Arlo will be 2.5 years old when his little sibling arrives. Although I can’t see a need for him to use a buggy on an every day basis, at the moment we are still finding that it comes in very handy on the odd occasions that we are out all day, going for a long walk, or needing somewhere to keep him ‘contained’ whilst I am attempting to do something which requires a bit of concentration and not needing to check every two minutes that he hasn’t run off, ie, at the shopping centre.
I have niggling worries about booting Arlo out of his pushchair permanently when Baby Number 2 arrives. If we are out and I need to stop to feed the baby, how can I make sure that Arlo won’t run off mid-feed? What if we attempt to walk somewhere but he gets tired/throws a tantrum, refuses to walk and I end up having to carry him and push the buggy? I know a lot of people use buggy boards, but this doesn’t really solve any of my worries. He might refuse to stand on the buggy board, and he can still run away.
Over the past month I’ve been encouraging Arlo to walk more and have tested the water with not taking a buggy on small trips. “Problem solved!” I thought after a trip round the supermarket, post office, and various other shops, where Arlo was good as gold holding my hand and closely following my instructions with no signs of tiring. Then I took him to Croydon where he asked to be carried 80% of the time and refused to stand on the escalator without being carried. Things like this are going to become impossible for me if I’ve also got a baby in a buggy to deal with.
People have also suggested that I could sling the baby and stick Arlo in the buggy if a tantrum or tiredness strikes. But our current pushchair (the Bugaboo Cameleon) has a seat that is only suitable from 6 months up, so this won’t be an option for the early months when the baby would be in the carrycot attachment. Although I love babywearing, I would like to use a sling because we want to, and not because it’s the only option – I don’t want the hassle of precariously trying to remove a sleeping baby from the sling when we get home, nor do I want to disturb a sleeping baby with a buggy to sling transfer because Arlo is playing up. Of course, my only baby experience is with Arlo, and I know things might well be different this time round, but attempting these manoeuvres with a sleeping Arlo would have been playing with fire. If he fell asleep in that buggy, he needed to stay in that buggy, or it was game over for nap time.
With all of this in mind, selling our Bugaboo for a double buggy seemed like an appealing option. My requirements for a double buggy are really not that complicated (or so I think!):
Must fit Maxi Cosi Cabriofix car seat
Main seat can be used from birth
Not air-filled tyres
Fold with seat/s attached
Can fit through our front door
Parent facing option for baby
But have I been able to find the perfect double buggy that fits all of my requirements? Here are the pushchairs I’ve considered in my search:
Baby Jogger City Select
This has been my favourite ever since I started looking into doubles back in March 2012 when I thought I was going to have a smaller age gap between children than the one we will now have. The seat configurations for baby and toddler are superior to most doubles (which only really offer baby underneath the main seat unless you want a very squashed toddler or a baby getting repetitively kicked by an older sibling). A changing bag can hang neatly from the handlebars without being in danger of swinging into your baby’s head, or changing bag banging against your legs if you have the baby in lie-flat position, like with most inline doubles. It has a smaller fold than most inline doubles. For these reasons it was my longtime favourite, but then I went and saw it in a shop. The thing is humongous. Even in single pushchair mode (which we will be upgrading to as soon as Arlo is comfortably walking everywhere), the frame is longer than most. And the seat unit can’t be used from birth, which in single mode leaves me with a pushchair that’s as inflexible as my current one, and in double mode needs a carrycot attachment which makes the pushchair even bulkier and leaves Arlo with less seating options. I still think this pushchair is the best option if you have a smaller age gap between children, but for a 2.5 year old who will be using it for 6 or so months, it seems an extreme measure to buy such a beast of a pushchair, plus the carrycot attachment, etc.
With that in mind, the Britax B Dual was starting to look like my new favourite. Whilst I initially didn’t want a double where the baby seat sits in the undercarriage of the buggy below the main seat, I’ve changed my mind after seeing how much more compact these type of pushchairs are. There are lots of different configurations to this pushchair, but as with most pushchairs that offer a wide range of configurations, there are actually only a few that I can see working with a baby and a toddler. Arlo would ride in the top seat, and the baby would be in the bottom seat in a soft carrier, or in the carseat. As a single pushchair, the baby could ride parent-facing as there is a lie-flat option on the main seat (Yes!!). Another major bonus is that the pushchair folds with both seats on. I’ve heard it is a very bulky fold, but it would be fine in the boot of my car or in the understairs cupboard, and after faffing with the Bugaboo Cameleon (which doesn’t fold with the seat on), I am really excited at the thought of a buggy that folds in one piece. It’s a great price for a double buggy, but it does have some downsides. There is no footrest on the main seat – Fine for a baby, not so great for an older toddler. Arlo’s legs would be dangling, and if he shifts forward in the seat (which he often does), he has no way of pushing himself back. I’ve seen photos of older toddlers in this seat and they don’t look particularly comfortable as a result of the lack of footrest. This is a massive downside to me. Another negative is just how wide this pushchair is. The width from wheel to wheel is a whopping 70cms, making my Bugaboo’s 57cm look very compact indeed. A buggy with a 70cm width would not fit through my front door, which makes for an impractical single pushchair and also makes me think “Why go for this tandem option when it still wont fit through my door? – I could get a side-by-side that folds more compactly and just have it live in the car boot”.
Phil and Teds
Ah, the double that everyone in London seems to have. Arlo and I tried out the two newer models, the Dot and the Navigator. Although I love the compact size of the Dot, when in newborn configuration Arlo needs to use the second seat, which we found really small. The hoods (on both pushchairs) didn’t extend high enough, so Arlo is already a bit too tall for the seat. The Explorer might be a better fit for us, but we’ve yet to try one out as all nearby shops are only stocking the newer models now. I think Phil and Teds make for great doubles, but as a single pushchair (as it would mostly be used after the first 6 months and Arlo is three), they are unnecessarily big. And I’m really reluctant to exchange my lovely, small Bugaboo with its wonderful parent-facing option for a pushchair that is forward-facing only.
This is a seat with a wheel that attaches to the side of your single buggy. I love the idea of this in theory. Arlo could hop on and off as and when he got tired, and when he’s walking, the seat folds neatly to the side of the buggy, giving me the ease of manoeuvring my single pushchair as normal. At £130, plus £50 for the Bugaboo conversion kit (!), it’s quite a daunting price for something I’ve been unable to try out in person (can’t find anywhere that has these to test out), nor can I find many comprehensive reviews online. Considering you could easily buy a cheap or second-hand double buggy for this price, I’d really like to know how this seat handles and how secure it feels, particularly with an older (heavier) child using it.
Buggyboard with seat
Something like the Revelo kid-sit might be more successful with Arlo, and there is still the option to stand as well as sit. My issue with buggy boards is just how bloody expensive they are for a piece of plastic which I know I’m probably going to have to begrudgingly buy at some point anyway whilst Arlo is transitioning from buggy to walking everywhere, regardless of whether I buy a double buggy or not. (If it ends up revolutionising my life, I take back everything I said).
Side by sides:
Originally I wasn’t looking at side-by-sides, as they definitely won’t fit through my front door, nor do they provide any option to use as a single pushchair once Arlo outgrows the need for a buggy. I wouldn’t want to sell my single pushchair in exchange for a double, as I know we will be reverting back to single pushchair mode at some point during the baby’s first year. But side-by sides tend to be cheaper than full-on tandem travel system options, and so I’ve started to wonder if maybe there is a way I can keep our Bugaboo and save up for a second-hand side-by-side on Ebay, just to ease my anxiety about not having any double buggy option at all.
I ruled out the Maclaren Techo XT as soon as I put Arlo in one. The seats are too narrow. He complained straight away of being squashed. The Britax B-Agile and the Baby Jogger City Mini doubles are both much roomier, although I’m slightly more drawn to the Baby Jogger as it’s compatible with our existing car seat (the Maxi Cosi Cabriofix).
So, have I come to any conclusions? To tell the truth, I am finding it really hard to assess our needs until the baby is here. It might all be easier than I am expecting. And after trying out all these double buggies and finding that none of them seem like the perfect double, I am slowly coming round to the idea of seeing how we go with our Bugaboo and a buggy board for Arlo. I have discussed the whole buggy situation with Sam (who, of course, reckons I’m over-thinking the whole thing and would rather we spent absolutely no money at all on other options – “Why cant we just use what we’ve got?!”), and we have agreed to make do with our Bugaboo.
But we have also agreed that at the first sign of trouble, the first trip where I end up carrying a screaming Arlo whilst pushing a buggy, the first sign that I’m starting to avoid getting out and about because of not having a seating option for Arlo, I am allowed to panic-buy a double buggy without feeling guilty about it.
Sounds like a good compromise to me.