02 Jul 2019
Baby carriages, prams, pushers, strollers and buggies – call them what you will, babies’ first rides have come a long way. Join us on this short stroll through history
English architect William Kent invented the first baby carriage for the amusement of the children of the Duke of Devonshire. It was basically a shell-shaped basket on wheels that the children could sit in, and was intended to be pulled by a small pony, large dog or goat.
American innovator Charles Burton modified the carriage design so that it could be pushed instead of pulled. He patented the ‘perambulator’ or ‘pram’. It received a lukewarm reception in the United States but became a runaway success in England, and Queen Victoria even bought three carriages for her royal brood.
William H. Richardson patented his idea for the first reversible stroller. The bassinet could face out or in towards the parent. His design also enabled each wheel to move separately, making the carriage easier to manoeuvre.
Following World War I, prams became safer and sturdier, with larger wheels, foot brakes and lower carriages.
Rubber, plastic and chrome replaced wicker, wood and brass. Mass-manufacturing made prams fashionable and affordable.
English aeronautical engineer Owen McLaren invented the first umbrella stroller after his daughter complained about the difficulty of travelling with a child and a cumbersome, bulky pram. His compact, collapsible, lightweight stroller sold like hotcakes and an evolved version of it is still on the market today.
Phil Baechler, an American journalist and avid jogger, invented the first jogging stroller – a three-wheeled contraption with bicycle tires.
Collapsible, convertible, multiple birth-ready, hooded, harnessed, hooked and even customised, today’s prams and strollers cover a vast spectrum of complexity and affordability. House-brands sold in reputable retail chains start from under $50 and premium deluxe brands can easily soar past the $1,000 mark. Though ‘pram envy’ is a documented cultural phenomenon, do not try and keep up with the Joneses and Tans. Keep an eye on safety and budget – and enjoy the ride!
When buying a stroller, look out for:
WHAT SORT OF STROLLER SUITS YOU AND BABY BEST?
Here is a quick list of the commonly available types of strollers on the market in Singapore. Not all are suitable for newborns.