I’ve said it a lot recently – Graco is a name has been trusted by many parents for decades, and by me for almost twenty years now. But it’s been a while since I had a baby small enough to push around on wheels, so when Graco sent over the Modes 3 Lite Click Connect Travel System I enlisted the help of the lovely Emma with baby Danny to put it through its paces for me.
It’s a neat looking system, and like so many of the newest Graco products it grows with your new baby, meaning it’s an economical and practical choice from newborn through to the days when you’re desperately trying to strap a raging toddler in who’d much rather be running.
Along with the travel system frame, three ‘modes’ are the three ‘seating’ options that come with this complete travel system.
The Modes 3 Lite comes with the toddler seat, of course, plus the Snugride Car Seat, and if you’re a pram-fancier you’ll be pleased to know there’s a Carrycot included too. I don’t mind saying that I always loved putting a new baby in a carrycot layout rather than a simple lay-flat pushchair. Not that the babies ever minded either way, of course.
And the three together give you seven options on how to ride (all of them cam be rear-and forward-facing individually, plus you can simply pop the car seat on top of the toddler seat for a complete travel system too)…
The Car Seat is a Group 0+, so designed to protect babies rear-facing from birth to 13kg and features a comfortable seat to keep babies snug with all the Graco safety side impact features you’d expect.
Top of the noteworthy list is that it features Graco’s signature FastAction fold. “How it folds isn’t really important” said no parent ever. I’d say there are three things guaranteed to really make you fall in or out of love with a pushchair on a personal level – the shopping basket, the harness clip and the fold. Thankfully Graco are pretty known for the depth of their baskets, and with this new fold design you can honestly fold with one hand. No really! Balance the baby on one hip, and fold the pushchair with the other. Top shiny star points Graco.
So here’s what Emma made of it:
Assembly was thankfully easy (got to love a good instruction manual), and from out of the box it probably took 10 minutes to have us ready to leave the house for our first spin. I’d not owned a 3-wheeler before, so this was a revelation to me. Oh, the maneuverability! I know it’s actually got two wheels at the front, but they act as one and I’m not sure I can go back to a four-wheeler now I’ve experienced the spinning tight turns while out shopping with this pushchair!
The strong frame is really lightweight – I did wonder about the stability of it when toddler-wrestling with the straps, but so far so good. And obviously the lighter weight makes it massively more convenient around town and when you’re constantly in-and-out of cars/buses/trains etc.
The biggest basic fact is that it’s EASY! The car seat is a click-on-off that couldn’t be simpler (either with or without the toddler seat in place), and the toddler seat itself is easy to adjust with a hand-squeeze on the back of the seat; it’s a multi-position recline system and goes all the way down to flat if you wish.
(never underestimate the importance of the small things…); brakes are a simple operation (that’s a second-tier pushchair bugbear isn’t it? Brakes that won’t click on easily), and the basket is good enough to hold a large nappy pack (the pinnacle of any pushchair test, right?). The handle is tall enough for a tall partner without being uncomfortable if you’re *cough* less-than-average height. And while I’m on the handles, the parent tray is an actually-useful size for a phone, the odd small toy (or suddenly-precious random stone, of course) a toddler bottle and obviously a coffee in the cup holders.
As I said, the swivel front wheel means that navigating around town is a breeze – and once I figured out the lock to stop the swivel doing that annoying shopping-trolley-twist on rough ground I found the frame was easily up to dog walks in the park too.
But the biggest thing about this travel system is the sheer flexibility. The open frame in the boot is small and light, and perfect for a new baby, simply popping the car seat in and out as you move seamlessly through your day (once you’ve actually braved the outside world, of course). And then as your tiny precious bundle becomes a bumptious toddler you can have them in the stroller facing you to chat and watch, or else facing the world to see what’s happening around them.
So would I buy it?
Yes! The Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System is a pretty brilliant set – it really is everything you need. Buy it at birth, and it’ll be a perfect infant travel system, and it’ll still be earning it’s keep when you’re pushing the baby as a sturdy pre-schooler the last mile home when their legs have run out of steam. The initial outlay will seem pretty pitiful after years of constant use!
Currently available exclusively through BabiesRUs, the smaller system retails for a little under £390 (the extra carrycot is an additional £120).
We are proud to be Graco Ambassadors this year, but as always, all opinions are my own.