The Symbio is one of Graco’s more luxurious travel systems, and features a nifty way to switch from parent to rear facing mode.
The Graco Symbio is an easy-to-use and comprehensive travel system. The big points of interest are the reversible handle, allowing the buggy to work as either forward or rear facing without you having to reposition the seat or carrycot, and also the ‘one-click’ adaptors for easy swapping between carrycot, car seat or toddler seat.
You can buy the Symbio as a pushchair (£349.99), but by purchasing the Logic S HP car seat (£129.99) and the newborn carrycot (around £142.97), you have a travel system you can use from birth until 3 years. The car seat can be used until your baby is 13kg or about 12 months. The carrycot is fine until your baby is 10kg. Without the additional carrycot, the Symbio is suitable from 6 months.
The Symbio weighs 7.5kg. However the car seat will add 4.4kg to this, and the carrycot will add 4.5kg
Even as a newcomer to travel systems, I found using the different elements pretty simple. The ‘one-click’ adaptors make using the different parts of the Symbio travel system quick and easy. You really can just slot the carrycot or toddler seat into the mounts on the chassis and they’re instantly locked into place. Getting the correct positioning isn’t too tricky, so it can be done in seconds. The car seat does require an additional bracket (included) for making the attachment (be careful not to forget it when you go out in the car, or you won’t be able to use the seat on the chassis!).Baby Maya, 10 weeks, also enjoyed using the system. She fell asleep both in the carrycot and the car seat when being wheeled around – although unfortunately woke up again as I struggled to belt the car seat back into our vehicle. Her usual buggy is large and forward facing, so I felt much more comfortable having her closer to me and snug in this carrycot. The sturdy carrycot could also be used as a substitute for a Moses basket to save space while travelling, though it is very heavy to lift (it weighs 4.5kg). While no raincover is included for the carrycot, the apron and hood give enough shelter to protect against light rain. Maya also seemed happy in the car seat – it’s well padded and stylish. There’s a clever ‘level indicator’ to let you know that the seat isn’t tilted too far forwards or back. This is only on one side of the seat, so you may find you have to check it from the other side of your car.The chassis is simple to fold, with numbered parts so you won’t forget how to do it, and the wheels can be removed quickly if you want to make it even smaller. Together with the toddler seat it should fit in most car boots.
If you buy all the elements the Graco Symbio ends up being an expensive item. It will also take up a lot of room – both the carrycot and car seat seem bigger than average. The carrycot in particular is heavy to carry because of its size.I’d advise trying the car seat out before buying, to check it’ll fit into the back of your car. It does seem bigger than our usual Maxi-Cosi one – I had to move the passenger seat forward to fit it into the back of our car.If you can get someone to show you how to use the car seat at the same time, all the better - the instructions (particularly for altering the restraints) are very complicated and confusing. The car seat can be fitted with or without an in-car base (an extra £49.99). Using one means you won’t have to thread the seat belt through and around the infant seat every time you put it back into the car. This is pretty fiddly – and you’re likely to wake a sleeping baby, as I found! Also, there’s not much of a head-hugger for small babies.For a luxury option, the tiny shopping basket is very disappointing. With no lid to keep smaller items safe, it’s not much use at all.The toddler seat can be used for babies from 6 months, though younger infants might find it a bit exposed after the security of the carrycot. However, it can be positioned to face you to help them feel safer. The chassis itself is very manoeuvrable, but is by no means a smooth ride, despite the pneumatic tyres. Maya didn’t seem to mind the bumps, but I found the buggy often hit raised paving stones with a jolt, rather than riding over them. And it’s not one you could use cross-country.
First-time parents after an easy-to-use travel solution.
If you’re intimidated by complicated-looking travel systems, the Graco Symbio is a great choice. It’s a sturdy and comfortable system, and you’ll feel your baby is well protected in both the carrycot and car seat. Removing or slotting on the different components couldn’t be simpler, and it’s also easy to handle. Being able to change the direction your baby faces by moving the handle is a nifty idea. However, there’s a pretty hefty price tag on this luxurious option.
First reviewed 19/08/2009. Updated 15/03/2012.
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