NewbornMum looking to solve the 'big buggy dilemma' at Baby Kingdom
Now here’s a topic that people have evangelical opinions on: the big buggy purchase.
For the record, feel free to interchange ‘buggy’ with: pram, stroller, travel system, babymobile…and the list goes on. In general, I’m referring to something with wheels and a small body-containing compartment that people push their very young children around in.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not scorning the close-to-religious attachment parents have to their buggy of choice: particularly if it’s a good choice. These contraptions can be the deciding factor that will have you rating your experience of stepping out with Baby along a spectrum of ‘blood curdling nightmare’ through to ‘piece of cake’.
I found shopping for one to be one of the most difficult purchasing decisions I have ever made in my life. I’m not kidding. It outstretched my wedding gown, car and various rental property choices for pure stress value. Sounds insane, I know, but I’m not alone.
Firstly, everyone has an opinion – and they’re all valid because they come from experience. Secondly, there’s just so much choice and so many variables involved.
There is a lovely lady at Baby Kingdom in Castle Hill, Sydney, who put it to Hubby and me like this:
- What’s your budget?
- What’s your lifestyle? Indoorsy, outdoorsy, jogging, shopping, urban, rural, car drivers or using public transport?
- How much can you handle lifting? Including if you fall pregnant while you’re still in ‘pram mode’ with your first (or second, or third)?
- What car do you drive and how big is the boot?
- What sort of space do you have for storing it at home?
- How many kids do you plan on having?
Then she got to work with us. And she was terrific.
We like to go for walks, sometimes in parks and certainly along the beach or at least along roads that run alongside the ocean. So we need weather protection for Baby – in the cold and in the heat, as well as good suspension on the wheels and tyres for various terrain. We also need storage compartments to carry around the 8,000 varieties of paraphernalia you need to get you from A to B.
Three-wheeler options also seemed to be easier to maneuver, so we decided on that configuration.
We’re not millionaires, so something middle-of-the-range, and a really good deal at that, was really what we were looking for. We don’t drive a massive car. We got ourselves a Subaru Forester, which is pretty generous on size, but then, we also don’t have much space at home for storage when the buggy isn’t in active service.
We also would use this contraption for shopping, and ideally (in my dreamland utopia of parenthood) provide our darling little bundle with the comfort of somewhere to sleep. They do sleep occasionally, right?
I’m not the strongest woman in the world. In fact I have no upper body strength to speak of. Now, I’m told that will change, but in the immediate future my wimpy self needs a pram she can actually haul into the car.
We are planning on possibly having more than one little bundle of joy, but rather than get ahead of ourselves, a dear friend advised me that she often pops the newer of her children in a sling whilst older sibling either sits in the pram or, more recently, walks alongside. Sounded reasonable to me. So I stopped looking at tandem arrangements – not that I don’t think they’re quite a nifty solution.
Buggy of choice
I don’t know why, but there was just something about the Valco Matrix Dart style that appealed on sight. But I also had very reliable and sensible friends chanting the mantra of Mountain Buggy, Quinny and Bugaboo. So investigation was required.
Phil & Ted’s Explorer seemed like quite a good option. Neat little bassinet attachment and, of course, it has the adaptability of a toddler seat or inline options made this a good choice to accommodate the as yet unmade Baby Number 2. I loved the easy access shopping cart and that it folded down so magically. I just wanted a bit more in the way of canopy cover and an easier mechanism on the brakes.
We wandered over to Mothercare at Castle Hill, where they had a great package on their My Choice three-wheeler. The package pretty much gave you everything – rain cover, bassinet: the whole deal. It was very modular, so you just removed or replaced the components as you needed them and it has to be said, the design is lovely. Again, I’d like a little more in the way of a canopy (personal preference). But this was definitely a contender.
Big in the way of a canopy is the Baby Jogger City Elite. Their three-wheeler was terrific. Good storage space for shopping. Oh – and the one click fold is a dream. Really. Not to mention that the brake is on the handle and out of reach of little fingers – so easy for you, and safe for Baby. Just fab. The seat folded down for a newborn, which is great, but I wanted a bassinet (again, just a personal preference from a novice – scoff if you will), and that was in addition to the package at the time. I would recommend this stroller if you’re not married to the idea of a bassinet. Really good buy.
Back to Baby Kingdom, where I ogled the Quinny, Bugaboo, Emmaljunga and Stokke ranges. They are all utterly gorgeous, but I have to confess I didn’t really try them out to their full potential because they were out of our price range. What did occur to me – particularly with the Emmaljunga range – is that if I lived somewhere with a really cold climate they would definitely be the buggy of choice. They all just had beautiful design features, high-quality fabric, and I loved that the Quinny handle allowed you to have the baby facing you or looking outwards.
Baby Kingdom also had a great deal on the Mountain Buggy Swift at the time, which was going for $AUD599 with the bassinet thrown in. The Mountain Buggies look great and their colour spectrum is really funky and vibrant. I loved the fact that it weighed 9.5kg and can take up to 35kg in weight, and the fold-down procedure was really easy. Great brakes too. Our only hesitation here was that it folds down flat and compact – which is terrific – but the length took up the entire boot floor of our car. I loved it though, and we really very nearly bought this. It was our number 2 choice.
The Valco range includes the very neat and compact Ion and Ion Plus. The Ion Plus would have been our choice as it includes the bassinet. If we were only looking to be just indoors or sticking to paved surfaces, this was just the ticket. So incredibly lightweight (8.6kg) and folded down to next to nothing: great for those of us who are sans muscles. Hubby just wanted a bigger handle, and the wheels may not have coped with our walks. So went a bit bigger… and encountered the Valco Matrix Dart Plus.
Loved it. The hood expands, pretty much entirely sheltering your little one in a safe little cocoon and it can take up to 22kg in weight. The brake is really easy to use. Great storage pocket at parent height, and a generously sized shopping compartment underneath baby. It does weigh 11.5kg, but I guess I’m just going to have to harden up. It folds down in two steps so that it’s sort of compact in a boxy way, which suited our car boot as it left room for shopping and other bags alongside it. The bassinet is currently included in a deal at Baby Kingdom – a nice price at $AUD499.
I allowed Hubby to select the colour choice, given I’ve chosen everything else. He went with taupe. See, I would have gone with the grey…but you’ve got to let the boy have some say. Or do you?