The Insider: How to get a handle on the basics of buggies

The average parent spends more than £600 on pushchairs and car seats, so you'll want to make sure you don't end up buying a buggy with wayward wheels. Not only do they come in a confusing array of shapes, sizes and styles, they can also be called all sorts of names; from buggies to strollers to travel systems.

"It's easy for first-time parents to be drawn to fabrics and design, mistaking pushchairs that look good for the answer to all their baby-transporting problems," says Martyn Hocking, editor of Which?. "But parents need to think about safety, durability, stability, and how they'll cope with everyday activities such as strolling along pavements, negotiating steps, using public transport and being stored in a car boot."

Pramettes are pushchairs with a seat that converts into a pram-style body that a baby can lie flat in. They are therefore ideal for newborns, who need the back support of a fully reclining pushchair, but they can be bulky because they're designed to do two different jobs.

The simplest, lightest buggies or strollers are little more than a chair on wheels, though heavier models offer features such as a rain cover, reclining backrest and hood. They're ideal for day-to-day use, compact, and easy to transport, although some aren't suitable for newborns as they don't recline far enough, and many aren't ideal for bumpy ground.

Travel systems and combination pushchairs can be used with a car seat and/or pram body and are ideal if you use your car a lot as it is easy to transfer your baby in and out. They tend to be larger and more expensive than ordinary buggies though.

All-terrain pushchairs usually have three wheels with chunky tyres, and will provide a smooth, comfortable ride on rough ground for babies older than six months. On the downside though, they can be heavy, bulky and difficult to use on public transport.

One of the best strollers that Which? has tested is the Chicco Multiway, which, at around £100, is rated as "exceptional value". It's suitable to use from birth due to the reclining seat and head support, and testers praised it for being sturdy, nimble and easy to use and to lift. On the downside, it's quite long and doesn't fit lengthways in the boot of a mid-sized car.

The Bugaboo Bee was the best scoring travel system, and impressed Which?'s testers as it was comfortable to push, easy to manoeuvre, sturdy and practical. The seat reclines to five different positions, but the maximum recline is 145 degrees, which is slightly below the 150 degree recline that is best for newborn babies, and there is no leg rest. It's a pricey, but stylish, choice at about £370.

Where to buy

It's essential to try out a pushchair before buying. Stockists include major nursery chains such as Mothercare, Babies 'R' Us and Mamas & Papas, chain stores like Argos, Boots and John Lewis, major supermarkets, and local independent nursery stores. If you're considering a second-hand pushchair, a good place to start is a National Childbirth Trust (NCT) nearly new sale, where you can try before you buy.

You can check where to get the best deals on a range of baby products including pushchairs at www.which.co.uk/babyequipment

Questions to ask...

How comfortable is it?

Test drive to find a model that's comfortable. Look for height-adjustable handles, which are angled to support a natural wrist position, and brakes that are easy to apply but don't protrude or obstruct your feet.

How easy is it to manoeuvre?

Check how easy it is to move in a tight space, do a complete about-face, tip backwards to mount kerbs, and change direction abruptly. If you use public transport regularly, pick a lightweight and easy-folding pushchair with a one-handed fold mechanism.

How easy is it to lift?

Some larger pushchairs can be very heavy, so if your local terrain or daily routine features lots of stairs and kerbs, consider buying a lighter-weight pushchair. Lifting some pushchairs from the car boot can also be a challenge.

Will it fit in your car?

Measure your boot opening and check you can fit the pushchair and all its accessories in before you buy. Most pushchairs are between 95 and 115 cm long when folded – but Which? has found it hard to fit pushchairs longer than 105 cm into a medium-sized car such as a VW Golf or Hyundai Accent.

What extras does it come with?

Some come with rain covers, sun shades and cup holders.

The Insider is written by Which?, the independent consumer champion. For more information go to www.which.co.uk/pushchairs. To get three issues of Which? magazine for a special price of £3, call 01992 822800 and quote INADVICE.

theinsider@independent.co.uk

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment
'I do think a woman's place is eventually in the home, but I see no harm in her having some fun before she gets there.'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live for fans at Enmore Theatre on June 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
music
Sport
Dave Mackay lifts the FA Cup in 1967 having skippered Spurs to victory
football
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

    £20000 - £21000 per annum + uncapped commission: SThree: As a graduate you are...

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn