Does my newborn need a carrycot/lie-flat pram?
For the first few months of their life, babies need to lie flat as much as possible. This is because their lungs are still developing, and fast, and being in a lie flat position enables their lungs to develop properly.
Being in a lie flat position, as opposed to being braced in a more upright position or restricted by a bucket style car seat, also helps your baby to breathe better, getting more oxygen into their lungs. When lying flat, your baby is not constricted, which improves oxygen saturation in their bloodstream.
A study carried out at Bristol University indicated that a baby seat with a 40-degree incline, such as a car seat, “leads to significantly increased heart and respiratory rates, and decreased oxygen saturation”. When putting a baby in a lie flat position, no comparative negative effects were recorded.
Obviously, safety is paramount when transporting your baby and should be prioritised, so a car seat must be used when travelling in a car. But it is best practice to keep your baby’s time in a car seat to a minimum. We would suggest following the ‘2-hour rule’, keeping your baby’s time in a car seat to a maximum of 2 hours at a time.
The lie flat position is also best for the development of babies’ spine, hips, and various other body parts. Being in a more upright position constricts the baby and restricts external rotation and abduction of the hips, which can compromise the natural development of the hips and spine.
When is the right time to put my baby in a seat unit?
The right time to put your baby in the seat unit of a stroller will depend on the type of seat it has. If your pushchair has a seat unit that can be adjusted to a lie flat position or has a carrycot attachment, then you can put your baby in it from birth (in the lie flat position only). If your pushchair does not have a lie flat position, like a bucket style, L-shaped seat stroller, then you should use a compatible carrycot or use a lie-flat pram to enable your newborn to lie flat.
Carrycots are often considered the best option when using a stroller, as they provide a more comfortable experience and allow you to easily transition a sleeping baby from pushchair to home, although many adjustable seats also come with padded cocoons that you can attach to the seat. Cocoons are typically slightly smaller and narrower in size compared to carrycots and can be a good, snug option for the colder months. A carrycot is great because it allows your baby to sleep anywhere and many modern carrycots can easily be attached and removed from their pushchairs, making life that much easier.
A baby should only be put into a seat unit in a more upright seated position when it is able to sit up and hold their head up by themselves. This is usually between 4 and 6 months, depending on the individual child – every child develops at a different rate so make sure you are led by your baby and only put them in an upright position when they are clearly ready.
Putting a baby in a more upright position before they are able to hold themselves up without help can put strain on their growing muscles that can have a detrimental effect to their development and could possibly lead to health concerns in the future.
Should I buy a pushchair with a carrycot or a lie-flat pram?
As long as the pushchair you purchase has an option that allows your baby to be in the lie flat position until they’re able to hold themselves up then it is really down to personal preference and possibly budget.
Lie-flat prams are great because they are usually designed for optimal comfort for baby and often come with plenty of protection from the elements, such as a sun visor with UV protection and rain covers etc. But the drawback with a lie-flat pram is that you will only be able to use it for a limited period of time as they are only designed to be used while the baby needs to remain lying down.
A pushchair with a carrycot attachment, such as the Stargazer Travel System, will normally last you a lot longer – until your child reaches 5 or 6 years of age (or 22kg), which is usually well past when your child needs to be in it very often. A full travel system with a carrycot attachment will also enable you to use it straight from the hospital as they normally come with everything you would need, including car seat, ISOfix base, changing bag, carrycot, and often more. It can be more cost efficient to purchase a travel system for this very reason as it normally costs more to purchase items individually, such as a separate lie-flat pram and car seat and then a pushchair and other attachments and accessories when your baby is a little older.
If you’re considering a full travel system, check out the full range of didofy travel systems.