Five years ago I was pregnant with our first child. I had a lot of things already figured out (or so I thought) considering I was a first time mom. I was determined to have a natural birth, I was skipping the baby swing and play yard, and was a committed babywearer before I had my own baby to wear. The one area that kept me up at night was the hard core gear area of car seats and strollers.
Surprisingly, the final choice – Orbit Baby (G1) Travel System – was no where on my interest list when the search began. (Full disclosure, I was turned off by the fact that the only place I’d seen it was in US Magazine or other celeb mags). I was focused on the task, and I had no trouble researching strollers – seat height, total weight, method of fold, adjustable handles, and wheel diameter were a few specifications I was tracking. I knew which car seats fit which strollers, or at least had adapters available. I even made a geeky spreadsheet that listed the specs I was most interested in, along with compatibility for additional components, pros, cons, and unique qualities. The bottom line of my sheet listed the total potential cost of the purchase decision through toddler-hood (the convertible car seat purchase).
I factored in things like Snap n Go’s, extra car seat bases, and stroller accessories such as trays or cup holders. Yeah, I was that geeky. See the thing is, there is nothing I hate more than buyers remorse. Admittedly, I’m challenged with the whole act of getting rid of things, so I’d rather not buy something I will not use and love. It physically pains me.
So there I was, 36 weeks pregnant and paralyzed by indecision. I had whittled things down to two finalists – the UppaBaby Vista with the Chicco Keyfit 30 car seat, or the Orbit Baby (G1) Travel System. They weren’t exactly apples to apples comparisons, especially when it came down to the bottom line cost. And truthfully, it was the cost differentiation that was providing me the most angst.
What I liked about the UppaBaby Vista/Chicco combo:
- The carseat was the lightest on the market at that time. I wasn’t that strong, have a history with back pain, and would be needing to tote the baby IN the seat by myself within a matter of days. Every pound was going to count.
- The Vista came with a bassinet; the Orbit Baby bassinet was at an additional cost. But did I really need a bassinet? When and where did I see myself using it?
- The Vista came with the the stroller seat; the Orbit Baby stroller seat was yet another additional cost. I’d definitely want a stroller seat in a matter of months. Non-negotiable.
- The additional carseat bases for the Keyfit 30 were significantly cheaper than the Orbit Baby carseat bases. How many would we actually need? Two? Three?!
What I liked about the Orbit Baby Travel System:
- The SmartHub™ technology concept was incomparable. The ability to load the seat into the car with the weight evenly distributed in my left and right hands was much less awkward. Less chance of tweaking my back with that twisting motion required by the Keyfit 30, and nearly all other infant car seats.
- The soft carrier handle, versus the rigid handle on the Keyfit 30. I mentioned being concerned about total weight – the soft handle allowed me to carry the car seat closer to my body and my center of gravity, offsetting much of the impact of the additional pound of weight from the Orbit Baby infant car seat (told you I got a little nerdy).
- The Paparazzi Shield™. The name alone made me cringe since I wasn’t planning to hide from any paparazzi last I checked. In terms of functionality, it was fantastic though. Moms are always throwing a blanket over the infant car seat to block the light or reduce distraction for baby. This would be one less thing to think about when packing the diaper bag.
- The car seat base install was much easier. I couldn’t foresee how many times I’d need to install the car seat base, but if I could get a nice tight install using a mechanical advantage versus physical strength, it was a bonus in my book.
- The stroller base was a quick and easy fold that wasn’t cumbersome for me. I could even do it with one hand while holding the loaded infant car seat over my other arm.
- The toddler car seat would also fit in the same infant car seat base. Another incomparable feature. This would allow me to continue to load and buckle my child while the seat was facing the door rather than the rear of the car (without any awkward twisting) to a much older age than just the infant seat.
- The toddler car seat would also connect to the stroller base. This could streamline our gear needs for travel down the line by reducing our need to take a stroller and convertible car seat both.
The price of the Orbit Baby Travel System was truly daunting, at the time manageable for us in the big picture, but daunting nonetheless. I considered how many times I could foresee using the system given that we’d need to use the car seat for each and every drive with the baby. Couple that with all the times I could imagine needing the stroller base, and we would use this system thousands of times – for one child. When I considered a price per use, the cost of each lift and twist to my body was pennies (ok, maybe nickels). If I factored in the likelihood that we would benefit from all the features through a second child, it started to feel like a more rational purchase. So we bit the bullet, and made one of our biggest baby related purchases; we are the proud owners of an Orbit Baby (G1) Travel System – and have never once regretted the purchase.
**One last item worth mentioning – a bonus that I never factored in at original purchase: Most car seats expire 5 or 6 years from manufacture date. The Orbit Baby infant car seat has a 7 year lifespan! Even though I REALLY want a new G3 Infant Car Seat – we’ll be able to use the one we have for our soon to arrive baby #3 which stretches our initial investment dollar even further. You can’t beat that! (And, if you know of any contests I can win the G3, let me know – I’m in!!)