Buying your first pram or stroller can be daunting because you just don’t know what features you might want or need. In this post, I’ll help you learn the key things to look out for when shopping for your first pram and help you make that all-important buying decision even when you haven’t got much, or any, experience to rely on.
I’ve broken this post down into subsections so you can easily find what you’re looking for but I recommend you start at the beginning and then just skip sections that aren’t relevant to you. I say this because I’ve structured the article with the really key decision points up front. If you don’t make those decisions first, you may end up choosing a pram or narrowing down your choices to models that actually don’t meet your needs.
NB – from now on I’m going to exclusively use the word pram to describe all pram and stroller options because it’ll make this easier to read and because there can be a lot of overlap between the two types of child transport. I’ve written a supplementary article if you need to know the difference between a pram and a stroller.
Are you having twins, triplets or more?
If you’re having multiple babies, you obviously need to look for a pram that can hold the required number of children. Be careful though that the prams you investigate have the required number seats and that all those seats are suitable for a newborn. Some prams are only designed to carry a newborn and one or more older children and so these will not be safe for your babies at least when they’re first born. (If you don’t need a pram when they’re first born, you might be able to get away with such a model – you may find life difficult for the first few weeks though.)
The exception to this is prams that can be made suitable for newborns through the use of an attachment. Some prams can hold multiple bassinet attachments that may make them suitable for your family. Some prams have adaptors that enable car capsules to be attached to the pram in place of seats and this may also make them suitable for your family.
You also need to choose whether you want a side-by-side pram or a tandem (in-line) pram (see the ‘tandem vs. in-line’ section below).
Are you having a singleton but planning to have more children later on? If so, are you likely to have them close together?
If you’re hoping to have two or more children that will need to travel in a pram at the same time for at least part of their lives, you’ll want to look for prams that are suitable for a single baby but which can be adapted for multiple children. This means you have a little more flexibility as the pram you choose doesn’t have to be capable of carrying multiple newborns.
As with a multiple birth, you have the option of choosing either a side-by-side pram or a tandem (in-line) pram (see the ‘tandem vs. in-line’ section below)
If you’ll have an older child that will mostly be able to walk around on his/her own but who might need transport on long outings, you can probably get away without a dedicated seat for that child. You could instead look for a detachable skateboard/scooter or other ‘ride-on’ attachment, like this EZ Rider.
Tandem vs. in-line for multiple children
When narrowing down your choices for multiple children, you’ll need to consider whether you want a side-by-side pram (like the Mountain Buggy Duet) or an in-line or tandem pram (like the UPPAbaby Vista). Models for three or more children sometimes combine the two modes with two seats side-by-side and then additional seats are situated in front or on top.
Side-by-side seats enable both children (I’ve never seen a pram with more than two seats placed side-by-side) to see the world around them. They can also see each other to some extent. Some models can allow children to face rearward or in opposite directions (like the Bugaboo Donkey2). Some are also suitable for a single child with additional storage (examples include the Mountain Buggy duet as a single and the Bugaboo Donkey2).
Side-by-side prams are usually wider than a standard pram, which can make them hard to use. These prams can make it impossible to shop in shops with narrow aisles and even something as simple yet vital as a trip to the doctor can become a problem if the pram can’t fit through a standard door frame. These prams may not even fit through the doorways in your house so might have to be folded up whenever you want to take them in or out of the house. This is not the case with all side-by-side prams. For instance, the Mountain Buggy Duet is the same width as their standard single pram and it can fit through a standard doorway. The drawback with this model is that the seats for each child are narrower than normal. I have one of these prams for my two children (currently 10 weeks and 20.5 months). My eldest is only in the 15th percentile for height and weight so is quite small for her age and she fits comfortably now. I imagine a larger toddler might be quite squished in the narrower seats. We’ve also found that when we go over rough terrain, her head sometimes knocks against the bars at the side of the seat.
Tandem prams are the same width as a standard single pram. If both seats are the same height and facing forwards, however, only the front child has a good view of the outside world and the kids can’t see each other. Many of the more expensive tandem models overcome these issues by being highly configurable. Their seats can often be switched to rearward facing independently of each other. This means the kids can face each other or one can face forwards and the other can face rearwards. The latter may be especially useful for families with a newborn and older child as the older child can face forwards and see the world while the newborn faces rearwards so you can see him/her more easily. Some such tandem prams also have the seats at different heights so that even if they’re facing the same way, the rear child can still see a fair amount of the world. The UPPAbaby Vista is an example of this kind of setup.
Be aware that some tandem seats are not suitable for newborns. Some manufacturers offer additional attachments to enable newborns to be carried in the pram but this is then an added expense. Some such models are also only capable of carrying one newborn attachment so cannot be used for newborn twins.
If you want both/all kids to be able to nap in their pram, steer clear of tandem prams that have one shorter seat. These seats enable the rear child/children to see through the seat in front but the shorter seats don’t provide any head support. The VeeBee Doubletake Tandem is an example of this kind of pram.
What are you planning to use your pram for?
The kind of pram you get will be heavily dependent on what you want to use it for. In some cases, you may even get multiple prams for different uses.
If you live in a tight-packed city you might choose a light and compact pram. You are unlikely to need rugged-terrain tyres and so can probably get a less-expensive pram. If you use a lot of public transport you might want something that folds up easily and takes up very little room when folded. The same is true if you live in a small apartment or unit. If you need to get your pram on and off public transport or in and out of cars frequently, you will probably prefer a lighter pram. This is especially true if you’re not a very strong person. Weight also becomes a bigger issue if you’re looking for a pram for multiple children.
If you do a lot of plane travel, you may want to look for a pram that is designed to make plane travel easier.
If you do a lot of running and want to run with your child or children in their pram then you’ll need to invest in a model that is specifically designed for jogging. And don’t judge a pram by its name in this respect. For instance, the Baby Jogger prams are not universally suitable for jogging. Their Summit X3 pram is designed for jogging but not all their other prams are.
If you live in a rural area, on a farm or anywhere else that has dirt tracks or lots of really bumpy paths, you’ll probably want to get a pram with inflatable or foam-filled rubber tyres. These provide better grip when needed and are much more suitable for rugged terrain than the plastic wheels found on cheaper prams.
If your lifestyle means you’ll be getting your child/children in and out of the car regularly when they’re young, you might want to look for a pram that has adaptors that enable it to carry one or more car baby capsules instead of a standard seat. That way you can just unclip the baby capsule from the car and clip it onto the pram’s frame, effectively transferring Bub from the car to pram without waking him or her up (in theory anyway). Note that babies typically outgrow these capsules quite quickly so this may only be useful for a short period of time. If you’re looking for this kind of option, some manufacturers refer to it as a travel system.
How long are you planning to use your pram for?
I live a fair way from our nearest town. When I take the kids into town we have to go for the whole day because we have to carpool with my husband (largely because I’m too tired to drive the whole way without falling asleep at the wheel). As a result, we will need a pram for our kids for years to come because even when our eldest is capable of walking around for quite some time, she’ll still be unable to walk around for a whole day. I also go for a 40-60 minute walk every day with the kids and it’ll be a while before I can expect either of them to keep up. So, our family needed a pram from birth and we will need it for three or more years I’d say. As you can imagine, that means we need a pram that will last that long and which is capable of holding a child when they’re taller and heavier.
If you’re in a similar situation, I’d recommend investing in a sturdier, larger pram. But if you only need a pram for short trips to the supermarket etc. while the kids can’t walk, then you may want to stick with a less-expensive pram that isn’t designed to be used by older children.
Do you need to get your pram up steps or curbs?
There is a single step to get into our house through the front door (and a flight for stairs at the back door) so when we were searching for a pram, we had to have one that I could easily ‘pop’ up that step. Our area also has a number of areas where I need to ‘pop’ the pram up over the curb to get from the road to the footpath (not all our footpaths have a nice ramp from the road to the footpath). If you’re in a similar situation, you’ll need to get a pram that enables you to do that ‘pop’ action (the Mountain Buggy Urban Jungle is an example).
This might sound trivial but when we were looking at tandem prams, I found that they were all too heavy at the far end and I really struggled to do the ‘pop’ action even when there wasn’t a child in the pram. I had a c-section and even 10 weeks out I’m still weaker in that area than I was previously so would find it next to impossible now. If we’d chosen one of those tandem prams, I would not be able to get the pram into our house or go for a walk around our town. If you’re a taller person, you’ll have more leverage and will be less likely to struggle with this. Regardless, I recommend you test this out when you’re shopping for prams to make sure the prams you’re looking at are workable for you.
How tall are you?
Some prams have adjustable handlebars making them suitable for short and tall parents and carers. Prams that don’t have adjustable handlebars, or which have handlebars that don’t adjust enough, may be completely unsuitable for you if you’re quite short or tall. Short people will find them difficult to push and tall people may find they have to stoop to push the pram, leading ultimately to a very sore back, neck and shoulders. If you plan to use your pram a lot, you need to make sure the pram you eventually choose is comfortable to use.
Are you interested in a second-hand pram?
Getting a second-hand pram can save you a lot of money and is great for the environment. Just be sure the models you look at comply with the current safety standards in your area. If you’re researching features and accessories that are sold separately, you’ll also need to make sure you’re researching the right model as some models keep the same name from year to year even when they get a design upgrade.
What to look for in your future pram’s design
Once you’ve answered all the above questions, you’ll have ruled out a few classes of pram and can start comparing various models in one or a narrow range of pram classes. This is when the less crucial aspects of pram design become a factor in your purchase decision. Here are some things to look at.
Prams either have foot-operated breaks or a break on the handlebars. I find the latter to be much easier to use but you will likely have your own preference so try a few out. Some double (and triple etc.) prams have an additional bicycle-like break on the handlebar to help you control the speed of the pram on hills and when running, which is very handy on those heavier prams.
Most prams have a hood that can be pulled out to shade your child from the bright sun. The design of these hoods varies widely, however.
Some prams have quite narrow hoods that only provide protection from the sun when it’s basically directly overhead. This may mean that you have to add a blanket or wrap to provide extra sun protection.
Some narrow hoods can be detached from the pram backrest so that they can be positioned in front of Bub if needed. Our first pram was like this and we found it quite handy. Unfortunately, our second pram (which we had to get when we had our second child) has hoods that can be detached but once detached they lose their ability to stand erect and flop onto the child underneath. This causes no end of frustration because when I try to provide extra sun protection with a cloth, my eldest gets frustrated with not being able to see out of the pram properly and pulls it off!
My friend’s pram has a really deep hood that can be expanded to provide full sun coverage when needed. This is a great feature that she uses all the time.
The amount of storage space in prams varies greatly so if you need to carry a lot around with your kids or you want to shop with them, you’ll probably want to choose a pram with a large storage capacity.
I’ve already mentioned the benefits of investing in rubber tyres. But if you think punctures are likely to be an issue for you, you may want to opt for foam-filled, puncture-proof tyres over inflatable ones. Air-filled versions tend to make the ride the smoothest but foam-filled versions are almost as good and they have the added benefit of not needing to be inflated and they won’t need to be fixed if they get a tiny hole. This saves hassle and money in the long run if you would otherwise get at least one puncture in an inflatable version.
Availability of accessories
We go walking in all weather (except hail) so bug netting for warm weather and a rain cover for wet and windy weather have been very useful for us. Generic versions of both are available and we used these on our single pram. When we got a double pram we spent the extra dollars to get the genuine rain/storm cover and I’m so glad we did because the front unzips so I can get the kids out of the pram without having to take the cover off. If you plan to use your pram in all weather, I recommend investigating these accessories.
Some prams have snack and drink accessories that are handy for toddlers. Generic ones fit some prams but certainly not all of them. You may also be interested in parent accessories like phone holders.
If you’re looking at a side-by-side double pram, you may want to look out for a nappy bag that will attach to the wider handlebars.
Not all prams come with a belly bar by default but I haven’t found them to be all that useful so I wouldn’t worry about this.
Some prams come with ‘luxury’ options like a leather handlebar or alternative fabrics. Unless a pram has the option for sun-resistant fabric, these are pretty much aesthetic choices.
Still have questions?
If you’re curious about something I haven’t mentioned, get in touch via the comments below, via email or on social media and I’ll see what I can do to resolve your query. Otherwise, good luck with your pram decision!
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