Pushchairs Suitable for a 7 Year Old and Older…
Master BB is just over 7 years old now. He may be cute, but he is also a liability in open spaces and in shops. He is unsteady when walking and his hypotonia means that he gets pain if he walks too far. He has zero road awareness. We always knew that Master BB would be in a pushchair longer than most children, and one of the the underlying themes of Best Buggy has been to find the best single pushchair for Master BB to ‘grow into’. We constantly have eliminated pushchairs that we have reviewed by seat size, until we are now left with the final few pushchairs with big seats; good head room; good leg room and that are easy to push. However, we are now pushing the boundaries of conventional pushchairs, and are starting to explore the world of Special Needs pushchairs.
Before we begin, the pushchairs photographed are our personal collection. They aren’t perfect models because we use them and have collected them! Some are very old; some aren’t set up perfectly for the children i.e. they could be adjusted; and we know the children are not harnessed in, but we hope you will appreciate these imperfections. We just could not waste the opportunity to show pictorially what these pushchairs are capable of, and hopefully you will learn, and save time and money from what we discovered!
This set of photos is all about comparison – open size, fold size, hood size and what the pushchairs are like to push when tested back to back. These are not full reviews of each pushchair, nor are there measurements, facts and figures. The photos are designed to give visual information about how your child may fit in the pushchair, and to help assess which one may fit into your car.
From left (conventional pushchairs) to right (special needs pushchairs):
Green – Oyster Zero; Red – Cybex Eternis M-4; Black and Red – Baby Jogger Summit XC; Black – Phil&Teds Dash; Black and Red – R82 Cricket; Blue – Mountain Buggy Terrain SN; Green – Alvema Pixi (like the EasyS Swifty); Grey and Black – Special Tomato Eio; Purple – Delichon Delta Size M2; Blue and White – Baby Jogger Advanced Mobility Independence.
Please note that the conventional pushchairs (the four on the left) are certified to carry the following weight limits: the Phil &Teds Dash is certified up to 25kg; The Summit XC is certified in the US up to 34kg; the Oyster Zero is certified up to 20kg and the Eternis is certified up to 17kg. We have exceeded some of these weight limits, however, we are doing so with our own children at our own risk. We take no responsibility if you choose to exceed the specified weight limits of any pushchair, and we are not recommending you exceed any child weight limits. We do also still have a Babyzen Yoyo and a Yippie Yo which we were unable to fit into the line up.
The biggest difference with these pushchairs is the cost. Whilst a pushchair for a typical 3 year old may only cost a few hundred pounds, some of these special needs pushchairs will set you back several thousand pounds if you buy new. However, we have only owned three of our line up of pushchairs from new, and there are bargains to be had if you are patient and keep your eyes peeled.
Special Needs (SN) pushchairs are more costly because smaller batches are usually made, and therefore test and manufacturing costs are higher. They also are tested to higher weight capacities; and may have been crashed tested for use in vehicles, which means they have approved tie down points to anchor the pushchair into a vehicle. It is worth bearing in mind that generally speaking with SN pushchairs, even things we take for granted such as a hood, harness, raincover or basket are extra add ons which comes with an extra cost. These can be silly amounts of extra money. Most of the SN pushchairs are fully customisable for your child’s needs with extra support pads, footrests, different harnesses, cushions, and extensions. Companies like R82, will not sell you a pushchair without a full assessment of your child’s needs. VAT exemption can usually be given for a child’s SN pushchair.
Do you need an expensive Special Needs pushchair for a typical 7 year old?
Just last week we had a conversation with the lovely Nigel from Pushchairs.co.uk . Our lovely friends at Kooltrade aka Baby Jogger UK, sent us to him to buy a Baby Jogger Advanced Mobility Independence. Nigel knew that we were complete pushchair nutcases; and he spent a lot of time with us on the phone discussing the limited options available for children with additional needs. Nigel told us to go and buy a Maclaren Major Elite – but despite ‘Best Buggy’ being our website name, we are not really fans of two handed umbrella fold buggies! The Major Elite and the DoBuggy stroller are the ubiquitous buggies handed out by wheelchair services all across the country and are loved by many. However, there is no recline on them which makes them simply unsuitable for younger children, or children with poor tone. The Major Elite and Dobuggy should last a child up to the age of 10, but this is where we invite you to look carefully at our photos, and ask if you really do need a pushchair with a ‘special needs’ label on it for an under 10 year old. Our feeling is that children often get the SN umbrella fold pushchairs too early, when they don’t need to yet be in such a large pushchair. Enjoy testing the boundaries of conventional pushchairs whilst you can!
We put Master BB in all these pushchairs to show you what our 119cm, 7 year old looks like in the seats. We also persuaded Miss BB to sit in them too. She is nearly 9 years old, and is 140cm tall; therefore 21cm taller than Master BB. We like using Miss BB, because she gives us an idea of which pushchairs will fit Master BB in future. She is tall for her age, whereas Master BB is small for his age.
The first four pushchairs on the left of our line up are all conventional pushchairs. All fit 119cm, 7 year old Master BB well. If you look carefully, you will see that the Cybex Eternis (red) and the Phil&Teds Dash (black) also fit 140cm, nearly 9 year old, Miss BB well too. Out of all the pushchairs, Miss BB said that the second most comfy pushchair was the Eternis. Her most comfortable pushchair was a complete surprise though: she liked the Alvema Pixi the best! This surprised us because it is one of the pushchairs with a more rigid shaped seat, which appears to be quite narrow. However, all the way through testing, Miss BB maintained it was her favourite.
We also took each pushchair out for a quick trip with Miss BB in the seat. The difference in push was very noticeable. Bearing in mind that some of these pushchairs were not designed to carry 35kg of child, and some are, we were surprised at our findings.
The lightest pushchairs to push were the Cybex Eternis; the Phil & Teds Dash; The R82 Cricket; The Baby Jogger Summit XC; the Alvema Pixi and the Delichon Delta. What we didn’t expect was the extremely tall handlebar of the Baby Jogger Independence, which really made it almost impossible for us to push; or how the low centre of gravity made the Mountain Buggy Terrain SN, harder to push.
We have never been fans of fixed front wheels, but SN pushchairs with front swivel wheels are a rarity, so fixed wheels are a necessary evil. However, having a front fixed wheel means that every time you need to turn a corner, the front wheel needs lifting off, so that the turn can be made using the rear wheels. This led to what we called ‘kangaroo jumping’ where the child was being continually bounced as we turned corners as we drove them around. This was worse in the MB Terrain SN and the Baby Jogger Independence. The Delichon Delta was the easiest fixed wheel pushchair to use by a long way. By the end of the testing, we really were desperately seeking swivel wheels!
The Four ‘Typical’ Pushchairs
So, what about the four conventional pushchairs? The Babystyle Oyster Zero has a massive seat. It looks modern and stylish and with a price tag of a little over £200, the Oyster Zero is the ‘must have’ for mums of infant school aged children with additional needs. The Zero is much nicer choice than a Major Elite and with a great recline. Master BB still fits in his Oyster Zero, and we reach for this pushchair continually, because it is so easy to live with. It has almost everything you could possibly need in a pushchair including a recline, accessible basket, quick fold, and huge hood. The only negative was that, when we tested these pushchairs back to back, the Zero was noticeably heavier to push than some of the others, but this was only with Miss BB (who is over 10kg more than her brother and nearly 9 so let’s be realistic!). This is not enough to put us off, and the Oyster Zero really rocks as a pushchair for an older child. The Oyster Zero is well used here at BBHQ, and has been the main mainstream pushchair that we have used over the last 18 months. It is great for day trips and for the small fold. Bear in mind what we said at the start though about using a conventional pushchair beyond the certified weight.
The Cybex Eternis M4, probably has the biggest seat of any conventional small folding pushchair. The seat is large and spacious. The leg length is excellent with plenty of foot room; and there is good space underneath the hood, even for tall Miss BB. Cybex also make the Agis (3 and 4 wheel versions) which are essentially the same as the Eternis, but with smaller wheels. We did a comparison of both Cybex pushchairs here on Best Buggy. The adjustable handlebar, recline and large hood are all big plus points. The only negative is the poor access to the basket. The quick pull handle fold on the Eternis, as with the Zero, makes it so easy to put away and chuck in and out of the car. If the basket access were better, then the Eternis would probably come with us on more outings. The Eternis was noticeably lighter to push than the Oyster Zero which was surprising. This really was a winner in our tests.
We have tried every Baby Jogger over the years, and the longest serving pushchair here was our beautiful Elite. We bought the newer Summit X3 twice, but although we loved the bouncy push, we couldn’t get past how relatively small the seat was compared to our old faithful Elite. Twice we sold the Summit X3, very quickly. Our Baby Jogger Elite v’s Summit X3 comparison photos are here and are worth a look in order to understand why! The Elite stayed and stayed because we couldn’t find anything that our children looked more comfortable in. However, eventually we were persuaded to try the older Summit XC. We were not convinced that the seat would really be any different to the Elite. However, it is definitely different – better leg room, and more head room. We suggest you pull up the Elite / Summit X3 comparison page above, and then look critically at these more recent photos above to compare.
For the last few months, the Summit XC has been our faithful friend. It has been everywhere where we could manage a larger pushchair. We have added on an Elite basket, which is much better than the old Summit one (which kept catching on the front everytime we unfolded the pushchair). The suspension is beautifully bouncy – it was really noticeable during our test runs how excellent it was compared to the other pushchairs we tried out. The hood is fantastic, and Master BB loves the windows in the sides. We love the harness, the mesh pocket, the huge seat, and the handle height is perfect for me. We have never been keen on the huge wheels of the Summit, over the smaller Elite wheels, but we have been convinced (probably because there is no other option now!), and we absolutely love this pushchair. How long it will last us is questionable, given Miss BB is definitely too tall for the hood, but hoods can be removed, and she actually still looks comfortable. We did look at swapping the hood for an Elite one, but the Summit hood is fixed to the pushchair. Let’s hope Master BB doesn’t grow too quickly!
Which leads us onto the Phil&Teds Dash. The Dash (2015) has an absolutely HUGE seat, with lots of headroom. The chassis is light and easy to carry. The fold is simple once you know how. We have wondered why we don’t use this pushchair all the time to be honest…..because Master BB looks really comfortable. There are probably two reasons. First, it is quite large folded, and we really hate having a pushchair filling up the boot. Secondly, the seat fabric keeps falling off at the front. It drives us mad as its a bit fiddly to fit back on, although relatively simple, its just annoying to arrive at your destination and have to rebuild the pushchair. The Dash is a pushchair that we ‘saved for later’ and that day has probably nearly arrived. Miss BB looks totally comfortable in the Dash, with so much leg room, and has straight knees. Her head just fits under the rim of the hood. She did say the seat felt a bit narrow, but we are not sure how subjective that is, because she clearly has room at either side. The Dash has a huge basket, adjustable handle, massive hood, seat recline, and easy fold. It is an absolute pleasure to push, and came out top of all our pushchairs as the best to push and manoeuvre.
The Dash and the Eternis are certainly two conventional pushchairs amongst those four, that will see a child easily through to around 9 years of age (Miss BB is tall for her age); and the other two still fit Master BB at the age of 7.
The Special Needs Pushchairs
It has been a difficult step for us to move into the realms of special needs pushchairs. Lets face it, special needs pushchairs are not pretty or lightweight. They are functional and have compromises. We like small and neat folding pushchairs, and these simply do not exist.
Our first purchase was the Alverna Pixi. We saw photos online, and it looked neat and funky for a SN pushchair. However, the reality is that its quite clunky to use, and feels quite old fashioned and to be honest we hated it on sight and hid it away! It is nearly identical to the EasyS Swifty pushchair that many of our friends have. The fold is the same, the recline is the same, the seat is similar. If the Swifty is a possibility for you, then our photos of the Pixi will give you a good impression of how your child will look in the Swifty.
The fold on the Alverna Pixi is surprisingly neat. We didn’t realise how compact it was until we lined it up against the other pushchairs. The Pixi was easy to lift and carry too, and props up nicely against a wall. The downside of the Pixi is that the recline is rudimentary and you have to unscrew the recline each time you fold, however the fold otherwise is simple. We like how neat the pushchair looks – first impressions are that it is a very small pushchair – but there is no hood on our Pixi, and it is clear from our photos that the seat back extends upwards a long way. We love the adjustable handlebar, and the narrow feel. We were sure that the Pixi would be the first pushchair we sold once we had reviewed it, however, we are now less sure about that, because Miss BB tells us that it is very comfortable. We believe this is the Size 2 Pixi. We may investigate purchasing the basket for this pushchair and taking it out for some longer outings. Overall on our test runs, the Pixi performed well and was one of the lightest pushchairs to push.
When we phoned Nigel at Pushchairs.co.uk up to buy a Baby Jogger Independence from him, he actually talked us out of it! We are massive Baby Jogger fans, and really HAD to try the Independence out, so we still acquired one! We now admit that Nigel was totally correct to not recommend an Independence to us as we are not the right customer for one because this is one MASSIVE pushchair!
The positives are that the Independence has the amazing Baby Jogger fold which makes it fit neatly in our car, and it was easy to carry using the pull handle, and it was simple to fling open and to put up (we know we didn’t put all the safety straps on underneath BTW). It is absolutely clear from the photos, that the seat size on this pushchair is HUGE. It would certainly last the longest out of all our pushchairs. There is also a footplate extension available for an older child’s longer legs. What we didn’t expect was the incredibly high fixed height handlebar. It simply wasn’t even a possibility for me at 5ft 6ins to push comfortably – and I like a tall handlebar – but this handlebar is made for a giant! My guess is that if you need a pushchair for a 10+ year old, and have such limited options; then you would have to put up with the high handlebar, but it really was not comfortable for the adults to push, even though the children looked very comfortable! Nigel said that you really need to want to get off road with your child to need an Independence, and we agree with him. It definitely is not a shopping pushchair, and the front wheel does stick out a lot further than any of the other pushchairs (all lined up with by their back axles). For some children, there will be no other option, but this is definitely a pushchair to only buy if you really need one and have exhausted all other options. Overall the look and feel is good, and the fold was easy to do. The pushchair was easy to carry via the fold handle, so all round it wasn’t as daunting as it looked.
This is really where our comparisons get interesting, because the purple Delichon Delta (ours is a Medium – M2), feels like a big pushchair, but the chassis length is surprisingly short. The Delta has a deeper seat with more head room than the Independence; but the deeper seat, and shorter chassis mean that Miss BB’s knees are not as level. Miss BB said that she preferred the Delta to the Independence by a long way, and maybe we need to listen to that. Whether she would feel the same in 2 years time, we don’t know, but Delichon make a larger Delta, which is what we would look at if necessary. However, the Delichon’s do come with a hefty price tag of just over £2000! Whilst the Delta has a fixed front wheel, it was noticeably easier to lift the wheel and manoeuvre without kangaroo jumping the child inside! It was lovely to push. As yet, we don’t quite love the Delta. There’s probably several reasons for this! The front wheel guard and footplate keep falling off. You can see even in our photos, that Master BB kept knocking the footplate so that it wasn’t level. We are not keen on the way the children’s feet are kept apart by the shape of the footplate. It looks awkward. We found the fold to be one of the most tricky, however, we believe it should be simple, and ours may need some silicone spray on it. Finally, the hood!! The hood took us 3 and a half hours to fit….and it still is not correct! However we have an older model, and new pushchairs come with the correct fittings. We think we are going to reserve any proper judgement of the Delta for now until we have had opportunity to try it out in real life, and then we will do a formal review of it. However, this set of photos is all about comparison, and the debate really is whether the children look more comfortable in the Delta than in the Baby Jogger Independence, or any of the other pushchairs.
The pushchair that Nigel recommended, was the Special Tomato Eio. The Special Tomato Eio is one of the most ‘normal’ looking of the special needs pushchairs. You do have to look twice to spot it is an SN pushchair. We have met this pushchair a few times, have tried it out, and indeed, we have previously had one on order. But we cancelled it. Why? Because we knew we already had pushchairs which would last us some time e.g. the Baby Jogger Elite and the Phil&Teds Dash without the expense of a specialist SN pushchair, plus we knew that the fold was quite large. Nigel convinced us that the deeper seat, with the longer footrest, along with the swivel wheels, would probably be a really good option now for Master BB. Both children look very comfortable in the Special Tomato Eio, and we totally agree with Nigel that this was a good choice for their ages. However, this is a pushchair that is a piglet to fold, and there are flappy bits, and bits falling off all over the place! At one point Miss BB climbed in and the fabric fell off the footrest and we had to rebuild the seat again. No matter what we did to the hood, it constantly looks messy at the rear. The Special Tomato Eio has the most complicated harness system, although this is no bad thing if you have a Houdini child, or one who needs a lot of support. It took us ages to work out which parts of the harness go where, which we think would be frustrating when trying to strap a wriggly child into the seat. Our Eio came with various pads and a foot support block, and this is where the Eio would be good for children who need extra support.
The Special Tomato Eio quality and style reminds us a lot of our much loved TFK pushchairs. We wonder how well the TFK Joggster Twist would have fared in this line up because the Joggster Twist has a huge seat with good headroom too (and really should have been included in this line up).
The Eio let itself down in the push, because it was relatively heavy to push compared to our other pushchairs – one of the heaviest we tried out. This was quite surprising to be honest, because the Eio was one of the lightest t0 to lift and carry, even though it was one of the largest folded. There is a 3 wheel Jogger version of the Special Tomato, with a long leg rest, and we have friends who adore theirs.
The fold is tricky to do – one of our focus group admitted they love their Eio but only because they never fold it! We think we could love the Eio if we never needed to fold it either! It is very noticable how long the Eio is folded. We had to recline the seat to get the most compact fold, but we did like the fold lock to assist with this but we did have to sit down on the chassis to get the two parts to meet! Not easy at all.
The Eio may be a pushchair that we need to grow to love….and we could by simply by looking critically at these photos and seeing how well the children’s knees and legs are supported in the deep seat with long leg room….but it definitely isn’t love at first sight or at first push!
The pushchair which was definitely love at first sight, was our R82 Cricket (black frame, red seat). We spotted the Cricket on a Facebook group, and we knew we had to have one. The Cricket comes in two sizes, and a range of fantastic bright, funky colours. What really struck us, was the neat fold. It is difficult to see on our photos, but the fold is quite narrow, and can be made narrower by squeezing the frame together. However, when folded the Cricket does sit quite high off the ground which is obvious in our line up. We love how the Cricket fits into about a third of the short way of our car boot, leaving plenty of room for shopping or picnic stuff. The R82 Cricket also looks cool and stylish. It is neat – very neat. Admittedly we don’t have a hood for our Cricket (the cost was extortionate when Master BB rarely uses a hood), but it reminds us of our beloved Easywalker Mini Stroller, which was like having a chair on wheels. It is neat, unobstrusive, ‘grown up’, and looks great. It looks simple but there are lots of pads, extensions, adjustable bits etc. to make this fit your child. There are 14 leg rest heights for example – this is set to Number 12, so two more to go. The seat can be extended forwards too using an allen key. The downsides are that the Cricket weighs a lot – and we do struggle to carry it a long way, although it is easy to ‘hug’ and carry rather than carry one handed; there are two brakes – one on either side, and you need both engaged to really hold the pushchair firmly; that there are lots of places where it is extremely easy to trap or catch a finger. We know that at some point we will fall out with this pushchair when it causes an injury….and it will happen! We are being very careful how we hold, fold and carry it. It is absolutely rock solid though, and we have taken it everywhere so far. It is especially good across grass and uneven surfaces and the adjustable handlebar makes it comfortable to push.
The Cricket is also relatively expensive at just under £1000. However, is it worth it….yes absolutely! Out of this line up, the Cricket is my favourite SN pushchair to use by a long, long way. One absolute must is to spend the 30 odd pounds and get the rucksack which fits on the rear of the Cricket. It has been invaluable this summer for picnics, clothes etc. We also got the ‘car seat’ style safety belt. We thought Master BB would be able to open it easily but not even Miss BB can do it yet. We would absolutely recommend a Cricket. We hope that R82 make a Size 3!
The final pushchair in our line up is probably our oldest pushchair: the Mountain Buggy Terrain SN. Mountain Buggy made a small number of these special needs Terrains, with deeper seats and adjustable footplates. They also made some double SN pushchairs too, however the only place to buy these now is on the second hand market. A regular Terrain footplate can be used with the deeper seat for a smaller child; or the SN footplate can be added. There are two levels to the SN footplate and the top part can be removed to give more leg room for an older child. Little Miss BB really needed to use the lower footplate, but we didn’t have time to make adjustments. We really like the Terrain because it is so light to lift and carry. It is long folded and does take up a lot of space in the car boot – it only just fits in our boot. We thought the Terrain would be just as light to push as it is to lift, however, it is not. It was one of the heaviest pushchairs to push which shocked us. We believe this is due to the seat being lower to the ground. We also had the biggest ‘kangaroo jumps’ when cornering which cause Miss BB great hilarity, but in reality wouldn’t be much fun if using this pushchair all the time. This is the pushchair we most wanted to love because we have always loved Mountain Buggies, but we are struggling because of he push despite the seat depth being good, hood height being high, and the leg length being excellent.
Whilst this review contains a mix of tried and tested old favourite pushchairs, and some pushchairs which are new to us, we have tried to give a really honest impression of what these pushchairs feel like to use in relation to each other. Testing pushchairs literally back to back gives a really true impression of what they are like to use, or push. When you are opening or closing the 10th pushchair for the day, believe us you appreciate those pushchairs that are easy to use! Using Miss BB in all these pushchairs, on an identical test run, one after another, gave a really good comparative idea of push, and after all, when you have a larger child in board, push is really important. However, we are also being fussy here! We have the luxury to be able to compare these pushchairs, but most parents only can choose, or are given one pushchair. If we had any of these pushchairs in isolation, we would be quite happy to use them, except possibly the Baby Jogger Independence, whose handle height is simply tall for us to be practical.
To conclude, all our conventional pushchairs, are superb, and are used by us in every day life. It is clear that you can have a regular pushchair for a child up to the age of 7 and even beyond….two of our pushchairs should last size wise until the age of 10 or 11 if you take your own risk on the weight capacity. We see no reason to have to pay out for a specialist buggy unless your child needs additional support.
The Special Needs pushchairs, the R82 Cricket, Alverna Pixi and Special Tomato Eio have swivel front wheels which DO make a huge difference to the manoeverability of the Special Needs pushchair, however, the Eio is surprisingly heavy to push. Having a fixed wheel makes manoeuverability more tricky, but Delichon really have got the balance right on the Delta, to give a great push with just a light touch needed to change direction. There are many other special needs pushchairs available, and if you need a pushchair with more specialist support for your child then do take expert advice.
Here at BBHQ we will be sticking with our conventional pushchairs for as long as we can, but from our trials of the Special Needs pushchairs, the Cricket and the Delichon Delta definitely came out of this comparison as our personal favourites, and they will also be staying for the long term. We will probably give some of the others another chance before making a final decision about which pushchairs to keep. We hope to do formal reviews of each pushchair at some point, but we hope these photos and thoughts are helpful.
Other A Comparison of Pushchairs for a 7 Year Old Reviews: