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Choosing a pushchair

by Sarah Horrocks Published on 19 January 2009

You're spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a pushchair, with so many on the market. Pram or pushchair? Four or three wheeler? How long will it last your child? There are so many questions you need to ask yourself when making your choice, but the most important factor to bear in mind is that the priority is your child’s comfort as well as making your lives as parents easier. Here’s a summary.

The right questions to ask yourself before the purchase

- From what age to what age will your child need it?

- Do you live in a town or in the country? How much space do you have in your home, the lift and in your car boot?

- Where will you be taking your baby (city or country)?

- Do you need a pushchair and a car seat? Would you prefer a 2 in 1?

- What’s your budget?

- Traditional or trendy (if style matters!)?

The four types of pushchair

The 3 in 1 pram/pushchair.

You can adapt this pushchair to your baby's growth from birth to 4 years old. Its chassis allows you to attach a hammock or a carrycot to it.

- Use a carrycot for baby until 6 months as it allows baby to lie flat. The priority at this age is to ensure that baby can sleep well on the go. Besides using it as pram, it can be used at home as a cradle.

- At around 4 to 5 months, you can use a seat that converts into a car seat. It allows baby to half sit in the pushchair and helps you transport baby by car (car seat type 0+). You simply attach it to the chassis. But try not to use it too much - take breaks if out on a long walk.
- From 6 months onwards until the age of 3 or 4 you can use the normal pushchair setting. Your child is in a sitting position and is well placed to observe the world around him or her. The advantage with a pushchair is that it has several positions including a lying down position, so your baby can take a comfortable nap during long trips.
+ A multi-function pushchair is very resistant. It’s an investment (it doesn’t come cheap) but you will get good use out of it long term.
- It takes up space in the house and car, and is pricey.

The American pushchair
This type is made of one block and can be used from birth. Its pivotal carrycot converts into a pram or pushchair.
+ It has qualities similar to the multi-function pushchair and doesn’t take up too much space, which is a good compromise for urban families.
- It’s quite heavy. The pivotal carrycot isn't as robust as a traditional carrycot. It is also pricey.

The evolving pushchair
Designed for babies aged from 6 months to 4 years old. It has an inclining seat and you can attach a carrycot to it for newborns.
+ Compact and comfortable - doesn’t take up too much space. Ideal for for public transport.
- You need to use a pram or an American pushchair for the first 6 months. Its price.

The three wheeled pushchair
Sporty and top of the range, it can be adapted for babies younger than 6 months depending on the model. It can come with big wheels for maximum grip, breaks on the handlebars and suspension to ensure baby’s comfort.
+ Ideal for parents who jog or for long walks in the country.
- Even folded, it remains bulky and heavy, and is pricey.

Choose a pushchair which...
- Can be folded and unfolded easily and quickly with one hand, especially if you use public transport often.
- Isn't too heavy. The ideal weight should be between 7 and 9 kilos.
- Has wheels which are easily controllable and the right size: small for town and big for the countryside.
- Has handlebars which are not too low (or better, adjustable). This will prevent mum and dad from getting long-term backache.
- Can be moved easily with one hand.
- Has a seat which is high enough to prevent baby from being exposed to too much fumes.
- Has brakes are in perfect condition.
- Conforms to UK and European (EN 1888) norms.

Safety
- Babies should not be able to get their fingers stuck or cut themselves in the pushchair (these are among the most common accidents).
- Babies should not be able to unfold the pushchair from inside or out.
- Always use a harness or a belt to prevent baby falling out of the pushchair.
- Always use the brakes when you stop, even for a short while.
- Avoid placing heavy bags on the handlebars which could make the pushchair fall backwards.

by Sarah Horrocks

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