able to walk using your normal stride, and that you don't scrape your shin on a rear axle, brake bar, shopping basket or other accessories.
Bullet Brake pedals - Check you find the brake easy to apply, and that there's a good grip on foot applied pedals, so you won't risk ripping off your toenails if you tend to wear open toed shoes.

Bullet Manoeuvrability - When putting a pushchair through its paces, check how easy you find it to move in a tight space, do a complete about-face, tip backwards to mount kerbs and change direction abruptly.

Where to buy

It's absolutely essential that you try out a pushchair before buying.

These retailers have websites giving details of their stock, which can be handy if you're looking for a specific model.

Babies R Us
Mamas & Papas
Mothercare The largest and best-known Nursery chain, with more than 200 stores and larger out-of-town stores called 'Mothercare World'. You can order via the website, both of which offer a far more extensive range than in many of the high street stores.
Kiddicare
Local independent nursery stores are one of the best places to go for 1-to-1 advice in an unhurried atmosphere.

Many independent nursery stores also have an online presence, but they won't thank you for trying the product out in their store and then leaving to buy cheaper online.

Pushchairs are subject to fashion, and manufacturers regularly change patterns, designs and materials. Last season's designs are often available at sale prices.
Check what accessories are included with your pushchair, for instance, a rain cover is optional on some models. You can only make meaningful price comparisons when you know what's included.

Feb 2008

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