If you’re planning to use the same stroller for your child from infancy on, you have a few options. Both travel systems and baby stroller frames make it possible for you to simply remove your infant car seat from your vehicle, and use it as part of your stroller. There are pros and cons to each option, so let’s take a little bit of time and explore which would work best for you in your situation. But before we get to that, let me describe what each is.
A stroller frame is just that. You simply remove a compatible infant car seat from your vehicle, and attach it to the frame, turning it into a stroller. A travel system, on the other hand, is a set that includes a baby stroller, and infant car seat, and car seat base.
Advantages of Stroller Frames
Stroller frames typically weigh less and are more compact than regular strollers. Since clearly, it’s just the frame and it doesn’t have the seat and accompanying mechanisms, nor the padding or fabric, it’s going to weigh less. Not only that, it’s going to be significantly smaller. And depending on the quality, and perhaps the manufacturer of the frame, you may find that they steer better as well.
Depending on the brand, it may also be ultimately cheaper for you to individually purchase a stroller frame and an infant car seat. You also have a few options when it comes to mixing and matching car seats and stroller frames. Some car seat manufacturers also manufacture stroller frames to pair with their own brand. In other cases, there are companies that manufacture stroller frames that are compatible with a wide range of car seats. In that case, you have the opportunity to find the best combination for you, both in terms of price and convenience.
And while you may be envisioning a bare frame with a car seat attached, that’s not the case. You can find many frames that also have baskets and in some cases cup holders as well, not to mention canopies and the ability to fold down with one hand.
Disadvantages of Stroller Frames
Since the purpose of a frame is to attach an infant car seat to it, it has a limited lifespan. At about one year old or younger, depending on your child, they’re going to grow out of their infant car seat, making the frame obsolete. At that point, you’re going to have to go out and buy a different stroller.
Advantages of Travel Systems
Travel systems are quite popular, and are available in an array of styles and configurations. There is also usually something to find in every price range as well. So finding one that you like, and that you can afford isn’t difficult at all. And since they’ve been designed to work as a set, you don’t have to worry about finding out if the car seat is compatible with the rest of it.
As with the stroller frames, you will find lots of features on travel systems, but you’ll likely find more. Whether you’re looking for cup holders, extra storage space, or any of the other value added options, you should be able to find them on a travel system. Unlike the stroller frame, travel systems have a longer life cycle. Depending on the brand you purchase, you may be able to use it until your child weighs in the area of 55 pounds.
Disadvantages of Travel Systems
If you ultimately want something that’s lightweight and easy to handle, then I would recommend you look elsewhere. Travel systems are generally heavy due to all the above mentioned features. So if you live somewhere where you are often up and down stairs, or use public transportation, or you’re often lifting your stroller in and out of your vehicle, a travel system will be problematic. They also tend to be quite large, and stay large, even when they’re folded down. So if your trunk space is at a premium, or if you often have to share trunk space with other things, again a travel system will be problematic. Other negative repercussions of being heavy, means that it lacks, or loses, some manoeuvrability. They are often very difficult to steer, and you’re certainly not going to be making any tight turns with it.
Another thing you need to be on guard for, is that in an endeavor to keep a travel systems within a certain price range, one or more of the components of the system may suffer in terms of quality. For example, if the manufacturer has compromised on the car seat, you may feel that because of the lack of features, it’s not worth purchasing. So if you’re thinking of purchasing a travel system, it’s a good idea to take a look at each component individually and determine whether or not it has all the features you would get if you were to purchase them all individually.
As with anything, your ultimate decision is going to come down to whatever makes sense for you and your situation. What works for one person might not work for another. And of course, circumstances change as well. Having said all that, hopefully, we provided you with enough information to make it a little bit easier for you to make your choice.