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Folling a good experience with a Graco buggie previously and a recommendation from a friend who insisted Graco was the way forwards we decided that this was the brand for us and our new arrival, Natalie. The fact that this is one of the cheapest brands of baby products was also a major factor in our decision.
We browsed the range and chose the quattro model due to its chunky wheels mainly as we have had problems before with buggy wheels wearing out due to excess use and probably excess shopping in the basket or on the handles.
So what is so great about this buggy then? Well first of all its not just a buggy, its a travel system. this means that you get a car seat as well which sits inside the buggy or can be strapped into the car. You also get the car seat base, and although you can use the seat without this part, it can be attatched to your car permanently for the seat to clip on to.
Along with these main components you are also given a whole host of accessories. A raincover, a rucksack, a cosy toes (a bit like a sleeping bag), a head hugger (to support a very young baby's head in the car seat) and shoulder pads to stop the straps from rubbing against your childs skin.
I'll start with the buggy itself. It is, of course, a childs seat on wheels with a handle. The quattro is a luxury model however so there is a bit more to it. It has a heavily padded seat finished in a velvety soft fabric, with the areas that are most likely to get messy in a wipe-able fabric which feels slightly plasticy but not uncomfortably so.
For the parents, there is a drinks tray with a covered compartment handy for putrting keys or other small objects likely to get lost in with all the equipment us parents have to lug around everywhere with us. The child tray also has drinks compartments and a section useful for putting snacks so long as you are going over smooth ground or they all fall out.
The child tray lifts up from one side at the pull of a hidden lever making space for you to lift your child in and out easily.it then clicks back into place well. There is minimal chance of fingers getting trapped but it is advisable to remain cautious just in case. There is the usual five point harness which is fully ajustable to fit your child and keep little people safe and secure.
The seat reclines and has five positions from fully flat, suitable for newborns, to upright, which should only be used when your baby is able to support their own body. The seat is quite
easy to reposition once you have mastered the handle on the back of the seat which you pull to release the seat so it can lay down. To sit it up you simply push the seat back up until you hear both sides click into place in the desired postion.
Under the buggy is a shopping basket which has a nice drop down feature to help you get shopping in and out. It uses the same handle system as the seat back, although it is extremely fiddly until you have got used to how it works. The basket doesn't hold as much as other models in the range but it fits two or three full asda bags in which suits me fine. The mesh sides help you to see anything you need to get out, although this is a standard feature on most buggies I believe.
The hood of the buggy has a mesh panel that allows you to see your child, although this is most useful when using the carseat. it can be zipped shut in light rain for example to protect your child, or equally in bright sunshine. The sides of the hood are clear plastic giving your little one the ability to see through it and not miss any interesting things happening around the sides.
The back of the buggy is protected from the weather by a fabric panel which is attached to both the top of the seat and the hood, making it enclosed from the wind even when fully reclined. The panel which is situated behind the childs legs which is dark grey/black in the ciao picture can also be lifted up and secured under the child tray providing further enclosure for a small baby. In strong wind or rain you must use the rain cover which is included and can be used with or without the car seat attached.
To fold the buggy you pull a small lever with your thumb and twist the plastic part in the middle of the handle away from you. You can see this in the picture, it is light grey in colour. It is very easy to do, and then you simply push the handle away from you over the top of the buggy and it all folds into place. You can fold the buggy with the seat in any position and the shopping basket up or down, and the clever system folds it into the desired position for you. This is handy when you need to fold the thing in a rush.
The folded size is very much a let down. The buggy when unfold is rather bulky, although it feels sturdy and safe father than difficult to manouver.when folded it retains its large size and is surprisingly heavy for a pushchair. It has trouble fitting into car boots as well and has to be put in a certain way even in a peugeot 406. If yuo have a small car do check before you buy that it will go in the boot.
The car seat, as I said before, can be attached to the buggy. This is useful if you want to move your baby from the car to the buggy without having to disturb their sleep. I don't own a car but the car seat was useful for using around the home as it is smaller than most baby chairs and fairly easy to carry. It is very cosy and when placed in the buggy, after clicking into place and being secured further by clips on either side, it provides a snuggly environment for your child. With the carseat in and the hood over the baby is fully protected from the lements and it stays pretty cool in there even on hot summer days, should be lucky enough to see one.
The car seat has its own fabric hood and although it is much more flimsy than the one on the buggy, it is sufficient for keeping bright lights out of baby's eyes. The seat can be secured into the car by wrapping the shoulder part of the seat belt around the back of it and the lap part across the front of it. There are plasitc hooks to keep the straps in place and a level indicator to make sure the chair is positioned correctly. It is somewhat fiddly to install but not too difficult. The three point harness can be adjusted with one pull to fit your baby snuggly and safely.
The car seat base I can't comment on much as we don't have a car so ours hasn't been used. the purpose of it is to remain in the car secured by the seatbelt so that you can simply click the car seat onto it and back off it in seconds, and not have to fiddle about with the seatbelt. A freind told me that it was too fiddly and slipped about in her car, althuogh I haven't experienced it myself so i can't say if this is due to bad installation or a bad product.
The car seat cover, buggy seat cover and cosy toes are all removable and fully washable although I can't remember what the instructions were, I don't think you can tumble dry them. the fabrics dry out very quickly hanging on the back of a chair for example and are ready to use again in a couple of hours after washing.
The rucksack included is in coordinating fabric and has compartments for bottles, creams and a plastic bag on a string inside so you can store soiled nappies or clothes and find them easily. It is very handy for keeping all your baby equipment in order and I have found it to be a godsend as I wouldn't have bought a changing bag otherwise, just stuffed it all into my handbag.
The buggy is very easy to push around despite its large size and privides a smooth comfy ride on many surfaces due to its cushioned seats, suspension and large wheels. The front wheels are swivel or can lock straight which is brilliant when rocking your baby back and forward to sleep. The weight doesn't affect its manouverability and it is easier to push than some others I have encountered. It is very heavy to carry when folded though which is the main downside. I can't imagine folding it to get on a bus, although buses in my area are buggy friendly so this is not an issue for me.
The buggy is the most most expensive in the graco range at £220 when I bought it around six months ago. This is not including the deluxe model which is more expensive and includes a pram insert which i don't fully understand, sorry! It is still a relatively cheap buggy in comparison with the offerings of similar specification from other brands.
Due to the sheer size of the buggy it may not be suitable for people who use public transport a lot or those with small car boots, but if these are not an issue then I would recommend this buggy wholeheartedly. It is very sturdy and feels safe and secure for your little one. It is easy to push. It has neat storage space. It is really comfy. It washes well. The wheels don't wear out if you use it regularly. The only fault is the size and weight when folded.
Points to note, the car seat is for babies u pto the age of around 9 months. The buggy can be used up to age approximately four. The guarantee (sorry forgotten how long its for) is void if you use a buggy board. I do however use my buggy board, although you have to get the kiddy version for prams with axels. The child stands on the board and their head will be just below the handle of the buggy. My two year old (2 yrs 4 months) is now too tall for the board as her head hits the handle when going up and down kerbs. This is another point worth noting for parents with toddlers considering this buggy.
I am very pleased with my purchase and believe that it was worth every penny. My baby has been very happy in it so far and my two year old prefer it to her previous buggy, the graco mirage. I have used the buggy with the car seat and without, sitting upright and reclined, in boiling sun aand pouring rain, and my children have been very comfy in it at alll times (my baby ses the buggy most often but my to year old has also been in it on occasion).
The age group is inaccurate as ciao made me choose one. the buggy is suitable from birth to around four years.