Understanding the Differences Prams – Buggies – Pushchairs – Strollers

So you’ve got through the interminable journey of pregnancy; you’ve got through the endurance test of childbirth; you’ve got through the complicatedly simple skill of breastfeeding; you’ve bunkered-down at home with your newborn for the first 4-6 weeks; and now (yee ha) it’s time to venture out into the big wide world in your new coupledom of mother-and-baby!

But good grief – one can feel like you need to earn some certified diploma just to comprehend the copious pram options. You see, NZ has no enforced pram safety standards of its own, so this means that absolutely any prams can be imported for sale, subsequently giving us access to an enormous array of options to choose from.

The three types of prams are the buggy, the pushchair or the stroller. The three main international pram safety standards are British, American, and Australian – with no markedly significant differences between the three kinds. However, most countries also import ‘cheapie’ prams to be imported, which meet no specific standards. Such models will typically protect themselves against potential litigation, by somewhat ridiculously limiting the infant’s weight suitability. A pram that meets internationally recognised standards is by far the safest option.

The first pram option, the modern-style 3-wheeler Buggy are designed for parents who plan to take the buggy (and the baby!) outdoors on long walks, jogging or off-roading (eg bush-walks, the beach, on gravel roads). Three wheels provide far better maneuverability than four.

A good-quality 3-wheeler buggy typically features an aluminum alloy frame (making it strong, lightweight, and oxidation-rust resistant); a durable hard-wearing fabric that is water-resistant, easy to clean and washable (such as canvas); good-sized pneumatic air-filled tyres (ensuring smooth cushioning over bumps); multi-reclining seat (sitting, snoozing, sleeping); lockable swivel front-wheel (swivel-mode for tight maneuvering and fixed-mode for uneven rough terrain); adjustable ergonomic handle-bars (for optimum comfort on adults of all heights); and a descent sized shopping-tray storage-basket.

The trick with buggies is that they are not always suitable for newborns, who require to lie totally flat. Occasionally some models of buggy seats do fold-down to flat, but most are for around 6-month-olds onwards. That means you’ll need to spend extra on a baby carrycot (portable bassinet for say 0-5 month olds) which fits on the buggy; or you will need to buy a carseat-carrier-clip so that the baby-pod can attach to the buggy. Alternatively, for the first six months you could buy or rent a stroller-carriage which the baby-pod car-seat can sit in – but with the latter two options the baby is still unable to lie flat, so not perhaps ideal.

The second pram option is the traditionally-styled 4-wheeler solid Pushchair which can be considerably heavier, but not always. Pushchairs invariably have smaller solid wheels, a totally flat chair-setting enabling them to be used for newborns, and some have reversible handles allowing forward or rear-facing so that the baby and mother can look at each other while providing natural protection from the wind and sun – which does seem so nice. (Perhaps what we need is someone to invent a 3-wheeler with a swivel top, to enable mothers the option of socializing with their baby, while still enjoying the maneuverability and all-terrain advantages of a buggy.)

The final pram option is the Stroller, which is generally a very lightweight compact version of the 4-wheeler pushchair, and is usually just suitable for six-months onwards. Strollers are ideal for city and urban errands, around the town and shopping malls, crowded sidewalks and narrow aisles. Some strollers are termed ‘umbrella-style’ due to the way they fold in-and-down similarly to an umbrella.

One trick with choosing prams is not just knowing where you plan to use it, but also knowing whether you are planning more children in the foreseeable future. If you are, then it can pay to choose a pram that is compatible with a growing family, by being able to later spend an extra $100 or so to add on a toddler seat, or by choosing a buggy that can upgrade to convert to a double-buggy through accommodating the two children in ‘tiered levels’. There is also the option of single-strollers that clip together to create double/triple strollers, or there’s the kiddy-board attachment (for pre-schoolers to stand on). Alternatively, you could replace your single-pram with a modern side-by-side double-buggy, or an older-style front-back pushchair. Decisions, decisions!

Other great features to look for in prams are a 5-point harness; multi-position seat-back; canopy with viewing window; quick and compact fold-down process; lightweight (back-friendly); complimentary tyre-pump; and large parcel storage tray.

Then, there are decisions to be made regarding all the optional extra accessories … such as the rain/storm cover, the shade/sun cover, the head-neck snuggler, the buggy-liner comfort insert or sleeping-bag cocoon; the matching nappy-bag with its loads of pockets; the boot-cover travel-bag; the socially compulsory colourful attached toys; and the ever essential universal liquid-holster self-leveling cup-holder to ensure your latte never spills!

A final point to consider is access to replacement parts, particularly when the pram is expected to last the baby-toddler life of 2-3 children.

Warranties are generally for around one year, and are held by the original store who sold you the pram, so this does make shopping locally advantageous. Also, the warranties clearly stipulate it is the owner’s (not the retail store’s) responsibility to pay the cost of shipping faulty goods back to the manufacturer. So please don’t spoil a store manager’s day by ‘ranting and raving’ as you demand they fix your faulty pram at no charge! Spreading anger is so awfully contagious.

With outlining all these pram options, there of course exists exceptions and variations to all my generalizations. So you may need to visit several shops until you have perhaps discovered the most ideal pram for your unique situation.

Then at long last, around a $1000 later – you can be finally perfectly equipped to get out of the house in style! Woo! Hoo!

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