With you every step (and pedal).
Babies are expensive things, aren't they? Obviously, the child itself is free to make, but all the kit they require from day one is pretty costly, least of all the buggy. The trouble is, that as you baby grows, all that stuff needs to be replaced with bigger stuff. If only there was a product that packed five whole stages of a child's development into one affordable package. Well slap our sleep-deprived faces... there is! We test the smarTrike Explorer.
This handy 5-in-1 tricycle can accommodate a wee sprog from the age of ten months, all the way to up 36 months (or three years old, as non-parents call it). It does this by being cleverly adjustable to change from a grown-up-powered buggy to a toddler-powered trike with just a few clicks and twists. Add to that a good amount of storage (for both parent and baby) right the way to the final stage, and this is an extremely attractive bit of kit. Check out this video, featuring really annoying presenters:
Starting off with your gorgeous little ten moth old (and she is gorgeous; no matter what your mum said on Facebook about her) you can pop them in the seat, fasten up the seat belts and lock in the safety bar, and then recline it nearly all the way back. At this stage the smarTrike Explorer is basically a weird looking pushchair, as the handle bars and pedal of the trike are defunct.
Stage two is simply about locking the seat upright all the time, so the wee one can get a better view and get used to having the handle bars in front of them. Stage three, for kids now 18 months and older, sees the sunshade removed and the back rest taken out, making the smarTrike Explorer that little bit closer to an actual trike of their own. Mum and dad are still pushing at this point, by the way.
The fourth stage, for two year olds, sees the footrest removed and the pedals deployed. Now we're taking! A button is pressed which essentially turns the control of the trike over to the child, although it is recommended that parents still lend a bit of help by pushing. And, from 30-36 months of age, the parent handle on the back is removed (they grow up so damn fast, don't they?) and the sprog is free to ride and steer themselves. It is at this point that they ride out and get a job, to contribute to the cost of all the stuff they still need. We assume.
In use, the transitions happen very fluidly, and there is nothing too jarring about the way it changes. Certainly the age guide is recommended by smarTrike, but we found ourselves (and our many collective children) playing it by ear as to what stage each child preferred. Hitting the big red button which gives the child pedal-power seemed to be warranted earlier on some children but later for others, so don't stress out about your kid not being ready for stage four when they turn two.
Writing as parents, we found it to be a pleasure to push about; due in no small part to the suspension in the wheels, and the 360 degree rotating front wheel. The littlest of the littlest enjoyed their ride in the comfortably reclining seat (and were not, thankfully, bothered by the chunky chest straps), while the older kids found the trike seat itself to be comfortable to sit in for long periods.
Easy to put together, easy to adjust, and a very good solution to the quickly changing shape of growing kids. If you have wee baby, definitely consider this.
Available from www.smythstoys.com