When you, the parent in search of a baby stroller, come across the phrase “Travel System,” what you have encountered is a single company and/or brand advertising that their infant car seat can neatly plug into their stroller. It’s a great feature: this means that you can transfer your baby from the car to the stroller and back without undoing straps and possibly waking the baby.
What these companies don’t usually tell you is that many, many strollers can hold infant car seats made by other brands. The ability of a stroller to hold another brand’s car seat increases the market value of both the stroller and the car seat, as well as the usefulness of an infant car seat. This means that, for example, if you’re having your first child and someone has already given you a car seat, you’re not limited to that seat’s brand if you want to use it in a travel system. It gives you some flexibility.
Knowing that you can mix and match brands without being limited to one brand’s “travel system” setup also means that if you find a stroller you enjoy, but you don’t like that company’s car seat or that company doesn’t make a car seat, you’re not out of luck. (Sadly, not every brand that makes great strollers makes great car seats!) Being able to mix and match gives you choices, and may better protect your child.
There are 2 main reasons why you might buy a single brand’s travel system:
- The stroller and car seat that go together truly are your first choices (example: the Orbit Baby Travel System).
- It’s convenient! Many travel systems come in one big box, with the car seat, stroller, and car seat base all in one, and you can just go to a big box store and stroll out with one big box. Done. You have a car seat and stroller that meet standard American Safety ratings. Many companies are banking on this concept of convenience as well. If it was quick and easy, the consumer won’t care as much if it falls apart sooner than expected.
However, as the Mommy Ammo blog notes, the strollers that come in these pre-packaged systems are not always the best. Some of them are too heavy, too wide, and too clunky – not the best quality for your dollar, and not something you want to use for years to come as your child gets older.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Mixing and matching car seat and stroller brands may take a little bit more research, but it’s not more difficult if you understand what you’re looking for (or if you call in our experts to give you a hand). Typically you pick your stroller first, because most parents will be using their stroller for around 3 or more years, while the car seat will only be in use for up to a year. So we recommend starting with the stroller that best suits your wants and needs, and then exploring which car seats are compatible with it.
The way this works is that instead of clicking the car seat right onto the stroller, you’ll need a separate car seat adapter. They’re typically easy to install, and are built for safety, forming a firm attachment between the two pieces. Adapters will be specific to the brands used.
So don’t feel that in order to have a travel system, you have to buy everything from one brand in one box. You can still snap your infant car seat of choice into your stroller of choice with the right adapter. Main differences: you get to pick out exactly what stroller and seat you want (with some exceptions, I’ll admit), and it’ll come in 3 boxes: the stroller box, the car seat box, and the adapter. Best part is that the wonderful people here at Magic Beans can help you figure out what’s compatible with what, and we can assemble it all for you for no extra charge.
Compatibility Chart – X means Yes