With a new baby comes a lot of kit – at vastly varying prices. The sky really is the limit when it comes to baby accessories, but as most of us are on a budget, it’s important to do your research and spend wisely when it comes to the big items.
What is a travel system?
A travel system is basically everything you need to transport your baby from birth to the age of about three. Gavan Costello of Baby Elegance, an Irish company that won the maternity & infant award in 2014 for Best Travel System for its innovative Beep Twist product, explains further: “A travel system is a pushchair frame that you can easily fit other parts to. This normally consists of a seat unit (toddler seat), carrycot and car seat. This has great advantages over a normal stroller as you can leave baby to sleep in the car seat or carrycot while on the go without disturbing them. The seat unit is normally forward- and rearward facing, which allows you to have baby face you and also turn it to forward facing when it’s time to explore.”
Are they worth the investment?
When it comes to new baby purchases, a travel system tends to be one of the most spendy – but it’s worth it. “The reason a travel system is more expensive than a pushchair is that you get a lot more with it,” Gavan explains. “The frame is normally designed to a higher quality than a pushchair. They can include a carrycot, which in some cases is suitable for overnight sleeping and naps, and is brilliant for on the go with baby to enable them to lie perfectly flat – the perfect position for a newborn. As your baby gets bigger, you can swap the carrycot for the (included) seat unit, which is usually suitable from six months up to 15kg. A travel system will also normally come with an infant
carrier car seat that is suitable from 0-13kg. “If it is your first baby and you need a car seat and a pushchair then a travel system offers great value over buying them separately and in terms of usage, a travel system makes moving around with your baby very easily.”
Things to consider
If this is your first baby, the vast array of travel systems on the market can be daunting, to say the least. Thinking about what you need from a travel system, how much you have to spend and shopping around are very important. Gavan outlines some of the considerations to make when choosing your travel system: “Comfort and safety is always most important so always look for a travel system that has a carrycot or a seat unit that can go fully flat. As long as it goes flat, a seat unit will do, however a carrycot adds more comfort. “The car seat is an important one. If you want Isofix [a fitting in modern cars that makes it easy to transfer your seat to the car seat] then make sure the system you choose is compatible or has a base available. Your best way to check is to drive to your local store and they normally have someone qualified to check your car for the different options.“The frame should fold small enough for storage or to fit in the boot of the car and leave room for other things. It should also be light enough for you to carry when not in use.
“Ease of use is vital. You don’t want to be stuck in a car park messing around with adaptors and removing wheels. A system that the parts easily clip onto is vital. “After sales service – Your buggy will go through a lot of use and you need to know that the back up is there from your retailer / manufacturer if and when it’s needed.”
Do I have to spend a fortune for a decent system?
This is where shopping around really counts. Travel systems are available for any budget, so don’t be fooled into thinking you have to spend thousands in order for your baby to be safe when out and about. “Nearly all of the systems available in Ireland these days meet the EN1888 safety standards,” Gavan explains.
“These standards really put the buggies through their paces and ensure the systems are built to a high standard. There are loads of different options out there to meet any budget so be sure to shop around for one that meets your needs and budget.”
What about secondhand?
While buying secondhand is a great way of getting good-quality baby equipment at an affordable
price, unless you’re absolutely sure about the history of your travel system, this might be one purchase that you might want to buy new. “Although buying secondhand might save you money in the short term, you may find it more expensive in the long run,” says Gavan.
“Firstly I would never recommend buying a car seat second hand as you don’t know if the seat has been involved in an accident or not. [The RSA always recommends buying a new carseat for the same reason]. Then, you might find that the car seat is more expensive when bought separately. “You also don’t know how the system was used previously and if it was looked after.
When buying a secondhand car you have a mechanic look it over – but with a travel system, that’s not going to happen. Buggies that are not looked after can in time have issues with the wheel bearings and adaptors etc. Most brands come with a manufacturer’s warranty; however, this is normally used up by the time the second user has bought it and having these parts changed can be expensive.”