“We’re expecting number two!” you announce. “Bought a double buggy yet?!” joke your friends.
And just like that reality bites. Should you really double up in the pram stakes? Are you kicking yourself for not buying the convert-to-double buggy model the first time round? So. Many. Questions.
Well you’re in good company. I, for one, spent the best part of a trimester figuring out how I would get from A to B with two under two. I played out all the scenarios in my head. I researched online and road tested in store. I carried out ‘stop and search’ on mums with two kids in cafes. I quizzed dads manoeuvring double buggies round supermarket aisles. I was overwhelmed – lost deep in a fog that was part baby brain, part buggy bewilderment.
I soon realised I wouldn’t know if I’d made the right decision until the time came. Because the right buggy for you, is one that fits your lifestyle. So because you can’t just Google the answer, I hope sharing my considerations will help lift the buggy fog for many of you!
‘How much will I actually use a pram for getting out and about?’
For me, the answer was daily. At that time I was living in an inner London flat with a supermarket at both ends of my road – within walking distance of an underground station, a park and my son’s nursery. I thrived on leaving the flat each day, to run errands and meet friends, and even though my two year old son was already a strong walker, I couldn’t rely on his little legs making a round trip each time.
‘But what will I really need to use it for?’
Side-by-side and up-and-down buggies are fantastic options if you’ll mostly be running errands on foot and doing stuff without a need for much lugging in and out of the car. And thanks to their multiple configurations you can switch it up whenever you like – the seat can face you with the baby, turn out for the toddler and you can attach a car seat if baby needs to be transferred to or from the car whilst napping.
Double strollers tick the ‘functional’ box. For a supermarket sweep or midst airport transfer you can pin down both kids, they can be stowed away in a car boot and still leave enough room for shopping bags or suitcases. Plus most boast lie flat modes for naps and some are even multi-way. All this without making too much of a dent in your wallet.
‘And what other alternatives are there?’
Sling it up. Correct, not technically a buggy, but let’s talk about baby carriers. An excellent early days option, especially as newborns crave being held close during the fourth trimester. They allow you to get on with life in and out the house. They gift you the use of both arms to attend to an older sibling’s needs, or simply to hold their hand when crossing a road.
I found a soft style wrap a real advantage during the first few months. Five months in, I replaced it with a more structured sling. And a year on, my daughter was still happy to be carried. The market is evolving fast – so whether you’ve used a sling before or couldn’t quite get on with one in the past, I’d urge you to seek professional advice from a ‘baby wearing expert’ rather than a department store employee. As new brands and ranges emerge thick and fast retailers don’t always understand tech such as ergonomic fit, nor will many have first-hand experience in securing a wriggly baby in place. Best to get down to a local sling library, try a few on for size and read some e-reviews from experts and mums.
Wheeled boards. Another excellent alternative to a double pushchair for those of you with a more active kid in tow. Hop on (but also beware: hop off!) boards are great for when your little walker starts to lose steam.. Plus they can be easily stored when not in use. Boards are super easy to trial in store and, depending on the height of your child, you’ll see in real life if they are tall enough to grab the handle bars, co-ordinated enough to get on (and stay on!) as you push, and generally get them used to the freedom of not being harnessed in. One watch out: navigation. Bumps in the road and lots of kerbs make for a less than smooth ride for both you as the pusher as well as for your little passenger.
Scooters. Look away now if the ‘s’ word fills you with dread, but they are increasingly popular with bigger kids. If ‘scootering ‘ is already your toddler’s thing, and they are competently streetwise, they can be a great alternative to a double buggy. Yet do consider where and when you’ll use it most. Flat roads to nursery? Hilly parks on the weekend? I challenge you to find one mum or dad of a scooter mad tot who hasn’t walked some of the way home with their toddler on their shoulders! And be mindful of storage. Until buggy manufacturers figure out where to fix a scooter on a travel system, it might not be that convenient with a baby in tow.
After months of listing pros and cons, I opted for an up-and-down double buggy. A year in and I used it more as a single pram with a wheeled board for my then three year old, and it proved to have been the right decision for us and our lifestyle. The choices out there are overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to take your time, test and trial. You’ll soon enough have your hands full. Anything to make life easier is worth investing a bit of thought up front.