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There's only two years between my two little men, so when we fell pregnant with number two we set about on a search for a double buggy. Our eldest is a confident walker but he has a delightful tendency to run off and the last thing I wanted was to be running after him with a newborn in a buggy! Plus we wanted him to have the opportunity to sit down if he became tired. We looked at a variety of double pushchairs and we worried about being able to get a side by side one through doorways so decided to look for a tandem instead.
I found the Graco Tandem online and it had good reviews on the Mothercare website. It was an online exclusive on the Mothercare website so I wasn't able to see what it was like in person so we bought it solely on the basis of the good review. We didn't want to spend too much on it because we knew that our eldest would get to the point where he no longer wanted to sit in it so we didn't want a load of money to not get much use out of it. Mothercare offer a price match guarantee and we actually found this on some dodgy looking website for £90 rather than the £170 that Mothercare were charging, so they price matched and only charged us £90...bargain!
The pushchair was relatively easy to assemble - well it was for my husband anyway while I sat and watched! The pushchair consists of two chairs, the chair at the front is suitable from 6 months and the seat at back is suitable from birth because it fully reclines into a flat position. It's therefore not suitable for newborn twins and seems to be specifically designs for parents of a young toddler and a newborn.
The design is different to most tandem pushchairs in that the back seat is situated higher than the seat in front, so when the younger child is old enough to sit upright they can see over the top of the other child, rather than having to stare at the back of their head! The back seat also has a step to rest their feet on between the front and back seat.
There is a massive basket to the bottom of the pushchair which looks great on the pictures. And it would be great...if you could actually get in it! When the back seat is fully reclined you can't get anything in or out of the basket, which is a complete pain. You can get things in and out when the seat is in the most forward position, but when your baby is asleep in the reclined position, the last thing you want to do is disturb them by hoicking them upright to put something in the basket.
Both seats have the standard 5 point safety harness which is reassuring knowing there fastened in safely. The harness fastens in the middle and releases with a press button. This makes it quick and easy to get the boys in and out of the pushchair without having to deal with fiddly fastenings where you have to squeeze the plastic parts together. Having said that, I do worry how long it's going to take my eldest to figure out how easy it is to undo the fastening and just hop out without me noticing!
The pushchair comes with a footmuff for the seat at the front, but there isn't one for the back. I think this is a bit silly because surely it's the smaller baby that you particularly want to keep warm and snug away from the cold?! Having said that you can buy one that is specifically for younger babies - perhaps a way of Graco making more money? Similarly there is no rain cover but you can again buy one separately.
This pushchair is surprisingly easy to manoeuvre. I have found that I can actually steer it round corners only using one hand! We had a Mamas and Papas pram with our first born and it was like driving a tank, so I'm surprising that something so sturdy and robust is so lightweight. I can lift it in and out of our boot with ease, and I'm really not particularly strong!
Considering that our heaviest child is in the front of the pram, I did worry that it would be very heavy and difficult to manage. As I said, I have no problem steering it but it can be a bit of a struggle to lift it up curbs. It's manageable but certainly not easy!
The pram is easy to collapse with one hand and also very easy to put up from its collapsed position. You simply press a button and twist the handle forward (easier than it sounds!) and it collapses. When it is collapsed it stands upright on its own without falling over which is very handy for storing indoors.
We have a Vauxhall Meriva which has quite a sizeable boot and the pushchair fits in easily enough, although there isn't much room for much else! Saying that, it still collapses down quite a lot considering the size of it when it's fully up.
Both our boys seem very happy and comfortable in the pram. You can adjust the height of the straps depending on the size of your little one's and can also alter the straps. Our eldest fits in the front seat comfortably and probably will be able to for a while yet. Each seat also comes with a detachable play tray and drink holder, but we don't use it very often for our eldest and our youngest is obviously still too young to use his.
One negative about this pushchair is the sheer length of it, although this could be said for all tandem style pushchairs. It feels like I'm maneuvering a bus at times and I have to be careful I'm not running over anyone's feet! It's also tricky getting in and out of lifts, especially if there's other people in there! Another problem due to its length is trying to get out of doorways when you need to hold the door open. I find that if the doors aren't automatic and no-one offers to hold the door open, it's hard opening the door yourself and pushing the pram through it, purely because I can't reach the handle to push it from the front of the pram while I'm holding the door!
Another downside is not being able to see my little ones. It's a forward facing pushchair so I can't see them. With my eldest I had him in a pram that faced me while he was still so small, so I miss being able to see them. Although, having said that, both of them like having a bit of a nose about and enjoy being able to see out. My eldest does occassionally get a bit annoyed that he can't see his little brother without twisting round so maybe a side by side double buggy would be more practical in that respect.
Another slight negative is that you have to take the front seat hood off before you collapse it, otherwise it doesn't collapse fully. It's not the end of the world but it's still a bit of a nuisance having to keep reattaching it. It takes me long enough to get them out of the car and into the pushchair as it is!
Despite these negatives, I still think the pushchair is a brilliant buy - especially for that bargain price! The boys are comfortable and safe and it's easy to get about with it. Well worth buying.