Tuesday 2 November 2010

Graco Symbio travel system

As I mentioned a little while ago (here), I'm over the moon to be a Graco Ambassador for the coming year and I've been itching to get reviewing the fabulous Graco Symbio travel system that we were sent to review. Well, our camera is finally up and running again so I can at last ! As you can see, Pierre was just as excited to get his new pushchair out of the box - or maybe he recognised the box from the Graco Nautilus car seat and wanted us to make another playhouse !

As the pictures at the top of this blogpost show, it can be used as a front-facing or rear-facing pushchair. I let Mike the Madhouse Daddy set it all up for us so, being a typical man, he pulled it out of the box and got assembling without throwing as much as a cursory glance at the instruction manual. Well, he managed within a matter of minutes !

By now, Pierre was desperately pointing out of the window, trying to show us that it had stopped raining and he wanted to go out for a walk and test out his new wheels. I think he probably wanted to show off his posh new pushchair to the local babes in the park actually ! 

Well, after a quick dressing up and facepainting session (this was for Halloween, we don't dress up like this every day - honestly !), we were ready to go. The first thing I noticed was how unbelievably soft the seat and above all the harness strap protectors were. I made everyone stroke them to feel how soft they were so for the entire time we were out and about, Pierre kept stroking them going "ooooh" - oh well, if they take the place of his comforter, at least there's no chance he'll lose them !

The absolutely fabulous thing about the Symbio (well, one of the fabulous things anyway !) is that you don't have to choose between front or rear-facing mode - without taking baby out of the pushchair, you can just push the handle up and over to the other side to switch from one position to the other. That's an absolutely brilliant idea ! I let Pierre have full view of what was going on using the front-facing mode but, when he wanted to eat a sweet out of the trick or treating bag and I wanted to keep a close eye on him, I just flipped it around with no fuss at all and put it in rear-facing mode. It's absolutely brilliant if baby starts getting grumpy and crying when you're out in public - if you flip him around to face you, you can usually distract him by talking or singing to him and avert a tantrum. Genius !

The next thing that made me ooh and aah were the brakes. It has hydraulic brakes ! You just flip a little lever up next to the handle and the wheels instantly lock into place. No blindly waving your foot around trying to locate the brake pedal - it's all up where you can see it. It also has spring suspension and pneumatic tyres for a smoother ride and, another thing that I was blown away by, you can easily manoever it with one hand. It's so easy to push and turn that, even with shopping bags in one hand, I could still easily push Pierre along with no fuss. The only thing that caused a problem was getting up and down off the pavement as there is nowhere to place your foot to tip it up when you want to mount the kerb - I kept forgetting and putting my foot into space, as I'm so used to my old pushchair !

The only other slight criticism I have is that the basket beneath the pushchair is quite small. I was really pleased to see that the pushchair comes with a matching raincover (as well as a foldable hood to protect baby from the rain or the sun) but I could barely fit even that in the little basket. You can buy a separate pram bag that can be used with the system which could be a good investment.

Speaking of added extras, we only have the basic pushchair part of the Graco Symbio, which retails at around £349.99. If you want to have a multipurpose travel system, you can buy separately a carry cot (RRP £139.99) that clicks easily on to the chassis and/or a car seat (RRP £109.99).

The Graco Symbio is a winner of Mother & Baby magazine's ‘Best Buy’ award, an FQ Top Gear awards winner and a finalist in the Practical Parenting awards. It also gets a big thumbs up from my little Halloween  monsters !

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £349.99

Other reviews you may be interested in :

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