Choosing a pram or pushchair

When you or your partner is expecting a baby, one of the main purchases you will consider is a pram or pushchair. Prams and pushchairs come in many styles, and each has its benefits. Some stores and brands offer 'travel systems' which if you want to use all the components can work out to be good value. Other brands are designed for a specific purpose, such as for jogging or walking on trails and so may be less of a compromise if you have a single requirement.

These are my tips for choosing a pram that will work for you and your baby.

1. How are you going to use your pram?
Think about how you intend to use your pram. If you live in a town, are you likely to walk to shops or would you drive? A pram with capacity to carry shopping is going to be really useful if you walk, but if you have to get it into and out of a car it can be difficult and bulky to deal with. Most prams collapse down, but some are more compact than others.Try it out before you buy to make sure it will fit ok. You may also need to consider its size for storage at home.

2. What sort of chassis and wheels do you need?
Do you walk on smooth surfaces or on rough paths? Some prams come with larger wheels than others, and some have pneumatic tyres and shock absorbing features to provide a smoother ride for baby and an easier time for you. Some prams are more manouverable than others, but these can be hard to control on a straight path unless the front wheels lock.

3. Do you need to use it with a car seat?
For convenience you may want to be able to mount your car seat on the pram chassis. This will allow you to avoid waking baby when you arrive at your destination, but need to walk further than you want to carry the car seat - they can get heavy even with a small baby inside. You can sometimes get a good deal by getting matching components from a 'travel system'. Be aware that a seat suitable for an older baby or toddler may not be available as part of the same system.

4. Is the pram built to last?
If you think you will have another baby in the future, it is probably worth investing in a better quality pram that will still be in good condition for your next baby to use. Better quality brands often have a high resale value, so you might be able to recoup some money by selling it once you have finished with it.

5. How practical is it?
Does it come with a rain cover or insect net? Depending on your climate you may need one or both of these. Can the fabrics be removed for washing easily? Is the handle adjustable for different people to be able to push it comfortably? Is it designed for use from birth to toddler, or will you need to buy something else when they are bigger?

6. What style do you like?
Some prams come in a choice of fabrics and can be very fashionable, traditional or quirky in style. If you intend to keep the pram for another baby, or to sell it afterwards, the choice between something that would date or a more timeless design might be important to you. Some prams come with a range of accessories such as a matching changing bag or other items. If you like things to coordinate this might be a factor in your decision.

7. Do you expect to have another baby soon?
If so, then some prams come with double seat accessories or a 'toddler board' to allow two children of different ages to use the same pram without it being a double wide.

8. What is your budget?
If your budget won't stretch to the pram of your dreams, then consider buying one secondhand before you compromise on the style or features that you need. Many stores have sales from time to time, so it is worth looking out for special offers. Why not ask family or friends to club together to help you buy what you want, rather than getting your baby another photo frame or baby gro. Even a small contribution can help, and most people would prefer that you really appreciate their gift.

Finally, I would recommend spending as much time as possible to research your purchase, and as much money as you can afford on your pram, as it is an important safety item and one which can either make your life a misery or a pleasure. You are more likely to get out and about if it is easy to do so, and you will benefit from the exercise and lift to your spirits that it will bring. If you buy something that doesn't meet your needs you will likely find you will spend more in the end as you will have to buy another pram later on, or replace one that is low quality or doesn't work well for you. Many websites have reviews where you can see what other parents think of a particular model, and these are well worth checking out.