Want to know what's new in the world of baby gear? Here's the Parentdish Spring 2012 guide to the latest products for your little people.
New reversible seat pushchairs aplenty...
Pushchairs with reversible seats have become increasingly popular in recent years - letting parents choose which direction their baby faces. The trend for this has been fuelled by research showing parent-facing is better for development, plus it eases interaction and also provides reassurance. Once a baby's older, or if they just fancy a change of scene, you can switch the seat outwards. Of course, this isn't a must-have feature but many parents do appreciate the choice.
Until now though, parent-facing options were confined to bulkier, heavier and i ndeed more expensive models, which didn't fold easily or in one piece - not ideal for travelling on public transport or if you simply prefer a lighter buggy.
The launch of new reversible seat, lightweight pushchairs from Graco and Petite Star changes that.
First up, the Graco Evo, weighs in at an impressively light 6.5kg. At £279.99, it offers an attractive mix of practicality and style but without the steep designer buggy expense. This could well be the only buggy you need - good for a newborn (you can add a car seat to form a travel system, and there's that reversible seat) but nice and light for the toddler stage too.
Cheaper still is the Petite Star Bubble at just £199. Created by three dad designers, it is super-quick to switch the seat direction - you don't even need to lift the it off the chassis, and unlike many reversible buggies, it can fold in one piece regardless of which way it's facing. Suitable from birth, this also comes with an extra-large canopy, raincover and shopping basket. Although it's a shade heavier than the Evo, at 8.5kg, its umbrella fold means it's very compact - ideal for smaller car boots or public transport. Due out at the end of May.
The Babyjogger Versa, £399, is heftier in terms of price and weight (it's a shade under 12kg) but will still be worth a look for parents of newborns. It's got similar styling to the brand's hugely well-liked City Mini but comes with a reversible seat, and retains the small 'footprint' which makes it easy to squeeze into cramped cafes or through narrow shop aisles.
Single to double convertibles are where it's at...
There are fleets of single-to-double convertible 'tandem' pushchairs already on the market so when we heard about another, the new Max from Babystyle, we did wonder whether it'd offer anything new.
If you're not familiar with this concept, pioneered by Phil&Ted's, it allows one pushchair to grow with your family, switching from single to double, and back again as your needs change. So is there anything different about the Max? Well, yes - its combination of style and price - it's not cheap but tandem convertibles rarely are, but with a price tag of £400 for the single, it seems like a good deal compared to its competitors. Due for release towards the end of the year.
Micralite's pushchairs have always cut a dash on our high streets with their innovative designs, and the soon-to-be-launched Twofold is no exception. Whilst it's jumping on the single to double convertible buggy bandwagon, this one definitely stands out and in a number of ways. Firstly, for its lightness - even in doubles mode it comes in at just 10kg (most of its competitors are a good few kilos more which can be quite a strain when lifting and pushing them).
Another key differentiator is the way the second seat attaches. With most inline convertibles this sits quite low under the main front seat, but the Twofold's frame cleverly slides out when you need to add an extra seat without this needing to be quite so low down.
Alternatively, the space behind the main seat can take an over-sized, 40 litre bag for shopping – a little like the Bugaboo Donkey concept but inline rather than side-by-side and crucially a good deal cheaper (under £400 for the single version versus £899 for the Donkey)! There's even an innovative integral buggy board. Definitely one to check out when it launches in the summer. Keep an eye on the Micralite website for more details soon.