A newbie’s guide to buying a pram

If you’ve read From Day Dot before now, you’ll probably have heard me talk about my husband’s obsession with prams. It makes sense really, it has wheels, it’s a little gadgety and all the talk of suspension and off-roading is about as close to a new car as he’s going to come any time soon.

We went looking at prams a couple of weeks before our 20 weeks scan, and what followed was an endless quest (on his part) for the best pram, the best package and the best deal, which ended in week 21 with our first big baby purchase – the Uppababy Cruz.

The Uppababy Cruz Travel System
The Uppababy Cruz Travel System

By this point I was so over it, and if I heard the word ‘isofix’ one more time I was going to isofix him to the floor. But he did a great job, I have to say, and we did indeed get the best deal going at the time. Points to him.

The whole business of prams is a complicated one, and never have we felt more clueless and out of our depth than the first time we looked at a pram and heard the term ‘travel system’. It helps to start with a budget, but there are so many options you end up having serious conversations about things you never thought you’d have to consider. So I’ve covered off a few of those top tips for navigating the world of prams when you’re newbies like us.

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Don’t guess, just ask
When we very first went to the pram shop (Winstanley’s Pram World in Wigan) we pretty much stood in the doorway looking lost until a shop assistant saved us by taking us by the hand and literally dissecting a few prams until we understood what we were looking at. There are so many options, so many factors in what would make it the right pram for you, and so much terminology that it’s not even worth trying to figure it out for yourself. Find somewhere with experts, and ask. If it weren’t for Chelsea at Winstanley’s patience and expertise we’d no doubt be dragging our baby around in a cardboard box come November.

A travel system isn’t as complicated as it sounds
It really isn’t. It’s just a buggy which is compatible with a car seat.

And this is useful for if you’re making a quick trip to the shops, or anywhere where you need to transport the baby but when it doesn’t warrant the faff of setting up the full pram situation. Worth remembering that it’s advised that a baby should only be in a car seat for up to 1.5 hours, so factor this in when you’re deciding which mode of transport to use that day. Here’s a quick buyers guide from Made For Mums. And if you’re not sure if a travel system is for you…

You can buy Charlotte and George-esque prams which can only be used when the nipper’s lying down – Silver Cross do this well and they’re very regal, very expensive, actually very temporary baby vehicles as they’ll soon be wanting to sit up and see what’s going on around them.  Not a travel system.

silver cross balmoral pram
Silver Cross Balmoral Pram. Not a travel system.

You can buy a pushchair which can fit a carrycot for the early days, and the seat for when baby gets bigger and wants to sit up a bit straighter, but which isn’t compatible with a car seat. The Phil & Teds Voyager is a good example of this kind of set up.

Phil & Teds Voyager. Also not a travel system
Phil & Teds Voyager. Also not a travel system

And finally, you can buy a travel system – an all-in-one gig which includes the adapters to fit the car seat on to the frame (or the chassis, to use the technical term) for those quick trips beyond the car journey. The Bugaboo Chameleon is the brand I’ve heard most about and is definitely a popular travel system, I can see why – it looks great, is easy to use and is nice to ‘drive’. It’s one of the more expensive in the market but I guess you get what you pay for.

The Bugaboo Chameleon. Now this is a travel system!
The Bugaboo Chameleon. Now this is a travel system!

Some have the ability to turn the seat around

Yep, if you need a break from that little face, or if they need a break from yours, many pushchairs have the ability to be rear and forward facing, so you can flip the seat around (not while the child’s in it) to face the other way. So you don’t have to make a permanent decision over it’s direction or buy separate pushchairs to suit your mood towards the little nipper that day.

Apparently now is the time to think about baby number 2

Long before baby number one has even arrived, and while we were breaking out into a cold sweat over buying said baby’s pram, we were asked if we were going to have a second baby, as that could have an impact on the pram we buy.

What's that you say, a second baby?
What’s that you say, a second baby?

Naturally, we bottled it and went for the single baby-only option in the Uppababy Cruz, as opposed to it’s sister pram the Vista which has room to fit another seat underneath the first one. The carry cot is a pretty claustrophobic-looking situation but apparently it’s fine. Unlike us at the thought of two babies in quick succession.

The Uppababy Vista. Pick your favourite, and have that one face you.
The Uppababy Vista. Pick your favourite, and have that one face you.

Wheels can keep you awake at night

Well not quite, but this is the one part of our chosen pram which I’m not completely convinced with. I suddenly became vain about the wheels on my pram. Pram wheels vary depending on what you’ll be using it for and where. Generally we were told that rubber wheels are better than plastic, tip number 1.

Tip number 2, basically the bigger the wheel and the deeper the tread, the more ability you will have to go off-roading and mountaineering with your buggy. If you have a smaller, smoother wheel, it would be more suitable for ‘city-living’, i.e. pushing to the shops to buy wine nappies.

pram wheels

 

The Uppababy Cruz has mid-sized, pretty smooth rubber wheels. I’m told it will withstand walks down the canal, which will be the extent of my rambling with baby, so it’ll definitely do the job. I just can’t help compare it to other pushchair wheels and hear the voice in my head tell me that size actually does matter, you pathetic small wheeled mother.

Is the basket big enough for everything but the kitchen sink

One of the earliest tips I was given was ‘get a big basket, no-one wants basket envy’. Not a euphemism, it’s all about the storage for Mums across the world I’m led to believe.

They really do vary in size, and the Uppababy Vista ticks the box, as does the Hauck Stroller apparently, which is a deeper basket than most I’ve seen.

It doesn’t seem like the most important thing now, but if you think ahead to those shopping sprees/emergency nappy runs, you’re going to want two hands for the buggy and bags stashed away out of sight.

So there you have it, not an exhaustive list by any means but just a few of things you probably never expected that you’d need to consider when buying your first pram. Now keep calm, and go shopping!

 

Diary of an imperfect mum

 

The Pramshed