“ Brand: Little Shields / Number of Seats: Single Seat / Type: Sunshade „
Since I have two little girls, one aged 2 ½ and the other 9 months, a buggy plus buggy board is fine for a quick trip to the shops or park, but is just not suitable for full days out (say for instance a day out in the countryside). The reason being that the toddler usually gets tired and either needs to rest her weary legs or needs to have a sleep. The buggy board provides neither of these options for her, and on quite a few occasions we have been known to carry the baby and let the toddler have a ride/sleep in the buggy. And to be honest this is not really practical, so after much thought we decided to buy a second pushchair for occasions such as these.
I didn't want to spend a lot of money on a second buggy because it was not going to be used frequently, and I only wanted a lightweight one (that doesn't take up much room in the boot of a car...) so after many internet searches, price comparisons, and reviews read (not that I read one about this particular pushchair) I opted for the Little Shield Meribel Stroller.
I'd never heard of this brand of pushchair but having been previously let down by a Cosatto pushchair I had originally chosen, I just went for this one hoping it was a good deal. Priced at £44.99 plus £5.95 delivery I thought it was a good price (this was on Ebay, they are around this price on other websites too).
It arrived in a long box which obviously meant it was already folded up inside the box, which to me is good because then I was able to work out how the folding mechanism worked. It turned out to be just the same as my Mamas and Papas - an umbrella folding buggy which is very simple (more on that later). What also came in the box was the detachable hood (detached), a rain cover and also the front wheels needed attaching, but these just pushed on very easily.
You also get some instructions, which to me were appalling. There were too many numbered parts, arrows and complicated diagrams, and the text trying to explain to you how the whole thing works is just terrible because it just keeps on referring to numbered diagrams and parts and is just extremely confusing. I think a pushchair novice would not be assisted at all by using these instructions. Luckily I had my Mamas and Papas pushchair to compare it to so I was able to fully assemble the Meribel using common sense, a certain amount of anger, and a life size replica to look at. Connecting the hood was easy once I realised where it was meant to fix onto the frame of the buggy, but if I only had the instructions to refer to, I would probably still be trying to do it now.
So, onto the actual pushchair itself:
I'm going to try and split this review up into sections because I know people look for certain things in pushchairs and so can skip to the relevant section if they wish.
**Comfort for your child** (to me this is the most important aspect of a pushchair):
The seat is quite well padded, a lot more padding than my more expensive Mamas and Papas, so I was really quite pleased with this and both my children sit comfortably on this.
The seat also has 5 recline positions and is apparently suitable from birth, however the lowest setting is not completely flat, so if it was me I would not use this for a newborn. But as I don't have a newborn anymore the flattest setting is perfectly suitable for my toddler and my 9 month old to have a comfortable sleep.
The back of the hood has a material canopy hanging down at the back so that when the seat is in the fully reclined position, it sits within this canopy kind of creating a little cocoon around your child, it velcros into position and shields them from the elements.
The most upright position is at a 90 degree angle to the base of the seat so I was really pleased with this because my other pushchair does not sit completely upright so the child usually ends up slumped at a funny angle, whereas with this one if they are awake and alert, they get a good view. Or if they are feeling a bit lazy you can just recline it a couple of notches and they can lay back a little bit.
The 5 point harness is standard as in most buggies of this kind (2 straps over the shoulder, 2 round the waist and 1 between the legs). The shoulder straps have padded supports which can be removed, and have been removed because I hate them, I find them so cumbersome. The shoulder straps also unhook from the waist straps which is how I have it for my toddler so she doesn't feel too restrained. There are a lot of size adjustments on the straps so children of all sizes will fit within them.
The footrest is also adjustable so you can adjust to suit your child's needs. If the baby is riding in it I have it flat, but if the toddlers is in then I bend it downwards so her legs hang down. There is also a flexible footrest stretched between the two metal legs of the buggy for them to rest their feet on if they wish. So again, this aspect of the pushchair caters for a broad age range.
The ride seems quite smooth (no complaints from either children, they both enjoy the ride) even though the wheels are made from a soft plastic/foamy type material. It does have 'all round suspension' which I presume makes the ride more comfortable but I have no idea about this so don't ask me to go into detail here.
I'm a bit disappointed with the hood because when the seat is in its upright position, the hood does not seem to provide the child with any shelter or shade whatsoever, it just doesn't come out far enough. It is only when the seat is in the reclined position does it offer some protection from the elements. However, a good redeemable feature of the hood is that it has a clear section at the back so you can see your child quite clearly without having to rush round to the front of the buggy every 5 minutes to check if they are ok (as I do with my Mamas and Papas).
A free raincover is provided with this pushchair (one of the reasons I bought it) which of course is essential with our British weather, and this one is very good quality. It fits the Meribel perfectly and seems to have a reinforced bar halfway down which prevents the cover from flattening against your child in windy conditions (I was really impressed with this). The cover attaches at the top to the hood with two elastic loops and at the bottom with two Velcro straps. It is not long enough to cover my toddler's feet, but I think this is standard for most raincovers! It keeps the baby lovely and cosy though, unless she has poked her leg out the side without my realising.
**Comfort & Functions For You**:
The Meribel is lovely to push. The foam padded handles are brilliant, lovely and soft so you don't get blisters from vigorous pushchair pushing; they really are comfortable to hold.
The pushchair is so easy to push and manoeuvre, it is quite lightweight (a lot lighter than my Mamas and Papas which is the same size) so is particularly easy to bump up and down kerbs, and up my door step through my front door.
The front swivel wheels make it simple to move about whether transporting toddler or baby. It is very easy to push round tight corners in cluttered shops, and easy to swerve to avoid pavements cyclists. These swivel wheels also lock into a fixed position by one simple click on each wheel (why anybody wants fixed wheels I don't know, but my mum does actually prefer it that way).
The shopping basket underneath is quite large but is only made from a mesh type material. It can safely hold quite a number of items, but I usually save this space for the bulky stuff such as milk, bread and bottles of juice. This basket cannot be accessed easily if the seat is fully reclined. Also if you are travelling about on a wet day, whatever is in the basket will get sprayed with dirty water because the mesh basket does not protect from wet conditions!
**Mechanisms** (folding, reclining & other features):
The folding mechanism is very simple, although this is exactly the same as my other pushchair so it is something I am very used to. It's an umbrella style fold so it just seems to concertina down once you have flicked the right switches and pulled the correct levers.
It's easiest to fold with the brake on (so the buggy doesn't move away from you while trying to fold it) and it is easier to do it with two hands. You have to release a lever, then pull at another handle and then push the whole thing forward and it collapses down. You can then lock it into position by using the handy clip located on one of the upright arms. This is so it doesn't unfold when you pick it up (very useful). The folding process sounds more complicated than it is, once you've done it a couple of times it really is simple (it can actually be done while holding a baby on one arm but it is struggle). Unfolding is easier, that can be done one handed - just unclip and fling the whole thing forwards, then use your foot to lock it all into place.. Harder to explain than to demonstrate. Once folded it is quite compact (110cm x 32cm x 33cm).
The recline mechanism is very simple and one of the better ones I have come across. I'm going to struggle to describe this in detail but basically there are two bars attached to the back of the seat and on each bar is a mechanism which you press and click to recline the seat. It is possible to do it very slowly which allows you to recline your sleeping child without waking them up so if your child falls asleep in the upright position you can recline them gently without waking them up with a sudden jerky movement. To 'unrecline' the seat you just push it back up and it just clicks and locks into position.
**General Quality & Stability**:
Now although this is a relatively cheap pushchair compared to some available on the market, I have been really very impressed with it. The material sections of it (the seat and hood) have been really well made and put together, the material is of a high quality and made to last so no signs of wear and tear so far. The framework is very lightweight but strong and has held itself together through good times and bad. The wheels have taken a bit of a battering but they are only plastic and are still working so I don't really have any complaints there.
The whole pushchair has worn very well, and even though it's much lighter and feels less solid than my Mamas and Papas Pulse, it has provided me with all the same functions and doesn't appear to be lacking anywhere. Considering the price (£44.99 plus delivery) and the fact you get a multi-position reclining seat, plus hood, plus raincover, it really is a great deal. I would say this is a brilliant option for a spare or second pushchair; I would even go so far as to say this would even be suitable as a main pushchair for someone who is on a low budget.
This particular pushchair comes in pink, blue or a neutral colour so it suits anyone. There is also a twin version available (something I wish I had gone for in the beginning then I wouldn't have been buying pram seats, buggy boards and now a second pushchair, but you live and learn).
Thanks for reading...if you got this far.
The Little Shield Meribel is an umbrella folding stroller with a 5-position recline lie back. Comes complete with matching changing bag and raincover.