I initially did loads of research online and read tons of reviews thinking this is how I was going to find the pram I needed. I had a Mama’s & Papa’s Armadillo picked out in my head – I read a couple of reviews from women who just review prams, I thought their video was super cool and I liked the colors. My husband told me to just go ahead and order one but I kept resisting partly because I wanted to see it in person first, but mainly because I wanted the whole pregnancy experience of shopping for baby stuff for the first time. So I was trying to find out where I could see an Armadillo in person before I bought it, but the Mama’s & Papa’s store closest to me closed down so I had to go to look for an independent reseller that carried their line.
This was the first of my good decisions (mainly by luck) – go to an independent baby store where you can see and try everything first, instead of going to a specific branded store that will be biased and only carry their line. (The other benefit to this is that if something happens then they will get it fixed – if you order online you don’t get service like this. I had an issue with something and they had my proof and date of purchase and model in their system to deal directly with the manufacturer and it couldn’t have been smoother.)
At the first independent baby store we went to I told the sales assistant that we had no idea what we were doing or what we needed but I had looked at the Armadillo online and liked it. She made a bad face at me (probably unintentionally) and said she didn’t have the Armadillo but had another Mama’s & Papa’s pram to show me that was very similar.
I then found out that it was on clearance – they never sell that brand (not just model) because they aren’t made that well. I was stubborn and thought to myself she can’t be right – all the reviews?!? – the cool video!?!? So I walked up to it and she demonstrated how it opened and closed and I touched it and pushed it . . . and she was right. . . I felt silly like I had been totally duped by fancy video’s and nice photography and I work in advertising!! It was very thin, flimsy, and totally oversold online for what you actually get in person. The saving grace was that I found out before I had bought it online.
I knew that I wanted something that wasn’t huge but wasn’t tiny and flimsy. I also wanted it to be compatible with the car seat so I could have a seamless system. But other than that I knew nothing.
How I Chose My Pram
We looked at a bunch of other models in the store and listened to the saleslady explain the features and benefits of each brand and model and I made sure that both of us test drove each one around the shop. Then it was on to color options and other features. We found out that the iCandy brand holds its resale value more than any other brand, which is a good thing if you want to sell yours, especially if you use it for one baby. I was still reluctant to love the iCandy I felt that everyone had one on the street and I don’t like having the same thing as everyone else. I also wasn’t a fan of the color choices they had – then we were shown the limited edition world print which was cute and something that we both liked and was different. We left the shop with pricing and the iCandy Peach as a good option because my husband said to do more research as he wasn’t buying the first one we saw (good decision number 2 although I was reluctant to think so at the time).
I got a letter in the mail from another independent baby store a couple of weeks later which I had also never heard of – Oxford Pram Centre with a voucher for money off if I spent so much so I dragged my husband there to see the iCandy Peach again (iCandy prams are like wedding dresses retailers can’t discount them or they could lose their ability to sell that brand).
We arrived for the first time at Oxford Pram Centre and everyone was really friendly. Ruth was our sales assistant and she was fantastic! I told her to treat as if we know nothing about prams so we could learn about everything again from her perspective without biasing her. So we tried out more prams and believe me there are some really nice ones out there and the Oxford Pram Centre has them all (iCandy, Joolz, UPPAbaby, Silver Cross, Bugaboo and more). So we began the process of elimination:
- is the handle bar extendable? (very important if you are tall and/or lots of other people will be using your pram) I use ours on the top height and I’m only 5’4″
- can the baby face forward and backward?
- does it come with a bassinet (carrycot) and a seat?
- can we use a car seat with the chassis?
- is it easy to collapse and put together?
- will it fit in our trunk (boot)?
- can it grow if our family grows? e.g. dual seats, toddler board
- is it too big to use on the narrow sidewalks in town where we live or in between racks at stores?
- do the wheels move nicely?
- is it sturdy enough to go off-road in dirt or mud if we have to on a walk?
- does it come with accessories like a rain hood, sun-shield or foot muff?
From here it was narrowed down to an UPPAbaby Cruz, Joolz Day and the iCandy Peach – I liked that the Uppababy had UV protection on the hood and that you could unzip it for fresh air or to see your baby, I loved the look and colors of the Joolz. The iCandy didn’t have the features on its hood or the colors I wanted but it won because of its ability to configure multiple ways for more kids and its resale value.
So then it was on to color – and we still weren’t loving the colors so we asked if we could order the world limited edition. Since it had been a couple of months since we originally saw it we found out it was completely sold out. Luckily iCandy had just launched two new Designer Collections at a baby show and they were due to come out to the stores in two or three months – just in time for when I needed it. I let my husband choose the color as he was going to be using it as well, it needed to be gender neutral, and he was paying for it. So even though it was probably the most expensive pram we could have bought we got the iCandy Peach Designer Collection Black Edition because that’s what he wanted and when you’re already buying an expensive pram adding on a couple £100 more to get the DC wasn’t a big deal. It came with upgrades like leatherette handle bars (instead of foam) an all matte black chassis (instead of shiny silver) orange rims and shocks and included a carrycot 0-6 months, seat 6 months+ and we added the accessories pack.
This is what I did:
GO INDEPENDENT– try out all the prams in person at the Oxford Pram Centre or similar I suggest going to two or three independent stores max because they all pretty much have the same brands and models and if you do more it will become repetitive and overwhelming
SLEEP ON IT – don’t buy the first pram you see because chances are you’ll regret it later, prams I feel are a lot like wedding dresses, don’t make the mistake I made and buy one from the first shop the same day – sleep on it, it will always be there tomorrow
RESEARCH – once you see them in person and figure out the options and features you like and don’t like then look online if you need more info and/or reassurance about a particular model or to compare prices
HOW & HOW OFTEN– living in the UK we walk a lot more than in the US, my husband and I walk into our town at least once a week and that’s 1.5 miles one way so we knew we needed a pram that we would use very regularly, would cope on our narrow and bumpy sidewalks and walking trails (we actually use our pram 6-7 days a week walking far distances into town, restaurants and shops and put it in the car about once a week – over the past six months we calculated our pram has done over 600 miles!!!!)
SEASONS– think about what time of year your baby will be born + how and how often you’ll use it – some people never buy the bassinet (carrycot) because it’s winter and they don’t go out now so most likely won’t with a baby while others like me have used my pram since day 5 going outside and getting fresh air all through Fall and Winter so you may want cold weather accessories like a foot muff etc (btw babies love fresh air and it often calms them down especially when it’s cold, I think going outside often is another reason why my baby sleeps so well at night because it helped her develop her circadian rhythm from the start)
MUST-HAVES – at the very least you’ll want something that rides smoothly, is both forward and rear facing, has an adjustable handle, and a large basket underneath to put stuff in because you can’t push a grocery cart and a pram at the same time – but think about what else is best for you and your needs
GROW – if you are planning on having more kids sometime in the next three or four years you’ll need to buy something that grows with you and can convert to carrying two children at once or has room for a standing board attachment for a toddler
PRAM SEAT VS. CARRYCOT– not all prams come with the bassinet (carrycot) so if yours doesn’t and you will use your pram right away from birth I’d invest in the bassinet it will make your life easier as it lasts until 6 months, is better for their spinal development than sitting smooshed up in a seat or in their car seat (btw babies under 6 months shouldn’t be in their car seat for more than 2 hours some people interpret this to be two hours at a time I think it should be for the day – it’s also bad for their digestion)
CAR SEAT – decide if you care about your car seat working with your pram – I thought this was the most important thing so we got the pram, Maxi Cosi pebble plus, the Isofix base and the adapters so the Maxi Cosi can fit on my iCandy chassis, in reality by the time you drive somewhere and take the chassis out of the car you might as well just click the bassinet (carrycot) on top as it takes less time than putting in the adaptors then removing the car seat and is even more time if you aren’t using an Isofix base – again I don’t understand how all these mom’s everywhere buy nice prams and constantly use their car seats instead and at the detriment of their baby’s comfort and health
FIT & STORAGE – will it fold up compactly enough and fit in your trunk (boot)? Probably not as big of a deal if you’re in the US but here in the UK this is a must check – also you need to figure out if you have space to store it inside your house as well and how easy will it be to get inside? Luckily ours fits through the front door (just and it’s not the widest!) and we have space to keep it assembled and parked in the front hall without dragging mud and dirt all over the place
COLOR– make sure you buy something you really love and won’t get sick of looking at day after day and that will be able to be used for another baby that you obviously don’t know the gender yet – don’t worry if you don’t find something amazing you can always accessorize it with blankets and a diaper bag to make it more ‘you’
Other tips when using a pram:
CARRYCOT– newborns are so tiny and like to feel cradled like they were in the womb so I had an additional newborn insert that someone had bought me for my baby shower and couldn’t use with my car seat because my Maxi Cosi Pebble Plus came with one already – so I decided to put it to good use and create a pram cocoon by placing it flat in my bassinet (carrycot) to make it feel cozier which worked beautifully underneath my baby sheepskin rug – see below
REFLECTORS– if you’re going to buy any color pram and use it at night or dusk then it might be worth it to put reflectors on it so cars can see you (especially if you’re running with a pram at dusk or dawn) I found these Pogu ones but haven’t put them on my pram yet so I can’t comment beyond that
BABY BAG – everyone I see just hangs their baby bag by the shoulder strap over the pram handle or uses the stroller straps and I did this as well until two weeks ago because I was fed up with it sliding down all the time and then being smooshed against the pram so I couldn’t properly get into the pockets and it was probably scratching it as well – to solve this issue I bought these leather straps with clips and mine stays in place now and looks much smarter (and it’s easier to get on and off then using the integrated loops)
MOMMY HOOK– or buggy hooks whatever you call them they are the big clips you put on your pram to hook bags or groceries onto – in theory these are great and can come in handy, in reality if you leave it attached all the time it slides down the sides, scratches the handlebar, only works in the middle of the handlebar, is difficult to push when there is a bag hanging there making you further away/banging your legs, and it affects the balance almost tipping over if heavy with groceries
Did this help you figure out what pram or stroller you should get? Did you try out my pram cocoon? Let me know your thoughts below . . .
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