Choosing the best stroller or buggy
By Lisa Galliers
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Stroller or buggy? Find out if you need one, when to buy it and how to choose the best stroller or buggy for your baby.
Just want to read our stroller reviews? Check out our top five popular lightweight buggies reviews.
The lowdown on strollers
Strollers – also known as buggies or lightweight buggies – come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from the lightest, most basic strollers to more robust models with lots of added features. As a result, they suit a wide variety of people.
Some parents buy a pushchair or travel system first, then add a stroller when their baby is older, or keep a stroller in the boot for trips out in the car or on public transport.
Pros: A good buggy will be light and nippy enough to push, easy to manoeuvre and simple to fold down.
Cons: Not all strollers are suitable for newborns and babies under six months old as the backrest won't recline far enough, or they won't have enough padding to support a young baby. Strollers usually can't take carrycots or car seats – there are some exceptions, though.
Strollers tend to have a small wheel base, which means there's not much space for storing lots of shopping and their small, hard wheels means they're more suited to pavements than off-road or rough terrain.
A buggy can cost as little as £20 up to over £200.
How much does a stroller cost?
There is a wide range of strollers available at many different price points, so whatever your budget there will be a buggy for you.
At the cheapest end you can pick one up for less than £20 – just don't expect much more than a frame, a fabric seat and some wheels.
A mid-range model will likely set you back around £100 and will have a few more features, such as a hood, shopping basket, possibly some extra pockets for storage and an adjustable leg rest or a seat back that will recline to make daytime naps a bit more comfy.
Top-of-the-range models can cost much more. A Maclaren can cost more than £200. But for this you'll get a pretty sturdy stroller that you can use from birth, a nice padded seat, larger wheels with some suspension and a whole host of adjustable features.
Double models start at around £150 for a basic lightweight double stroller.
Should I buy a stroller?
You'll usually begin to use a stroller or buggy when your little one reaches around six months old, as that's when they start sitting up unaided and can support their own weight. Some parents will still have a pushchair as well as a buggy.
The small and lighweight size of strollers make them a must for urban parents who regularly use public transport and are a good choice to take on holiday or on day trips.
They're usually cheaper than more elaborate travel systems, so they also make a good second pushchair to leave with the grandparents or your childminder.
Strollers for newborns
There are some strollers that can be used from birth; this means the seat back can be reclined to a lie-flat position like the Maclaren Quest, or you'll be able to buy a newborn accessory pack to convert the seat like the Silver Cross Reflex.
It may sound tempting to buy a buggy to use from birth right up until you no longer need to use a pushchair, but there are a few things to consider:
- A stroller can be less sturdy than a pushchair, or may not have much suspension, so tend to give a bit more of a bumpy ride.
- Also, on some models your baby can actually be closer to the ground which means more bending down for new parents.
- Many strollers have a forward-facing seat which can't be reversed so your baby can face you. If you want to keep your baby facing you for that all-important parent-baby interaction, you may want to consider a pushchair or travel system instead. There are some buggies available now that do have this feature, though, such as the Baby Jogger Vue and the Cosatto To & Fro.
Stroller travel systems
There are a range of travel-system strollers available now. These are more sturdy than the traditional buggy, can be used from birth and can take a car seat or sometimes a carrycot.
The Bugaboo Bee 3 is one of the best-selling urban strollers. It's also quite expensive, costing more than £500 simply for the chassis. Its lightweight and compact design is very popular with urban parents. This type of buggy is also compatible with a car seat which makes it a travel system, too.
Top five stroller choosing tips
1. Think about your lifestyle
If you'll stick to pavements, the park and shops, a basic stroller will be fine, but fans of long country walks should look for a model with bigger wheels and suspension for a more comfy ride. Car users should choose a model that can take a car seat.
2. Do you want to use your stroller from birth?
If you want to use your stroller from birth, look for one that has a seat unit that reclines far enough, or has a newborn accessory pack to convert the seat to a lie-flat position. Otherwise most strollers can be used once your baby reaches six months of age.
3. Think about storage
Will the buggy fit in your car boot when folded, and will it fit in your home unfolded? Also check that the buggy has a large enough shopping basket for your needs – strollers don't usually have much storage space. Our reviews will give you the space measurements.
4. Check what's included
The cheapest and most basic buggy may not even include a hood, some buggies won't come with a rain cover, and you'll probably have to fork out for a footmuff to keep your baby cosy. Check any accessories before setting your heart on a model or you could end up paying a lot extra.
5. Try before you buy
If you can, head to the shops and try out the model you want. Try folding it and unfolding, and walking around with it. Use the brakes and recline the seat, and get a feel for it before you buy. Don't forget to do this before your bump gets too big if you're buying a stroller to use from birth!