I don't think we spoke to each other for half an hour afterwards. Shell-shocked. That's the only way to describe the way we felt after our first foray into a baby shop (one where you buy products for babies not where you buy babies - although if I could find one of the later I'd happily sell mine at the moment!).
I was about five months pregnant and since our parents had offered to buy some things for the baby in progress we thought it was time to embark on the accumulation stage of pregnancy. We ventured awkwardly into the world of baby consumerism and said "we're having a baby - what do we need". An awful lot it turns out! At least according to the shop assistant. We were introduced to a bewildering array of contraptions and ways to part with our money. I think we just listened and stunned silence and skulked out when she was temporarily distracted by another customer with a visa card clutched more prominently.
Out of that minefield, however, we did find out about one thing that sounded like a really good idea. A mountain buggy WITH the carry cot attachment. We really liked the idea but since it involved a lot of money we didn't want to rush in so we spoke with a number of friends (and in fact I accosted a stranger with one in a bookstore too) before deciding it was for us. After that it was just a case of shopping around for the best price. Three months in and I would certainly recommend the mountain buggy - here's what you need to know.....
WHAT IS IT?
The mountain buggy is a robust three wheeled buggy produced in New Zealand where it is probably the most prevalent type of buggy / pushchair. (http://www.mountainbuggy.com). There are three types of mountain buggy - urban, terrain and breeze. The breeze is the lightweight model and I haven't seen one but it doesn't fit the carrycot or carseat clip and is less sturdy. The main difference between the urban buggy and the terrain buggy is that the front wheel is fixed on the terrain buggy. This is good if you are serious about taking it off road or if you run with it. The urban buggy has a swiveling front wheel so you can steer it with one hand easily. The wheel can be fixed if you do go off road. I think a lot of people buy who buy terrain buggies are buying for the lifestyle theyd like to think they have or would like to have rather than their reality. If you're not sure go for the urban.
WHY IS IT GOOD?
As I live on a hill having a brake on any buggy is a bottom line essential! So that's the first thing.
The key sales point of the mountain buggy is that it can cope with different terrains so you whether you are fending off seagulls walking along the beach or fending off salespeople in the local shopping mall it will serve you well.
It also has a good amount of storage space so you can carry things in the basket under it and there are a few handy pockets for putting wipes or a spare pair of socks for when bubs mysteriously loses yet another pair.
The mountain buggy can take a newborn (at a 160 degree angle - so nearly flat) right through to a toddler. There is a little window on the hood so you peak through and see what they are up to (although sometimes it's better not to know...) and of course it folds down quickly to go in the boot of your car. You can also use a kiddy board with it if you have an older child (for 2 years and up).
Another good thing is that you can get an attachment to clip your carseat into it - so a sleeping baby can go from the car to the buggy without waking! The downside to this is that it does open temptation to leave the baby in the car seat for long periods which isn't great for their spine (the younger the baby the more of an issue this is - prem babies should spend absolutely minimal time in a car seat)
WHY DO I LOVE IT?
What I really love about the mountain buggy at this moment is the carry cot attachment. You remove the whole seat part of the buggy to fit this (easily done). We use this instead of a bassinet so our baby sleeps in the carry cot as his normal sleeping place. For those of you still early in your acquisition a bassinet is not an essential piece of baby equipment as they can sleep in a cot from day one if you want but a bassinet has the advantage that it is more 'snuggly' for a new baby and usually they can be rocked or swayed to calm the baby. They are usually more convenient to access too as they don't have high sides like a cot. Using the carry cot as a bassinet means we can roll the buggy back and forth to calm our little screamer and can easily re-locate him.
Another issue to keep in mind is that these days we are advised to have babies sleep on their backs to help avoid cot death but with back sleeping comes the possibility of 'flat head' where a flat spot develops on the back of the babies head where he or she habitually rests on it. The babys bones are at their softest when they are newborn so it's an important time. They say to 'place' your babies head facing alternate directions but babies often have their own opinions on where they want to face! Regularly turning the bassinet is a really good option if there's something on the wall that they like to look at (e.g. the light coming in or something you put there). It can help keep your baby from having to ask 'does my head look flat in this? Of course where I'm going with this is the ease in which the mountain buggy with carry cot can be moved to try to keep your baby from always choosing the same position.
The really great thing about this set up is that if you have to go out somewhere in walking distance and your baby is asleep you don't even have to wake them up - you can just wheel them out the door! I went to a friends place for dinner recently and by the time I'd pushed him there (half an hour) he was practically asleep. He fell asleep there and we pushed him home and straight into his bedroom without him waking up. If he has just woken up and I'm going somewhere Mummy-friendly (i.e. I can feed and change him when I get there) I tend to wheel him out without getting him up too.
Out and about the advantages are that between the buggy cover and the carry cot hood the baby is almost completely covered and there's a nice warm piece that zips over the baby as well. The baby is completely flat which is ideal and you can see him or her as you push them (some people do think it's a disadvantage though that when looking up they can't see as much of what is going on around them.) The carry cot can be detached to go in the car so your baby can sleep in its normal sleeping environment while you are at someone's place.
As we bought the carry cot second hand we also bought a Dr Sprott mattress cover for cot death safety.
WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES?
It is bulky. We bought our baby-friendly car after we have bought the buggy but if you already have a car make sure it will fit comfortably in your boot! It's reasonably heavy (although it's easy to push) and a bit unwieldy at times. I find I have to take it backwards up the steps to our house but I suspect that would be a problem with most buggies. It's pretty much impossible for one person to carry it up steps with a baby in it.
It is more expensive than many other buggies. I bought ours second hand so it wasn't that pricey - I did keep an eye out for a while to find it second hand though. When buying second hand you need to be very careful as to which accessories fit with which buggies. In particular the car seat clip and the carry cot can have model incompatibilities. If in doubt contact the people at www.mountainbuggy.com and ask them.
WHERE CAN I BUY ONE?
You can try through classifieds and internet auction sites to buy one second hand like I did or check out the list of retailers on the website - http://www.mountainbuggy.com/uk/outlets.html. It's also worth checking www.winkalots.co.nz. They are not currently stocking them but say they may stock them again in the future. When they did stock them I understand it was cheaper to get a buggy shipped from NZ by them than to buy one in the UK.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I CONSIDER?
If you are expecting to have a second child later (or already have one) then there are buggies which cater better for a baby and a toddler - see the Phil and Teds one on the Winkalot site I mentioned above. I you are expecting to have a second child at the same time (!) mountain buggies do a twins model (you can also use this for two children of different ages but it is bulky). Mountain buggy even do a triplet model!! (Scary stuff).
Be careful when costing it out that you include the cost of accessories as they are an additional cost and most people consider the sun cover and the rain cover as a definite requirement (they do provide great cover and the wee monsters can still see out). I have mentioned the main other accessories in the text - namely the carry cot, the carseat clip and the kiddy board. There are a couple of other options - a sleeping bag to keep them cosy, a handbrake to help on hills, a handlebar extension for tall people, a pump for the tyres, a travel bag and a bumper bar. We didn't opt for any of these (we have bicycle pumps at home if it goes flat) and I don't think you need them.
I would recommend the mountain buggy and the carry cot as an excellent option! I think the car seat clip is a good idea too but you do need to weigh up whether it would tempt you to leave them for too long in the car seat.
(for the urban single)
Weight 10 kg
Total child weight 35kg
Length (folded) 105cm
Basket capacity 5kg
I didn't put this in the review at first but since someone requested it I did a bit of a search and the best deal I could find was from http://www.pushchairs.co.uk/ who do a package for 359 quid plus 10 delivery which includes:
- Urban buggy
- Carseat clip
- Storm Cover
- Rain Canopy
- Lambskin Shoulder Harness Covers
- Sureride Anti-Puncture Tape (fitted) & Spare Inner Tube
and if you pay by credit card a Cyclaire Mini Pump or Bumper Bar.
Packages including the carrycot start at 489.
You should get 50%-75% of that back when you re-sell it.
ANOTHER QUICK TIP
If you have a choice go for knobbly wheels. I haven't seen them for sale but the person I bought off said she'd 'had them fitted' so that the motion would make the baby go to sleep more easily. This doesn't work on all surfaces but on lino it works a treat so if you're desperate (which you will be at times) a few laps of the kitchen floor might do wonders.
We must have clocked up thousands of miles using both a single and double Mountain Buggy. Living in London you'd think the Mountain Buggy would be an impractical choice, but on the contrary, it's built for it. Beware tourists who stray in our path down Camden High Street on a Saturday - you'll lose the skin off your shins!
The Mountain Buggy is built for walking and without a vehicle of our own; the Mountain Buggy lugs tonnes of shopping. We debated for many hours the swivel wheel or not. Go for the fixed wheel as you get a proper wire basket underneath which holds several pints of milk and a month's supply of baked beans.
Considering the build quality, the Mountain Buggy is quite light. The folding mechanism is ingenious and can go from folded to upright in the literal second. The fabric is indestructible. We have taken them around the world on numerous flights and whilst we worry about how bent out of shape our bags might turn out, we never have the same fear for the MB (and no the luggage cover is not necessary). When the pusher inevitably gets filthy, the whole thing can be taken outside and hosed down. It always comes up like new.
The kids always look comfortable in the MB - indeed on a winter's day we'd gladly swap places. If your kids are likely to be spending long hours in a pusher then the MB cannot be beaten for comfort. The sling goes down quite flat so sleep is always guaranteed. The plastic window is a great feature for keeping an eye on the little ones without breaking stride.
The MB has an array of different accessories. Obviously you'll need the rain cover, but most of the rest you can live without. The sun cover is nice if you're in the habit of leaving the country. We bought the swivel wheel attachment but it's never been out of the packet. If you are a born Mall Rat, then get the proper swivel wheel pusher. The carry cot is a very nice unit but it is a luxury - only being suitable up to 4 months or so.
On the down side, the MB is not that compact when folded and will take up valuable storage space. We've used small saloon cars that couldn't swallow the MB. The stud strap mechanism that keeps the pusher folded is inadequate on both of the versions we own. Over 3 years we must have had 8 punctures. If your pusher is your only set of wheels, take a spare inner tube on your travels - if that sounds like a pain try pushing this buggy with a grumpy child and a flat!
In conclusion if your lifestyle is one of house-car-shops the mountain buggy would be cumbersome and impractical. If you spend most of your day driving a pusher, the this is your Rolls Royce. If you have your heart set on one keep your eye on Loot and Ebay. Even a well-used MB will serve you well at half the price. New units can be purchased in OZ/NZ for nearly half price also. If you have friends or relatives going that way, beg or bribe them to bring one back.
We bought a Mountain Terrain (fixed wheel) push chair before our baby was born. We looked at the prams available at John Lewis, and were pushed to choose between fixed wheel prams (heavy, larger) and swivel wheel prams (lighter, harder to push), and didn't like either choice. A specialised baby shop showed us the Mountain Terrain. It was lighter, and easy to push. They warned us of its shortcomings: it doesn't fold up very small. It takes a lot of room. And they were right. This isn't a pram to take on the bus, or on an airplane. It's only really worthwhile if you walk long distances. We like to walk, and will often walk for an hour or so per day. With a solid-wheel pram, this would be very hard on our backs, shoulders and arms. The Mountain Terrain is very easy to push. The size of the pram doesn't cause me any problems in shops, but I do avoid taking it over to other people's houses, or on buses. I find it excellent on the tube, as long as it's not rush hour, as the inflated wheels and long handle make bumping it down stairs a doddle. We bought all sorts of accessories, as well, some of which have been useful, others less so. The bassinet, at about £150, was essentially useless. Magnus didn't like lying down to travel, when he was tiny, he preferred the sling. In the bassinet, he could only see upwards, and that wasn't a very interesting view. Given that the pram is fine from birth, at least for reasonably short periods of time, this accessory is worth skipping. The handle extender, at about £30, has been very useful. A higher handle is always easier to push, and I'd say this was necessary for anyone over 6'. I think the raincover came free. It's not a great raincover, but it does the job. The Land Rover one seems a lot nicer. If you're considering a three-wheeler, it's worth thinking seriously about your reasons for getting it, and what you'r
e looking for. If you don't walk long distances, it's probably not worth bothering. If you need a pram to take on buses, or in the car, you'll end up with two prams (as we have). Look at the models available, as well - Mountain Terrain comes in fixed-wheel and swivel-wheel versions, each of which has its plus and minus points. At this sort of price, it's not a decision to take lightly.
I have just finished au pairing for a young and (well it has to be said) trendy couple in Vienna. Naturally they had to have an all terrain buggy with three wheels rather than your bog standard one like every one else. These three wheelers are becoming increasingly popular espescially in America because they are more rugged than a normal four wheeler (and can be used to jog at the crack of dawn and have some quality time with child). The buggy itself has a sturdy light weight, metal frame and three large tyres which cut through mud and stoney areas no problem (if I carry on much onger I am going to start sounding like some one on a shopping channel). These tyres have more grip on them than formula one slicks and certainly do the job. The buggy also has a small pocket at the back to store litte fiddly bits and pieces (handy for mobile phone and wallet, I found) and also a thick material holder between the wheels for buckets and spades etc, although this is no where near the same size as other pushchairs and gets even smaller if you change seat position. It comes with a hand brake that slows it down when on the move (I never used it once and found that the cable got hooked on thing like tricycles) and a foot-applied brake to keep it stationary for a longer period of time. The light weight frame does make it easy to push,but because all of the wheels are in a fixed place, you have to push the handle down to raise the front wheel a little before you can change direction. If you have not got much space to maneouvre in (like the underground) I would not suggest taking it. Another problem I found with it´s design was that the front wheel sticks out and makes the whole thing much longer. The shape is quite awkward and although there are clips at the side to fold it down, it is not really what you could call compact, the only thing that happens is that the handle flips forward. It seems to take up most of the boot space when it is packed in.
As well as a foot rest to stop said child´s feet from being caught in front wheel, there are two positions for the seat; sitting and sleeping. You can alter the position by unzipping the sides and letting the back down (like those bags where the sides have a cunning extra compartment hidden away which you can unzip thus making the bag twice the size), but I found that this disturbs the groggy child. Because the zips are on the inside, you have to move the child out of the way to get at them. The canopy can be moved forward and back and there is also a handy clear plastic window through which you can watch the (hopefully) sleeping child. I can imagine if you only want to go jogging with your offspring, this very stylish buggy would be excellent. But for the rest of us, I actually found it awkward and a hinderance rather than a help. For Madonna, yes, for us lot wanting to go to the shops, no thanks. Because I did not buy it I am not sure of the price, but I can´t imagine it was cheap..... Maybe we brought it on our selves, it is, afterall an all terrain buggy and they lived in the middle of a city!
Last week I did a bit of baby sitting (which I have a lot of experience in) and because the weather has been so nice I decided to go over the park. The children’s parents had just bought a three wheeled buggy, pram, whatever it’s called. Basically it’s a three wheeled buggy these are getting very fashionable i have seen quite a few of these around, they do look good though. When I went to the park I noticed how easy it was to push through rough, bumpy surfaces such as gravel paths, dirt trails, curbs. It has a lightweight, sturdy steel frame the two back wheels are a bit bigger than the front one this is for better control. This buggy is nicknamed ‘THE JOGGER’ because it was deigned for people to jog with their buggy!!!!!( Are they mad?) But obviously is not for people who just jog these apparently are very popular in America and you must have seen pictures of celebrities with their baby’s in these ‘joggers.’ When I first went out with the ‘jogger’ it felt a bit strange as it only has three wheels. But soon got used to it and I noticed it caused a lot of attention by other people. This three wheeled buggy, pram, jogger what ever its called has good quality material on the seat its quite sturdy and looks unlikely it will rip, It has a canopy + sun visor it also has a little plastic window so you can keep your eye on the baby or you can cover the window with the Velcro flap. If you turn the ‘jogger’ around you can put your coat or light objects on the canopy it also comes with two storage pockets which you could use for a spare nappy, bottle, purse, etc. The handles are made for a comfortable grip it has a textured rubber surface that helps you to get a secure grip The ‘jogger’ has a large basket underneath with a mesh top so your belongings don’t fall out but it doesn’t look strong enough for heavy items suc
h as shopping. This also has a harness which I thought was brilliant for kids especially the ones that try to squirm out of their buggy every five minutes. This harness certainly kept them put. I didn’t have to use this but I see that it came with a single hand brake for the front wheel. The buggy does have foot operated parking brakes that secure the back brakes. and like I had said before it is light but sturdy frame and even a slight breeze can make it move, so I used these back brakes quit a lot. There is a large bit of plastic that covers the front wheel and that is to stop children’s feet getting caught under and keeps them from being splashed with water or mud. There are flat steps on each side so when the baby grows bigger s/he can rest their feet. The other thing I like about the ‘jogger’ is that it folds up quick an easy. As I don’t own this I don’t know how much it cost but as a guess I would say around £90.00 which I think is a good buy especially if you buy it when you have a baby as its designed for older children too, so they can grow into it.
We bought our Mountain Buggy in October 1999 after exhaustively looking at whatever other 3 wheelers we could. At the time, the main ones easily available were Mothercare's, LandRover and the American Babyjogger. We only knew of one other person with one (my brother, also a mountain buggy) so it was difficult to compare with others. Our main reasons for deciding against the other two were mainly our impressions of the build quality - the land rover seems quite flimsy and fragile, and the mothercare one seemed too solid and heavy. We decided on the MB and would more than happily recommend one to anyone who seriously wants to take their wee ones anywhere off road - ours has been up several hills in the North of Scotland and is regularly used on bumpy, narrow tracks involving being lifted over gates etc. I've heard that some buggies are lighter but we've never had any problems with the weight of the MB. It collapses really easily and fits well into the back of both our cars (Passat estate and citroen ZX hatch)and we've actually found it to be really manouevrable around town, pavements etc. Compared to conventional buggies it gives a really smooth ride with its pneumatic tyres - only had one puncture, but easily fixed ourselves (just like a bike!) We've used ours from 3 months although my brother did use his almost from birth. There is a zip mechanism which flattens the sling to allow a baby to lie almost flat, but you can buy (at quite an expense) a carrycot. From our experience, probably not worth it. Unfortunately, when we bought it , it did not come with any accessories. So we bought the rainhood (essential and good), borrowed the sunshade extender ( effective, but not used that often) and bought a heavy weight sleeping bag/cosytoes (really warm - our kids love it). Cost is probably the main thing against choosing the MB, but a lot of the accessories that come with buggies are a bit superfluous. The basket underneath is re
movable if you wish, but is actually really handy and sturdy. I've heard it described as looking like a wheelbarrow but who cares? I'll be a wee bit sad when we run out of children to put in it!
Designed primarily for rugged 'off road' use but easily manoeuvrable around town, the Mountain Buggy comes with many years of proven performance. Features include a multi position harness, a two position seat and a wire basket.