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Shopping for your first set of wheels

What to consider before buying your pushchair.

From modular systems to pushchairs, carrycots to tandems, there is a bewildering set of choices for parents-to-be and an even more eye-watering number of brands and style options to choose between. We spoke to Phil Howe, UK Country Manager for Peg Perego on what things parents should think about before they buy.

Why is getting your pushchair right so important? 

“There is no denying that buying your pushchair is a very important purchase. And parents know this. Those first outings with your little one are magical. The first photo in their car seat as you leave the hospital together will be shown to countless friends and family. Stepping out as a family for the first time with your baby safely snuggled in their carrycot or lie-flat pushchair is a rite of passage and from then onwards, the system becomes an expression of who you are, your style, your identity as a parent. Style and substance are equal partners in this highly pressured purchase.

As a result, many parents will embark on their research asking friends and family for advice, and eyeing-up systems while out and about. They will come to the shop with a brand and colour in mind, only to be drawn to options they haven’t seen before. And this is fine. It’s to be encouraged!

Everyone will have an opinion. It’s likely on more than one occasion your parents will tell you there was never this much choice when you were a baby!

Our key piece of advice is to take your time with your choice. Don’t buy a particular system because your friend tells you it’s the best, or because your neighbour has it. Don’t be afraid to shop around, experiment and try before you buy!

It’s so important to find the one that is right for you and your partner. We recommend doing your research and choosing three brands that match up to your personal criteria, then putting them through their paces.

These are the questions I would always ask

    Are you city living? In which case storage size and manoeuvrability will be key factors for you.
•    Country living? Handling, suspension and agility will be important to assess.
•    Love to travel? Will your chosen pushchair adapt to your requirements at home and abroad?
•    Are you planning to grow your family quickly? In which case the flexibility of a single pushchair that converts into a tandem should be a consideration.
•    Will you keep the same car? If so, the boot space, and size and weight of the folded system is important.
•    Using public transport? How does the chassis fold? Can you do this with one hand if needs be?

Once you’ve whittled it down to three, get out to the shops to try them out. Experiment with swapping over modular parts, practice folding them down, manoeuvre around the shop, try the brake. Push with one hand. Then leave. Let the experience sink in and see how you feel a few days later. Only when you have chosen the system, then choose your colour.

This may all sound extreme, but you will not regret it. We know what a big decision this purchase is, so do not feel rushed into it. We are told time and again by parents that when they finally take the decision and make the purchase it’s a significant weight off their mind.

So, to help you even further we asked Peg Perego, the stylish Italian heritage brand to tell us the more unusual questions they get asked by parents-to-be when considering their modular systems. They compiled their top ten. You may want to consider these too when you visit the shops to put your top three choices through their paces!

Should I think about the weight?

Yes! This is very important to know – especially with modular systems. First, you need to think about how heavy the carrycot is once it is off the chassis because you will always need to remove the carrycot from the chassis to travel in the car (unless you choose the Peg Perego Pop-up carrycot which folds down while still on the chassis!). Too heavy and it will be cumbersome to lift, especially shortly after giving birth. Also, what is the weight of the chassis with and without the pushchair seat? Establish if the seat unit even folds on the chassis. This is important to know especially if you are using public transport or have limited space in the car. Lightweight options are very popular. 

Wheels. What’s to know?

Believe it or not, the wheels are a very important part of the system and should not be overlooked. Parents often favour tubeless, solid tyres as they are puncture proof. When purchasing wheels like this it’s important there is adequate suspension to ensure a smooth ride for baby and maximum manoeuvrability for you. This will mean less effort is required to push. Also look for front wheels that are lockable and swivelling. An added bonus are those that can be removed as this creates more storage space in the car or at home. It also helps in the event of mud!

Think about the fold?

Once again we cannot stress how important this is. You will be folding the chassis every day. You must ensure that you are happy with how it folds and unfolds, so get the assistant to show you and try it for yourselves. Make sure you are happy with all aspects of the product, understand how everything works, how do you adjust handle, swivel and lock the wheels, fix the brake etc. All elements are key as you don’t want to find niggles and frustrations once your little one has arrived.

Attaching elements to the chassis?

This is important. There is nothing more frustrating than a great looking system that you struggle to assemble. Especially when time is of the essence, or it’s raining, or you’re tired... Understand how each element fits and removes from the chassis (seat unit, carrycot and car seat). How easy is it? Can you do this with one hand? This will become part of your everyday so you do not want it to become a tiresome effort each time you want to leave the house. Don’t just watch the assistant in the shop. Have a go yourself.

The handle bar

Very important for parents with quite different heights. What’s comfortable for one, might not be so great for the other. It’s important for both parents to feel comfortable as you will both spend many happy hours in the driving seat.

Are all car seats compatible?

This is a routine question and quite fundamental. Many couples like the look of a modular system but have already chosen a specific car seat. Some manufacturers provide universal fittings and all good manufacturers will sell adaptors if not. But it’s a very good question to ask if you have already chosen your car seat.  Once again look at the car seat options available to you, you may see something that you had not considered.

Overnight sleeping

Carrycots can have a dual purpose which many don’t consider. A good quality carrycot, with breathable fabrics, air ventilation, separate mattresses and rocking bases can be used overnight whether at home, or when travelling away. Always ask the retailer for suitability, but those that offer these additional extras along with a stand can even be used to replace a moses basket in the home.

Colour choices

This is an interesting one and something not many people think of. You do not have to buy the whole modular system in the same colour. If you are drawn to one carrycot for those first precious months, but fancy something entirely different for the pushchair seat as the baby grows into an active toddler, then choose a different colour. This is your purchase, so it is entirely your choice. Not everything has to be matching.

Raincovers included?

An all-important purchase for British based parents! For babies born at any time of year, there will always be the need for a raincover and if it is sold separately you will need to factor this into the price. Don’t forget the carrycot and the pushchair will need separate raincovers, so check what is included in the system and the price for both of them.

Should I think about two?

Many couples hope to have children close in age and if so, it’s important to think ahead with this purchase. You may wish to look for a chassis that can take a seat and a carrycot at the same time, not just those that can take two seats. Check you are happy with the placing of the carrycot when it is fully assembled with the seat out front. Can you see your little one in the pushchair? Can you see clearly to drive effectively? Do you understand all the different configurations available (seat unit, carrycot and car seat)? Then make sure you try the product. How does it feel? Fold the chassis and lift it. Some tandems can be quite a bit heavier and you’ll be lifting it on a frequent basis, so don’t buy one you struggle with in the shop. Remember you’ll be using it during your second pregnancy with a small child in tow!”

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Peg Perego

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