Buying a travel system? Our buying guide has everything you need to know, helping you to make the right decision about which one to invest in.
WHAT IS A TRAVEL SYSTEM?
A travel system consists of a pushchair that is compatible with a Group 0+ car seat (which may be included or may be purchased separately) and typically also a seat component and a carrycot. It is generally suitable from birth to the age of 12 months. A car seat is easily attached and detached from the frame.
SHOULD I BUY ONE?
Convenience is the main benefit, as you can transfer your baby to and from a pushchair without removing her from her car seat. This is less disruptive for your child and saves time and stress. Infants often fall asleep in a car and a travel system means they don’t have to be disturbed, which is of huge value!
WHAT ABOUT COMPATIBILITY?
Different travel systems are compatible with different car seats, although there is some crossover. So if you’ve set your heart on a particular pushchair frame, you’ll be tied to whichever car seats it’s compatible with. Equally, if you have already bought a car seat, your choice of frames it may be compatible with will be limited. It is also essential to check that the car seat concerned can be fitted safely in your vehicle – ask the retailer or check the manufacturer’s website for a ‘fit finder’ list.
HOW DOES THE CAR SEAT ATTACH?
The car seat will either clip on top of the pushchair’s seat component or attach directly to the chassis with the seat component removed. Adapters are sometimes required to fix the car seat onto the pushchair or chassis. Check if these are included. If they aren’t, find out what the additional cost will be.
WHAT ABOUT THE PUSHCHAIR SEAT?
A travel system typically has a seat component which enables it to be used as a ‘normal’ pushchair. Many mums use the car seat clipped into the frame when their baby is very young, using the larger seat component as their little one grows. If you intend to keep your newborn in the pushchair for long periods, you will need a travel system with a fully reclining seat component. Newborns should only remain in car seats for a few hours at a time, as lying horizontally is better for their breathing and healthy spine development. Some travel systems also offer the option of a pram-style carrycot. While this adds expense, the carrycot can double as a Moses basket and portable travel cot.
WILL I USE IT AFTER THE FIRST YEAR?
Only a Group 0+ car seat will fit on the travel system, which will be outgrown at around 12-15 months. But most mums continue to use the travel system with the seat component fitted after that. For toddlers, a seat that reclines for naps is useful, but it doesn’t have to be fully horizontal. Some pushchair seats are reversible, so your baby can face you to begin with, but face outwards to get a better view of the world as she gets older.
HOW EASY IS IT TO FOLD?
All travel systems fold up so they can be stowed in a car boot. Try out the folding mechanism in the shop – your ‘tricky’ might be another person’s ‘easy’. Consider that you may sometimes need to hold your baby while you fold and unfold the chassis. You’ll also have to lift the folded pushchair chassis in and out of the car boot, so consider its weight – anything over 10kg could be a struggle.