A baby travel system is one of the first things new parents tend to put on their baby gift registry. The color, stroller style, and price draw shoppers in, but there's so much more to choosing the best travel system!
What Is a Travel System?
Travel systems, which are pre-packaged sets that include a stroller, infant car seat, and a stay-in-car base, come in a wide variety of styles and prices. They're not all equal in terms of quality or long-term usefulness, though.
The infant car seat has... a handle that allows it to be used as an infant carrier. The car seat base can be seat-belted into a vehicle, then the car seat snaps onto the base for travel, making it easier for the parent to move baby from car to destination all while strapped into the same carrier.
The travel system is particularly handy for sleeping infants since it eliminates the need to actually remove the sleeping baby from the car seat. The car seat also snaps onto the travel system stroller frame for added convenience.
Safety Considerations: It's Not a Crib
Be aware that leaving your baby in the car seat for too long at a time can result in flat spots on baby's head. Don't take the convenience of being able to leave a baby in the car seat too far!
Babies shouldn't use their car seat as a bed, either. The movement of the infant car seat, whether it's in the travel system stroller or in a car, can be almost magical when it comes to putting a baby to sleep. However, the coroner who investigated the death of a 2-month-old boy says leaving infants in their car seats for hours puts them at risk for death by asphyxiation. Small babies don't have the strength to hold their heads up straight, even when sitting in a reclined position. That makes it easy for their airways to be blocked, Quebec Coroner Jacques Robinson said. The little boy died after spending the night inside his car seat, which was placed inside his crib. His mother checked on him just an hour before he was found not breathing.
Infant car seats are not designed to be used as cribs, or for extended amounts of time. Robinson suggests that parents limit infants to a couple of hours of sleep in a car seat at a time, and never overnight.
Which Travel System Is Best for You and Baby?
Where you'll stroll with baby is an important consideration when choosing the best travel system. For off-roading families who spend time in parks and on trails, bigger, air-filled tires will function best on rough terrain. Families who use public transportation or need to take the stroller up and down stairs regularly may value an agile travel system stroller that doesn't weigh much.
The car seat shouldn't be an afterthought, either. You'll need to be able to install and use the car seat properly each time baby is in the car, so make sure you can live with its features right from the start.
All of the travel systems here are sturdy and have plenty of convenience features for you. All of them come with a great infant car seat that doesn't skimp on features that make it simple to use correctly. These travel systems also cover a range of prices, so there's a fantastic choice for every budget.
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The GB Evoq travel system comes with a reversible stroller that lets you have baby facing you or facing out to the world. The stroller holds a child that weighs up to 50 pounds, so it can last through the toddler years quite nicely. Another cool feature is that you can remove the stroller seat entirely to create a lightweight stroller frame to snap the infant car seat to. The handle is height-adjustable to accommodate various parent heights, plus there's a big basket and a sunshade. The... stroller has a built-in standing board on the back, so you can let a toddler ride along without upgrading to a bulkier double stroller.
This travel system comes with the GB Asana 35 infant car seat. It can hold a baby from 4 pounds to 35 pounds. There's a cushy newborn padding set, plus an automatic height adjustment on the harness. Just buckle baby in and pull the webbing tail to remove slack from the harness. The harness height moves on its own to the right spot once it's tight.The built-in seatbelt lock-offs on the base make installation easier.
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The Bravo Trio stroller folds so quickly and easily! Just pull the handle under the seat and it's done. The stroller stands on its own once it's folded, and the fold handle becomes a carrying handle. The huge basket can hold your diaper bag plus some other essentials, and you can easily adjust the handle height for your comfort. The stroller seat can be completely removed to become a stroller frame, which means you carry around less weight when you won't be using the seat.
This travel... system includes the incredibly popular Chicco KeyFit 30 infant car seat. It's the easiest infant seat to install using LATCH, thanks to the center pull strap. Just click the two lower connectors onto the anchors in your car, then pull the center strap to tighten the base down. There are also built-in lock-offs if you'll install with the seatbelt. The KeyFit 30 fits babies from 4 pounds to 30 pounds. I also like the spring-loaded angle adjustment foot that pops down from the car seat base.
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Urbini travel systems are fantastic for parents on a budget, since they have nice stroller features and basic but easy-to-use infant car seats. The Omni 3-in-1 travel system is no exception, since it can be used as a regular travel system with the car seat on top, as a stroller that can face front or face rear, or you can change the stroller seat to become a pram-style bassinet. The stroller seat has a full recline. There's a nice basket underneath, too, for all of your gear. This travel... system has a sleek luxury look at a super budget price.
The Urbini Petal infant car seat is included with this travel system. It's one of my favorite budget infant car seats because it has a full EPS liner and a built-in lock-off for the seatbelt, plus extra padding for smaller babies and a washable cover. This car seat fits babies from 5 pounds to 35 pounds. There are four harness height positions, plus two hip harness width adjustments to help get the perfect fit. Where a lot of budget travel systems cut costs by including a car seat with a rear-adjust harness, which is more difficult to use properly every time, the Urbini Petal has the more convenient front-adjust harness.
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Graco is a trusted name in travel systems, and they gave their typical travel system quite an upgrade with Modes. The full-size, full-featured stroller has a reclining, reversible seat and a huge basket, plus it folds easily and has a reversible seat. To fold, you just squeeze a trigger on the handle and twist. The Modes stroller is another one that can be used as a stroller frame with the infant car seat by removing the stroller seat. I also like that you can fold up the footrest portion of the... seat and recline the seat back to form a little bassinet seat, which can face you or face forward. The big basket is easy to reach in, even when the seat is reclined. The parent tray has a flip-top storage compartment in the center.
The Graco Snug Ride Click Connect 35 infant car seat comes with this travel system. It's one of the most popular infant car seats, and for good reason. It can hold babies from 4 pounds to 35 pounds. It also has a built-in lock-off for seatbelt installations. There's a dial to move the angle adjustment foot to the right spot for your vehicle. Some of Graco's less expensive travel systems come with a Snug Ride car seat that has a rear-adjust harness. These aren't as easy to use, so I suggest avoiding that style. The Modes travel system only comes with front-adjust car seat harnesses.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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The Chicco Cortina 30 travel system features the popular KeyFit 30 infant car seat and the Cortina stroller, which is a full-featured and sturdy traditional stroller. The one-hand fold on the stroller makes errands easy. Just grab the handle on the parent tray and pull up. The memory recline feature of the stroller seat is also fantastic. When you fold the stroller, it keeps the recline set for you, so when you open it up again, baby's preferred recline is at the ready.
The KeyFit 30 car seat... is the same as with the Bravo Trio travel system above. There's a less expensive version available with the original KeyFit, which holds babies up to 22 pounds. If you won't carry the car seat around for long, or you plan to switch to a convertible car seat quickly, the less expensive version is just fine.
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Urbini Emi Travel System
The Urbini Emi travel system stroller is a traditional, full-size style at a fantastic price. The fast-fold feature is excellent. Lift up on the strap in the stroller seat and the whole thing folds on its own. The stroller also stands on its own when it's folded. I really like that the wheels are kept away from the sunshade when the Emi stroller is folded. That's a problem on lots of other strollers, but the Emi canopy won't get muddy or smudged from dirty wheels. The stroller seat... reclines completely, so you can use it without the infant car seat on top, right from the start.
It comes with the Urbini Sonti infant car seat, which can be used for babies from 4 pounds to 35 pounds. For a budget travel system, this is a really nice car seat! It has premium push-button LATCH connectors and a built-in seat belt lock-off. There are four harness slots and two hip width slots. The Sonti has a full EPS liner, and it comes with infant padding to help fit the smallest babies.