I can admit it: Karen and I are snobs. We like new things — they smell new, they look new. They are new.
But the baby is changing everything. It is reputed that she is going to grow, steadily, for many years. She will need new clothes, eventually move from a crib to a bed, and need many more things besides. And it turns out that many of these things are expensive when bought new. Expensive enough to even take a bite out of our snobbery.
One of the necessary things that all parents must have is something to push the baby around in. A pram, a stroller, a pushchair, a buggy — while investigations to determine whether these are are actually different things or just different names for the same things have proven inconclusive, they are all essentially just pushing devices.
And parents need prams.
As a first-time parent, the cost of these things is nothing short of shocking. But babies are built with a nine-month waiting period, presumably to help new parents deal with shocks like these, and we eventually got used to the idea that we would be paying upwards of £500 for the pleasure of pushing our baby around and got down to the nitty-gritty of looking for the things.
This is where we encountered issue #2 of buying prams: finding reviews from knowledgeable people.
Strangely enough, in a world where prams are ridiculously expensive and there is no point to owning more than one, most people only buy one. So while the conscientious shopper can read user reviews and speak to other parents, it seems not to be possible to find people who have used several different prams for normal day-to-day use.
Sure, you can push them around the store — or even borrow from friends, and around the neighbourhood — but does that tell you how easy it is to fold when you’ve got the baby, a coffee, and an angry queue behind you? Does it tell you how effective the rain cover is?
No, as a parent you essentially need an alternative plan. For Karen and I, it was to become the creepy people who are staring at your baby.
Every time we were out — in a park, on the tube, at the grocery store — if there was a baby in a pram, we paid attention. Did it look sturdy? Was the baby comfortable? Did it look chique? (Did I mention we’re snobs?) Did the baby look cosy? Would it fit on a bus?
We would then follow up these observations with price-checks and in-depth in-store inspections. We figured that by watching many parents (and babies) who were presumably used to their pushchairs, we could achieve a comparison in our own heads. Or something.
So one day, Karen calls me and says “I have seen one that looks good! The MPX!”
So I look it up online, and find eventually find that the MPX is a 6-in-1 system from Mamas and Papas, with a cost of over £600. But not before I have found other shopping results for the same thing … used … at under £200.
Soon we had bought a used
pram travel system for our baby at one-tenth the cost of a new one.
And these snobs have been converted — at least partially — to the wisdom of used goods.
Babies, with this tendency to grow, only use their stuff for a short while. The eBays and Gumtrees of the world seem to be filled with piles of barely used clothing, furniture, and other useful items — all at incredibly low prices.
So our child seems destined to grow up riding around in a used buggy, wearing used clothes, playing with used toys and reading used books.
But don’t worry too much. She will still have some fancy new things.
We are snobs, after all.
Top photo from the Chive collection of bizarre strollers. Bottom one is of Karen and our new travel system.