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Pram, pushchair, buggy, stroller – what’s the difference?

Wondering what the difference is between a pushchair, buggy, pram, stroller and travel system?

If you’re confused about the terminology around the set of wheels you’ll be pushing your baby around in then do not worry, this article will set out exactly what you need to know. 

Mum pushing baby in a pram

A pram is a newborn essential for parents, as although an infant carrier can prove handy, especially if you live in a city, a pushchair provides a safe place to put your baby when out and about. Plus many have extremely spacious baskets where you can stash shopping, changing bags and snacks. 

I can distinctly remember feeling pretty overwhelmed by the huge range of choice of buggies for my baby in the early days of being pregnant. 

In fact we visited the shop dozens of times to test out different prams before making our final choice!

One of the things that did confuse me the most was the different words used for what basically seemed to be the same product. So this article is going to clear up the differences between pushchair, buggy, pram, stroller and travel systems, plus give you some tips for picking a pram for your newborn. 

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What is the difference between a pram, pushchair, buggy and stroller

These terms are often used interchangeably to describe products for your baby which can make it super confusing if you’re a first-time parent trying to buy the right and best value thing! 

First of all with modern baby products you often find that one product can offer nearly all of the key features of all of these different things. 

However let’s start by break the terminology down. 

What’s the difference between a pram and pushchair?

A pram allows a baby to lie flat and is suitable from birth. The place where your baby lays down looks a bit like a cot with a flat, firm mattress and raised sides, plus normally a hood to keep the sun out of their eyes. 

Laying flat on their back is the best position for newborn babies, according to advice from the NHS. 

Baby being pushed in a pram

Newborn babies cannot support their head, so sitting them up in a pushchair intended for an older child to be in a seated position would not be comfy or appropriate for them. 

A pushchair is effectively a chair on wheels. 

Pushchairs are sometimes only suitable for older babies over six months, and may only be suitable for a newborn if they can fully recline to a flat position, the NHS says.

Baby in a pushchair

It’s always best to check the manufacturers’ details about a product before buying, as this will state from which age the product is suitable for. 

Pushchairs are often easier to fold than prams, which often need to be dismantled so that you can fit it into tight spaces like the boot of your car. 

Some pushchairs come in double versions, or have the capability to add another seat like the Baby Jogger City Select for example, so you can transport twins or an older baby and toddler. 

What is a stroller?

A stroller is a pushchair that is lighter weight and usually easy to collapse. This is usually for older babies over six months of age and often can be used through to the toddler years as well. 

They’re great for parents who spend a lot of time in town or city centres. 

Baby riding in a stroller

What is a buggy?

A buggy may confusingly refer to a pushchair or a stroller, although is more commonly used to refer to lighter weight strollers. 

What’s a baby travel system?

A baby travel system enables you to switch between different modes using a seat and carry cot, plus many often enable you to place your baby’s car seat on it as well. So a travel system is usually a pram and pushchair all in one product. 

The travel system will usually come with a chassis that has connection points where you can put either a seat for the baby to make it into a pushchair or a carry cot that makes it a pram. 

I had a travel system that also came with adaptors I could use to place the baby’s car seat onto the chassis. This was good if the baby had nodded off in the car and I just needed to quickly go into a supermarket to pick up a few things. It meant there was no need to disturb my baby to get her out of the car! 

Travel systems often give you the flexibility to have baby’s pushchair facing whatever direction you want – either back at your or forwards in the direction you are travelling. 

They can often be adapted to make a double tandem pushchair for where you have more than one child. This may be in tandem or side-by-side – tandems tend to be a little harder to push by side-by-side is tougher to fit in tight spaces.

There are also travel systems, such as the iCandy Peach, that can be adapted to hold two carry cots so if you have twins you have an all-in-one pram for both of them. 

What's the difference between a pushchair, pram, stroller and a buggy
PramPushchairStrollerTravel system
Age rangeNewborn-6monthsNewborn/6 months to toddler6months to toddlerNewborn to toddler
FeaturesAllows baby to low flatSome models have fully reclining seat to make suitable for newborns. Can be collapsed or foldedLight weight and easy to collapseInterchangeable pieces that let it transform from pram to pushchair

What to look for when buying a pram or pushchair for a newborn 

When thinking about which is the best pram or pushchair to buy for your newborn first consider exactly where you will be using it. 

Will you be using it in town and city centres to get between shops, in which case it will need to be easy to manoeuvre around tight aisles and not too big if you need to use public transport. 

If you will be using it on countryside walks then you will want to look for sturdy wheels and good suspension that can cope with bumpy terrain. 

These are the things to look for when shopping for a pushchair for your newborn. 

How does it fold 

Most modern prams and pushchairs do fold but they all have different mechanisms for doing so. 

Some prams need to be basically dismantled, with the carry cot removed and then the chassis folded down, so you get two pieces. This can be tricky if you’re on your own and need to do this on public transport for example with a baby. 

Test out how it folds in a shop so you can decide if this is something you’re happy to do regularly. 

How much space does it take up 

Consider the space the pushchair takes up both when it is full size and when collapsed. When collapsed will it fit into the boot of your car if needed?

If you want to just wheel the pram into your home then does the hallway have enough space to store it there?

Always check the dimensions before purchasing so that you can be reassured the pram will fit into all of the spaces you need it to. 

How much does it weigh?

A lighter weight pushchair will be far easier to get in and out of the car boot plus is likely to be much easier to manoeuvre. 

Are the handle bars adjustable 

The length of handle bars makes a huge difference when it comes to how comfortable it is to walk along and push the pram. 

Adjustable handle bars are extremely useful, especially if multiple people will be using the pram of different heights. 

Some handle bars can be adjusted one-handed while others require you to undo clips on either side to release it and lengthen or shorten the handlebars. 

How easy is it to steer 

This is extremely important if you live in a city and will be ducking in and out of shops a lot. 

My worst pushchair for steering was our tandem pushchair which I used when the kids smaller. It was very difficult to steer, however it was also extremely useful being able to put both kids into a seat and not worry about carrying them. 

However when you have a single pram or pushchair most of the modern products are extremely easy to steer and make pushing your baby around easy work. 

Always test the pushchair or pram in a shop to check how it feels. 

Where is the brake?

Some manufacturers put the brake on the handlebars, such as Bugaboo, while other use a foot pedal brake. 

It is up to you which is easiest for you to use and how much this matters when it comes to day to day use of the pram. 

How big is the storage basket and how easy is it to access 

Not all pushchairs and prams are created equally when it comes to the storage basket underneath so do double check. 

With some prams the storage basket may be difficult to access. 

Other brands may make huge storage baskets that give you loads of room to keep everything you need for a day out, while others only offer a fairly small one. 

I found storage baskets underneath pushchairs extremely useful so would say it’s well worth getting one with decent space and easy access. 

What are the wheels like

If you will be using the pushchair in the countryside you may need to consider how sturdy the wheels are. Are they designed for this type of terrain?

A larger wheel will normally cope with off-road terrain easier, whereas smaller wheels will be more lightweight and best for city use. 

Most pushchairs come with swivel wheels at the front which make them very easy to steer. 

There are also different types of wheel – air filled, foam filled and EVA (or plastic) tyres. 

Air filled tend to be best for uneven ground as they have bounce to them, similar with foam-filled, and EVA tyres tend to be lighter weight and better for pavements and smooth terrain. 

Does it conform to safety standards?

Your baby’s pram or pushchair should conform to British safety standards.

Safe products will feature a safety label confirming their comply with the safety requirements BS EN 1888: 2021 or BS EN 1888: 2003.

What is the cost?

You could spend well over £1,500 on a buggy for your baby however you do not need to spend this much to get a good set of wheels!

Set your budget first and then look at pushchairs and prams that are within your price range. A good pushchair or travel system, which provides either interchangeable seats so you can use a carrycot or reclining seat that’s suitable for a newborn, is likely to cost you at least £200 to £300.

What accessories are available?

Brands often offer their own range of accessories for sale but you can also find universal ones that will fit most pushchairs.

Accessories that you will definitely find useful for your pushchair or pram include:

  • Rain cover – essential if you get caught out in the rain, they generally fold up small and can be stowed in the basket.
  • Sun shade – sometimes the hood of the pushchair does not provide total coverage so a parasol that clips to the.
  • Changing bag clips – these let you attach your bag to the handlebars of your pushchair, leaving you hands-free.
  • Cup holder – these fit to your handlebars and mean you don’t have to juggle carrying your coffee with pushing.

Final thoughts on the differences between pushchairs, prams, strollers and buggies?

I hope you now have a good idea of what you’re looking for when shopping for a pram for your newborn.

Remember some brands and shops will use the terms interchangeably, so the key to finding the right product is first establishing if it is suitable for a newborn.

Next check out how long it will last your baby. If it’s a pram with no scope to adapt to a pushchair then it will only take you up to six months.

But a travel system or a pushchair that is also suitable for a newborn baby – allowing them to lay flat – will last you for several years.

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