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All The Gear, No Idea is a regular series from HuffPost Finds where we feature product recommendations for parents, by parents.
There’s not much more baffling when you’re preparing to become a parent for the first time than pram paraphernalia.
And if you’re anything like I was - seven years ago, with a tiny, squirming new baby - you’ll soon realise that you don’t just need a pram, at all. You need a pram that fits a carrycot and a car seat... in one.
As I soon learned, it’s much easier to move your sleeping baby from the pram to the car while keeping them in their car seat, rather than having to pick them up to transfer them to the car. That way, screaming lies. Shudder.
Travel systems might be more expensive than a stroller or single pram (and if you can beg, steal or borrow the components separately, then do so), but if you’re looking for a new purchase, then go for an all-in-one. Trust me.
They work like this: you have a pushchair chassis (ideally compact, study and lightweight) that can hold either a carrycot or the pushchair’s standard, forward-facing seat.
There will usually be adaptors included (or sold separately) to fit a rear-facing car seat, too - and all three can be changed around at the click of a button.
Sometimes the car seat is included in the price of the travel system, but most simply include the adaptors to fit the most commonly-known brands, such as Maxi Cosi or Britax (meaning you can use it with a second-hand or borrowed car seat to save money).
Here are the best of the bunch, as recommended by HuffPost readers who’ve been there.
This complete Baby Jogger travel system can be used from birth. It comes with a compact carrycot, a City Go i-Size car seat and adaptors, allowing you to change easily from car to stroller. It comes with a lifetime frame warranty and a one-year textiles warranty, too.
Review: Lucy Tran, mum of two
“The Baby Jogger pushchair collapses in one quick easy movement and can be used from birth. It has a carrycot and a normal pram attachment, and you can also use it with a car seat. It’s very sturdy. I’ve used it every day for five years! It’s been on loads of long-haul flights and is still as strong as ever. It’s medium range price, too, so excellent value for money.”
Bugaboo Donkey 2 Twin Travel System, Bugaboo, from £1,430
Bought new, Bugaboo comes with a three-year warranty. This version includes two pushchairs (each 74cm wide), which weigh 15kg. It folds down in one piece, and the seats are designed to hold infants weighing up to 22kg per seat. There’s a roomy storage basket under the seats that can hold up to 28 litres (10kg). Adaptors are compatible with Chicco, Britax-Romer and Maxi Cosi car seats.
Review: Hannah Hearne, mum of three
“I love it! You buy an adapter and can slot car seats in. You can buy a single or double adapter, so you can have one or two car seats at the same time. It looks huge, but it’s really easy to manoeuvre - so much easier than the single Britax I had for baby number one. The downsides are that it’s wide, and sometimes you struggle to get through doors, so I spend a lot of time telling people off for their premises not being accessible! But I’m still using it and the twins are two-and-a-half, now.”
This doesn’t come with a car seat included but can be adapted to fit Maxi Cosi, Kiddy and Cybex car seats on the same chassis. The carrycot and seat unit are available from birth and can fit infants up to 25kg. The carrycot can also be used for overnight sleeping, meaning you’ll be saving on the cost of a Moses basket. It also includes a matching rain cover, cup holder and mosquito net.
Review: Sian Kneller, mum of one
“I had an ABC Design travel system - the Turbo 6 - and found it solid and well-made and easy to fold down. They look elegant and have good storage capacity, such as a basket and clips for a changing bag. I never see it on any comparison sites - maybe because it’s a German brand.”
*The Turbo 6 is no longer available, but we checked the specifications and found them comparable to this model by the same manufacturer.
This is the only car seat in the world with integrated wheels. The Doona goes from seat to stroller in seconds. It’s suitable from birth until 13kg. This version comes with a free rain cover, worth £24.99. We’ve never seen a product like this before - and couldn’t stop watching this video.
Review: Holly Whiteford, mum of one
“The Doona was the best thing I’ve ever bought. My son is too big for it now and I miss it every single day! It just made everything so much easier. I never had to get the pram out of the car when I was quickly popping to the shops or doing the school run, and I didn’t have to transfer my sleeping son from car seat to pram. I would recommended it to every new mum!”
Stokke® Xplory® Black, Stokke, from £671.30
The Stokke stroller looks different to any other on the market - because of its height. The idea, the manufacturers say, is to raise your baby higher “to promote eye contact and connection”, which we love. Suitable from birth, the Stokke is a travel system when combined with the additional Stokke Xplory carrycot (£125, buy it here) or the Stokke® iZi Go™ X1 car seat by BeSafe® (£229, buy it here) - which can be used without need for extra adaptors. Or, you can buy the adaptors as accessories for use with other car seat models, such as the Chicco (£42, buy it here).
Review: Laura Johns, mum of two
“The Stokke is more expensive than other travel systems, but as soon as I saw it, I fell in love with it. It’s slim and sleek and you can easily take it into shops without worrying you’re going to knock everything over! I’ve used it for both children and found having conversations with them while they were in it really easy, because they were almost at my eye level.”
If you like going off-road, this might just be the travel system for you. It’s touted as an “all-rounder for parents who want flexibility” - and promises a one-hand fast fold, a conveniently located hand-braking system, rear wheel suspension and 12-inch air-filled tyres. This package comes with the ‘Protect Car Seat and Carrycot’, as well as car seat adaptors, a shopping basket, storage pockets and a bottle holder. It has a warranty for up to three years.
Review: Carla Pedonomou, mum of four
“I love the Mountain Buggy because it’s great for taking the kids to school and for taking the dog for a walk. It has inflated wheels and is excellent for the forest. We live right by the woods and we’re always in there.”
The iCandy is aimed at urban parents, because it’s lightweight (just 6.6kg), compact and nimble - perfect for nipping in and out of busy streets. The pushchair is light and easily foldable, and comes in a 3-in-1 design to adapt to a car seat, a carrycot and a reversible seat position. The reclinable seat can also be adjusted to three different positions: to sit the baby up straight when awake, recline when relaxed or lie flat when asleep. The baby faces the parent and there’s a concealed storage pod which holds weight up to 5kg. There’s an optional Raspberry Universal carrycot (sold separately for £180, buy it here). Car seat adaptors are sold separately and the iCandy fits a range of car seats, including Maxi Cosi, BeSafe and Kiddy Evolution. It comes with a five-year guarantee.
Review: Matt Thomas, dad of one
“We chose it because it was lightweight and narrow (it fits through the tube barriers, not just the big gates), and we could use it with a car seat. It says you can use the buggy from newborn with a special pod, but I’m glad we bought the pram attachment which was nice and cosy. I like the fact it’s so manoeuvrable. There’s no bar, so the baby feels a bit out in the open sometimes, but there are other plus points - like a giant basket. We bring nets of logs home in it for the fire.”
The BABYZEN YOYO+ is described as a “one pocket-rocker travel system”, eliminating the need for multiple strollers. Ideal for everything from everyday errands, to travelling by car, bus, train or plane. To use the YOYO+ from birth you’ll need to purchase the BABYZEN YOYO+ Newborn Pack (including carry-cot, sold separately for £190, buy it here). There’s also a coordinating car seat: the BABYZEN iZi Go Modular by BeSafe (sold separately for £240, including adapters, buy it here) - which you can connect to the stroller frame in just two clicks. If you want to use the pram chassis with other car seats - such as Maxi Cosi, BeSafe and Cybex - you’ll need these adaptors (sold separately for £53.96, buy it here).
Review: Sarah Williams, mum of one
“I absolutely love the Babyzen Yoyo. It’s my first baby and he’s very active. The Babyzen is perfect for him as it’s light and compact and I can get him in and out of it easily. It can go on the plane as hand luggage because it’s so small - which was handy on a recent long-haul trip to South Africa, as we could take it through the gate and on to the plane with us. It’s not hugely expensive. The only downside is that it’s not brilliant off-road.”