Prams and pushchairs - a buyer's guide

Buying all the kit for a new baby can be exciting, but it's also expensive, which means you'll want to get those big ticket items right first time.

Prams and pushchairs from Mothercare

Pic: Mothercare

With so many prams, pushchairs and car seats on the market these days, buying can be a bewildering experience. Here are our top tips for ensuring you make the right purchase.

Consider your needs
How you live day-to-day will make a difference to which is the best pram or pushchair for you. For instance, if you use public transport regularly or have a lot of stairs to climb with baby, a lightweight and easy-to-fold design will make life easier. Those with cars will need to measure the size of the boot in order to choose a pram or pushchair that fits comfortably when folded. And you may want to consider a multi-function option that combines an infant carrier and pushchair, allowing you to it out of the car and into the pushchair without disturbing the baby.

Also think about the ideal handle height for both you and your partner (it's not just baby who needs to be comfortable), or choose a model that has adjustable heights.

What to choose
Aside from the aforementioned considerations, you'll need to take into account a number of factors when deciding on the perfect pushchair.

Pram and pushchair combinations
A flexible option is the three-in-one pram and pushchair combination, which can be used in conjunction with a carrycot or infant carrier, making the job of getting in and out of the car easier. These combination pushchairs convert from a lieback position facing mum or dad, to a sitting pushchair design where your little one can see the world.

Usually compatible with an infant carrier, pushchairs are generally easy to fold and compact once folded. If you have a newborn though, make sure you choose one with a lie-back seat rather than just the standard reclining bucket seat.

If you plan to be in and out of the car on a frequent basis with baby, check to see how your preferred model folds, as some are easier than others, and consider the weight you'll have to lug if you travel regularly. Pushchairs come with a variety of differing wheels as well, from fixed (ideal for rough surfaces), to swivel (easy to manoeuvre), to lockable (a sturdy option).

Three-wheeler pushchairs are ideal if you're the active type, as they are easy to move around and can be used on rough terrain.

Traditional prams have made something of a comeback in recent years, and the benefit of these is that baby can stay nice and warm in the carrycot and lie flat. These days you can find prams that can be altered from rear-facing to the outward-looking seated position.

Similar to a pushchair, buggies are a lightweight and versatile option, but many are not compatible with carrycots or infant carriers, so they might not be the best choice for transport, whether that be by car or public transport, although there are some that feature a lie-back function for new babies.

In the happy event of twins, or if you have a toddler and a new baby, a tandem or double buggie is ideal. Both usually feature lie-back positions as well as reclining seats.

Safety checks
Once you've made your choice, it is essential to ensure that it is safe for your little one. Any new pushchair sold in the UK will be required to meet British standards, with some travel systems forced to comply with European standards, but it is important that you familiarise yourself with the safety aspects of your particular pram before you head out with baby.

Read through the instructions carefully, trying out the opening and closing mechanisms, brakes and locking, and ensure that anyone else who might take baby for a walk has done the same. Before heading out and about, always check that the locking devices are secure, and make sure your child is strapped in with the five-point harness. If you have older children walking alongside make sure their fingers are well away from hinges when you come to open and collapse the pushchair.

And if you're likely to end up with heavy shopping while you're out with your child, be sure to use the dedicated shopping tray or basket, to avoid tipping the pram or pushchair over.

Prams and pushchairs vary greatly in terms of price, starting from around £250 up to nearly £1,000. But whatever your budget, it really is important to get the model that best suits your lifestyle and your baby's needs, so don't be afraid to ask sales staff to help you try them out, and choose wisely.

Have you recently welcomed a new baby to the family? What pram or pushchair advice would you give to other expectant parents? Leave your comments below...