Baby Life Topic

Pram/stroller buying guide Transport Suitable for stages: Pregnancy, 0 - 3 Months, 3 - 6 Months, 6 - 12 Months, 12 - 18 Months

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When you or your baby don’t want the carrier, a pram or stroller is invaluable

A pram or stroller is one of the bigger decisions when it comes to preparing for your baby's arrival for a few reasons. The main reason is that these things can get expensive and they have the potential to make transporting your baby around your local area, shopping centre or when travelling, that much easier. There are many ways to transport your baby, so you need to be realistic with yourself about where you will want to be taking your baby, for how long, and how often.

It all gets very confusing once you start to look around because there are so many brands and so many models available. You need to know what features you want and need before you can begin to narrow down your search. 

 

Do I even need a pram/stroller?

A pram or stroller is just one of the many possible methods of transporting your baby. Not everyone will need to buy a pram/stroller, and not everyone will need one through all stages of your baby's first years. Consider if you really need one, or if you want to consider using any combination of the following at different times:

- carrying (in arms/sling/carrier) - is a great option to have a hands-free option for walking around with your baby. See our related articles on baby carriers discover baby carriers topic and Buying Guide.

Ergobaby carriers

- car or public transportation - to travel in a car, you will need a child car seat. For travelling on public transportation, a small to medium-sized pram or carrier can be a great option. See our child car seat buying guide here

- bicycle (with a child seat or trailer/pod) - these are great fun and fitness in urban areas (smoother roads help with comfort) and also a great way to get around town (as long as you don't live in a hilly area). Such as these baby bike seats and Child bike trailers from Amazon Au or child bike seats and child bike trailers from eBay Au.

- If you love going to the beach and all-terrain type places with the kids, consider getting a wagon such as the Vuly Wagon or the more specialised Veer Cruiser available from The Stork Nest.

- convertible tricycle/trike (from 6 months) - this is a fun open seat for young children with either footrests or pedals where the parent can push it along much like a stroller or the child can pedal (once old enough). Great for walking but it is mostly for even or sealed roads or footpaths due to the quality of the wheels and suspension. You can find them here at Toymate and ToyUniverse (for 5% off, use CODE: U2626B)

Toymate - Outdoor toys range

 

Pram or stroller what’s the difference?

To cover all bases, within this guide, I will refer mainly to the options as Pram/stroller.

To clarify the difference between a pram and a stroller, the Australian Standards state: 

pram is a wheeled vehicle with a body of box-like or boat-like shape designed to carry a baby or child weighing up to and including 9 kg, primarily in a fully reclined position.

stroller is a wheeled vehicle designed to transport a child in a seated position that can adjust to a semi-reclined or fully reclined position. Where the backrest doesn't recline more than 130°, the Australian standard states that the warning label "NOT RECOMMENDED FOR A CHILD UNDER 6 MONTHS" should be on the frame.

It is common to see combination prams/strollers on the market. These can seat children in upright, semi-reclined and fully reclined positions. These are considered strollers under the mandatory Australian standard. Modular versions of these strollers are known as travel systems or all-in-one systems. These provide an option to change seat configurations including the use of car capsules, bassinets, and full size or compact toddler seats.

 

How do you choose when there are so many options?

There may be no one pram/stroller which does everything you want. You just need to find the best option for you. Many first-time parents find themselves eventually purchasing a second or third stroller for many reasons. It could be that the first purchase didn't suit their usage needs or didn’t adjust to their baby’s needs as they grew, their circumstances changed, they needed a travel stroller for a trip, or they took up jogging/running. The more you learn about Pram/strollers, the more you realise there is one to suit every type of use, but it’s difficult if not impossible to find one to suit all possible scenarios. It’s a bit like buying a car. You may need one large car to fit the whole family for longer trips and a second car for work or local trips. Both cars are great for different purposes. It’s the same with strollers, having 2 lower-priced strollers could make more sense than having one expensive one, or alternatively, you invest in a higher-priced pram/stroller and you get what you pay for. 

To prevent the dreaded buyer’s remorse or buying a lemon, you should ask yourself the following key questions. Once you have asked these questions, you will be ready to target your search for your perfect pram/stroller:

 

What age range do you want it to last from/to?

In pram/strollers, there is a range of seating options to accommodate different sized babies through to young children.

Usually, bassinets and car capsules allow the parent and baby to face each other – known as a parent-facing seat. Some pram/strollers have lay flat or reclining seats which can be changed between parent facing and outward-facing. Other pram/strollers offer both options by reversing the handle.

Consider whether a parent facing seat is important to you. It can be useful to have the option to choose depending on your baby’s mood, alertness and need for comfort.

Studies* support the use of prams where mother and baby can make eye contact and interact. This has been shown to be less stressful for the baby and reassuring for the mum as she can provide interaction with her baby and readily respond to her baby’s needs. On outings, being able to face your baby can be an opportunity for teaching and learning about the world (caregiver can name objects child is attending to) and enables communication through expression, gestures and language. In addition, you have the option of changing your baby’s direction to protect them from the early morning or afternoon sun.

* Zeedyk. S. M. (2008). What's life in a baby buggy like? The impact of buggy orientation on parent-infant interaction and infant stress: National Literacy Trust. Retrieved from http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/talk_to_your_baby/resources/1555_whats_life_in_a_baby_buggy_like

 

Age-specific options include the following:

 

Newborn options

For a newborn, to travel in a pram/stroller, there are a few options:

  • bassinet attachment - Also known as a pram, with a body of box-like or boat-like shape designed to carry a baby or child weighing up to and including 9 kg or until the baby is wanting to and can sit more upright and look around. This positions baby in a fully reclined/flat position (good for spine and breathing), so can be used for sleeping (when SIDS guidelines are followed), quiet alert time, gentle rocking for settling, & nappy/clothes changes. Most are can be used both with the pram frame or without. Some can be purchased with a stand to convert into a safe newborn sleep space.  Some provide a handle for ease of carrying. Consider inner materials- natural fibres rather than synthetic. 
  • car capsule - as part of a travel system. This is a semi-reclined seat designed to click between a seat base in the car and can be clicked onto a stroller frame with the use of adaptors. Accommodates newborns up to between 6-18 months depending on the model. See our car capsule article here.
  • Lay flat seat – To suit a newborn, the seat should recline to either lay near-flat (from 130 degrees) to lay fully flat (180 degrees).

 

Sitting up babies

When babies are over 6 months, most stroller seats will suit their needs, some seats are larger and have a higher weight capacity to accommodate an older child. The main differences between seats are recline options and seat adjustments.

 

Toddlers

Some toddlers and older children continue to enjoy riding in a stroller. Some strollers accommodate a toddler seat or standing board attachment between the back wheels for older children (over 2yrs) to ride on when their legs get tired.

toddler attachment

Strollers have weight limits that range from around 15kg to 30kg. If you want the stroller to be long lasting, consider one with a higher weight limit. As a guide, the average child weighs 15 kg when they are between 3.5 to 4 years old, however, a 2-year-old girl in the 98th percentile can weigh 15kg.

When you are looking for a toddler seat, look for the seat capacity rating in kg and ensure there is plenty of room to grow.

 

How many children do you need to carry?

Consider how many children you are wanting to use it for.

This may be a straightforward question to answer or it might require some more thought or forward planning.

 

Planning to have more children?

How close in age you are planning to have your children may come into the decision of whether you want to consider a single to double convertible.

If you have your heart set on having another child soon so they are close in age, you might want to go straight to an option that converts easily to a double. Some accommodate extra storage space for shopping which can later convert to double with a second seat. Some have the option of purchasing a second seat when you need it. These can be in the tandem (above and below or high/low) configuration or twin (side by side), or in-line (seats at the same level/front and back).

Thinking about this main question will help you to choose a configuration that will suit you now and into the future.

 

Single/double convertible configurations:

When it comes to single to double convertible stroller configurations, there are 3 main types:

1. Tandem configuration (above and below or high/low) - This can include a full-size toddler seat that may recline flat for a newborn and a second smaller seat for a second child which can be removed as needed. It usually has the larger seat in front or in the top position and the smaller seat behind or in a lower position. If you have an older child with a baby, knowing your child, think about if they would object to being in the lower position or involve them in trialling the stroller if possible. The seats attach diagonally along the frame making for a narrower frame but a longer wheelbase. The seats may be limited in their configurations, recline and weight capacity or may provide many options of seats (toddler/bassinets/capsule) and directions- these will often require a more heavy-duty strong frame which can be weighty and require the full disassembly of the seats to fold. Often the lower seat borrows footrest space in the under-seat storage area so the storage area can be limited when the lower seat is installed.

tandem configuration

3. Twin configuration (side by side) – This can be a single-seater with a tote/shopping bag next to it such as the Bugaboo Donkey Mono. Extending the frame sideways and removing the tote allows for a second seat to be installed for side by side seating (such as the Bugaboo Donkey Duo or twin configuration). Side by side seats can be great for siblings close in age. The frame size is wider than it is long meaning it could be difficult to get through narrow spaces, around shops, narrow pathways, stairwells and some doors and into small boots depending on folded dimensions. A positive to side by side is that it has a smaller turning circle than an in-line stroller so could be easier to handle/maneuver. Most including the Baby Jogger GT Mini double strollers don't allow for parent-facing toddler seats but could include a peek-a-boo window in the sun canopy. The storage/basket usually sits behind/under the seats.

side by side twin

3. In-line configuration (seats at the same level) - Children sit in line, one will be closer to the parent and one will be further from the parent. The seats can be modular (attached in different directions) or permanently fixed. The seats attach along the frame making for a narrower frame but a longer wheelbase. The different seats may be limited in their configurations, recline and weight capacity or may provide many options of seats (toddler/bassinets/capsule) and directions- these will often require a more heavy-duty strong frame which can be heavy and require disassembly of the seats to fold. Often the lower seat borrows footrest space in the under-seat storage area so the storage area can be limited when the lower seat is accommodated.

in-line stroller

If you are wanting a decent age gap between children, another option is choosing a single-seater with a toddler sit/stand option. This option allows for a seat or stand board to be attached when you need it. This configuration can also be teamed well with using a baby carrier for your new baby while the toddler sits or stands.

If you don’t know, you might want to pick something that will suit you for now but will have some resale value for you to upgrade later.

 

Answering the more children question will help you narrow down your search to look for a stroller with the number of seats you need. Keep in mind, that some single-seaters allow for a toddler attachment to sit or stand on.

 

Here are the main seat configurations for single seats, convertible single/double seaters and double seaters:

1. Single-seat configurations:

Single seaters are the most portable and lightweight option and can be the cheapest. The major limitation is that if you have another baby close in age to your first, you might need to upgrade your pram/stroller sooner rather than later.

Options to choose from:

Single seat configurations - seat (parent-facing), seat (outward-facing), bassinet, car capsule

2. Single /double convertible seats:

In addition to the single configuration, when a convertible stroller has the second seat optional attachment/accessory, they may be the following configurations:

Two seats (different sizes)- a full-size toddler seat with an optional second smaller seat.

double seats

Two seats (same size) – These can be different configurations of seat heights and direction of the seat. Consider if you want parent facing, outward-facing, facing each other, facing away from each other (back to back) configurations.

double side by side

One bassinet and one seat – The main seat can be converted to a bassinet and a second seat can be attached

one bassinet and one single seat

One car capsule and one seat – The main seat can be converted to a capsule and a second seat can be attached

one capsule and one seat

Two bassinets– Great for newborn twins. The bassinets could be side by side, inline or high/low. Ideally, both would parent face but not all frames will allow this.

two bassinetstwo bassinetstwo bassinets

Two car capsules – Suitable for newborn twins. The capsules could be side by side, inline or high/low. Ideally, both would parent face but not all frames will allow this. We recommend you read the related article on car capsules so you can reduce the associated risks with using these other than for car travel.

two car capsulestwo car capsules

One bassinet and one seat – The frame can accommodate a bassinet attached with the main toddler seat attached. Check that the configuration will allow the bassinet to parent face.

bassinet and toddler seat

One bassinet and one car capsule – Some frames allow for one of each newborn option to be attached. This may be a handy option if you need to keep one baby in a capsule, but the other can be in a bassinet. Check the configuration will allow both babies to parent-face.

One bassinet and one car capsule

One car capsule and one seat – The frame can accommodate a car capsule attached with the main toddler seat attached. Check that the configuration will allow your baby to parent face.

One car capsule and one seat

3. Double configurations:

Two seats (same size) Parent Facing – These seats can be different configurations of seat heights but both are parent-facing. This is great for twins or siblings close in age.

Two seats (same size) Parent Facing

Two seats (same size) Outward Facing – These seats can be different configurations of seat heights but both are outward-facing. Commonly seen in the side by side double strollers. Suitable for twins or siblings close in age.

double side by side

Two seats (same size) Facing Each other – These seats can be different configurations of seat heights but the seats face each other. This configuration will be successful some of the time and one child will be parent-facing at any given time.

Two seats (same size) Facing Each other

Two seats (same size) Back to Back – These seats can be different configurations of seat heights but facing opposite directions. This is great for siblings who want their space. One will be parent facing, the other outward-facing.

Two seats (same size) Back to Back

Two seats (different size) – This is an option on some compact double strollers where there is no space for two full-sized seats. One seat is usually smaller and has a lower weight capacity. Consider whether your children would be happy in their seat position if they are over the size or weight limit of the other seat. For example, would your older child be happy in the lower seat position? This is a common option for frames used as singles which convert to double configurations.

 

4. Triple or more configurations:

Triple seat configurations are harder to find, but these are available along with options for higher multiples of babies. If you are needing to accommodate twins plus an older child, consider the toddler stand/sit attachment rather than going for a triple seater.

 

Who's going to be using the pram/stroller?

Thinking about who will be using the pram/stroller is important for figuring out what features it needs to have so you can all use it to its full capacity. Consider if anyone using the pram/stroller is very tall or very short or has upper limb problems (ie. shoulder or wrist injuries).

For the very tall or very short, the handle height will be important to make sure it adjusts high enough or low enough. Even if you are average height, you still may prefer a higher handle height (in addition to a sturdy frame) as this could be more comfortable if you have shoulder or back problems. Handle height adjustment is a feature you usually find in the middle range to more expensive strollers and prams.

To work out a comfortable height handle you can try it out in the shop or use the rule that around hip joint height will be a comfortable and functional grip height for the shoulders, elbows and wrist joints.

How the handle adjusts can also make a difference in how you can use the pram/stroller. There are 4 main handle types:

1.     Reversible – This is usually a fixed height handle that pivots over the seat to change the handle to either in front of the seat or behind the seat. This is an alternative to rotating the seat between parent facing and outward-facing. The handle rotates around the seat instead. If you would have trouble lifting the seat to rotate it, a reversible handle would remove the need to lift the seat.

2.     Fixed – handlebar or handles aren’t able to be adjusted up or down

3.     Telescopic adjustable – This is a design for adjusting the handle height. In the highest setting, the handle is furthest away from the back wheels giving more stride length. In the lowest setting, this will be the most compact footprint for the frame. Some models require the handle to be adjusted to the lowest setting in order to fold it.

4.     Pivot adjustable – This is an alternative design for adjusting the handle height. In the mid-range height, the handle is furthest away from the back wheels. At the highest or lowest setting this will be the most compact footprint for the frame and can be used for storage or to fit in tight spaces. 

If you have handgrip or wrist problems, you will want to consider the material of the handle as this is what you will be touching and gripping most of the time you are using the pram/stroller. The main handle materials you find are:

1.     Plastic – Moulded hard plastic doesn’t provide much grip but can be comfortable depending on the shape

2.     Foam -  Soft, easy to grip but will degrade over time,

3.     Rubber - Easy to grip, is durable but grime can build-up

4.     Leatherette - cleans easily, provides good grip and is durable.

If you have musculoskeletal problems, how the pram/stroller handles and steers will make the difference as to whether you use it or not. A combination of wheel features including wheel type, wheel bearings, suspension, weight and frame length/width will contribute to its ease of use.

The most compact and lightweight pram/strollers are usually called Travel or umbrella strollers. To achieve the light weight, there are usually compromises to be made with other features such as wheel size and suspension which affects its handling. On the other hand, there is no point in getting a heavy pram/stroller which handles well but when you need to lift it, you can’t.

Consider your ability to lift and carry based on your size, strength, and back/shoulder or other injuries. Manual handling is as much about the size and shape of the load as the weight. If this is going to be a factor in your decision, make sure you know the limits of what you can do. Before you buy, try out different models and brands if you can, try folding, lifting, carrying and unfolding the pram/stroller before you buy. Also, consider how much you need to bend to transfer your baby in and out of the seat. Some seats are higher requiring less bending. One brand offers 'elevators' attachments to raise the height of the seat.

Options to choose from:

  • Reversible handle – great if you want parent facing option without lifting the seat

reversible handle

  • Telescopic adjustable – great for tall people

 Telescopic adjustable handle

  • Pivot adjustable – great for average height users

Pivot adjustable handle

  • Write down the minimum and maximum handle heights that you need to look for.
  • Write down the maximum weight pram/stroller you could lift/carry.
How and where will the pram/stroller be used?

If you know how and where you want to use your pram/stroller, you will be able to work out what features you need to look for.

There is a pram/stroller to suit every use but not all prams/strollers will suit all the uses you plan for them. In order to work out what features you need, this may take some prioritising. If you want a pram/stroller which is great for travel, yet you also love jogging and running, you are describing 2 very different prams/strollers. This is exactly why so many parents end up with more than one at some point.

When you imagine yourself with your baby in the pram/stroller of your dreams, where are you and what are you doing? What is your baby doing?

 

Think about…

Going to the local shopping centre?

Your local area terrain?

Walking, jogging or running long distances?

What are your local paths like (if any)?

What is your local public transport like?

Where are you driving to and what will you do there?

Where else are you travelling to (other than by car)? Buses, trains, planes?

When you get there or back home again do you need to lift or carry it?

Will you need to fold it and unfold it a lot?

Will it fit wherever you need to store it at home or in the car?

What extra things do you need to store in the pram/stroller? Nappy bag, shopping?

What will your baby be doing? Looking around, sleeping, playing? All of the above?

Once you have an idea of where you need to take it, how you are taking it there, and what you need it to do, you can decide on the features you need.

Where will it be stored and manual handled/lifted/carried?

Knowing where you will need to store and how you are going to transport your pram/stroller will help you to prioritise the features you need.

If you will hardly ever be taking it in the car because it will be for walking and jogging, you might not be too worried about the weight of it as long as it handles well.

If you will be taking it in public where there are lots of stairs such as to access public transport, can you easily fold and lift it? Will it fit into an overhead storage compartment on a train or plane? Would a carrier be a better option for this purpose? Or a combination of both?

If you live on the 3rd storey of an apartment building with stair access only, where will you store the pram/stroller? Is there ground floor storage or can you keep it in your car? Will you have to carry it up the stairs?

Will it have to fit on narrow pathways, doorways, escalators or aisles at the shops? If so, consider the overall width at the widest point (usually the outside of the wheels) and make sure it will fit. If you need a tight turning circle, a longer base will have the largest turning circle, and the wider base with a shorter length base will have a better/more compact turning circle.

If it is mainly for taking in the car to go to the shops or the park, consider where it will fit in the car and how you will lift it in and out. If you have a small amount of car storage area, check the maximum size of a folded pram/stroller you will be able to fit in. Consider the height of your car and how you have to lift it out (eg. a sedan will require you to bend over then lift up and over the boot lip where an SUV boot may be at hip height to you and allow you to slide it out). If you will be lifting it regularly, check you can manage the weight, and the folded size, and look for folding features of the pram/stroller. Another great feature is that when folded, the pram/stroller can free stand on its wheels so you can set it down between folding and loading.

Options to choose from:

  • Maximum width, length and height of the folded pram/stroller
  • Folding features:
    • One handed fold – easy fold option
    • Folds with seat attached – easy to fold but heavier to lift
    • One step fold – one action to fold one or two handed
    • Two step fold two step action to fold sometimes the first step is to remove the seat from the frame.
    • Fold lock – locks folded pram/stroller for easy carry/lift
    • Carry strap – Provides a handle for easy carrying
  • Removable front wheels can make a more compact fold especially when wheels are large or extra-large.
  • Removable rear wheels - can make a more compact fold especially when wheels are large or extra-large.
Are wheels important?

The number of wheels, type of tyres and suspension all influence the ease of steering and handling including whether you can manoeuvre the pram/stroller with one hand.

Single or single/double convertible pram/strollers usually have 3 or 4 wheels. Which one you prefer can be personal preference or dependent on the overall quality of the wheels and tyres in terms of size, material and suspension.

  • 3 wheels are usually found on jogging and all-terrain strollers because they are easier to steer and maneuver with one hand. When going up or down a kerb, the pram/stroller needs to be tilted onto the rear wheels as putting all the weight on the front wheel can cause the pram/stroller to become unstable.
  • 4 wheels add stability to lightweight and long or wide wheel-base pram/strollers. These can manage steps/kerbs and turns with more stability than 3 wheels. Having the 4 wheels contacting the ground can slow it down unless the tyre material and suspension can compensate. A 4-wheeler with smaller front wheels than the rear wheels can be just as maneuverable as 3 wheelers.
  • 6 wheels are usually only found on extra-large pram/strollers with at least 2 seats to provide more stability.

The type of tyre material can affect how the wheels handle on a variety of surfaces. In general, the more give in the material, the better it can cope with absorbing bumps and a smoother ride. The main tyre materials ranging from cheapest to most expensive include:

  • Plastic tyres - usually found on cheaper more basic pram/strollers such as compact or travel models. The harder the plastic, the rougher the ride and difficulty to maneuver. For this material, the suspension is more important for smoothing out the bumps. Fine for use in shopping centres, airports, and accessible cities.
  • Rubber – Foam Filled Tyres have some give on hard surfaces, won’t puncture and have zero maintenance. Great all-rounder option when you want your pram/stroller to manage reasonably bumpy areas.
  • Rubber – Air Filled Tyres are the most absorbent for bumps but will require occasional maintenance to pump up the air pressure. These can puncture and require a replacement tube. Most jogging strollers have air-filled tyres as they are the best at smoothing the ride, especially when going at speed. Often an air pump will be supplied or offered as an optional extra for these pram/strollers.

In general, the larger the wheel size, the easier it is to push on uneven surfaces. Many have larger rear wheels to absorb the bumps and smaller wheels at the front which swivel for ease of manoeuvrability. Jogging and all-terrain strollers have the largest wheels which are least likely to get affected by uneven ground. For adventurers, there are other options to consider such as a structured frame carrier (for hiking), other baby carrier options or bicycling with a trailer/pod for toddler/older child. Travel or compact strollers usually have the smallest wheels which don’t go well on uneven ground as they are designed for city use.

General categories of wheel size include:

  • Small – sizes up to 15cm. Fine for travel/urban use.
  • Medium – sizes between 15 to 22cm. Reasonable for some uneven travel.
  • Large – sizes between 22 to 30cm. Great for all-rounder pram/strollers which need to manage uneven grass and on/off concrete paths and kerbs which aren’t always level.
  • Extra Large – Sizes 30cm or larger. Mostly found on jogging strollers or all-terrain adventure strollers or pods. These offer the smoothest ride and are easiest to push but at the expense of weight and space.

Suspension is great for absorbing bumps and managing uneven surfaces. There is a range of suspension designs that can improve handling in all size wheels and tyre types. Cheaper models such as umbrella strollers may have no suspension which you will feel when you push the stroller. Other types of suspension include:

  • 2 wheels - may be on just the back or front 2 wheels or
  • All wheels – Great for absorbing bumps. Most all-terrain and higher budget pram/strollers offer all-wheel suspension as it really improves the handling.
  • Adjustable suspension –to adjust the tension of the suspension to suit the terrain. Offered in some jogging and more expensive strollers.

It is important to know that jogging strollers are a specialised type of stroller. A jogging stroller will state that it is for this purpose in the instructions as they need to have certain features to be safe for jogging or running. For example, the ‘Baby Jogger’ brand has a range of jogging strollers, but they also sell a range of prams which clearly state in their instructions that they are not suitable for jogging.

It is important to check the specifications for guidance around when it is safe to run with your baby- most state they are not suitable until the baby is at least 6 months and some are 9 or 12 months. This is due to the bumpier and faster ride and your baby needs to have full head control. Jogging pods are also worth considering especially if you would want the option to tow it with a bicycle. These can accommodate up to 2 children.

An additional wheel feature is a lockable front wheel or wheels. This is great if you want to use the pram/stroller for rocking your baby to sleep (stops the sideways movement for a more rhythmic rocking motion). It is also used for better control of the steering for jogging or running.

Prams and strollers come in a range of brake designs. Having an effective and easy to use the brake is an important safety feature. According to the standard, brakes must be coloured red. The different types include:

  • Non-linked foot brakes – These are 2 separate brakes on each of the rear wheels. This is usually found on cheaper strollers.
  • Linked foot brake – This is foot-operated from one of the rear wheels or centred between both rear wheels which brake both rear wheels.
  • Open toe friendly foot brake – If you often use the pram/stroller with bare feet or open-toe shoes such as thongs, this type of brake will be easy to engage and disengage with your foot.
  • Hand brake (side mount) – This type of brake is engaged/disengaged using your hand and mounted on the side of the pram.
  • Handlebar brake – Usually found on jogging strollers where the brake can be squeezed like a bicycle brake to slow down the stroller whilst holding the handlebar.

 

What storage is needed under or around the pram/stroller?

If you are taking the pram/stroller on longer trips or shopping trips, consider what storage capacity you will need. Check your nappy bag will fit in the storage basket with some space to spare. You can buy pram hooks to hang shopping bags off the side of the handle, however, you need to make sure your pram has enough weight in the front, so it doesn’t tip back and over. If the storage basket isn’t large enough, when you go shopping, you’ll end up ditching the stroller in favour of a trolley (with a baby seat) or where your older baby can sit in the child seat. Hint: if you are going to do this invest in a shopping trolley cover especially when they are teething or in the pull everything off the shelves stage.

Other storage pockets, parent organizer, cup holder, child snack tray or bottle holder may be handy places to store frequently used items.

What are the seat options for your growing baby?

Depending on how and where you want to use the pram/stroller, you should consider what seat options you need to keep your baby comfortable at different ages. The ability to recline the seat is important for when your baby falls asleep so that their head doesn’t slump. There are two main types of toddler seats, the fixed hip angle seat or the adjustable hip angle (backrest recline) seat.

Where the hip angle isn’t adjustable, these seats tend to be more rounded and snug-fitting, which is supportive for younger children but restrictive for older children. This design can also allow for the whole seat to be reclined, reversed and removed for a bassinet or car capsule to be installed for the newborn stage. The adjustable hip angle seat has a fixed seat where the backrest is adjustable often to any angle needed. Both seat options can come with an adjustable calf or foot support.

There are lots of fabric types with different levels of padding as well as optional seat covers which can provide extra padding and are easy to wash clean. Look for fabric sections that can be removed for cleaning (ideally machine washable), especially when you have a messy toddler.

Options to consider are:

  • Lay flat seat (suitable from birth) – This feature is important if you have a newborn and don’t plan to use a bassinet or car capsule attachment. The seat needs to lay flat (or greater than 130 degrees) to be a safe sleeping surface for your baby. Laying the seat flat is also great for nappy and clothing changes on the go. If you think your baby needs additional support, you can buy an infant head support accessory.
  • One-handed seat recline – Great feature to easily adjust the recline of the seat as your baby falls asleep while continuing to push the pram/stroller.
  • Multi-position recline – Most seats offer numerous recline angles but some cheaper stroller seats have a fixed backrest. The recline can tilt the whole seat or just the backrest.
  • Hip angle adjustable – This is only offered where the seat is fixed and the backrest is adjusted independently. This usually allows for a lay-flat seat but not always. This is a better position for a baby and an older child as it allows them to stretch out.
  • Calf/foot support adjustable – adjustable support under the lower leg/calf and feet gives you more options to change your child’s position so they are comfortable over longer trips and depending on if they want to stretch out or bend at the knees and give them stability to put weight through their feet.
  • Convertible bassinet/seat – These are seat features in some models where the toddler seat is able to be changed into a bassinet and changed back depending on the age of your child. Since this is a multi-purpose seat, it is worth checking that it fits an older child comfortably or if they are likely to grow out of it earlier. This is worth considering if you don’t have much storage space for a separate pram seat and bassinet.
What about accessories and convenience features?

There is a wide range of convenience features offered with some models of pram/strollers. Some come standard, others are optional accessories. There are also many universal off-brand options to consider. Consider if any of the following are must-haves:

  • Under-seat storage basket – Most pram/strollers have this as standard. The size/shape and capacity (usually measured in kg or Litres) vary a lot. A large storage basket will usually get well used but at the least should fit your nappy bag. It is usually not safe to hang items off the handlebar as it can make the frame unstable and back heavy. A good under-seat storage area is the safest option for storing items.
  • Parent organiser - This hangs near the handlebar to store frequently used items such as phone/wallet/keys/drink etc within your easy reach and away from little hands. Usually sold as an accessory that is brand/model specific or there are universal options that fit most pram handles.
  • Parent Cup holder - may not need if you have a parent organiser but could be used as well as an organiser for extra bottles or coffee. usually hooks on side of the frame next to the handle. Keeps hot drinks away from children.
  • Child Snack Tray - This can keep toddlers happy with snacks and somewhere to put small toys or drinks. Also is an extra barrier across the front of the seat (instead of or attached to a bumper bar) to discourage your baby/toddler from standing up or moving around.
  • Child bottle/cup holder – Handy for somewhere to put small toys or drinks.
  • Bumper bar – This forms a barrier across the front of the child’s seat. Some come standard on many pram/strollers, if not they can often be purchased as an optional accessory. Handy for the child to hold onto for support, to hang toys off, or deter your child from climbing out or standing up if ever not strapped in.
  • Under-seat storage pockets – Storage pockets are sometimes built-in as standard to under-seat storage baskets. These provide compartments to keep items in easy reach or separate from the main storage area.
  • Behind seat storage pockets - Storage pockets are sometimes built-in behind the seat as standard. These provide a separate area to keep items in easy reach or stored away securely (such as a tyre pump)
  • Storage bag or tote – This is a bag that comes standard or optional on some models and is designed to coordinate with the pram/stroller providing additional and removable storage space. This may include a shopping tote attached next to the seat, a bag that hangs behind the seat or is designed to fit under the seat.
  • Removable seat liner – Seat liners are great for young babies and toddlers to protect the seat material and be easily removed for cleaning. The seat liner can provide additional cushioning. Some are offered as standard, others optional accessories and can be bought as a universal accessory in endless designs and colours.
  • Infant Seat Liner / Support – These provide additional support around the head and body for small babies in lay flat toddler seats. Some are offered as standard, others optional accessories and can be bought as a universal accessory in endless designs and colours.
  • Transport carry bag – This is a bag that is made for your model stroller when folded to protect it when being handled as luggage during travel. It usually has a carry handle or two for easy carrying.
  • Mobile Phone Holder – Holds your phone on the handlebar or frame. Designed just for mobile phones.
  • Mobile Phone Charger – Holds your phone while it can charge using power from the pram/stroller. Available only with some high-end models and brands. There are other methods of charging your phones such as using a power bank or using a wall charger at any café or public place.
  • Bassinet Stand / Frame – This is an optional accessory for some bassinets. This allows you to set up the bassinet as a portable bed to use in any room of the house or when travelling with your newborn.
Is the colour/aesthetics important?

Some brands offer a huge range of colours for their pram seats and canopies, others focus purely on function. Some brands offer the best of both worlds. Colour could be important just for aesthetics or could have an influence on whether the canopy absorbs more heat (black/dark colours) or reflects heat (light colours). The type of fabric (thick vs ultra-thin) and ventilation through the pram will also have an influence on this. Whether this matters will depend on your climate and where you want to take the pram. Another thing to consider is that lighter colours will show the stains (especially at the messy toddler stage) so would need to be easy to clean and have removable sections including a seat cover to wash when needed.

Think of your preferred colours, then search around to see what colour options you have when you narrow down your search. If you do love colour options, Bugaboo has loads of colour customisable options and accessories. There is also always the option of adding a colourful seat liner to your pram to brighten it up.

What about weather protection?

If you are going to take your baby outside using your pram/stroller, it’s likely you will need weather protection features to protect them from the sun, rain or insects. This also depends on your local climate and if you need or want to take your baby out when the weather is wet, very hot or very cold. Different fabrics offer different weather protection features such as UV protection, water-proof properties and wind protection or ventilation characteristics.

Common weather protection features to look for:

  • 50+ UV sun canopy - Protects your baby from direct sunlight and UV radiation. This is important if going outdoors regularly, especially during times when UV is over 3 (most weather apps will tell you the UV in your area). Baby skin is very sensitive to sunlight as it is thin and burns easily. Regular use of sunscreen for under 6 month-olds is not recommended, instead, protection from clothing and shade is best.
  • Extendable canopy – Canopys come in all sizes, some are small and only partially cover the seat even at midday, others offer an extension to the canopy size/angle. If you have hot summers or cold winters, a good size canopy can provide protection from the elements and a dark environment for napping. A good adjustable canopy combined with an adjustable seat position is the most convenient option for sun protection.
  • Ventilated canopy - A mesh section in the canopy with the ability to open and close (note how this is fastened, velcro closures can be noisy compared to magnetic closures or this can be a zipped section) this section allows for viewing your baby whilst allowing airflow if it is very hot and protection from insects.
  • Canopy viewing window/s - A viewing window in the canopy can help to see your baby whilst protecting them from the sun, rain or insects. The window is usually a clear plastic section in the canopy allowing a line of sight between you and your baby in their seat when the canopy is extended. These can be opened/closed with magnets (best) or velcro (which can be noisy if the baby is asleep).
  • Insect/sun cover (seat) – This is usually an optional accessory. Useful if you live somewhere very hot or need to protect against insects such as flies or mosquitos. These are shade cloths that are designed to fit your pram/stroller or are a universal size that can be attached. Be careful if thinking of putting a muslin cloth over the canopy to cut down light and sun exposure as this can trap heat raising the temperature and stop fresh air ventilation within the canopy space.
  • Insect/sun cover (bassinet) – This is offered as an optional accessory for some bassinets or can be purchased as a universal option. Newborns are more sensitive to the sun and need the cover to provide full coverage with good ventilation if it is to protect them from insects.
  • Rain cover (seat) - can be included or an optional extra. Usually only needed if you have to use the stroller on certain days, regardless of the weather conditions, such as to walk to childcare or school.
  • Rain cover (bassinet) – Optional accessory for some bassinets. Usually only needed if you have to use the stroller on certain days, regardless of the weather conditions, such as to walk to childcare or school.
  • Water repellent fabric – This can handle light rain conditions to keep your baby dry and warm. Consider if you will occasionally get caught out in the rain.
  • Water-proof fabric - This can handle moderate rain conditions to keep your baby dry and warm. Consider if you are likely to get caught out in the rain reasonably often and don’t want to bother with a rain cover.
  • Foot Muff / Cozy – This secures to the seat and over your baby’s feet up to their chest like a sleeping bag. Great for cold weather to make sure your baby stays warm despite cold winds. May be an optional accessory for the model or you can buy universal options.
  • Parasol / Umbrella – Attaches to the frame to provide cover from the sun or light rain for you or your baby. Usually angle adjustable and handsfree. Only some models offer this optional accessory.
What's the budget?

Of course, there are plenty of expenses to budget for when you are expecting your baby and in the first years. It could be worth considering what are your must-have features and then sticking to searching within your budget. Within the pram/stroller market, there is a huge range of budget products, right through to luxury products. In many cases, the pram/stroller is something that can be fun to splurge on. It can make baby life that little bit easier and more enjoyable when you have a pram that just works for you and your baby. There is a huge second-hand market for prams/strollers on marketplaces like eBay, which can save money when compared to buying new. Keep in mind, when buying new, you have a warranty period and greater consumer rights, and no worries about having to sanitise the product. In saying that, there are plenty of quality second-hand prams/strollers around if you shop around and know what you are looking for.

 

Now you know all the possibilities and thought about what you need in a pram/stroller, you can search around for your perfect fit. By working through the different options, hopefully, you have made a wish list and have a clear picture of what you want.

There are many great brands to choose from and each one has multiple models to suit different needs such as travel, urban use, all-terrain, jogging, twins, etc. There are heaps of buying options online and the ability to compare prices, it can also be great to go in-store to touch, fold, push, and lift your different options to help you make your final decision.

Don’t forget, you don’t have to have the pram/stroller sorted before your baby comes along, you do need a car seat if that’s how you get around and you can manage with a great baby carrier until you make your final decision and purchase. 

 

Start your shopping adventure here:

The Stork Nest - shop Prams & Strollers including Maclaren, Joovy, Childcare & Bebe Care

The Stork Nest - www.storknest.com.au

Bugaboo - Shop their range of extraordinary prams and strollers

Bugaboo - Introducing Bugaboo Bundles

Amazon Australia - shop Prams & Strollers including Baby Jogger, BugabooJoolz & more

eBay Australia - shop Prams & Strollers including Baby Jogger, BugabooMaclareniCandyMountain Buggy, UPPAbaby & more

We hope you find your ideal pram/stroller. Happy shopping!

 


Please note: Above all, any information on this website aims to provide general ideas for informational and educational purposes only. We encourage users to investigate several information sources, including, where necessary, independent individualised medical advice before making any decisions that could affect you or your child’s health or wellbeing.

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