Beginner's guide to buying a stroller or lightweight buggy

Choosing the right pushchair is not as simple as it sounds. There's an array of different options out there from 3-in-1s to off-roaders and it's worth taking a bit of time considering the right one for you.

Pushchair types

  • Forward facing pushchair

Can have a lie back facility suitable for newborn. Four wheels, lightweight and manoeuvrable, though some are lighter and more manoeuvrable than others.

  • Two-in-one

Can be used as an upright buggy or lie flat like a pram. Some give you the option of having your child facing you (which is a bonus in the first few months).

  • Three-in-one

As above, but with a separate detachable carrycot.

  • Travel system

A regular pram/pushchair, sometimes with carrycot option, but also with a clip-on car seat. Great for keeping a baby asleep when transferring from or to the car - but remember that newborns should not spend too much time in a car seat and watch out for weight, portability, manoeuvrability and cost.

  • Three wheeler

Looks cool - and great if you live near countryside or the beach. Easy to steer with one hand. Not usually recommended from birth - although attachments are available to overcome this - and may be heavy and too bulky for some car boots when folded. 

  • Old-fashioned upright pram

Comfy for baby and keeps the grandparents happy - but how long before your child outgrows it (as early as three months babies are very keen to look out and about) and where the heck are you going to store it?

  • The lightweight buggy or stroller

Lightweight and robust, many of them are not suitable from birth, but a few are. The best ones have easy one- hand fold mechanisms. Watch out for tiny, inaccessible, or non-existent shopping baskets and lack of comfort - suspension and padding - particularly for winter babies.

Things to consider when choosing a stroller

If you regularly use public transport or live up or downstairs, weight, portability and folding mechanisms will probably be key for you. What's more if you think you'll need to hop on and off a bus, something which can be lifted with one hand is all-important and a lightweight buggy or stroller is almost certainly the way to go.

Many people go for a stroller as a second option to live in the car boot, in which case you'll want one which folds easily and compactly in an umbrella-style. What's more if it's your second pushchair you won't want to spend the earth.

Bear in mind that lightweight buggies are often not the most comfortable option for small babies. If you are planning to use one from three months, then look carefully for at the comfort rating, as some give young babies more support than others.

If your child is a "napper" in the pushchair then think seat positions - even lightweight buggies still manage to have lots of seat positions.

And if you're thinking of heading further afield onto bumpy roads or to the countryside then some there are some lightweight buggies which now offer off-road capabilities - features like pneumatic large back wheels and suspension systems will make uneven ground less of a bumpy ride.

Some now offer an optional carrycot, which means you can use it from birth, so if you only want to make one purchase on the pushchair front, then one that adapts with the child is the way to go. As one mum put it: "There is a theory that you can keep a baby in a sling for the first three months, then you don't need to buy a 'from birth' pushchair and can move straight to an umbrella- fold lightweight. That may work for some but for me the reality was my son was soon too heavy to carry around, but still too young to sit up."

Extras

These include hoods, rain covers, cosytoes (sleeping bag-type things that attach to the pushchair straps and stay on better than blankets), additional shopping baskets and matching changing bags. Extras that aren't included can push up the price so look out for buggies that give you some extras.

And bear in mind that some extras are more worthwhile than others. A cosytoes for a winter baby seems to be a must, as is a raincover (for summer or winter babies sadly). We have our doubts about the necessity of a changing bag that matches the pram cover - but you might feel differently.

Watch out too for advice on suitability for different age groups. Experience sometimes contradicts manufacturers' claims!

Last updated: over 1 year ago