How not to buy a baby buggy

This may be a bit of a subset of my pieces about ripping people off, but in this case you’re the ones being ripped off.

You can pay a huge amount of money for a baby buggy. Staggering sums. I have definitely spent much less than the cost of a McLaren buggy on second hand cars with a year’s MOT and tax, and four new tyres.

I can hear howls of protest here, and the distant sound of the sharpening of pitchforks and the lighting of torches. ‘I want the best for my child!’ No, that’s not true. The child doesn’t give a monkey’s about who made the buggy, does it? As far as any child is concerned, a buggy is just a mysterious object they get strapped into, that moves in mysterious ways, and in which they can carry on their own speciality of being tiny but frighteningly efficient germ warfare facilities. They have yet to discover the manifold pleasures of label slavery. They don’t care. It’s parents who care. Best for the child it’s not. It’s best for the posing parents.

One thing, or three maybe, that a buggy absolutely does not need is knobbly tyres like those fitted to an off-road 4×4. On an offroader, knobbly tyres give better grip for better acceleration, steering, and braking. With a buggy, the person pushing does these three tasks, so the knobbles are pointless. You could have a buggy with completely bald tyres, and it would not make a shred of difference. If you go for a country stroll, the knobblies may even be a disadvantage, since they will choke with mud and make the whole thing more difficult to push.

I said ‘three’ advisedly. In classic less is more, three wheels are all that are needed. Geometry tells us that three points are needed to define a plane, so a three wheeled device will have all its wheels on the ground no matter what. You can buy four wheel buggies, but there’s no guarantee that all the wheels will be on the ground at the same time. Think milking stools. Same principle. How many four legged pub tables have you encountered where you had to wedge one leg with a beer mat to stop it wobbling? Never a problem with three legs, is there?

There has been a lot of research that shows babies are happier and more contented in buggies where they travel backwards and can see a face they know. I’m not surprised at these results, though I am surprised that the research was thought necessary and actually carried out. It’s bloody obvious to even the meanest of intelligence.

Also, do not be fooled into thinking that a high price comes with high quality. Not that long ago, McLaren, the Ferrari of the status buggy world, had to recall thousands of their buggies when a design flaw in the frame locks was shown to make them defective.

A codicil. I saw a consumer report in the i the other day, about the best high chairs. One rolled in at a colossal £369. The reviewer mentioned it as expensive, but stated in mitigation that it was adjustable for children up to the age of seven. When I was aged less than four I would sit at a table in the prescribed manner. You could save some money by acknowledging that, in the absence of any true disability, your little darling should, by the age of seven, have learned to handle a knife and fork, and be able to eat off a plate not out of a bowl. Lunacy.

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