The beginner's guide to buying a double pushchair

There's one fact that's inescapable, if you're used to a single one pretty much any double pushchair can seem impossibly heavy and cumbersome. Nevertheless some are more cumbersome than others and thinking about your needs and lifestyle before you buy can save you unnecessary perspiration.

If you live up or down stairs, weight, portability and folding mechanisms will be key for you. Some pushchairs are more compatible than others with car boots, so do think about whether this is important to you. If you've only got a small boot, you may need to opt for an umbrella folding style. Outdoorsy types, or those who will be visiting countryside and beach, will find a 3/4-wheeler or all-terrain pushchair just the job. Do bear in mind, however, that you will need a large boot and lots of storage space. There's quite a range now, varying enormously in price and style.

You also need to think carefully about the age of your passengers, because different models are better suited to different child/baby combinations. If you have twins, for example, this will rule out some models that are much better suited to a baby and toddler. New babies need to be able to lie flat for about the first three months and ideally until they can support their heads fully (around six months) - so look for fully reclining seats. Do remember though that however tiny your newborn may look when huddled up in their cosy-toes, given a few months, they will have morphed into a strapping baby and need more space, so choose a buggy that won't be outgrown before you've finished with it. 

Do you really need a double pushchair?

If you have twins the answer is yes. If you have a baby and toddler close in age, then it's more than likely. If, on the other hand, your toddler will be almost out of the pushchair when the baby arrives, you may be able to manage with the baby in a sling and the toddler in the pushchair; followed by the baby in the pushchair and the toddler on a Buggyboard or Kiddyboard (see below). But as one reviewer warned: "The sling and the single pushchair sounds like a sensible, prudent option, but post birth, with an aching back I was begging for a double buggy after the first hundred yards. For me it was just a false economy." 

Tandem or side by side?

Tandem - one seat in front of the other - is usually only suitable for a baby and toddler, as with most models only the back seat reclines fully. In principle tandems could work for twins over six months, but anticipate tantrums about who goes in the front. The advantage of the Tandem is that it is only as wide as a single pushchair, so getting through doorways is easy - however its length may mean some lifts and small spaces are out of bounds. Folding mechanisms also seem to be trickier and there's no doubt tandems are generally heavier and bulkier once folded, so think storage and boot space. Manoeuvrability can also be an issue - with a baby in the back and a heavy toddler in the front, getting up pavements can take considerable strength. 

Side by side

Fine for twins, or toddler and baby as long as you get one that reclines fully. On almost all models both seats have separate operating systems so both children can sleep or sit up as they wish. The big concern with this type of double is will it fit through doorways and into your hall? The 'standard' door width in the UK is 79cms - and all are designed to fit through that. Some, though, are slimmer than others - worth remembering if you want to guarantee entry into every shop in town. Do bear in mind, however, that seat width may be an issue for larger children. 

Weight

Double pushchairs are heavy - there's no getting away from it - and if you've been used to a lightweight single stroller, they can seem impossible to lift in and out of the car and up steps. There's not much you can do about this, except look out for the lighter models and develop those muscles quickly. More solid models can weigh more than twice the weight of their lighter cousins, so do check this out before committing yourself. 

Folding mechanism

This is particularly important when you have two children to control. If you've got a baby and toddler, it might be worth looking specifically for an umbrella fold - assuming the toddler will stand in one place, you could feasibly fold the chair whilst holding the baby under one arm. With crawling twins, it's going to be impossible to hold both at once and fold even the most perfect double pushchair - but it's still worth making sure it's a quick and easy process. 

All mod cons

As with single pushchairs, doubles can come with travel systems, carrycots, one baby car seat to go on back of tandem etc. All of it pushes up cost and weight, but if it's important to you to be able to transfer a sleeping baby from the car to a pram and vice versa - you may think it's worth it. 

Buggyboards/Kiddyboards

These are skateboard-type mechanisms that fit onto the back of most pushchairs and prams (Kiddyboard) and umbrella-fold buggies (Buggyboard.) It looks like fun and most toddlers seem to enjoy it. It does however make the buggy heavy and a bit unwieldy to push, it means a tired toddler has nowhere to nap and some parents had safety concerns i.e. that toddler might jump off and make a run for it - but if you think you can handle these issues, they can save some cash.

Last updated: over 1 year ago