This evening I have been at a Kiddicare blogger focus group talking all about buggies and what we look for when choosing a buggy. Tomorrow, I will be at wheelchair services talking about special needs buggies and thinking about Mr T’s future needs.

Back when I was expecting Mr Z, I do remember the excitement of choosing buggies and which fabric to go for and which accessories to choose. I still love all of that, but the reality for us at the moment is that the only thing that is important in choosing a buggy is really that it can hold an older child, so that I can put off the inevitable for as long as possible – having to get a special needs buggy.

Mr R sleeping in Graco EvoI do have a single buggy which I use from time to time, the Graco Evo which I do really like, and when I got it (as part of the graco Ambassador selection process) I had high hopes of Mr T being able to walk more and just taking Mr R in this buggy. That hasn’t happened much, because those times I do take Mr T with out a buggy it is pretty clear he can not cope for more than the shortest trips, physically or mentally.

So that left us sticking with the Phil & Teds, which I have had since just before Mr T was born! This almost 4 years now, so I have to say it has lasted really well although it is now very battered and I am sick of the site of it after all these years. It has served me well though! The weight limit on the front seat is 20kg and the back is 15kg, so Mr T has a couple more kilo to go before we will have to give this up.

philtedsThe good thing about the Phil & Teds is that it is easy to get on public transport – well as easy as a double can be, I do still have to go through the back door on some buses, but once on the bus it can fit in beside another buggy and I am able to bump it down the stairs on the tube.

The downside is that now that Mr R is 2 years, I do feel that it is unfair on him to be in the back seat all this time. He can’t see out and see everything around him so much as he would like. While the back seat is okay for short term, I never realised that Mr T would be in a buggy for so long and Mr R would end up getting stuck with that seat. Taking turns is not an option because the back seat weight limit is 15kg and regardless of that with an Autistic child who can be resistant to change, a small thing like swapping seats can be a massive deal.

As we were starting to feel a bit unsatisfied with the buggy situation, we have got the Out n About Nipper 360 now, which is a side by side buggy and has a weight limit of 22kg per seat.

nipperThere are positives and negatives to this. Overall I do really like it, and the first thing I noticed is that it feels a lot lighter to push! The Phil & Teds with both children inside is really heavy and does get tiring to push. I’m not sure whether it is the tires or the weigh distribution but whatever it is, the effect is quite noticeable. The downside is that with being that bit wider it does feel bulkier overall and I am not confident with bumping this down stairs so would not want to try getting it on the tube as I am just not used to bumping such a wide buggy. However, if you have two people, this one is much easier to pick up and carry down stairs. The other downside is that with the two children being next to each other there is the possibility of them fighting. I have had to stop them pulling each other’s hair on more than one occasion! It is nice for them to sit together though if they are both in an amiable mood. Being side by side is also less conducive to sleep, but this doesn’t really bother me on days out!

outnaboutFor days out, this buggy is so much better because both children can see out comfortably and no one is hidden away at the back. It is good on all terrains, we have taken it through woodland and very hilly and rough ground and it has done really well, and been easy to push throughout on these difficult surfaces.

It does fit in the back of our car although it is quite a bit bigger than the Phil & Teds when folded, so there is not very much space left. Luckily we have a massive car with a big boot so we can manage. (Its a Toyota Previa, and I do recommend it for anyone who wants a really big car with as much as space as possible)

If we have another buggy in the hallway, the Out and About can not get through the front door unfolded, so it is living in our car boot. Once Mr T does hit 20 kg, we will have to get rid of the Phil & Teds and use this full time, and at least it will buy us another couple of kg worth of time to see how he is getting on.

I would love to know if anyone has any recommendations of other double buggies with even higher weight limits, which are easy to push and comfortable to use.

I will have to wait and see what happens with the wheelchair services. I have been told previously that they may not be able to provide a double, because Mr R doesn’t have any diagnosis as yet – currently only Mr T. Or they can give a single, and you then buy an additional side pod to attach. Or they do have double SN buggies, but they are so bulky and very difficult to push and use. None of these options sound great to me so I am dragging it out as long as possible in a mainstream toddler buggy!

Mr T does not really notice at the moment, that none of his peers go in a buggy. He does not seem to be aware or bothered, which I am glad about. I guess this may be more of an issue once he starts full time school next September.

For me, it’s hard to think of him getting a SN buggy although I know it is pretty likely that he will need one. It’s not a logical response, because I already know that he has special needs and I already know that he can not cope with walking alongside me in the street like other children. I know that his muscles are not strong and he will be tired out more easily, and I know that he doesn’t understand danger and needs to be in a buggy for his own safety. None of this is anything new but preparing to get special needs buggies is just another reminder of all of this, and a reminder that he will not just grow out of these difficulties.

We are lucky really, as he could be much worse and he can walk – just not longer distances. I am still hoping I pass my driving test really soon (I did take it since the last time I mentioned it, but I failed again!!) As someone who can not drive and relies a lot on public transport, I am quite anxious about how to cope with getting around with these SN buggies if they are as bulky as I have been told.

At the moment the P&T and the Out n About are working well for us though, so we will see how much longer he can last in them!

If anyone does have any experiences of double special needs buggies I would love to hear how you got on, so please do leave me a comment

Just to update – since this post, Mr T has been provided with a Mclaren Major from the NHS which I am grateful for obviously, But – only thing is, it is a single buggy! So still in the same predicament really as all they can advise is to put my youngest on a buggy board which I don’t really see working so well!