PARENTS

Double Buggies Tried And Tested

13/04/2012 13:08 | Updated 22 May 2015
PA

If your second baby will arrive before your eldest graduates from their pushchair, or you're having twins, it's time to go double buggy shopping.

As with all varieties of pushchairs these days, there's a bewilderingly wide selection on the market, from basic budget buggies to flash, all-singing models, like the ones which start as a single, can be transformed into a double when your second child arrives and then back again, when the older one can go on a buggy board or walk full-time.

There are two main styles of double buggy: side by sides and tandems. Side by sides have, as the name suggests, the two seats next to each other, tandems have one behind the other.

Tandems are only the same width as most single pushchairs, making them easier to get through doorways and down shop aisles but the child in the rear seat can have quite an obscured view – not such a problem with a tiny newborn but this can be an issue for toddlers who won't appreciate only being able to see the back of their sibling's head! Also they rarely have a full recline in both seats and because newborns need a lie-flat seat and even older ones benefit from a decent recline for nap time, most tandems are therefore unsuitable for twins.

Side by sides, meanwhile, are wider but both babies/ children get a better view and both seat are more likely to recline for sleeping time.

Things to consider when shopping:

1. Buying for a newborn (or two)?

Check whether just one or both seats reclines into the flat or almost flat position needed by newborns for their spine development and breathing – look for the 'suitable from birth' label in the product literature.

Obviously for twins, both seats will need to go back flat. It's handy if the seat backs can be raised and lowered independently, in case one child wants to nap and the other doesn't.

Carrycot and travel system (where you can attach a car seat to the pushchair seat or chassis) options are few and far between on doubles but there are some – check out iCandy, Mountain Buggy, Britax and FirstWheels' ranges plus the new Bugaboo Donkey (see below).

2. Buying for siblings?

In this case you might well want to consider a 'convertible' tandem. The idea was popularised by Phil & Ted's and these are the buggies which start as singles and can be turned into doubles as your family grows, then back again once the older child can walk or go on a buggy board.

They can be pricey though and if you're on a budget you could find it cheaper to buy both a single and a double pushchair!

3. Where you tend to walk.

If you're always traipsing across country paths, beaches or fields, look for larger wheels which will cope better with challenging terrain. If you usually potter about town, smaller wheels should suffice. Look for ones which 'swivel' to aid manoeuvrability about shops and cafes.

4. How you travel

If you frequently take public transport, do your best to find something relatively light and easy to fold (and it is all relative as doubles are inevitably heavier, bulkier and trickier to collapse than singles).

If you mainly use your car, check the pushchair collapses small enough to fit in the boot. You might also want to consider a travel system option so you can whisk sleeping newborns straight from the car to the pushchair without disturbing them.

5. Weight

Clearly with two seats rather than one, and a larger chassis to accommodate them, doubles tend to be heavier than singles. The lightest on the market are around 10kg but many weigh in at 14kg or more.

6. Dimensions

As above, check the buggy will fit in your car boot when folded, but also that you can steer it through your front door if it's a side by side. If storage space at home, in your hallway, is limited, prioritise a pushchair which folds as compactly as possible.

7. Extras

Check what's included when comparing prices. Sometimes a raincover, footmuff, even a changing bag are thrown in, other times you'll have to buy them separately.

8. Time needed

And finally, if you have a baby and older toddler, consider whether the period with both children needing a pushchair will be very short.

If so, think about whether it might be possible to put the little one in a sling or carrier (see our best buys here) for their first couple of months to tide you over until your older one is ready to walk or go on a buggy board.

If the overlap period where they'll both need a pushchair is quite small, managing without a double buggy in this way could save you quite a lot of money!

Five best buys:

Best buys: double buggiesBabyjogger City Mini Double, £369.99, www.babyjogger.co.uk

A side-by-side twin which is one of few genuine all-terrain doubles on the market, thanks to its big air-filled wheels, sturdy feel (yet it's fairly lightweight too at 12kg) and excellent suspension. Yet it pushes well round town too, being really easy to manoeuvre (other than in a narrow shop aisle as it's not the slimmest side by side around). Other positives include comfortable seats which are supportive for a newborn but roomy enough for toddlers and which recline fully flat. Very easy to fold too.

Good for: All-round performance – as suited to rural treks as it is to trips around town and twins as well as baby plus toddler siblings.

Not so good for: Its width – you might not be able to get it into your house if you have a narrow front door!

best buys: double buggiesMaclaren Twin Triumph, £180, www.maclarenbaby.co.uk

This lightweight twin pushchair is very well-made yet is relatively cheap for a double buggy. It's quite slim considering it's a side-by-side and and folds down compactly, making it a solid choice for those with smaller car boots.

Good for: Parents wanting a well-designed and reliable pushchair without having to take out a second mortgage for it.

Not so good for: The seats don't recline fully flat although they are officially 'suitable from birth' (if this bothers you, go for the Maclaren Twin Techno for £280).

Best buys: Double buggiesPhil & Ted's Explorer, £429.95 as a single or £509.90 with the 'doubles kit' included, www.philandteds.com

One of a number of incarnations of Antipodean company Phil & Ted's popular tandem concept. As with the others in their range, this starts life as a single, converts to a double and then back as your family evolves. A soft carrycot 'cocoon' can be added to keep newborns comfortable (around £50) and you can also clip on a car seat to use it as travel system but note that both these options only apply to one seat. This is great for close-in-age siblings but not one for twins.

Good for: Toddler plus baby combinations and the flexibility to change from single to double as you need to.

Not so good for: Twins – it wouldn't work in this case as one seat doesn't recline.

Best buys: double buggiesBritax B-Dual, £449 for single pushchair plus £99.99 for the second seat unit, www.britax.co.uk

New, improved version of Britax's foray into convertible tandem territory. The new B-Dual is incredibly flexible, with no less than 22 different ways that it can be configured with combinations of one or two car seats, hard or soft carrycots or pushchair seats, allowing you to tailor it to your needs and the relative ages of your children. We also love the funky 'Purple Rain' colourway.

Good for: Its staggering array of 'modes'

Not so good for: The child in the rear doesn't get a great view so although it's quite an attractive option for twin babies, it's less so for two toddlers. Also it's decidedly hefty as a double, weighing in at 16.6kg. Try before you buy to check you'd manage to lift it into the car without straining anything!

Best buys: Double buggiesAND the new kid on the block:

Bugaboo Donkey, £899 in 'mono configuration' (that's as a single to you and me!) and £1099 for the 'duo configuration' (one carrycot, one seat) version and £1219 (ouch!) in 'twin configuration' (two carrycots), www.bugaboo.com

We can't rate this as a best buy just yet but we think it warrants inclusion for its sheer innovativeness. Certainly once we got over the quirky name (donkeys are hardly the most elegant animals around), we could see the concept was interesting – it's billed as "the first mono-duo-mono convertible for kids and goods".

As a single, it's no wider than the Bugaboo Cameleon but has the option of adding a large storage basket beside your baby, as well as the usual underseat one – the first buggy we're aware of that you can do this with.

It expands very easily into a double, and leaves you the choice of 'duo mode', for a baby and toddler, or the twin configuration with two carrycots or car seats (later on replaced by two pushchair seats).

And despite the name conjuring up a vision of a scruffy brown pushchair, this is just as smart as its predecessors from the Bugaboo fold. First impressions are that it folds very easily and we love the way it's freestanding when collapsed so you don't need to lean it precariously against your hallway wall, plus it has similar wheels to the Cameleon – two big and two smaller allowing you to lean into onto the two larger ones on challenging terrain.

Fundamentally, it's the first convertible side-by-side rather than tandem with this unusual twist of extra storage space and for those with the cash to spare, it's certainly worth investigating.

Good for: Those with deep pockets wanting flexibility and extra storage for shopping or baby gear when out. It looks far smart than the 'Donkey' name suggests too.

Not so good for: Need we even say it – the price.

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