Choosing the right lightweight buggy (also known as a pushchair or stroller) for your child can be tricky. Umbrella fold or concertina? Four wheels or three? Simple or sophisticated? From birth or six months plus? There’s so many things to consider when you’re buying a pushchair and so many choices of model available. So how do you pick the right one for you?
It’s easy to get confused by buggy lingo or get swept away by the latest model on the market, but before you consider any purchase it’s really important to know exactly what you need for your child and for your lifestyle.
Use our guide for more information and check out our buggy reviews to help you decide.
What’s on the market?
Buggies are designed to be easy to transport and to store, and range from the simplest folding stroller to sturdier and more luxurious pushchairs.
There are all kinds of models available, but what you choose should depend on your budget and your needs. From the most affordable models to the most expensive, there really is something for everyone.
What’s the difference between a buggy and a travel system?
A travel system is the more traditional and expensive method of transporting a baby around from birth. Compatible with baby car seats, a travel system enables a parent to transfer their baby from the car to a pushchair and vice versa with little hassle (and hopefully without waking them up!).
Most travel systems also come with a carrycot which you can choose to attach to the chassis – these are known as 3-in-1 travel systems.
When it comes to lightweight buggies, most have been designed to carry babies from six months plus and are not compatible with baby car seats. They tend to be fairly compact and have reclinable seats. However, this is changing. We tested a number of buggies in this category suitable for newborns upwards, and some are indeed compatible with a baby car seat.
Overall, a buggy is a smaller and lighter option than a travel system for parents. It's easier to manoeuvre and carry and, more often than not, is a lot cheaper too.
Do I need a buggy?
Lightweight buggies are usually purchased as a second pushchair to support a travel system. So, while you might want a sturdier pushchair for younger babies or for long walks, buggies are useful and better suited for short trips out, the school run or a quick nip to the shops.
They’re ideal for holidays when you’re trying to minimise luggage (a few buggy models fold down so small that they can even be taken onto the aeroplane as hand luggage) and once your little one is on their feet and toddling, buggies are a godsend to keep in your car or house for when they may need to rest their little legs.
If you use public transport frequently, then buggies are particularly useful as they’re generally a lot smaller, lighter, more compact and easier to carry on and off a bus or train, which will likely make your journeys more stress-free.
Because they’re usually much cheaper than a travel system, lightweight buggies are also a good option for a second pushchair to leave at the grandparents' house or with your childminder, if you have one.
Yet, because of how lightweight they can be, pushchairs are often limited to small plastic wheels and little suspension, which makes them unsuitable for off-roading and less comfortable over long periods of time than a sturdier travel system. You'll generally get a smaller storage basket too, although this can vary between brands.
This guide is about single buggies, but take a look at our double buggy reviews if you need room for two.
How much does a buggy cost?
Prices vary from as little as £30 to over £500, so there really are options to suit every budget. When it comes to buggies, how much you're planning to use it will play a big role in deciding how much you might want to spend. If you're planning to use it every day on the school run, for errands and on public transport, investing in a buggy with suspension and a decent storage basket will be well worth it. On the other hand, if you think you'll only use it occasionally as a spare or on holiday, a budget buggy might be sufficient.
At the most basic level, you’ll be able to get a simple folding pushchair like the Mothercare Nanu stroller. Many affordable buggies do a surprisingly good job and should come with the essential rain cover and shopping basket.
At the midway mark (£125 onwards), you’ll find that buggies start to come with a few more features such as an extendable sun canopy, reclinable seat and perhaps a handy pocket too. Buggies like the Cosatto Woosh are a good mid-price option and are often incredibly lightweight and easy to push and manoeuvre.
And, finally, at the top end of the spectrum (near the £200 mark or more), you’ll find buggies that work brilliantly and look fantastic thanks to state of the art design, high-tech fabrics and a whole host of extra features. Some of them, such as the Babyzen Yoyo+, can even be used from birth like more traditional travel systems.
How long can buggies be used for?
Most lightweight buggies are suitable for children from the age of six months to four, but it all depends on the weight limit, so be sure to check that out first before you buy. The majority of models generally cater to around three and a half years with a limit of 15kg, but some models do go to weights of approximately 25kg.
Increasingly, more buggies can be used from birth. Some, like the Maxi-Cosi Laika, give you the option to purchase a car seat or carrycot as an additional extra so that you can use it like a travel system and have seats that lie flat for newborns.
If you’re considering using a lightweight buggy with a newborn recline, though, there are a few downsides. They’re less sturdy and generally not as comfortable for young babies and, more often than not, they’re usually lower down too which might make bending for a new parent uncomfortable, particularly if you’ve had a c-section.
If you’re planning on using a stroller from birth, we’d recommend you consider a model that enables you to use it with a newborn attachment or carrycot.
How do buggies fold?
Traditionally, buggies have an umbrella folding mechanism, where a switch at the back allows you to fold the stroller in half. Over the past few years, however, there has been an influx of more compact models that fold down into tiny sizes often small enough to fit into a plane’s overhead lockers. Mothercare and Maclaren all use the traditional umbrella fold, while brands like Cosatto, Babyzen and Quinny offer 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. When it comes to compact folds, these really come in handy if you'll be carrying the stroller around or if your car has a small boot – they're less awkwardly shaped and may even transform into a bag like the Babyzen Yoyo+.
It’s always worth checking how easy the fold is and if it can be done with one hand as some can be a little tricky to master.
How easy is a buggy to carry around?
It really depends on which model you buy. While buggies are a lot lighter than traditional travel systems, some are definitely easier to carry than others. If you know you'll be lugging it up and down stairs regularly, it's definitely worth checking how easy it is carry before you splash out.
Lots of buggies now come with straps to help you carry them easily and some even come with their own bag too. We’d always recommend having a go in-store before you buy, as this will probably come down to personal taste.
They're ideal for travelling as strollers are lightweight enough to not be a total hassle at airports and fold with the seat attached.
Accessories – rain covers, sun canopies and more
Most buggies come with a rain cover, sun canopy and a shopping basket, but it’s always important to check as essentials and extras can really vary from one brand and model to another.
As you’d expect, the buggies that cost the most are generally the ones that come with all the essentials plus a few carefully considered extras, but don’t rule out the more affordable models. A standard one-size-fits-all rain cover 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.
In terms of extras, the Cosatto Woosh – with it’s fantastic UPF 100+ sunshade, three extra pockets and even a bell! – is the perfect example of how great some buggies now are at providing everything you need for when you’re out with your little one.
If you’re after a stroller that fully reclines (and is therefore suitable from birth), there are options throughout the price range. Some popular examples are the Mothercare Nanu and Chicco Minimo strollers. Some lightweight buggies also come with adjustable handlebars, so you can set them at your ideal height.
In terms of terrain, most buggies such as the Quinny Yezz Air are suited mainly to urban environments with minimal suspension and small wheels. So if you live more rurally or have country walks planned, there are options with bigger wheels and suspension. Phil and Teds’ Sport stroller is lightweight and suitable for all terrains, as are Out'n'About’s range although any buggy with large air tyres should be able to do the job.
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