Buggies (also called lightweight strollers or pushchairs) are designed to be easy to transport and to store. Depending on the brand and price point, buggies range from simple folding strollers to sturdy pushchairs complete with rain covers, shopping baskets and sun canopies.
Once your child starts learning to walk, you may find that a full sized pushchair just isn't need anymore. A smaller, lighter buggy can offer the flexibility that you need without taking up as much space in your car boot or hallway.
What's the difference between a buggy and a travel system?
Travel systems are designed to transport babies from birth. They are compatible with baby car seats which means you can transfer your child from the pushchair to a car and vice versa without the hassle of taking them out of the car seat (and potentially waking them up). Many travel systems come with additional components such as a carrycot, which you can also attach to the chassis (travel systems with carrycots are known as 3-in-1).
Most lightweight buggies can be used to carry babies aged six months and up and are not compatible with baby car seats. As you might imagine, they are smaller and weigh less than travel systems – making them, ironically, much more manageable to transport than travel systems.
Lightweight buggies tend to have a fairly compact fold and a reclinable seat but most won't lie completely flat.
Why might you need a buggy?
Buggies are popular as a second pushchair to support a bigger travel system. While you might want a more sturdy piece of kit for longer walks or younger babies, a buggy is better suited to nipping to the shops, or to take with you on a holiday where you're trying to minimise your luggage. Once your little one is toddling, buggies are great to keep in the back of the car for those times they can't go any further.
They're ideal for travelling as strollers are lightweight enough to not be a total hassle at airports and fold with the seat attached
Buggies are particularly useful if you use public transport. They tend to be smaller, taking up less room on a bus, and being able to lift them on and off with one hand is going to make your journey a lot easier. However, because they're lightweight they are often limited to small plastic wheels and no suspension, making them unsuitable for off-roading and less comfortable over long periods than a sturdy travel system. You'll generally get a smaller storage basket too, although this can vary between brands.
Because they’re usually cheaper than a travel system, lightweight buggies can be a good option for a second pushchair to leave at the grandparents' house or with your childminder.
This guide is about single buggies; take a look at our double buggy reviews, if you need room for two.
How much do lightweight strollers cost?
Prices range from £20 to £250+, so there’s options to suit every budget. However, you do get what you pay for – so if you're planning to use the buggy a lot, you'll need to know what you can compromise on and what you can't do without.
At the most basic level, you'll be able to get a simple folding pushchair, such as the Red Kite Push Me 2U or Mothercare Jive for under £40. While these are sometimes flimsy and don't offer many extras, this may be all you need for nipping to and from nursery. However, a search for a cheap lightweight stroller will give you a surprising amount of options. Cheap doesn't have to mean basic; many affordable strollers come with extras, and can be lighter than their more pricey competitors.
Around the £100 mark, you'll get a few more features such as a sun canopy, a reclinable seat (though it’s unlikely to lie flat) and possibly a rain cover. Buggies like the Chicco Oh La La or the Joie Nitro cost under £100, but offer benefits such as being light as a feather and having a canopy and reclinable seat.
At the top end of the market at £200 or more, you'll get a sturdy stroller that's likely to last you through baby one and baby two at least, with a padded, reclinable seat, larger wheels with some suspension and a whole host of extra features. Some of them, such as our Best Buy the Silver Cross Reflex, are also suitable from birth
How long can pushchairs be used for?
Most lightweight buggies are for babies aged six months and up, and can be used until your child outgrows them (usually around age four). If you want to use a stroller beyond this, we recommend checking the weight limit, as some brands such as Silver Cross can carry children up to weights of 25 kg.
There are a few buggies available from birth, although there are some downsides. For one, they're less sturdy than a travel system or pram, which might result in a bumpy ride for a newborn. They're also often lower down than your average pram and would require more bending for a new parent, which isn't ideal, especially if you've had a C-section. All in all, we'd recommend something sturdier for a newborn unless you're really planning to travel a lot.
How do pushchairs fold?
Traditionally, buggies have an umbrella folding mechanism, where a switch at the back allows you to fold the stroller in half. However, more recently there have been an influx of more compact models, folding down into tiny sizes often small enough to fit in overhead lockers. Silver Cross, Uppababy and Maclaren all use the umbrella fold, while Omnio, Babyzen and Baby Jogger have their own compact folding systems.
If you want something to store in a car or house, an umbrella fold is probably enough. The folded stroller can stand upright in a cupboard taking up minimal space. Whereas, the compact folds really come in handy if you'll be carrying the stroller around – they're less awkwardly shaped and may even transform into a bag like the Baby Jogger or the Babyzen Yoyo+.
It's worth checking if the fold can be done with one hand. We'd recommend trying out a few in-store to see how easy it is to do, as the ubiquitous “one hand fold” claim isn't always accurate!
How easy is it to carry around?
All types generally come with straps to help with carrying, although some may be comfier or easier to deal with than others. We’d recommend having a go in-store before you buy, as this will probably come down to personal taste.
Rain covers, sun canopies and more
Some buggies include extras such as rain covers, sun canopies, wheels with suspension and larger shopping baskets.
Strollers that include these usually come in at a higher price. However, one-size-fits-all raincovers can be bought separately for as little as £3 on Amazon, so if you're on a tight budget there are definitely other options out there.
If you want a stroller that fully reclines (and is therefore suitable from birth), there are options throughout the price range. Some popular examples are the Cosatto Supa Go (£160 from Amazon), and the Maclaren Techno XT (£224 from Amazon), not to mention our best buy the Silver Cross Reflex (£200 from John Lewis)
Many lightweight strollers come with adjustable handlebars, so you can set them at your ideal height.
In terms of terrain, most buggies are suited mainly to urban environments with minimal suspension and small wheels. If you live more rurally or have country walks planned, there are options with bigger wheels and suspension. Phil and Teds’ Sport stroller (£437 from John Lewis) is lightweight and all terrain, as are Out ‘n About’s range, although any buggy with large air tyres should be able to do the job.
If you're still not sure or looking for ideas, check out our reviews of our best buggies.
- What do you need to suit your lifestyle – urban, country walks, car seat needed?
- Do you need it from birth?
- Will you have space to store it? Will it fit in your home/car?
- Buggy’s storage – is there room to carry all your things? Is it sturdy enough to take a changing bag on the handles?
- What’s included? Are you paying loads extra for basic accessories or is it good value for money?
- Test it out in store, including the folding mechanism, reclining mechanism, and adjustable handlebar. (Don’t forget to do this before Bump gets too big if you’re buying a stroller to use from birth!)
- Walk around with it. Is it natural to walk with? Does it go up steps (curbs) easily?
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All prices correct at time of publication