UK company BabyStyle is probably best known for its affordable colour-customisable Oyster travel system, which first came onto the parenting market back in 2009 to a raft of rave reviews and awards.
In a relatively short space of time the brand and its Oyster line has become one of the fasted-growing and best-selling respectively.
A new addition to Babystyle’s award-winning Oyster line of buggies is the Oyster Switch.
It’s geared towards urban families who need all the versatility of a travel system but don’t have a huge amount of storage space.
It uses the scissor folding style chassis of the Imp but is also compatible with car seats and is suitable from birth. It is sturdier than umbrella strollers, but folds neatly and is freestanding for easy storage.
Key design features include the lockable front swivel wheels, freestanding fold, rear or front facing seat options and a lie-flat recline making this pushchair suitable from birth through toddlerhood.
With the Oyster Switch, Babystyle is answering the call of parents to have all the versatility of travel systems like the Bugaboo Cameleon with the easy folding and storage of umbrella strollers like the Maclaren Techno XT.
At £169 with no required add-ons, the Switch is much more affordable than the top-end travel systems and even many of the lightweight folding options.
Babystyle have managed to preserve most of the design features that make each style of buggy desirable and to combine them in one lightweight, sturdy and easy to handle pushchair.
What’s different about the Babystyle Oyster Switch?
The main difference with this stroller from the other buggies in the Babystyle collection as it has a seat unit that can be ‘switched’ between parent and world-facing in a matter of seconds.
It is my daughter’s favourite part and mine, too! The switchable seat unit is one of the best features.
Switching from parent-facing to world-facing is very simple and takes only a few seconds. Simply unclip the seat, turn it around, push it down into the clips again and then pull the fully reversible hood to face the other direction. Although you do have to take the baby out to turn it.
In either position, she was up high and easy to reach. Emily loved being able to see me, especially when she was getting tired or a bit cranky.
Is it actually a lightweight buggy?
At 7.1kg, the Switch is very light! And the handle used for folding the buggy can be used to carry it.
That said, the handle is in a position that makes the unit awkward to carry, especially up and down stairs or in tight spots. For simple storage or putting in and out of car boots, this product is ideal.
How does it push on different surfaces?
For city use, this buggy is perfect. The swivel front wheels mean that you can manoeuvre in tight spaces and get through crowds easily.
It also is easy to mount kerbs and the Switch handles rough pavements and cobbles nicely.
The lock feature on the front wheels helps on grass and other uneven surfaces, but the wheels are narrow so it’s probably not as suitable for country living or hiking.
Is it travel system compatible?
Yes it is, which is unusual for a lightweight stroller. The Babystyle Oyster Switch can be used with the Babystyle Prestige Infant car seat (£74) or the Maxi-Cosi CabrioFix and Pebble car seats.
How does it do on public transport?
The buggy is perfect for manoeuvring in the tight spaces of public transit. The compact frame and swivel front wheels mean you can turn on a dime and because it’s so easy to push, you can keep up with the always-in-a-rush commuters. We went through Central London at rush hour and had no problem getting on and off trains and buses.
It’s light enough that you can bump it up and down stairs, but I wouldn’t want to be doing it on a regular basis. Unlike a compact stroller like the Babyzen Yoyo, the Switch’s size makes it impossible to carry up and down stairs on your own, but I found it simple with someone helping and no one appeared to throw out their back helping me.
The only difficulty I had was that the break slipped off with the rocking of the Tube. You have to lock each rear wheel separately and check that it has fully engaged, which could be difficult if you were also trying to keep track of an older child.
Is it comfortable?
Yes, it is, but it’s better for older babies. The straps are well padded, as is the seat. As it doesn’t have a carrycot it’s not ideal for newborns, but the seat does look comfortable in the lie-flat position for when older babies nod off and the addition of the foot muff could make it very cosy.
The versatility of the seat positions is excellent. We would have loved the option to put the seat at a slight incline when Emily was younger to ease her reflux. As it was, she refused to go in a buggy at all until she was four months old!
The suspension wasn’t brilliant and going over bumps certainly rattled my little girl a bit, but it didn’t upset her. That said, the sturdy construction made it superior to umbrella strollers.
What do you think of the basket?
The size is perfect but the fact that it’s almost entirely inaccessible is the major draw-back of this buggy.
I was excited taking the Switch to the supermarket because the basket is significantly bigger than the one on my other buggy, but when I went to pack it up, I found that I had to take everything out of the shopping bags to get them into the basket and then ended up repacking the bags when I got home to get them up the stairs.
How is it to fold?
Collapsing the buggy is pretty straightforward but it definitely requires two hands. This makes it difficult on public transit or anytime you’re on your own. If you’re looking for a buggy that is easy to store, but if you’ll need to fold and unfold it throughout your day, the Switch is a little fiddly.
Unfolding it is a bit easier but, again, it takes two hands and there’s a fiddly bit getting the clip off the side.
What about storing it?
The Switch is designed for easy storage and does exactly as advertised. It folds to a narrow 28x23x109cm, is freestanding and fit perfectly in the corner of our stair landing.
Saying that, there’s no dedicated pouch or pocket for the raincover, which is unfortunate, but not a major problem.
How easy is it to build?
It’s a breeze to build. It took about five minutes to unfold the chassis and snap on the seat.
What was in the Oyster Switch box?
Included with your Oyster Switch is the hard-wearing silver anodised chassis, the seat unit and hood in your choice of colour, and the rain cover.
What are the extras like?
Babystyle Prestige Infant car seat – £74
Footmuff – £40
Matching changing bag – £40
Seat liner – £20
Fleece – £29.99
Car seat adaptors for the Oyster car seat – £15
Car seat adaptors for the Maxi-Cosi, CabrioFix and Pebble car seats – £19.
Is the Oyster Switch value for money?
At £169 the Oyster Switch is one of the most affordable travel systems going.
I found that my five-month-old kicked off a blanket very easily so the foot muff, for £40, is a good investment.
I appreciated that the Switch is a one-box deal. Other buggies seemed to be priced very competitively but, once I had added up the cost of ‘extras’ like the seat, a raincover and other things I didn’t feel we could really do without, they ended up costing hundreds more than I expected. For £228 you have a full, all-weather, lightweight travel system in the Switch.
The buggy seems like it would wear well and has stood up to being carried up and down our stairs, left in buggy parking at the swimming pool and taken on public transit. The frame didn’t scratch easily, the fixtures are made of strong plastic and the material looks hard-wearing and easy to clean.
I would imagine that there would also be a good resale market for this versatile, collapsible buggy.
Although there are some design flaws, if you’re tight on space but still want the versatility of a travel system the Oyster Switch is a good investment that will transition well from baby to toddler usage.