Everything you need to know before you buy a pram
First things first: the key to finding the right pram is to understand and prioritise the features that are going to be most important to you. No one pram can be a perfect fit for everyone, but understanding what's going to fit into your lifestyle and make your life with a new bub easier will go a long way towards finding the perfect pram!
This guide covers the key info you need to know before you buy a pram:
1. Types of Prams and Strollers and the pros and cons of each
2. Key Considerations before you buy a pram, like how you'll be using the pram, future proofing and budget
3. Pram and Stroller Features including what's available, what's a must-have and what you need to be looking for
Types of Prams & Strollers
There's a lot of variety out there in pram-land, which can be both a blessing and a curse. The first point of call will be understanding the different types of baby transport and the pros and cons of each.
Watch: We run you through what a travel system is and how it can make a mum's life even easier!
Travel systems can be configured for use with a bassinet (for bubs aged 0-6 months), stroller seat or infant car capsule (that fits on both your pram and in your car) depending on your need. They can be single prams (like the Babybee ROVER) or have the ability to add a second bassinet or seat (like the Babybee DUO2)
Pros of a Travel System style pram:
Generally, all seating options can face in either direction and the seat typically reclines to 180° flat. They are a great flexible option for new parents who are using a car capsule for their newborn, as well as a bassinet for longer trips in the pram.
Travel Systems can be used from birth and will last up to 4 years depending on the size of the stroller seat. Travel Systemsare far sturdier than lightweight prams and offer a smoother ride.
Cons of a Travel System style pram:
Travel Systems are larger in size than most lightweight prams and can be heavier and less compact when folded. They will often will have smaller seats than fixed seat strollers and generally can't be used for jogging or off-road terrain.
Things to check:
Is the bassinet and/or car capsule included in the price of the pram?What car capsules are compatible with the pram?
FIXED SEAT PRAMS
Suitable for children 6 months and up, fixed-seat strollers will generally have the largest seat-size of any stroller model. They are often lighter and more compact than 2-in-1 models when folded and do not require the seat to be removed when folding. The fixed seat, however, will mean that you miss out on the flexibility and benefits that come with a reversible seat. Some models will have the ability to use a soft-shell bassinet or cocoon or attach a capsule for newborns.
Did you know that your baby is more likely to fall asleep in a parent-facing pram than in a forward-facing pram? It's all in the eye contact between parent and baby – this not only strengthens the bond between you and your child, but it also makes your baby feel more content and secure therefore encouraging sleep!
Pros of a fixed seat pram:
- Larger seat back height
- Generally more compact fold and lighter weight than travel-systems
Cons of a fixed seat pram:
- Can't reverse the seat or bassinet
- Often not suitable for newborn
Things to check:
Can it accommodate a bassinet or cocoon?What car capsules are compatible (if any)?
DOUBLE PRAMS: SIDE-BY-SIDE
There’s no doubt that double prams are a convenient way of transporting two children at once. Especially during a hectic day, the ability to strap both kids into the stroller and get going is priceless. There are many options for two-seater prams and strollers on the market and the first step in starting your research is to narrow down your options by selecting the type of double pram or double stroller that will best suit your family.
Side-by-side prams (sometimes called double buggy's or twin strollers) usually have two, fixed seats and can come with or without a newborn compatible cocoon. Each seat can be reclined independently of the other.
Pros of a side-by-side double pram:
- Easy to manoeuvre
- Extremely sturdy and handles uneven terrain easier
Cons of a side-by-side double pram:
- Wider than tandem or inline prams
- Usually have fixed seats and less configuration options
- Larger to fold
DOUBLE PRAMS: TANDEM, 2-IN-1 & INLINE
Watch: All the possible ways you can configure a tandem pram!
Tandem, 2-in-1 or inline prams are the newest style of double pram to come on themarket and offer parents unmatched flexibility for transporting bubs around town. Many of the tandem prams on the market double up as travel systems and can be used in combination of stroller seats, bassinets and car capsules.
Pros of a tandem pram:
- Some tandem prams double up as a travel system and can be used with car capsules
- Usually around the same width as a travel system making them easier to squeeze in smaller spaces
- Perfect for growing families and can be used as a single stroller before your second bub arrives
Cons of a fixed seat pram:
- Harder to manoeuvre than single or side-by-side prams
- Heavier than side-by-side style prams
LIGHTWEIGHT & COMPACT STROLLERS
Sometimes referred to as "umbrella" strollers, these are the cheapest, most compact and simplest form of stroller. They fold up to resemble a - you guessed it! - umbrella, or compact box perfect for travel. Some are specifically designed for air-travel, folding into a carry-on size or coming withe a protective travel bag or case.
Pros of lightweight strollers:
- They’re great for quick trips and the car
- Easy to travel with
Cons oflightweight strollers:
- The fixed seat will only face outward and will not be suitable for newborns
- Won't be as sturdy, comfortable or last as long as other strollers
- Not suitable for any off road terrain or long walks
Things to check:
Can it be taken on board as a carry-on? And what are the weight and height limits?
As its name suggests, Joggers or Jogging Strollers are designed to be ran with and have 3 wheels instead of 4. As these are designed specifically for running, they are lightweight with little resistance so they are easy to push. Please note that ALL Joggers are not to be used with babies 0-6 months, with each manufacturer stating different age limits (some say 8 months, others from 1 year onward).
Pros of joggers:
- The only pram type that is suited for running with your baby
- Lightweight and designed to be pushed easily
Cons of joggers:
- The fixed seat will only face outward and will not be suitable for newborns
- Very bulky and wide
- You must run with the front wheel locked, therefore many people find the steering difficult
- Many babies and toddlers don't like the movement they encounter whilst in a jogger
Things to check:
How many times do you think you will go for a run? Would you get more use from an everyday pram?
What will you use your pram or stroller for the most? There is no point buying a jogging pram if realistically, you're going running once in a blue moon! If you want a pram to take shopping, then you definitely need something with a good amount of storage space. If you want to take your newborn out, you'll need to ensure the pram comes with either a bassinet or a newborn cocoon to ensure bub is safe and comfortable.
Another key thing to consider is where and who will be using the pram. If you are a single parent or want to be able to take bub out for plenty of activities and in and out of the car, then you will need to look for prams that offer easy folding and aren't too heavy for you to put in and out of a car.
Weight & Size
As a rough guide, lightweight prams are anywhere between 3-8kg, 3 or 4 mid to larger prams are anywhere between 7.5-15kg and double prams are often between 10-20kg. As mentioned earlier, this is extremely important if you intend on taking bub and your pram in and out of your car on your own, so be sure to know what weight pram you realistically could manage on your own.
When it comes to size, compact prams aren't the only option for finding a slimline pram. Many travel systems also offer pram widths from as little as 58cm wide, so be sure to read the exact specifications of all prams before you make any decision. You also want to ensure that the handlebar is at a comfortable height for both parents and can be adjusted accordingly rather than set at a fixed height.
A few things to consider:
- Will it fit through doors or checkouts?
- How important is it that it’s simple to collapse and set it up in a hurry?
- When collapsed is it easy for you to carry?
- And light enough to lift into your car?
- Will the pram fit into the boot of your car?
- Can the handle bar be adjusted to a comfortable height for both parents to use?
Let's be honest - prams are expensive, so you want to ensure you are getting bang for your buck! Having a think about not just your family situation now, but what the future may hold is important if you want to ensure you get maximum longevity from your pram. Generally 2 in 1 or 3 in 1 travel systems will give you the best flexibility and room for growth with a bassinet, car capsule or seat option. If purchasing for a newborn, parent facing and a fully flat option are recommend by experts for optimal development. Purchasing either a travel system that allows for a second seat or bassinet to be attached to the frame is your best bet in future proofing yourself. A toddler buggy board or skateboard is another great option that allows your toddler to stand on and ride along behind the pram.
Set your budget early and don’t be tempted to exceed it. To some extent you’ll get what you pay for; however; safe, quality, well-designed prams are becoming increasingly more affordable. Retailers markup prices from anywhere between 50-90%, so buying a pram online is a great way to ensure you get a great quality pram that fits within your budget! If you do spend big, make sure you’re getting all the features on your list and a lengthy warranty.
Pram Features To Look Out For
Most pram frames are made from either aluminium or steel. You can get ultra lightweight plastic frames that are cheaper and great for the beach (won’t rust); however, they’re not designed to last long and should be avoided if you are looking to get a good 3 years from your pram. Seats, bassinets and canopies are typically made using a combination of plastic and fabrics. Most pram and stroller fabrics clean up quite well with a damp cloth, but it helps to be able to at least remove parts for easy cleaning if they’re not machine washable. Separate fabric packs (ie. canopies, matres covers) allow you to refresh your look and smell of the pram and extend its life. Other parts such as handles, latches and buttons will usually be made from rubber or plastic, but some stylist designs offer incorporate features such as vegan leather or bamboo lining for that extra hint of luxury.
Experts recommend the use of bassinets for babies less than 6 months old as the safest travel option for their development and safety. Lying flat ensures your baby’s airways remain clear, reducing the risk of SUID (Sudden Unexpected Infant Death – formerly called SIDS).
A flat, firm surface also allows newborns to stretch out and move freely which is important for both muscle and spinal development (your baby is developing rapidly during this period). Some key pram features that are the best option for newborns include:
- Prams with parent-facing seats are best for newborn bonding and development
- Bassinet bases with "feet" which ensures the fabric does not get dirty when placed on the ground, ensuring best hygiene practices
- Bassinets with carry handles to easily transport bub to and from the pram
- Easy to remove bassinets from pram frames to ensure your bub is not bumped or disturbed whilst sleeping
STROLLER SEAT FEATURES
Key features to look out for to ensure you get the best possible quality stroller seat include:
- Fully reclinable stroller seat to allow for sleeping
- On the other hand, you also ideally want the seat to sit fully upright for inquisitive toddlers
- Seat height is crucial in ensuring you see the maximum life out of your pram - be sure to check the height and additional headroom under the canopy
- For maximum flexibility, look for prams with reversible seats or handles so the seat can face both forwards and backwards
- How much leg room will your toddler have and will their feet be far enough away from the ground?
- Check to see how far the canopy will extend - the more extension, the more protection from the elements
- Prams with bumper bars are great for kids to hang onto, attach toys to and are an added safety feature
- Washable seat liners will allow for easy cleaning and increase the life of your stroller seat
- Some canopies come with a "peekaboo" flap so you can keep an eye on your baby even with the seat facing forwards
- To ensure the maximum life of your stroller seat, look out for products with a weight .limit of at least 15kg
WHEELS, BRAKES & MANOEUVRABILITY
There are 4 common types of pram wheels:
$ Solid EVA:
Light, puncture free wheels made from a rubbery like, plastic. Best suited to even-paved surfaces and indoor floors. The plastic is prone to getting small stones and gravel stuck in or leaving small dents/marks. This won't effect performance it just leaves them looking worn. Found on many cheaper prams and travel strollers.
$$ Solid PU:
Slightly heavier than EVA they are made with a high quality rubber substance which is resistant to small stones and gravel and therefore remain in great condition and also last a lot longer than EVA. The density of rubber can vary from hard to quite spongy (almost mimicking air-tyre cushioning). They can be used on any surface.
$$ Air tyres:
Heavier again than PU, air-filled tyres offer additional cushioning which is great for rough terrain and outdoor exercise. Like bike tyres, they will require the maintenance, pumping-up and may need to have the inner tube (or whole tyre) replaced if punctured.
$$$ Foam filled:
An air tyre filled with foam rather than air. They do not require maintenance but are the heaviest option and typically most expensive.
- Does the pram or stroller have front swivel wheels to make manoeuvring easier? It’s useful if they can be locked when travelling at higher speeds or over rough terrain to avoid what’s known an “wheel shudder”
- Large rear wheels tend to be better on kerbs
- Is the rear brake easily accessible and easy to use? Linked brakes allow both wheels to brake with a single action rather than individually
- Front brakes are particularly handy with a reversible handle so you have a brake on both sides
- Hand brakes will be convenient for jogging prams
As many pre-existing pram owners will tell you - do NOT overlook how important storage is going to be when using a pram. Getting around town with a pram (in particular, navigating small spaces) can be a challenge to get used to. Think about the added pain if you are forced to carry your handbag, drink bottle and shopping in addition to the pram or stroller?
Ensure you investigate how much storage space and the weight limit of the storage space. Prams that offer accessories including a handlebar bag or cup holder are a great option and are very reasonably priced. Additional pockets are also a big win!
SAFETY STANDARDS OF AUSTRALIAN PRAMS
Always look for strollers and prams certified to the Australian safety standards AS/NZS 2088 and look at the date at the end of that number (the most current is 2013).
Some key things to check:
- The mechanism that activates the brake is red
- A tether strap is attached to the handlebar that allows the pusher of the pram to be tethered to it whilst in use
- Seats which recline more than 150° require a head barrier of some sort
- Does the canopy offer a reasonable amount of shade?
Ready To Stroll!
With so many options out there, buying a pram or stroller can seem daunting to say the least! We recommend having a think about what features are must have vs nice to have, and setting your budget early.
With a bit of research, we know you'll find the perfect pram for you and your family!
If you have any questions about buying a pram (or anything at all), you can reach us at email@example.com.