Buggys come, mostly, in one flavour; two wheels at the back and one/two wheels at the front. For some parents in certain situations, this model is not the most helpful. Phil & Ted’s Smart Buggy is a different breed of buggy indeed that has been cleverly designed to fill a gap where the usual type of buggy doesn’t fit.
Paula spoke to us about her situation, and we wanted to see if the Smart Buggy would be the answer….
I am Mum to 5 year old Bethany. I am also blind and have a guide dog, (the gorgeous and hard working Jemma) which means that when I used a pushchair with Bethany I had to pull it, instead of pushing. I now childmind my 14 month old niece, Amelia, which has caused a dilemma; obviously I need to take her out (especially doing the school run), and she is too heavy for me to carry. So, I tried using my old traditional pushchair, but juggling pulling the cumbersome buggy as well has dealing with Bethany and holding Jemma was very difficult, and a better solution was needed, fast!
Laura contacted me with the idea of trying the Phil & Ted’s Smart Buggy. It has been designed for urban use, especially for getting on and off public transport and to be pulled backwards, up and down stairs to tube stations etc. Would this buggy also work well, being pulled backwards by a blind person with a guide dog and a 5 year old child?
My first reaction, when the buggy arrived, was not altogether positive. It was so different from what I was used to. It felt like it didn’t unfold properly, the seat seemed very narrow and I wasn’t enamoured with the four clips on the harness – this could be difficult with a wriggly, resistant child!
But, those concerns melted away as I got used to it all. The clips were the first things to impress me, actually; they aren’t the usual quick-release type that you find on most buggies and highchairs, but they clip together more gently, meaning you can’t pinch yours, or baby’s fingers. I can also easily just unclip the two shoulder straps to remove her coat, without getting her out, and do them back up again, so I’m now really impressed with the design of the harness!
With practice I have mastered the folding and unfolding but still find that a little confusing without being able to see what I am doing.
Once I had Amelia sitting in the buggy, I realised how compact and sturdy it was. It is easy to pull and steer, the larger than usual wheels are a big help and as it does not weave from side to side, no constant readjusting is needed. Going up and down kerbs was more of a challenge, as I couldn’t lift up the back wheels, while rolling it on the front wheels to lever it up and down a step, so Amelia got a bumpier ride, but she didn’t seem to mind! The shopping basket is quite small, and I was pleasantly surprised that things didn’t slide out while the buggy was tilted and rolling.
Now I have used the buggy for about a month, I have really got used to it and actually really like it! On the long trips to school and back (20 minutes each way) it does become rather hard work on my arm and hand, but, thinking about it, that is a weight issue that I’m not sure any buggy design could rectify. It does tip a bit at kerbs, if it’s not completely square to the kerb, but I’m always able to keep it upright. Amelia likes it, and quite often falls asleep in it! I also love how small and compact it is. If you’re in a café, you can keep it unfolded at the table, as it just takes up the same room as a chair. In fact, we went out for lunch, and there wasn’t a highchair, so Amelia sat quite happily, up to the table, in the buggy.
So, in conclusion, the Phil & Ted’s Smart Buggy is a good solution for my particular situation and I can appreciate how it would be great for parents in a busy city environment, needing to weave in and out of crowded streets and hopping on and off buses and tubes. Yes, the Smart Buggy is very smart indeed!
** Paula reviewed the original Phil & Ted’s Smart Buggy, which had feet instead of wheels at the front. However, the basic design principles remain the same, and the new model looks even more versatile and flexible.