Twin/Double pushchairs - Tandem or Side by Side!!

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Introduction

I am a mum to two my daughter is 2 in March and my son is 7 and a half months old.  The thought of getting out and about with two children so close in age filled me with dread (although I still can't quite imagine being a mum to twins)!  When I began to research the options for pushchairs I was surprised at the amount of choice on the market, although when it comes down to it the choice is really - tandem or side by side.

The first twin pushchair I decided to purchase was the Maclaren twin, it is well made by a well known brand with good reviews and they are readily available - new or second hand.  I took the plunge and bought one second hand off ebay. I sold that after a few months and bought a Marco sky tandem, again second hand off ebay, I sold that straight away and bought a bebekins tandem buggy, brand new off ebay, I have had that for a few days now. 

Side By Side Pushchairs

Manouverability

They are quite easy to manouver from side to side as the weight is fairly evenly distributed between the front and back wheels, so the front wheels swivel quite easily.  They are quite heavy when loaded with two children (maybe not so bad with two newborns) so this can make it difficult to tilt back to lift up kerbs etc.

The side by side pushchair is fine in an open space but as soon as you want to go shopping you tend to run into problems. Although the majority of side by side pushchairs are no wider than the average door width it is a tight squeeze to get through most doorways and impossible without the aid of a friend or passer-by holding the door as wide open as it will go! Then when you get into the shop you have the problem of manouvering around the aisles, ok in some but again, a tight squeeze in most.  The length of these is fine, you can see your front wheels no problem so not too many bumps at the front end!

Comfort for baby/child

The side by side pushchairs have nice long seats but are not so generous on width, a little tight for my older child but absolutely fine for my baby boy.  Seats are usually adjustable to 4 or 5 different positions so no problem if baby wants to sleep.  Footmuffs and blankets can be easily used with any twin and such as the maclaren or combi twin usually come with a matching footmuff/boot.

Useability

The handle position is not usually an issue with any of the side by side pushchairs I have come across, not too high or low.  They can feel a little wide to begin with if the handle is split like the maclaren but you soon get used to them and you need your arms and hands in a wider position anyway as the weight in the pushchair is spread on either side, not in the centre.  Baby/child is easily accessible for any reason, drinks, tucking in etc and easy to get out if a screaming fit occurs! Most shopping baskets are accessible from the back under each seat, only an issue if baby is layed flat as the seat would need sitting up a little to access the contents of the basket.  I'm not sure about seat adjustability on other side by side pushchairs but the maclaren seats are quite difficult to adjust because the adjustor on the inside of each seat, that is in the centre of the pushchair is only really accessible from the back.  The problem with that is that you have to guess what position the seat is in or go round and look and then if it is wrong, go and adjust again.  You can learn the adjustor positions though and seats don't tend to need adjusting that much anyway, depending on age of child/baby.

Tandems

Manouverability

Tandems vary greatly by design, the longer, generally older tandems seem to be quite hard to manouver because of their overall length.  The newer desinged tandems such as the Cossato duet lite, Mothercare's Hoxton, Marco Sky and my latest tandem the Bebekins Aroo are much easier to manouver with regard to their length, that is not really an issue at all, they are not much longer (if at all) than a single buggy or a side by side pushchair.  The main issue with tandems is that you generally have a heavier child in the front so this affects how easily the wheels swivel and make the front end quite heavy to tilt back.  I have tried the Duet Lite and the Hoxton in shops and found them both very heavy to tilt, they weigh about the same as the Maclaren twin.  The Bebekins and Marco Sky however are not too bad, they both weigh in at just over 12 kgs each, not that much lighter than their competitiors but you can feel the difference, espcially when lifting when folded. 

Comfort for Baby/Child

There are deifintely comfort issues with a tandem, again it varies with the different designs, but the newer, lighter and more compact tandems as listed above definitely have a lack of space, especially for the back seat passenger! The seats do not skimp on width but headroom and legroom in the backseat is definitely tight on the Marco Sky and the Bebekins Aroo, the Hoxton and Duet lite are a little roomier, but not that much.  The back seat being raised gives baby a better view out and although the lack of space in the back could be an issue, it also means that the back seat makes a very cosy den for baby to sleep in!  The Hoxton sometimes comes with footmuffs and I think you can possibly buy footmuffs for the duet lite but the other two tandems are really too tight on legroom to fit a footmuff in the back (I have tried) and the fromt has a padded piece of material going from seat over the bumper bar so unless that was undone (popper fastening) a footmuff would not be able to be fitted.

Useability

They are no (or not much or a little less) heavier/longer than most of the side by side pushchairs so no easier/harder to fold away and lift/fit into your car boot. They tend to have quite high handles, this is why I sold my Marco Sky, as soon as it arrived I knew when I go walking with flat shoes it was going to be way too high for me at only 5ft, but not really an issue for people of an average height.  Seat/s are easily adjustable (front seat doesn't usually adjust). It is quite tight for getting baby in/out of the back seat, I think it would be easier with a younger baby and becomes more difficult as baby gets older and bigger.  The distance between the two seats is mininal, my son is already pushing on the back of the front seat with his feet and pulling on my daughters hair so I am not sure how easy it is going to be as they get older.  Shopping baskets vary with desing but the marco sky one is very small and hard to get to, the bebekins has a "normal" shopping basket which is easily accessible and I believe the duet lite and hoxton have similar shopping basket designs.

Conclusion

Think about your needs and the needs of your children, when and where will you be using the pushchair the most (remember if you go somewhere regularly that reuires the use of a pushchair, but you don't go alone you could have two single buggy's).  If you have twins a side by side is usually the option with the most choice as most tandems only have one seat suitable from birth.  If you shop a lot and have an older child and baby a tandem is definitely worth considering as they are much easier to manouver around shops and through doorways, although they are heavier at the front end.  The three-wheeler twins are worth considering if you are off-road a lot (or live in a rural area) with your two children, they are very sturdy and have good suspension and large wheels, all designed to make an off-road ride comfortable for baby. Personally my main considerations with any pushchair is to make sure it is lightweight and compact when folded as lifting a heavy chunky pushchair into your boot on a regular basis can become wearing.  A heavy pushchair becomes almost twice as heavy when you add two children to it as well, newborns only get heavier!  The more compact double's tend to lack space one way or another because you can't have the best of everything, so think about what suits you best i.e more room for baby = bulkier pushchair, less room for baby = more compact pushchair.

There are a lot of different double pushchairs on the market, first make the decision between tandem and side by side, then narrow your options down to a handful by looking at the dimensions, weight, sturdiness and general spec.  Make your final decision based on little but important extras such as the shopping basket, cup holders, footmuffs, seat adjustors, handle adjustors/positions and finally the price!  Consider every pushchair on the market and don't be put off by price, an extra £50 really won't make a difference to you if you find the perfect pushchair for you and your babies/children.

I have not mentioned any of the more expensive, elaborately designed double pushchairs as I am not familiar with them, I would not consider spending over £250 on any pushchair, even though in the last breath I said don't be put off by price, we have to set a limit somewhere!  Also the designs of doubles such as the jane powertwin and phil and ted don't look very practical, especially not for the price, although if you are considering one of these don't be put off by me who like I said, have not had any experience with them.

If it is an option to use a baby carrier and a single pushchair seriously consider it as I have yet to find the perfect, or near perfect double pushchair and that is my next consideration!

Try before you buy, shop around and really think about what you need the pushchair for!

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