What to consider when buying a Pushchair… Plus a review of the Stokke Xplory

Last month we broke from the norm and wrote a review, which over 200,000 people visited to read within just two days! Something I have been asked since is why we don’t do more reviews to support parents weigh up some of the options when looking at particular products… so once a month that is now what we will do!

The first item I have chosen to review is something that generates a lot of discussion when I am out and about, I literally couldn’t walk into a shop over the Christmas period without being stopped to be asked about this item… and that is my pushchair.

brokebuggysmWe use the Stokke Xplory, and even though I babywear often, I have found myself using this more than I would have expected simply because it is so well designed. I’ve been through the experiences of the pushchairs which look good, but are too heavy to lift in and out of the car, those which are really multifunctional but badly designed so I regularly would trap my fingers in the mechanism, those which had nowhere to store stuff, etc. In each case, I ended up hardly using them…

When looking for a pushchair, the top things which are on my suggested list to consider include: 1) Ease of use, 2) Functionality, 3) How comfortable for baby, 4) How adaptable for parents

 

Ease of use

How easy is it to put up/take down? How heavy is it? Does it fit through doorways? Does it fit into your carboot? Is it easy to manouvre? Look at turning, travel over different terrains, etc.

Going 'off-road' on a pine cone hunt in Wales!

Going ‘off-road’ on a pine cone hunt in Wales!

Having not used a pushchair for a few years before the arrival of Brock this summer, I was surprised when we went back out to try a few at how BIG they are! Some simply would not fit into our carboot so would have been no use! Others I struggled to fold down… The Stokke Xplory folds down with the pulling of a single button, and locks the wheels together which makes it easy to lift into a car boot. You can retract the handle to make it very compact too. It is not too heavy so lifting isn’t a major issue.

In terms of travel, the Xplory has four wheels which all turn independently making it easy to go around corners or turn on the spot. The Xplory has a neat little trick for when you need to travel over sand/snow or even up stairs – you can simply click the wheels back so it becomes like a wheely case and is easy to pull up stairs or over sand where it would normally sink – great if like us, you spend a lot of the summer at the seaside or suddenly want to go ‘off road’ and explore!

Functionality

Is it suitable from birth? Does it have any features for storage? Is it easily adapted for different weather? Will it take a car seat?

Many parents purchase travel systems – which usually include car seats, carrycots etc. so that you have lots of different items you can use on the pushchair chassis depending on what you are doing and how old the baby is. Most chassis will take an own brand carseat, and the majority of chassis will also have adaptors for maxi cosi car seats too. So you don’t have to buy a whole travel system, you can buy individual elements separately – just make sure you can get adaptors so they all work together (do check if doing this, the carseat will fit your car, see end of the review for more information). Many pushchairs will come with raincovers, some may also have sunshades or parasols – often these are purchased seperately. You can also get items like footmuffs for colder days, which keep baby all cosy. Many pushhairs will have an under-seat net or travel bag for bits and pieces.

The Xplory is increably multi-functional. With a newborn insert, it is suitable from birth, so although Stokke make a carrycot if you prefer to use one, with the newborn insert it is not essential due to the clever way the main seat reclines flat anyway. This same seat than can be tilted further upright as your baby grows into a toddler so they can sit up. The Xplory comes with a buggy bag attached under the main seat which is so handy for any buggy accessories you might want to store in it. On other pushchairs we have owned, there was never anywhere to store the raincover etc, so we would often find ourselves our without it – with the Stokke it is always there, packed neatly away.

The Stokke is easily adapted for different weather. The hood of the seat has an air vent which can be unzipped to allow air to circulate around the baby and has a flip out sun protector on the hood rim which gives a little more shade to baby on a sunny day. It comes with a rain cover, and had a pre-made slot for a Stokke parasol to just to slipped into – parasols are sold separately.

P1090176Stokke also make a winter kit and a summer kit, which can be purchased separately. Basically on the seat you can unzip all the textiles which come with the buggy and replace it with one of these seasonal kits. The winter kit is a quilted textile cover, covering the bottom of the seat unit and the hood. It also has an apron which fits over the top of the seat, covering baby and leaving a little window where you can keep an eye on them, while keeping them nice and warm. However, parents are not forgotten about and the winter kit also features a lovely handmuff for the handle to keep those hands warm as you are pushing the buggy along! The Winter Kit attracts a lot of attention when out and about, and I have literally been unable to go out without being stopped and asked about mine.

 

How comfortable for baby?

How padded is the seat? What angle is baby sat at? Can baby see the parents? What about the height of baby’s seat? Different climate conditions?

Brock enjoying the ride!

Brock enjoying the ride!

The feature that the Stokke is best known for is that ‘higher is better’ and the seat units on Stokkes put the child in them higher than in a conventional pushchair. Stokke do this to increase the baby’s view of the world and also to raise them above the car fumes which they are nearer to when lower down. These considerations for the comfort and well-being of the child are just brilliant and perhaps not something we immediately think of when considering our options around purchasing a pushchair.

The seat is lovely and padded in the Stokke and the restraints are also well padded too. Baby is nice and comfortable and can be fully reclined or sitting up, depending on their age and whether they are having a nap!

The seat unit, when in an upright position, can be set to face parents or face away from parents. This is easy to change so can be adjusted very quickly depending on needs or what the parents/child want to do on a given day.

The Stokke has matching accessories such as a footmuff, which is lovely and cosy and perfect for a toddler who wants to be all snug.

How adaptable for parents?

How does this buggy work alongside other children? How easy is it to use when out and about? What extras does it have which make it parent-friendly? What about the cost?

Big brother and sister helping to push!

Big brother and sister helping to push!

From the parent’s point of view, my experience of this buggy are very positive.

There are some great little features, which really make a difference. I love the fact that you can adjust the handle to different heights so easily, right down to a low handle so a big brother and sister can help push! We use this function much more than I thought we would, it really makes it a family buggy!

When out and about the ability to lower the handle right down and then fold it away is brilliant when you are out having something to eat as it mean you can pull your baby in right to the table so they stay close.

buggydrinksmLittle accessories which I love include the cup holder which fits onto the inside of the handle. This is perfect for either your own cold drink while you are out and about, or as your little one gets older, for their own drink to go there. With Brock being born in summer, I used this a lot when out and about!

On the Xplory, the textiles can all be taken off, which makes for easy cleaning. It also means you can purchase other textile colours too, perfect if you get bored of your pushchair and would like to change colours but don’t want the expensive of replacing it all!

The Xplory is more expensive that the pushchairs we bought in the past, but we have been so pleased with it that it is the buggy we would choose to purchase again in the future if needed. If we were unable to buy one new, we would certainly look at buying one second-hand.

Hopefully this has given you some idea of what kinds of options to consider and weight up if you are looking at buying a pushchair for your little one. Remember to consider YOUR lifestyle rather than what your friend or family say suits them, and shop around to get the best price. If you are purchasing a pushchair which comes with a carseat, make sure that the carseat fits your car, so if buying online, take a trip to make sure it fits first so you know it is safe for your precious bundle (Kiddicare, Mothercare and Halfords are all examples of shops which will check a seat fits your car correctly).

What are your experiences of pushchairs? Did you use one? What did/do you hate/love about them? What for you is essential? We would love to hear your thoughts!

 

stephhead2

 

Steph is co-founder of antenatal & parenting programmes BabyNatal and DaddyNatal, alongside her husband Dean. 

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