What's available in Finland
At the top of the line we found Emmaljunga. This Swedish brand builds baby carriages like they used to build Volvo's. They are sturdy, big and heavy carriages - specifically suited for the cold Nordic climate with thick insulation. The design is stylish, but not necessarily modern.
Also at the higher end of the market is the German brand Teutonia. These seem to be particularly popular with the well-to-do in the Helsinki area. They look robust, but are quite low. This means that every time you need to interact with the baby, you'll have to bend down quite far. Especially for Peanut's dad, who is rather tall, this is not desirable.
At the lower end of the market you'll find Brio and various Italian and Polish brands. The construction quality looks shotty and especially for the Italian models it looks like the design hasn't changed significantly in the last 50 years or so.
What we want and got:
On a visit to the Netherlands, a new world opened... In the Netherlands they have some of the coolest baby carriages. After we came back, we decided we wanted the following from a baby carriage:
- Good build quality - you'll use it for 2-3 years.
- Small transport size - so it fits in the back of the car
- Light weight - you'll have to lift it frequently
- Maneuverable - city shops have narrow aisles
- Four big wheels - needed to plow through the snow
- Height adjustable - Peanut's dad is much taller than her mom
- Nice looking - There are 13 dark blue baby carriages in a dozen
Finally, we ended up going for a Mutsy Urban Rider. It met almost all of our requirements. Fortunately, Peanut's grandparents live in The Netherlands and they offered to buy one as a present and ship in to Finland. Thanks! If you plan to pick one up - you can get them from Prenatal. I have also left this as a tip at Bambami - so maybe they will start importing them.
Some lessons we learned:
Especially in cities and shops, you'll want something that is maneuverable. Most models on the market in Finland have four fixed wheels. They wont steer unless you lift two wheels of the ground. Especially with heavier carriages and when the child gets heavier this can become a real back-breaker. We recommend you go for something that has a lockable steering mechanism so you can choose between directional stability and maneuverability based on where you are. That is of course assuming you can get it here.
Choice of wheel configuration
Three-wheeled carriages are trendy, but can suffer some stability problems. They can tip over to front left or front right when hitting an obstacle. There are carriages that have four wheels in the three-wheeler configuration. The two front wheels are positioned close to eachother.
These carriages look really cool, but in a country with snow 6 months a year they make you work hard. When riding through the snow every one of the three or four wheels is forming a path. This is done with the energy you put into pushing the carriage.
So, we believe that four wheels with the distance between the wheels in the front being equal to the distance between the wheels in the back is the best choice for Finland. This allows the rear wheels to ride in the path that the front wheels have already created - saving you energy and back-pain.
Four big wheels will probably cope better with snow and mud as we have here often. For longer distances, bigger wheels create less drag, so take less effort to roll.
Peanut's dad is much taller than her mom and quite tall by any standard anyway. So we were specifically looking for a baby carriage that has an adjustable handlebar. If the handlebar is too low, a tall person will suffer back pain from having to walk and push while bending down. If the handlebar is too high, a shorter person will not be able to control the carriage well.
Most carriages on the market here solve this problem with a knee-like joint in the handlebar. With this you can adjust the height by swivelling the last part of the handlebar up or down. This is bad design if you are tall. Swivelling up will bring the handlebar up higher, but will also bring it closer to the carriage (circle geometry). You will be kicking the carriage all the time. Better is to have a handlebar that extends with two pipes sliding over / into eachother. In Finland we have only seen this on the Emmaljunga.
We believe we have done a thorough analysis of the situation and that we we made the choice that was best for us. Have a look at what is important for you before you make your choice on looks only. Budget may be a serious constraint though. Expect to pay in the 700 to 900 euro range for the higher end models and 300 to 500 for low-end.