Buying A New Stroller / Pushchair - Things To Look For
There are so many strollers on the market these days that it can seem a little daunting when you are searching with the intention of purchasing a new one. A lot of parents look for a new stroller when they find the pram / travel system that they found so easy and light when the baby was small, suddenly becomes cumbersome and heavy. Or perhaps a second pushchair is required, just for occasional use or to keep in the car. But what do you need to look for in a stroller / pushchair? Well, every parent's needs are different - what might suit one, may not suit another. Below are some guidlines to keep in mind when you are looking to purchase a new stroller.
1. Size: Is It Easy To Store? Will It Fit In The Trunk Of The Car?
Size might be one of the most important factors when choosing a new stroller / pushchair. Strollers often need to be carried in the car, so the size of the pushchair's folded dimensions should be taken into account in order to ensure that it will fit into the trunk of the car. Some pushchairs are quite large when folded - if you do not have a large car, then this might be a problem. Even pushchairs which appear to be quite compact when folded can often be slim but long - too long for the trunk of the car. However, even if you have the smallest car in the world, chances are that you will be able to find a pushchair which will fit - currently, the Quinny Zapp springs to mind, as does Petite Star Zia, which has a folding size that is not so much slim, but short and chunky. A slim folding pushchair might also be stored on the floor in the back of the car.
Some of the pushchairs like Britax Vigour are actually rather large when folded, and do not even fold as one pushchair, but rather two separate sections - the wheels and the seat. Unless you have a very large trunk, this kind of pushchair can be more difficult to transport.
Just as size is important for transportation reasons, so it is important when storing in the home. The smaller the folded dimensions of the pushchair / stroller, the easier it will be to store. If you have limited storage space in your home, consider one of the most compact options.
2. Does The Seat Recline? How Many Seat Positions Are There?
Whether or not the seat reclines can be one of the deciding factors when choosing a new stroller. Most do, to some extent, but not all. If you have a young baby, then you will want the seat to recline as much as possible - pushchairs for babies under three months should recline to a completely flat position, otherwise they should not be used for such young babies. A lot of pushchairs, and especially the typical budget strollers, are not suitable for babies under six months for safety reasons - it is thought to potentially interfere with their breathing. Check the product information of the stroller before you buy.
But even if you have an older baby, or a toddler, do not assume that you do not need a reclining seat. Even toddlers of three years old may fall asleep in their stroller, when they are tired or if you have been out and about for a long time. Whilst a reclining seat for older babies and toddlers is not essential, if your child falls asleep and you cannot lay the seat back then your child will be left in a rather uncomfortable position, probably with their head lolling forward over their chest. Even low cost stroller can have reclining seats.
3. Handle Height? Choose A Height That Is Comfortable For You
It's best not to purchase a pushchair without trying it out on the shop floor. There is nothing worse than getting stuck with a model that feels really uncomfortable every time you use it. Pushchairs come with a varying degree of handle heights - they can range from around 99cm to as high as 110cm. If you are a fairly short person, you will not get along with a handle height that is too high for you - you will have to constantly hold your hands in an unnaturally high position, which will not be comfortable. Likewise, if you are quite tall, you will not be happy with a low handle height - you will have to stoop as you manoeuvre your child round town, which is a sure recipe for a bad back.
Some pushchairs have adjustable handle heights, and this is something you may have to consider if you have a partner whose height is very different from your own.
4. Wheel Size And Style - Where Do You Want To Use It?
The style of your new stroller should cater to your needs. Before you buy, you should think about where, for the most part, you will be using it. Most people choose strollers that are suitable for urban settings - therefore any type of wheel will be suitable, especially small, compact wheels. Some of the new, modern wheels are large, and can come with proper tyres that have to be pumped up. These have good grip and work well on more difficult terrain - perhaps if you spend a lot of time walking in the country, this style might be a good choice. They also work better in icy conditions, as they slip much less. The downside is, that if you want to use them in the crowded centre of a city of town, they are definitely more bulky.
Some strollers have wheels that are 'fixed', i.e. that don't change direction at all. A lot of strollers have a 'freewheel' position, which means gives the stroller freedom to turn more easily, as well as the 'fixed' positon. Strollers with this 'freewheel' position are certainly easier to manoeuvre, especially in urban settings like shopping centres and the streets of cities and towns.
5. Does It Have A Basket Or Bag? Do You Require One?
Does your intended stroller have a basket underneath, or a bag attached to the back? When you are out with your child in the stroller there is almost certainly going to be something that you need to carry around, and often quite a lot of things. Baskets are incredibly useful, even if you can't fit everything in. Bags are also useful, though anything in the bag will add to the weight of the pushchair, and can create a 'tipping' effect, especially when your child gets out, if the items are heavy. You can, of course take your own bag and hang it on the handle bars, but personally I would consider a built-in method of carrying things to be a very useful component.
6. What Is Your Budget?
There is a huge range of pushchairs on the market, with a varying price range. Certainly, there is something for everyone, whether you want to spend a lot of money, or very little. Some of the most expensive pushchairs are excellent - very comfortable, easy to push and have a wide variety of accessories available. However, it isn't true that expensive is always best. Really, you might find yourself just as happy with a relatively cheap model, especially if your baby is progressing into an energetic toddler who sees the pushchair as a place to be only when tired from walking. Whilst the cheap end of the market might not produce pushchairs that offer such a smooth ride as the more expensive models, you can purchase incredibly cheap pushchairs that both recline and offer the 'freewheel' option. Perhaps cheap models won't last as long - but you may not require it to last longer than a couple of years.
7. Does It Come With A Raincover And Footmuff?
Some pushchairs come with raincovers and footmuffs included in the package, some do not. Most, with the exception of low-budget models, will at least come with a raincover. Some pushchairs have a whole range of accessories available, but these often have to be purchased separately, and can be quite expensive, especially for upmarket models. Whatever else you choose to buy for your pushchair, you are at least going to require a raincover. After raincover, I would say a warm footmuff should be next on the list - young children can get very cold, sitting in a pushchair in the middle of winter. After all, they are not moving much, so lose heat quickly. A sun canopy might also be offered - if not, you might want to purchase your own, particularly if your baby is very young.
Perhaps this should not be at the bottom of the article, because the weight of a pushchair can often be a deciding factor. Pushchairs vary greatly in weight - some are very light indeed - less than 6kgs. Some, however, are very heavy - up to 15kgs. Whatever the pushchair feels like when you first try it out, just remember that babies get bigger - and heavier. A young baby in a pushchair is a walk in the park when compared with a hefty three or four year old. If you want a compact stroller for nipping round town, then to me, lightweight is crucial if you want an easy(ish) life.