There are lots of factors to consider when it comes to buying a pushchair and whilst this may seem like a daunting challenge at first, this practical and informative guide breaks down pushchair jargon to help you make the best decision for you and your baby.
Within this guide you will find the answers to the most common questions asked by parents, for instance, “can my baby sleep in a pram overnight?” and “when can my baby move from a carrycot to a seat unit?”
Whether you use the guide in its entirety or simply dip in and out, it will help you to determine the perfect pushchair for your lifestyle, budget and baby.
1. Pushchair, Buggy, Stroller - What Is The Difference?
The best place to start when it comes to thinking about a pushchair is to breakdown the differences between the variety of models on the market. With so many categories, from prams and pushchairs to buggies, strollers and travel systems it can seem like a minefield of options.
Step one is to demystify the differences between them. This section of the Pushchair Guide takes things back to basics and considers the most important factors to note within each category.
What is the difference between pram and pushchairs?
The words ‘pram’ and ‘pushchair’ are often considered different terms for the same thing but a pram offers a lie-down position whilst a pushchair offers a seated position.
What is a pushchair?
A pushchair is ideal for older babies at around 6 months. A good way to judge if a baby is ready for a pushchair is if they are able to sit up unaided. A pushchair generally offers the option for the baby to be forward-facing too and in this position, it's sometimes referred to as a ‘buggy’ which is another term that is used interchangeably.
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What is a pram?
A pram is for a newborn baby and offers a modern take on the traditional baby carriage whereby the baby lies flat. A flat position is advised for newborn babies to aid with lung and spinal development.
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What is a stroller?
A stroller is an American term that is used to describe a lightweight version of a pushchair that is generally more compact and is designed for older babies or toddlers.
Strollers are often referred to as ‘umbrella strollers’ due to their slimline fold, however, they still maintain their length when folded so double check it will fit in your car boot. Strollers are a great option for holidays as they are lighter and more compact than most pushchairs. When purchasing a stroller specifically for a holiday it's important to consider the sun protection on offer and its reclining ability for nap times by the pool! Added accessories may be necessary when travelling with a stroller, such as bag clips or cup holders.
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What is a double pushchair?
A double pushchair is designed to transport two children simultaneously, whether that be twins or a baby and a toddler. There are two different types of double pushchairs; a tandem where one child sits behind the other, or a side by side. The biggest difference between the two is the width. A tandem pushchair allows for easier manoeuvrability through doorways and on public transport. The evolution of the single to double pushchair means that a pushchair can grow with your family.
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What is a travel system?
A travel system consists of a pushchair frame, upon which other parts can easily be fitted. These parts include carrycot, seat unit and a rear-facing car seat and are purchased together as a package which often makes a travel system good value for money.
However, travel systems don’t always have to be bought together as a package, alternatively, you can buy the elements separately.
Most pushchair brands include compatible car seat adaptors in the travel system package enabling the infant car seat to easily be clipped onto the wheels so that a sleeping baby can be moved seamlessly from car to pushchair.
Many car seat manufacturers recommend that a baby should spend no longer than 2 hours (30 minutes for newborns) in a car seat within a 24 hour time period. The benefit of a travel system bundle is that it includes all the parts needed to grow with your baby- once the baby has outgrown the car seat and carrycot, the seat unit can be used.
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What is a three-wheel pushchair?
Three-wheel pushchairs are designed to travel on all types of ground. The two wheels at the back provide stability whilst the front wheel provide manoeuvrability. These wheels are generally large and robust and ideally will be removable to allow for easy cleaning after a muddy trek!
Often a three-wheel pushchair is designed for off-road but like an SUV, will be just as at home in urban environments too. A three-wheel pushchair is generally made with the active parent in mind and is designed to take children across all terrains in comfort thanks to the excellent suspension.
Puncture-proof tyres are important when it comes to an all-terrain pushchair so that parents can take their pushchair on any adventure with confidence. Sometimes a three-wheeled pushchair is larger so it's important to check it will fit in your car boot or at home when folded.
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2. Pram Features
Alongside a changing mat and bottles, a pram is likely to become one of your most used baby products! It's also the item that you’ll use for the longest so it’s important to consider the finer details that will make everyday life as easy and comfortable for parent and baby. In this section of the Pushchair Guide, we list important things to consider such as comfortable seat padding for baby and an adjustable handlebar for parents.
What to look for when buying a pram
For the baby
Most ‘from birth’ pushchairs offer two options when it comes to ‘facing directions’. These directions are referred to as ‘parent facing’, otherwise known as rear-facing and ‘world facing’, otherwise known as forward-facing.
Babies should be parent facing in a carrycot from birth until around 6 months or until they can sit up unaided, at which point they can progress into a seat unit. During their first 6 months its best for baby to be in parent facing mode so that there can be plenty of interaction between parent and baby during important developmental months. In the parent facing mode its quick and easy to check on the baby and they’ll be comforted and reassured by seeing familiar faces and hearing familiar voices. Parent facing also offers peace of mind for parents thanks to the option to monitor the baby.
As baby gets older their inquisitiveness will have developed and they’ll be interested in the world around them. At this stage, it may be time to swap to world-facing mode. It’s advisable to make this transition in stages so that your little one won’t feel too overwhelmed by their new view. With a pushchair that offers easy interchangeability between directions then perhaps try forward facing for an hour or so at a time, to begin with.
Prams with extra padding will keep baby comfortable and supported. Ergonomic supports are also available for many pushchairs to offer further protection for newborns.
A ride-on board is a great option for a family with a new baby and a toddler who is walking but still needs help when they’re tired. In most cases ride-on boards are purchased separately and can be clipped onto the chassis of the pushchair, providing a safe platform upon which a toddler can stand.
Some boards come with a saddle, offering the option for the toddler to sit down too. In many cases, if the board is not in use it can be removed or clipped upright and moved out of the way. Before investing in a ride-on board it is worth testing the product as it will impact a parent’s walking space. An integrated ride-on board would offer the best solution as it avoids the hassle and expense of an additional attachment.
For the parents
An adjustable handlebar is beneficial if you or your partner or anyone else who might be using the pushchair are different heights.
The most common brake is a foot pedal brake pedal which is located on the rear axle of the pushchair. It could be on the left, right or in the middle of the axle. The brake works by pressing on a single pedal which locks both rear wheels. This brake option is great for parents who are on the go for a while and then perhaps stop to enjoy a coffee and therefore need their pushchair to be stationary.
Shopping baskets can vary in size so it's important to factor in your lifestyle and whether a particular pushchair shopping basket will be the right size for you. It's also important to consider whether it is easy to access and whether everything is safe and secure in there. Pushchair shopping basket weight limits can vary so again it's worth looking for one with a large capacity for stashing bags and baby bits.
Always check the weight of a pushchair and carry out a pram weight comparison.
A buggy is often less than 5kg so tends to be a lighter weight option to a pram or a pushchair.
All pushchairs are foldable but the way in which they fold varies from model to model and across different brands. Pushchair manufacturers have developed folding mechanisms with different lifestyles in mind, with some focusing on the needs of parents who travel whilst others focus on the speed or convenience of the fold. When it comes to foldability it's important for a parent to consider their lifestyle - does the fold need to be compact or one-handed? It's also important to consider the weight of the pushchair when folded and whether it will need to be carried upstairs on public transport when folded.
Convertible pushchairs change between a single and a double and grow with your family with the addition of another carrycot or seat unit. Sometimes a converter kit must be purchased along with the additional seat unit/carrycot to transform the pushchair from a single to a double or everything can be purchased as a package.
The great thing about a convertible pushchair is that it can be used interchangeably between one or two children so it’s an economical option for first-time parents who plan to have a second child soon after baby number one.
Convertible pushchairs are often easy to manoeuvre and navigate as they are generally in the tandem formation and maintain a single footprint rather than a wide side by side set up.
Offering a range of configurations, convertible pushchairs are ideal for twins or siblings of different ages. It is worth noting that in most cases, the addition of a second seat unit or carrycot will impact the basket space of the pushchair so it's advisable to compare this across different pram brands.
Versatile and durable tyres
Depending on your lifestyle, your pushchair may be pushed over a range of different surfaces, including grass, pavements and bumpy terrain. When purchasing your pushchair, it's important to consider how it will be used. You may want to consider an all-terrain pushchair which is a bit like an SUV in that it is just as at home in urban environments as it is off-road. The highest performing pushchair tyres have a PU outer and EVA inner, which gives the ride of an air tyre without the risk of a puncture.
3. Pram Accessories
It’s easy to overlook pushchair accessories but they can often make day to day life with your new addition a lot easier! When choosing your pushchair, check to see which accessories are included and which may be additional purchases- some are optional but some are essential.
A carrycot is a light portable cot with a handle of some kind that can be attached to the chassis of a pram. When it comes to a travel system, it's the first configuration that will be used with a newborn up to the age of around 6 months. If a pushchair doesn’t have a lie-flat seating option then a carrycot is essential as they allow newborns to lie completely flat which is essential for spinal and lung development. A carrycot will feature a hood which will offer protection from the elements when used outdoors, sometimes the canopy may feature extra ventilation too. Handles on a carrycot make it easy to take on and off a pushchair frame or to transport around the house if the carrycot is being used instead of a moses basket or crib.
A pushchair rain cover is essential for keeping the baby dry as well as the fabric of the pushchair. Most pushchairs come with a tailored raincover to ensure an accurate fit. Car seat raincovers are also available.
Changing bags have come a long way in recent years and parents don’t have to sacrifice their sense of style when it comes to carrying around baby essentials. Changing bags are available in many different styles, including satchels, backpacks, or totes. It's important that your baby’s changing bag suits your lifestyle; a tote bag can double up as a shopping bag or a backpack might be a better choice if you love the outdoors and want to be hands-free. Pushchair clips allow you to hang your changing bag or shopping bags from your pushchair. Most changing bags come with a detachable and washable changing mat, insulated bottle pockets and multiple pockets for ultimate organization. A luxury investment worthy changing bag will have longevity beyond nappies and bottles and could be considered as a future work bag.
A parasol is made from SPF/UPF 50+ fabric and is attached to the pushchair frame to help provide shade for the baby and prevent overheating. Some pushchairs come with inbuilt sunshade and extendable SPF canopies, if not a traditional pram parasol will protect your baby from the sun. Most parasols are attached using a clamp so check to see if the clamp is an additional purchase.
A footmuff is an accessory for colder weather. Look out for a footmuff with a super soft lining and a showerproof exterior. Most brands include a footmuff as part of a pushchair bundle or sell matching footmuffs in their accessories range. To avoid purchasing multiple pushchair accessories, look out for a seat liner/footmuff combination so that in the summer months the footmuff can be removed and then reattached in the winter.
Always ensure that the chosen footmuff is compatible with a 5-point safety harness.
Travel toys can be attached to the bumper bar or the hood of a pushchair and are great for long journeys. Whether it’s on a plane or in the car, bright, colourful and tactile toys will help with keeping baby entertained. Travel toys need to be portable so it's important that they’re compact- spiral toys are a great option for wrapping around the bars and handles of prams, car seats and cots. A distinctive travel toy is also a great way of distinguishing your pram if it’s parked up at a play area or in a restaurant.
A pram blanket usually measures 70cm x 90cm. Pram blankets are available in a wide range of styles and colours to suit individual tastes and pram designs.
A seat liner is not essential but adds extra comfort for children and protects the pushchair from crumbs and spills or potty training accidents! However, a waterproof mattress protector and fitted moses basket/pram sheets are required for most pushchair carrycots.
4. Pram Safety
You will typically reply on your pushchair every day so safety and durability are key factors to consider. This section of The Pushchair Guide will help you to ensure that your baby is safe and comfortable in their pushchair.
There are a variety of pushchair brake types and one may be more suited to a parent than another depending on their lifestyle. A foot brake is the most common and is an easy to use option that is perfect if your pushchair will mainly be used for general day to day activities such as trips to the park or shopping. Handle brakes are convenient if there is a need to regularly stop, such as in a city with lots of crossings. An active hand brake is seen on many jogger style pushchairs or three-wheeled pushchairs, this sensitive brake is designed for active parents who would be changing momentum on a run for example. Whatever type its important that brakes are effective and easy to apply so always check them regularly as you would in a car.
A baby in a pushchair, stroller or buggy needs a safety harness. The most reliable pushchair safety strap is a five-point harness which should fit snuggly over baby’s shoulders, around the waist and through the legs.
All pushchairs have a weight limit and the standard is 15kg, however, some pushchair brands offer a maximum weight of 25kg.
Primary and Secondary Locking Device
All pushchairs have two locking devices to ensure the pushchair is secure whilst in use. When putting your baby or child into their pram or pushchair always check the two locking devices are fully locked and secured. Locking devices vary from brand to brand and from pushchair to pushchair, however, all folding chassis prams require two motions to fold the pushchair. This prevents accidentally folding whilst it is in use.
5. Pushchair Cleaning
Just like any other vehicle, a pushchair requires regular maintenance to ensure it runs smoothly, whether that may be a basic wash or a more in-depth service. This section of The Pushchair Guide offers advice on the best ways to clean different pushchair components.
Cleaning a pushchair
It’s a good idea to give a pushchair a regular refresh, especially after spillages or snack time! Simply vacuum the fabric using a small attachment and wipe using warm soapy water and mild soap/detergent. If wipes are all you have at hand, double-check they don’t contain oil as this can stain the fabric. Some pushchair brands offer a servicing option whereby the pram is given a safety check and deep clean.
Cleaning the pushchair fabric
Whether pushchair fabrics can be machine washed or not will vary according to the manufacturer so always check the washing instructions. If the fabric cannot go in a washing machine, spot clean with water and gentle soap.
Cleaning the wheels of a pushchair
If the pram wheels are removable this will make cleaning a lot easier and offers the most effective clean. Wet mud is best removed using a hose or pressure washer or if its dried mud try a stiff brush. Use a mixture of warm water and washing up liquid and scrub the wheels firmly. Once the wheels are dry check that the pushchair is still working effectively.
Cleaning the hood of a pushchair
If the hood is removable then this will make cleaning a lot easier. Start by vacuuming the fabric using a small attachment. Rinse or soak the hood fabric in cool soapy water and gently work on any stains or tricky areas using a soft fabric brush. Dry the fabric thoroughly outdoors.
Getting the mould out of fabric in a pushchair
If a pushchair has been in storage for a while it may have become damp and mouldy.
To rectify this, brush off any loose mould and mildew with a soft brush- do this outdoors to prevent spreading the mould. Wash the fabric with a mild detergent and warm water and leave to dry in the sun. A gentle sterilising fluid such as Milton is also effective in the removal of mould and mildew.
6. Commonly Asked Questions
When can my baby go into a pushchair?
At around 6 months old, the baby will be ready to move into a pushchair. There are a number of indicators which highlight the baby is ready for the transition from a carrycot into a pushchair. Signs to look out for include, when your baby can sit up unaided, when they are able to control their head/neck movements and can fit comfortably within the seat unit safety harness.
When can my baby sit up in a stroller?
If you plan to use a stroller with a newborn, it must be able to recline to a lie-flat position. The stroller must also offer adequate head and back support for young babies. Most umbrella strollers aren’t appropriate for babies until aged 6 months or over.
How do I fold my pram?
Pushchair folding methods vary from brand to brand and pushchair to pushchair. When purchasing a pushchair the fold is an important consideration to make in order to ensure that it fits into your lifestyle. For instance, do you need a one-handed fold? Do you regularly use public transport? Do you have limited storage for a pushchair at home? Or a small car boot? There are a variety of fold types including an umbrella or half fold. Most brands demonstrate different pushchair folds via online video content. Retailers also offer in-store pushchair demonstrations.
Can I take my pushchair on a plane?
Most major airlines offer 1-2 free additional baby items alongside the set baggage allowance, i.e. pushchair, travel cot, car seat or booster seat.
After checking in, generally, parents will be allowed to keep hold of their buggy until boarding the plane when it will be taken to store in the hold for the journey. However, don’t take this for granted as some airlines will ask you to check in your pushchair with your luggage if it is over a certain size so always check their policy. Be prepared to hand over your pushchair early by taking along a baby carrier/sling to make things easier whilst in the departure lounge. It’s always worth investing in a travel bag to protect your pushchair against dirt and scratches as it is likely to be thrown around in the hold.
Many pushchairs are now specially designed to fit into overhead plane lockers and can be carried onto the plane as a piece of hand luggage. However, as with larger items of hand luggage, there’s not necessarily a guarantee that the pushchair will be able to go onto the plane so always be prepared for it to be taken off you at the last minute! These compact pushchairs, which will be within the maximum hand weight dimensions, are lightweight so are not only great for navigating the airport but are easy to lift and store in the overhead locker.
Storing the pushchair in the overhead locker means you will have instant access to it as soon as you land. Upon landing, if the plane is then connected to the terminal via a tunnel it’s a simple case of putting up the pushchair, popping baby in and wheeling it off the plane.
If you took your pushchair right up to the gate, you will collect it from the gate upon arrival. If the pushchair was checked in with your luggage, you will need to collect it via the same baggage carousel as your suitcase.
Can my baby sleep in a pram overnight?
A pushchair carrycot can double up as baby’s first bed if approved to do so by the manufacturer. This is a great money-saving option as it avoids the need to purchase a separate Moses basket or crib. It is important that the mattress is firm and clean so if you are using a second-hand carrycot it is advisable to replace the mattress. Use a waterproof mattress protector to protect the mattress from spills and stock up on plenty of fitted sheets.
When should I buy my pram?
There is no right or wrong time to buy your baby’s pram but you may want to purchase your pushchair in plenty of time so that you can assemble it and test it out before the baby arrives! If you are buying a travel system bundle then ensure you purchase this ahead of baby’s arrival as hospitals will only let the baby leave in a car seat.
It is also important to be mindful of where you will store the pushchair ahead of your baby’s arrival. If you are planning to spread the cost of the pushchair through a flexible payment scheme such as Klarna then it's worth thinking about this early on so that you can plan your monthly expenditure. Alternatively, you may want to hold on for a particular offer or sale.
Are 3 wheel prams safe to use?
All pushchairs in the UK should carry a safety label confirming the name, trademark and identification of the UK manufacturer, distributor and retailer. In principle, there should not be safety differences between three or four-wheel pushchairs but like any form of transport, there are a number of safety factors to consider throughout its use. Regularly check the brakes, locking devices, safety harness and pushchair stability. It is important to be mindful of your pushchair’s weight limit and the weight limit of any associated ride-on-board.