Buying A Pram Or Pushchair

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I have a few pregnant friends right now, some for the first time. Many of the dads-to-be have spoken to me in excitement about prams – how they can’t wait to buy the pram, what they’re looking for in prams, what the best pram on the market is. I think the reason most fathers-to-be seem to get so excited about the pushchair or pram is that it is gadgetty, which they understand, and makes them feel involved, especially in the early months before they can feel the baby.

The thing is this though: I don’t think anyone should buy a pram before the baby is six months old. Here are my reasons:

  • Baby wearing, slingFor the first nine months of a baby’s existence, it is close to it’s mother – it can hear her heartbeat and her voice. Once the baby is born, being suddenly removed from that comfort would be disturbing to anyone. Keeping the baby close to you in a sling means that it has ‘kangaroo care’ on tap, it feels mum’s (or dad’s) heartbeat and breathing and is calmer, more relaxed and happier. Dad’s are also better able to bond with babies they carry.
  • A baby in a sling is much more engaged with the world around them, rather than just being overwhelmed by it at knee-height. They are involved, take in more, and have more interaction with both their carer, and other people.
  • When a newborn is in a sling, it gets to know it’s mothers smell, rhythms and sounds – babies have less colic as the wind is rubbed out of them, they sleep better with the motion. In a pram, babies are in a sort of isolation. I always think of a story I heard, although I can’t find a source for it, of a pram manufacturer that went to an African village to try to sell their wares, but had no luck. Upon investigation, they found the villagers were curious as to why all the white babies (in the marketing material) were being kept in isolation pods. No other mammal keeps its infant purposely separated from it.
  • When a baby is six months old, they are able to sit in a pushchair, meaning you can by-pass the whole pram phase, saving yourself a fortune in an expensive convertible pram/pushchair which you’ll only use for six months, then need to find somewhere to store when you no longer use it, thinking you might sell it on later – or use it for the next baby.
  • A sling is also better for avoiding flat head syndrome, caused by moving baby from cot to pram to floor, with their head always against a flat surface.
  • bonnie girl in slingA major reason I tell parents to wait till the baby is at least six months old is this: When you’re pregnant, you have this ‘dream’ or idea of what life’s going to be likewith your first child. The reality is often very, very different, however. In my case, for example, I was given a beautiful old fashioned Peter Pan style perambulator with large wheels. I loved it. I thought it was beautiful.You might thinkyou know what your life is going to hold with child, but you probably really don’t. At about a year, I decided I needed more exercise, so got yet another pram – a special exercise pram for walkers. It’s great, but it’s very rigid. It’s good for walking, but not running. It’s good for walking but not for shopping – it’s too wide and doesn’t corner well. In other words, it’s perfect for what I needed it for. As compared to the two prams we owned before – fortunately we only bought one for £70, but had we paid for all three, we’d have spent well over £1200 on them. And in reality we’ve never used any of them (except the walker for when we exercise).Until I got it home, and realised that in order to get it into the house I had to take the pram bit (with baby in it) up the stairs, and put it down in the house, leaving the chassis outside. I’d then have to go down the stairs take off the wheels and drag them, and then the chassis up the stairs in two separate trips. This was not going to work. It also took up half of the nursery, once reassembled.We bought another – thankfully second hand pram, thinking it would be useful to have something easy to use on public transport, and zippy on the pavements. When my daughter was born, we ended up going to a maternity group about 13 miles away, so drove almost daily – and pulling this pram apart to fit it into the car was a nightmare. So, we used the sling my parents had bought us for a long time. I was so much easier on side walks, in shopping centres and on buses. And required little to no assembly.
  • On a 10km road race with Nana and OupaTalking about requirements, another thing we didn’t know we’d want when we acquired the first two prams was that I would end up wanting a parent-facing pushchair. Turns out, these aren’t all that easy to find! Our exercise pram is parent-facing, because when I finally realised what I needed, I knew that parent-facing was non-negotiable for me. I had visited my sister in Norway when my daughter was about 6 months old and although I had my sling with me, which we used primarily, she had arranged a pushchair so that she could take Ameli for walks too. It was forward facing only and I hated it. I couldn’t see Ameli. I couldn’t interact with her.When we use our exercise pushchair, Ameli is parent-facing, even though she’s already 17 months. We look at flowers. We point out birds. We “talk”. She is interacting all the way, not sitting dumbly in a forward facing position having to take it all in on her own. “The world as described by a parent or carer is a much more interesting (and less frightening) place than unknown, fast-moving scenes whizzing by without any interpretation.” (Research from 2008 showed that children in parent-facing pushchairs interacted better, developed better due to that interaction and were less isolated or “emotionally impoverished.)While I am a devout baby-wearer, I do understand why people would want a pushchair, especially once the little ones become heavier, wrigglier, and bigger. I had to stop babywearing for a little while because I gained a lot of weight, and Ameli was getting heavier – the two combined were killing my knees. I have managed to get my weight under control again, and now we babywear again, or use a hipseat, or she walks, but when we do exercise walking, she goes in the pushchair.

So – there you have my reasons. They may not work for everyone, and most people might ignore them and many might disagree – we’re culturally indoctrinated to believe that a pram is easier and is ‘baby-ish’ and that having a pram is the first (or second, after the car seat) step towards responsible parenting. Sadly.

Do you agree or disagree? What tips would you give a new parent wanting to buy a pushchair or pram?

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23 thoughts on “Buying A Pram Or Pushchair

  1. Im in the middle ground here. Im just getting to my third trimester and we have bought a buggy which is safe from birth and all that jazz. The reason for this is simple, I have back problems and while I also have a sling I have to accept that there will be days when I need to leave the house and I cant carry my baby. I totally agree that babywearing is the better option but if it isnt good for my health, how can I look after my baby well.

    My stance is pretty much that parenting is a balance of needs. I will balance my needs and my baby’s needs. This is true of all my parenting decisions including babywearing. I love this post but I still felt a twinge of ‘But its not that simple for me’.

    Thanks for the information though.
    Petra Lucas’s last blog post ..Joy Pockets and a quickie update

    [Reply]

    Luschka Reply:

    @Petra Lucas, Hi Petra, and thanks for your honest comment. I absolutely agree with you – in EVERY aspect of parenting, there are exceptions, and if you fail to understand that, you fail to understand a very important thing: everyone – including every baby – is UNIQUE.

    To demonstrate, here’s a problem I face. I know that car seats make children safer. (so I’m told) I know that babies should be rear facing for as long as possible. I know that there’s evidence, science, anecdote and so on in favour of this.

    I also know that I CANNOT get my daughter to be rear facing in a car seat. I have SINCE BIRTH not been able to. I’ve tried different car seats, I’ve tried different CARS, I’ve tried a mirror so she can see me, I’ve tried in-car entertainment, I’ve tried just ignoring her screaming when she’s rear facing and hoping it’ll stop. (It doesn’t. 1hr15 mins is the longest I’ve tried)I’ve tried singing, making faces, noises, conversation and snacks and toys. Since our first car trip at three days old, Kyra has NOT accepted being rear facing in a car. Even now at 18 months, she STILL wont – with the exception that now she will contort herself out of the seat if I try.

    While I have horrible fears about it, I know that there’s nothing more I can do about it. I can’t leave her to scream for hours on end (and she really does. Tried recently and she screamed -not whined, screamed – for a solid 118 miles.) Not fun.

    We all have to look at our situations, weigh up our circumstances and our risks, and decide from there.

    I’m sorry this gave you a ‘twinge’ as you put it. I don’t think pushchairs are evil or anything like that, but, like with many other things, wish they were one of the options rather than the only one most people know about. I hope that makes sense?

    Good luck with the new baby. I wish you a beautiful birth and babymoon, and welcome to this new phase of life!

    [Reply]

  2. I totally agree! People also thought we were crazy not to buy one. I knew I would never use it. I only bought an umbrella stroller (I’m guessing that is a pushchair??, not familiar with the term since I’m in the US) and we have only used it a handful of times. Money was much better spent on a ring sling and Ergo!

    [Reply]

  3. Randi

    Hello,
    I think it all depends on where you live too. I live in western Canada, and I cannot possibly put my baby in his carrier outside in the winter. I would have to take him where i was going, strap him in, then run back out with him to the car to put his stuff away, then when i leave the mall or wherever do the same thing all over again. At -30’c that just isnt possible, unless my husband is there to help me. I also hate strollers though. I ended up buying a stroller frame, and the car seat attaches to it. He is facing me though, and because it is just a frame it cannot be used when he is older to sit on. it always bothers me when people have giant strollers and it gets in the way of everyone else in a store. I truly believe I have the smallest infant stroller around. I much prefer to wear my son though, and he enjoys it too!
    I love your posts, and we actually have a friend in common. Andrea, she is from SA. Can you do a post on different carriers and why you like or don’t like each?
    Thanks so much.
    Randi’s last blog post ..Happy Friday!

    [Reply]

    Luschka Reply:

    @Randi, Hi Randi, I guess that’s true – I must admit I’ve never been in such cold temps, so I wouldn’t know! I’ll see if I can get someone to answer you though.

    I will see what I can do about a post on carriers too, as I’ve only trie three types, so wouldn’t be the best – but again, will see what I can arrange for you.

    Send my best to Andrea, and sorry it’s taken me so long to respond!

    [Reply]

    Kirstin Reply:

    @Randi, Hi Randy, I too live in Canada (Ontario) and it is very cold here too. I did find baby wearing in the winter to be a bit of a challenge. A few things that I did learn though would be to get a good large coat I happened to have one from when I was pregnant that was big enough to fit over both of us. There are other (more stylish) options such as the M-coat or the KinderCoat.

    Depending on what we were doing whether going for a walk or popping in and out of the stores it would depend on what carrier I would take. If we were going for a longer walk without a car I would use my Ergo carrier or my Mei Tai (both too fiddly to wear with a coat if you are taking baby in and out of the stores). If we were going to be driving to a number of different stores I would put my ring sling or my wrap on under my coat so that all I had to do was slip my baby into the carrier and quickly zip up the coat.

    My baby is now turning two in 4 days and I still wore here all of this past winter. We had so much snow that it just wasn’t possible to push a stroller through the snow so this was still my go-to method all winter. We are expecting another baby at the end of the summer so I am hoping this one likes to be worn just as much as the other one did because finding a stroller that will go through all the snow and slush is a challenge.

    I hope this helps!

    [Reply]

    Luschka Reply:

    @Kirstin, Thanks so much Kirstin! We also did the coat thing when Kyra was 3 – 6 months old. I forgot about that :) Thanks for commenting and helping out!

    [Reply]

  4. Totally agree! People thought I was really strange for not getting a stroller till Gus was 3 months old, but I was–and still am–very happy to carry him in the sling most of the time. I mainly use the stroller when we need to get lots of shopping (no car, and groceries are much more difficult to carry than a baby!) or take the train to friends’ / grandparents’ house, because I can fit our carseat on the chassis for use on the other side.

    Also, your point about not knowing what you will want to use the stroller for until you actually have the baby is, in my experience, spot on.
    Amy @ you shall go out with joy’s last blog post ..7 Quick Takes volume 7

    [Reply]

    Luschka Reply:

    @Amy @ you shall go out with joy,Thanks for your comment Amy, and sorry I’ve taken so long to respond!

    Yes, now that Kyra is 18 months and 12kg, we have a stroller too, but you know I’ve never not regretted taking it with us, so now, generally just don’t bother.

    The only time I use it now is when IIII need a walk – as in a fast bit of exercise. And then she’s normally pretty content to sit, facing me, talking about the world we’re passing by (which she can see just fine!)

    [Reply]

  5. Love this post! I still remember the confused looks I used to get when I was pregnant and told people we weren’t buying a stroller (to throw in the North American jargon!). And I remember people asking constantly how we’d go for a walk. Umm… I guess I’ll use my legs?

    Then when we had the baby they were amazed at how content he was. I was at a parade one day when he was about 2 months old. He slept soundly in the ring sling while marching bands and screaming fire trucks went by!

    The only other point I’d add to yours it that it’s just straight up easier in a LOT of situations. Little Man and I were flying without Dad once. There were about 6 other kids on the flight and each of those families needed 2 flight attendants to get them and their prams bundled onto the plane. I sauntered past them unaided and was in my seat before anyone noticed.

    [Reply]

    Luschka Reply:

    @KrissyFair, Oh, Krissy, that is a FANTASTIC point – we have had the same on a longhaul flight. Just in the sling and off we go. Makes life SO much easier!

    And yes, people always commented on how content and peaceful she was. It’s a wonderful thing.

    Thanks so much for commenting :)

    [Reply]

  6. I think I agree, but with one proviso, that some parents might find they end up going looking for one on day two if they have a sling-hating newborn and can’t imagine carrying them in arms… My third wouldn’t travel in a sling for about four months, and I spent that entire time feeling very housebound with two other children. Whilst I’m glad I didn’t use a buggy with her at all, I can see that in that situation most people would want and use a pushchair!

    Looking for a buggy, well, now I’d say that the two things for me would be high up and parent facing. Which effectively puts all options right out of my price range anyway lol!

    (PS saw a fantastic article the other day: http://zombiecombatclub.com/index.php/2008/10/23/protecting-children-from-zombie-attack/ LOL a good one to give to geeky friends!)
    Sarah’s last blog post ..Weekending Magic

    [Reply]

    Luschka Reply:

    @Sarah, Interesting point Sarah – thank you. I hadn’t considered it. Although, I would say, at day two, you might want to give yourself a bit more time at home! :p

    Re the link: really weird, but totally geeky ready! Made me smile.

    On a more sombre note, a woman not far from where we’re staying had a tug of war with someone with her pushchair recently. The man tried to grab the pushchair and run, but she clung on for dear life and yelled at her older child to run into the nursery for help. Someone came and attacked the man and she ran indoors with her infant still in the pram. Freaked me out badly! :(

    [Reply]

    Sarah Reply:

    @Luschka, YIKES yes, one of the reasons I have never gone back to pushchairs is that with our first baby we had brake failure near a busy road once, a head bump from the buggy getting a wheel stuck coming down off a bus, and a couple of incidents with people hitting her with heavy shopping bags! Never again!

    Ahh if only a two year old and a four year old believed in babymoons ROFL. Getting out and about still seems like the calmest way in such a mad house. :) I just carried her in arms mostly for the first few months! (Arm ache was well worth it lol.)
    Sarah’s last blog post ..Weekending Magic

    [Reply]

    Luschka Reply:

    @Sarah, Oh heavens! I hadn’t considered that! With Kyra, if I don’t get her out the house every day, she becomes a human wrecking ball! *more to worry about when it comes to number 2 time*

    As for your pram incident. *shivers* I can’t … yeah. … words fail me…

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