What is a travel system, when should you buy one, and which one is right for you and your baby?
A travel system is a type of pushchair that is compatible with a rear-facing car seat and usually a carrycot. The car seat and carrycot can both click in and out of the pushchair, which can be handy when you have a sleeping baby who you don’t want to wake.
Here some key factors that you should consider when finding the travel system for you.
We can’t say enough about the importance of a travel system designed for light handling and manoeuvrability. It’ll play a big part in your buggy experience. When trying out buggies in store, test how easy it is to manoeuvre one handed (essential for multi-tasking!) and getting around narrow shop aisles and displays. Some buggies offer superior kerb pop – which is the ability to get over kerbs without the need to apply a lot of pressure to the handle to bring the front wheels up. Good kerb pop will mean that you barely need to slow down to get over a kerb. Ask in store if they have a weight to put in the buggy and then see how easy it is to ‘pop’ the front wheels up.
When pregnant with your first child it is often difficult to think past the one child however if you’re planning to have more children, consider a buggy that can adapt to take a second child. Inline buggies offer great longevity because they can be used as a single, and then have a second seat added at a later stage. Some buggies other the ability to use the second seat as a parent facing seat option, giving you two uses for one accessory and a reason to buy the second seat right away. Some double side-by-side buggies offer the ability to replace one seat with a carry bag so it can be used as a single buggy with plenty of storage. Thinking about your family’s future growth at this stage will save you having to buy another buggy later on.
As baby grows, the gear you need to get out and about will change. There are many options to allow you to adapt your buggy to meet your changing needs. Consider whether you want to be able to use your buggy as a travel system with a car seat capsule, do you want carrycot, do you want to have a parent facing seat option, do you want the ability to take 1 or 2 children and do you need a scooter board attachment for a toddler? Choose a brand that enables you to adapt your buggy as your needs change and you’ll get much more use out of your buggy because it fits in with your lifestyle.
Be realistic about what you plan to use the buggy for. If you weren’t a runner before baby, you’re unlikely to become one after so don’t make this your number one consideration. If you plan to do a lot of walking, then choose a buggy that is suitable for multi terrains. If you will be catching public transport, consider something compact, lightweight and easy to fold quickly.
Weight of the buggy
Buggies come in different weights depending on what they’ve been designed to do. For example, a fully featured buggy that can handle multi terrains or take more than one child can be up to 13kgs, whereas a travel buggy can be as light as 6kgs. The less functionality that the buggy offers the lighter it will be. You’ll need to weigh up functionality vs weight to determine what you’re happy to live with. Consider how high your car is because you’ll need to lift the folded buggy into the boot. A well designed fully featured buggy will still be light to push and manoeuvre around shopping aisles and over kerbs.
Whoever said that size doesn’t matter has obviously never pushed around a buggy! Selecting the size of buggy that suits your lifestyle is key. For example, if you live in the city, regularly catch public transport, plan to do a lot of shopping or have limited storage space, you will want something that is compact and slim line. You also need to consider the size of your car boot. There’s nothing worse than struggling to get your buggy in your boot while a car sits impatiently behind you waiting for you to vacate your parking spot. We recommend testing the ‘boot fit’ at your local retailer to make sure it fits in with ease. If you plan to travel a lot, consider getting a compact buggy that doesn’t take up a lot of space in your car and doesn’t feel too cumbersome to deal with at an airport.
As all new parents soon discover, babies have a lot of gear! A decent sized parcel tray that is easily accessible is essential for popping in your chocka baby bag and your shopping.
Care & maintenance
Anything with moving parts needs some tender loving care to keep it in good working order and buggies are no exception. Read the instructions to find out how to keep your buggy in the best working condition. It’s as simple as keeping the tyres pumped (essential for a smooth ride but don’t over inflate them) and lubricate the brakes every so often. Some buggies now come with solid wheels that don’t require air. This type of wheel is low maintenance and puncture-proof.
It’s easy to get carried away with the look of a buggy however you need to ensure it can handle your environment. For example something that looks like it just hopped off a fashion runway with tiny wheels may not fare well on a farm. Many buggies offer a simple foundation with accessories available to personalise and create something that represents your style. Retaining a sense of self with a new baby is important however being practical will make your buggy experience much more enjoyable. Colour matching your baby bag and buggy may be fun but it shouldn’t be at the top of your list of ‘must have’ features.
All buggies fold differently and some are more intuitive than others. Try it instore with the help of a shop assistant. The key thing is to practice before you take your buggy out for the first time so you don’t get stuck with a buggy that you can’t fold. Buggy brands will often have instructional videos on their websites to guide you as you practice. Encourage your partner to learn as well!