We’ve been researching prams for a few weeks. It feels like we’ve spent more time researching prams than we have anything else. There is just so much out there, it’s easy to get baffled. I’ve seen friends and other bloggers spend what, to us, are eye-watering amounts on prams, so I was also worried that we wouldn’t find anything of a decent quality to suit our very modest budget.
A friend of ours who had twin boys lat year (very prematurely, luckily both boys are now thriving) very generously gifted us a car seat a few weeks back, it’s a Maxi Cosi Pebble Plus in fantastic condition we were very grateful for that. Having a car seat already meant that we could potentially make a saving as we now would not need to get an expensive travel system.
I figured since we had a Maxi Cosi car seat, we’d also need a Maxi Cosi pushchair which I was game for although they didn’t look particularly exciting, and we couldn’t find anywhere that actually stocked them, that we could go and see. Our local Mothercare is under 10 minutes walk from our house, but they don’t stock that brand, and neither did John Lewis at Home, although they do stock the car seats. The website states that the car seat is compatible with Quinny buggies too, so as we headed to Babys’R’Us at Tunbridge Wells in search of both of these brands. This was a disappointing visit.It was late on a Saturday afternoon when we got there, but I was disheartened to find there were no staff members on hand to help us, and no MC stock at all, and only one uninspiring Quinny option.
A friend then mentioned that the branded car seat was in fact compatible with loads of other brands, you just might need adapters – how naive I felt that I didn’t know that. It is of course not advertised on the website at all, but then I suppose why would they want to advertise other brands, to the detriment of their own sales? Sure it says ” compatible with many other pushchairs” but which ones? So we started looking again, and found plenty of adapters on offer, but they all stated compatible with Pebble, but not Pebble Plus.
So then we started looking at other options. Yes, the car seat was free, but did it matter if it wasn’t compatible, could we use it as the back-up car seat? Seemed like a waste of a good quality seat, but we persevered. We had a good look on the Mothercare website and I fell in lust with the Tusk Xpedior travel system, that giraffe print is adorable. Overall, reviews were sound. We invested a £1 in a Which? trial subscription so we could look at quality reviews and the Xpedior got a healthy 74% with the main complaints being that it was a little bulky and that the car seat wasn’t as good as the branded alternatives. Still, the price was good (I think it was on for £300 at that time, now it’s £350) , and we’d have two car seats and it had a cute print, so I was sold on that at that point – yes, I am that shallow.
As commuters without a car, we struggle to get to large retail parks and shopping centres so we decided to visit Westfield Stratford one Thursday night, as it’s on our way home, to check it out. Luckily, the well-designed centre meant that our destinations, John Lewis, Mothercare and Mamas and Papas were all clustered together, so I didn’t have to waddle too far. John Lewis first, and everything seemed pricey. Next we went to Mamas and Papas, which we’d hardly considered before, but keeping an open mind we went in. The sales assistant was immediately helpful (everywhere else we’d been we’d found understaffed, with nobody on hand to ask questions), he showed us first the Armadillo which is very sexy and even folds with one hand, but is ultimately far out of our price range. When we told him that, he showed us the exclusive weekend offer on the Urbo2 in Original Navy, which included the pushchair and the carrycot for £334, half of the RRp of £669. We asked about Maxi Cosi Pebble Plus compatibility as it wasn’t forthcoming on the literature, and he demonstrated with the adapters that it would work, telling us if we bought the offer in store he’d be able to throw them in, which we wouldn’t get on the website.
A stellar offer, but we had to research it, so off we went with his assurances that the offer was on until Sunday to eyeball online reviews which on the whole seemed great (Which? gives this one 78%). We popped to Mothercare where we found no willing staff, nor the Xpedior in stock which helped cement our decision. After a bite to eat, we decided to revisit at the weekend, either Stratford by train, or Lakeside if we could rope someone into driving us.
On Friday night, we went on the website for another and peek and to our horror found a 404 error on the webpage for the offer. My mum had offered to take us to Lakeside, so we told her to stand by and await further news til the morning, since the call centre was closed by that point. In the morning we called, and the lady on the phone couldn’t find the offer on the website either and supposed it had ended early due to high demand, but she put me through to the Lakeside store. There, Kim, who I guess was a manager, told me that they had one carrycot in stock, that she had ordered in for display but not got around to putting out, but there was no pushchair and that she could order it in for me if we came in that day. I asked if that would include delivery since I was in Ashford and couldn’t visit again easily, and she assured me that if she couldn’t override the system to include free home delivery, she’d drop it off to me herself! Off we set, taking one more look in Mothercare on the way, just to make sure. We saw the Xpedior Tusk there, but it seemed far bulkier and just not as good quality as the Urbo2. Minds made up at last.
In the store, we tried the display buggy (in the gorgeous Libery print) one more time for size, then spoke to Kim who could not have been more helpful. She offered us the display version of the pram so we could take it all away on the same day, which we took with her assurances it had been out on display for a few days only. We gave it a once-over and were happy. I cheekily asked if she would also throw in the car seat adapters like they had in the Stratford store since she wasn’t able to knock anything further off the offer price, and she agreed. Kim also offered to keep the pram in the store while we shopped around the retail park, which we took her up on and were greeted like old friends when we returned after shopping and lunching a couple of hours later.
I was tempted to pimp the pram with the Liberty Liner, which is limited edition and had 20% off making it £31.20 (this is still the case at the time of writing, be quick) but decided that it probably went better with the dark navy than the original, and realistically we weren’t going to be able to use it til we moved from carrycot to pushchair a few months down the line.
We’re chuffed with this pram. It is good quality, a neutral Original Navy and matches our criteria, ultimately being compatible with our car seat. I don’t feel like we’ve had to make any compromises, and the customer service we received at both stores was fantastic. The price was exactly what we needed and I am so glad we called the store instead of giving up when the offer disappeared from the website. I’m glad I didn’t succumb to a cute pattern as this feels like a far more sensible choice all round.
Pram shopping is a very personal thing, there is no one size fits all so I don’t expect this post to provide anyone with an indicative answer to what pram they should go for, just as I haven’t found that in any pram post I’ve read. What’s interesting is reading about other blogger’s approaches to the decision-making process, perhaps you’ll find in a post some angle there you hadn’t considered which narrows your search in someway that is helpful to you.
Since pram-shopping we’ve also put a deposit on a second-hand Ford Focus, wheels at last, so I’m now in the market for a isofix base – ideally second hand since they are ever so expensive. Since we still have bare floorboards in our dining room where the pram will live, and it’s a bit dusty, my parents are storing the pram for now but in the next couple of weeks we can put it together. I am confident we will have no complaints when we use the buggy in weeks to come!
Also on the same shopping trip, we bought the Dr Brown Newborn Starter Set which with 20% off it was cheaper than I’d ever seen it, and it had come recommended by a friend. I also satisfied my love for the Mothercare Tusk gear by finding the an ex-display version of the complete bedding set for £22.50 instead of its full £48.99 RRP – I am a real bargain hunter, I hate paying full price for anything, so this was a find I was really proud of!
Could it be that we are actually starting to feel ready for this baby?!