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Trying to persuade friend not to bother with a travel system but dont really know why - help please!

(35 Posts)
Enid Thu 20-Mar-03 08:59:11

A friend of mine, due in June, has asked for advice about buying a pram/pushchair/buggy. I warned her off buying a travel system but can't really explain why - can anyone help with good reasons why she shouldnt bother? Personally I feel that they often have very bulky buggies and you would end up buying a lighterweight one at 6 months anyway, and the seemingly attractive feature of clipping the car seat into the chassis actually isnt that useful - at least after the first few months.

My recommendation is to borrow a lie-flat pram/pushchair, then a Maclaren Techno and sling combo.

Still, she's had the travel system demo-ed in John Lewis and is keen. What do you all think?

eidsvold Thu 20-Mar-03 09:03:40

We bought a travel system - graco.. It has been invaluable. Both our cars have the bases ( purchased separate ) but it makes it easy just to clip her seat in and know it is in right each time. Our pram is brilliant and although we also have a lightweight buggy, the pram is preferable a lot of the time - reason being it is easier to have her up high and be able to see her than have her in a buggy where you can't see her face and the front of her. It also helps having her up high ( car seat clipped into pram) when walking along the road as she is higher up from exhaust fumes. Ours was also on sale - somewhat persuasive.

The fact that she was a small baby and still quite small for her age is probably helpful. She is almost 8 months and still in a stage 0+ car seat.

I think it is down to personal choice.

mum2toby Thu 20-Mar-03 09:11:19

I bought a Britax Solo Travel System and thought it was wonderful. However, when ds was 8mths old one whole side of it buckled and the metal axel (sp?) snapped!!! It was only guaranteed for 6 mths even though I saw this as a manufacturing fault!

It was purchased from Argos and they said if I wanted it fixed I would have to package it MYSELF and post it down to England!!!!!!

I phoned Britax and they said the same and also that I would have to foot the bill which could be any amount coz he hadn't seen the damage yet!!

That was a year ago and the buggy has been in the garage ever since. I was extremely pi$$ed off with the service I received. That buggy was supposed to do until ds was 3 years old and we got 8mths out of it!!!!!!!

If that isn't a good enough reason for her, I don't know what is!! But then again, that's just my horror story.... apart from that, I think they're a great concept.

Gem13 Thu 20-Mar-03 09:14:25

I was told that you shouldn't keep the baby in a car seat for more than 2 hours as it's bad for their spine development. Before I had DS 2 hours sounded like a huge amount of time and I couldn't imagine that he would be asleep for that length of time. But... after having him and a few longish trips in the car (50 mins, 90 mins.) I could see that transferring the car seat to the chassis would mean he'd be in the car seat for more than 2 hours.

We bought a pram (a carrycot on a 3 wheeler chassis) and I really liked it. I could see DS the whole time, he was flat and he was higher than car exhausts (which he'd have been close to if he'd been in a lie back buggy).

He has been a good sleeper since the early days but only really slept well in his pram or cot. He now has long naps in his cot, he very rarely sleeps in his buggy. I tend to think that this initial introduction to being flat encouraged this.

If I was encouraging a friend, I would advise looking at something like the Maxi system (speedi, dreami, etc. really irritating names) and not bother with the whole car seat attachment thing.

Thinking back, another thing against car seats... my DS was also a summer baby (July) and when he was very young he used to get hot and sweaty in his car seat (something to do with the padding?) so it was good to be able to get him out if it.


Katherine Thu 20-Mar-03 09:15:32

I agree with you Enid - after loads of agonising we thought we were making the right choice with a mammas and pappas travel system but i was only used of a few months then shoved in the loft and replaced with a 3 wheeler and a cheap buggy for in town. The reason was that the chassis was too big and bulky to steer easily, totally impossible in the shops (I just used a sling) and too big to get in the car without a battle.

We have used the car seat for both our children but hate it as it has these annoying bits which stick out to click it to the chassis and although they are menat to fold away, they seem to pop out and scratch your legs when carrying it.

I just don't think it was worth the money. The whole idea is that it is flexible enough to cope with anything but once you've tried getting round the shops you hate it. I think people like the idea of being able to move the baby around without disturbing them but new babies tend to sleep through everything anyway.

Tell you friend to get a cheap buggy instead. Much more useful.

mum2toby Thu 20-Mar-03 09:17:06

I heard something about damaging their spines too. Does anyone have any info regarding this? Surely if it damaged their spines then reputable companies wouldn't manufacture them, or perhaps they would put a warning on them??

elliott Thu 20-Mar-03 09:23:51

One of the reasons I didn't get a travel system was that I read the Which report on car seats, which basically said a lot of them weren't up to much. I thought it was more important to get a car seat that was safe.
But it also depends on lifestyle - if you frequently want to drive and then use the pram, I can see the travel system would be really useful. I rarely drove anywhere where I wanted to be using the pram afterwards, so it wouldn't have been much use to me.

sinclair Thu 20-Mar-03 10:30:50

Yes to echo Elliott it's all about lifestyle. if like us she lives in the city and walk or use public transport to get about your friend will save a ton of money with a sling and a good buggy that you can use from 3 months. Less kit in the house, lighter weight etc too. You can always borrow a pram/pushchair that lies flat for when MIL comes to stay! If she is likely to be out and about in the car I think it is less clearcut. Or she could buy it secondhand - and sell on if it doesn't suit.

bells2 Thu 20-Mar-03 14:03:45

I really liked being able to look at my babies as I walked but that is the only single thing I would say in favour of travel systems. Overall I found ours too bulky and it was a faff having to unclip the seat before folding.

I have been through a number of buggies and the 3 wheeler Mountain Buggy is far and away the best. I was so prejudiced against three wheelers to start with and I inherited mine from my SIL. If I had my time again, it's the only buggy I would have ever had. They are great for the tube because the tyres make it easy to bounce down stairs, always a delight to push and you really can take them over any terrain. It is so handy being able to manoeuvre them with one hand and the folding action is very simple. I just wish I'd had one earlier.

suedonim Thu 20-Mar-03 14:05:38

What about one of the new carry-cot travel systems as an alternative to the car seat system? I've been told there is some research about the restriction of breathing of premature/tiny babies in car seats as well as back problems but whether it stands up to scrutiny, I don't know. Maybe a websearch would find the data.

I always liked to use a bigger pram and put off using a lightweight buggy for as long as possible - it's horses-for-courses and also it's hard to tell until you actually do the road trials! It's a pity you can't rent different systems, to see which you like best before you buy.

lucy123 Thu 20-Mar-03 14:08:40

Enid I think you are right. I had a pram/pushchair (and still do, even though it is bulky), and I think dd looked much more comfortable than all the babies i saw in car-seat/pushchair combos. I would mention the spine thing to your friend (babies shouldn't be in car seats for more than two hours) and the fact that a proper pram gets you much more attention in shops (good attention that is, people smiling etc.)

Bozza Thu 20-Mar-03 14:24:04

But doesn't the pushchair part of a travel system lay flat - so you could put the baby in that if worried about too long in the car seat.

I think I'm in a minority because I don't regret buying my Graco travel system and still use the push chair on occasion. DS is 2. OK we eventually got a daytripper but would have done that I think whatever pram we started off with.

Bozza Thu 20-Mar-03 14:27:37

Also recently I have seen some really quite small babies in pushchairs like the daytripper (which only reclines a little and is from 6 months I think) and they have looked quite uncomfortable. The last time was at B&Q so I'm guessing they had probably driven there and couldn't be bothered to put in the big pram or couldn't fit it in.

Does your friend drive Enid? And if so what size is her car?

lucy123 Thu 20-Mar-03 14:30:34

Bozza - the pushchair section does lie flat, but I do have one of these (I think I have a travel system without the car seat - it was second hand) and it's still not as good as a pram.

But anyway, if you use the pushchairr all the time, doesn't that make having a whole travel system a bit pointless? The car size would make a huge difference though - my pram is enormous.

Bozza Thu 20-Mar-03 14:41:17

I didn't explain myself very well Lucy123. I thought maybe you could use the carseat bit if you went to a shopping centre or something and then just the pushchair if you went out for a walk locally - which would then reduce the time in the carseat. I did both when DS was tiny. I had a Ford Ka when he was born and could fit the Graco in the boot by setting the back seats to upright and taking out the parcel shelf. As you can imagine no other pram would have got near so agree with you on the relevence of this.

Marina Thu 20-Mar-03 14:44:07

I'd agree with you, Enid. We did not go the travel system route because at the time ds1 was born we were in a second floor flat and had been given a Rock-a-Tot already. My misgivings were about bulkiness and lack of manoeuvrability, also personally did not care for the plastic look of the systems available then (last century ), but mainly for the wellbeing of a small baby's back. We had a lie-flat McLaren Opus and it did us nearly 2 years of continuous pavement pounding/stair bashing etc. It had an optional extra cosytoes/headhugger and ds1 was always well-padded and snug. We also used the sling a lot. Gem13's point about rigid plastic making small babies sweat a lot is a really good one, too.

Flick Thu 20-Mar-03 14:51:46

I love my gesslein travel system although never put the car seat onto it. In fact the car seat almost always stayed in the car until it was replaced by a forward facing one! Apart from that, its a great pram/pushchair.....I have also bought a Maclaren Volo for use on public transport and when shopping - think its really useful to have a lightweight option.

Flick Thu 20-Mar-03 15:08:52

I love my gesslein travel system although never put the car seat onto it. In fact the car seat almost always stayed in the car until it was replaced by a forward facing one! Apart from that, its a great pram/pushchair.....I have also bought a Maclaren Volo for use on public transport and when shopping - think its really useful to have a lightweight option.

anto Thu 20-Mar-03 20:33:06

I had a M&P travel system. It weighed a ton and it was such a hassle to put the chassis in the boot (barely even fitted in our Golf). I have also read lots of info lately on how in the US they are now suggesting that babies are only left in car seats for 30 mins as it can cause spinal probs - a lot less than the 2 hrs manufacturers here suggest. I ended up buying a stroller when dd was 5 months old - felt she was a bit small before that.

Now I am pregnant again and the whole pram/pushchair dilemma is rearing its ugly head. My dd is 2.5yrs but will not walk far, especially not home from the park, library, gym class or anywhere else she's been running round or otherwise exerting myself. I don't want a double buggy but don't know how I will manage once no.2 is too big for a sling.

What I really regret is not buying an Emmaljunga or Bertini pram for dd. Both of these will take a toddler seat that clips securely on top of the pram, allowing a baby to sleep flat in the pram and a toddler to sit up on top. However, the pram is no longer or bulkier than without the toddler seat (although it's obviously heavier). We live right by a park and I see a few women with these and am always jealous. Wish I'd had the foresight to realize one day I'd be having another baby and to have factored that in when deciding what sort of pram/pushchair/buggy to buy first time round.

Lindy Thu 20-Mar-03 21:20:42

You only have to look at the second hand ads at 'hardly used travel systems' to realise that many people think they are a complete waste of time/money/space (not everyone I appreciate) - we borrowed one &, perhaps we are thick, but you seemed to need a degee in engineering to put it all together ......... I think we used it once.

We live in a very rural area (ie: any push chair is a pain!!) but I needed a 'three wheeler' type for country walks and a cheepo buggy for shopping, plus a sling in the early days, and separate car seat of course (we were able to use the one from the travel system initially).

My personal view is that an awful lot of 'essential' baby equipment is pure marketing hype - whatever happened to that useful thread 'things you wished you hadn't bought' - I haven't seen it for ages.

Pimpernel Thu 20-Mar-03 22:03:52

I've got a Britax Practicale Sport pushchair which lies flat - it's described as a travel system sometimes because the Rock-a-tot car seat clips directly onto the chassis. I do find it a useful feature, but I wouldn't say it was essential. dd is 4mo, so it may not be useful for much longer anyway.

zebra Fri 21-Mar-03 05:18:52

From what I read the travel system idea tries to do too much - so you end up with a so-so pram, a so-so pushchair, a so-so carseat. Whereas, You can get a very good carseat, pushchair or pram by buying all those things separately, and for the same if not less money!

That said I ended up with a travsystem with 2nd baby and it was very useful to move her sleeping on/off the buggy -- but only because I had a full grown toddler to take my attentions, too.

Crunchie Fri 21-Mar-03 09:59:07

I had a Graco travel system which I loved to death. Unlike some you don't have a separate chasis, pram seat thing and car seat. The chassis and the pram/pushchair are one item and teh car seat fits on top. For £200 it worked great for us, the shopping basket was much much bigger than a buggy, and since we tend to go out in the car and then walk, it was practical for us. We don't use public transport really.

So saying when no2 arrived we used the travel system for a while, as the 2 yr old could stand on the basket if necessary (!) and then bought a buggy. I love the buggy (Maclaren daytripper) but to start with I felt the travel system was better as a lie flat pram. I switched between both, if we were going to be out all day I'd use the pram - better stage etc. Until at about 12 months I retired it. I felt it had had 3 yrs of very good use, and so my vote would be for a Graco every time. I think the M&P travel systems are v expensive and less practical.

BigBird Fri 21-Mar-03 10:13:16

Agree with Bozza and Crunchie really - we have the Graco Metrosport TS and LOVE IT !!!!!

It is a fairly light buggy compared to other TS buggies. It is no more difficult to open and close than the quest we bought when dd was 9 months (mainly cos we were going on hols). DD is now 15 months and I use the Graco buggy for long walks as it's sturdier and I use the Quest for shopping centres/Town. I reckon I'll still use the Graco buggy when she is 2.

The thing about the car seats is really a problem if you leave your baby sleep in them all the time, every day. I mean the odd day trip out where they spend time in the car and then clipped to the buggy does no harm at all, its when you use the car seat for most naps that it can become a problem so we were just careful to have naps in the cot when we were home.

I must say I found it invaluable. It was great for hopping in and out of the car going visiting/shopping etc. and VERY PORTABLE to different cars like my DH's and sisters and mums.

I would just offer your opinion to your friend but at the end of the day its personal choice so she should go with what she feels is right. You're right in saying she will probably end up buying a lighter buggy anyway - but doesn't everyone ??! (unless you go for something like a techno from birth but I agree with the post that said tiny babies look ver uncomfortable in these).

slug Fri 21-Mar-03 14:01:59

Mum2Toby, it's probably a bit late now but Argos have the responsibility as the retailer to return damaged goods. Don't let them fob you off with that one, it's a time honoured way of passing the buck. See the WHICH website to back this up.

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