Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Graco Symbio B Review

As soon as I found out I was expecting a baby, my first thoughts turned to what pram / pushchair / travel system was I going to have?  I mean where do you start? There are so many brands, styles, functions and not to mention the huge differences in price.  I had a fairly modest budget and knew that getting what I wanted was going to be a challenge.  So to make it easier for me I made a list of what was essential and what was desirable.  My essentials were;

1. It had to fit into the boot of my 3 door, 2004 ford fiesta (anyone with this car will know it has a pretty modest boot)
2. It had to be affordable
3. It had to be parent facing
4. It had to be light and easy to lift

Everything else in my eyes was a desirable feature.  So I started on my search for the right pram.  I did a lot of internet searches as well as a LOT of window shopping.  I kept finding myself returning to the same travel system, The Graco Symbio B.  I had seen the earlier model (Symbio) a year before in a shop and quite liked it so I was excited about seeing this newer model.

The Main Features
The Graco Symbio B stroller easily converts from a luxurious lie-flat pram to stroller, avoiding the need for a separate carrycot and reducing storage requirements. The unique reversible handle flips in an instant, with one hand, to change your child's position

• Comes complete with padded luxurious baby nest and fully removable padded mattress for ultimate comfort
• One-Click travel system allows you to team with the Logico S HP 0+ car seat
• Spring suspension and pneumatic tyres
• Includes raincover and footmuff 
• Reversible seat and handle
• Logico S HP ICS Adaptor
*The above description was taken from Graco's website

*click* I bought my pram!

A week or so later the Symbio B was delivered.  I have never been so excited!!  I purchased the stroller in urban but its also available in boysenberry (exclusive to BabiesRUs).  On arrival there was very little assembly involved, in fact the only assembly needed was putting the inserts into the baby nest to make it rigid.

And then the day came when I brought my baby home and put him in his pram for the first time.  The baby nest was well padded and suitably proportioned for a newborn baby.  However, this lovely environment became very snug in only 6 weeks.  I might add that Joe was a normal sized baby at 7lb 9.5oz but very quickly gained length and weight.  
Joe looking a little snug in the baby nest at 8 weeks
So from this point I was reluctantly using the stroller seat.  I was very nervous at having to harness Joe in but he seemed completely oblivious to the straps and they didn't appear to bother him.  The positive element of using this seat is that it has a full recline feature using a central pivot mechanism enabling Joe to remain flat as recommended for his age.  Still he did look very small to be in a stroller set-up but when its lying flat it doesn't look so bad.
He looks small but not lost
Joe in the stroller seat.  Shown sitting up for photo purposes
Making good use of the lie flat function
We also had the option to use the adapter for the car seat and this came in particularly useful when he was napping or I needed to make a quick journey.  The adapter just slides on and the car seat clips straight into it enabling me to push Joe around the shops without disturbing him.  A great feature and even better when the adapter is included in the price.
  As the weeks have passed Joe has filled out the stroller nicely and we enjoy many walks looking at each other and chatting away which makes good use of the parent facing option.  With a quick switch of the handle I can change his position however, I do feel that having the swivel wheels to the back makes for tricky steering.  I prefer to change the seat position instead of the handle so the swivel wheels are always at the front but I think that's more personal preference then a negative attribute. Having the larger wheels to the front actually proves useful when on the beach!

Joe at 7 months

Collapsing the Symbio B couldn't be easier.  After removing the seat unit you pull the use the numbered levers on the base so when baby brain kicks in you don't forget the sequence!  I use the shopping basket to store the rain cover and sometimes this gets in the way of the swivel wheels but a little wiggle of the wheels sorts that problem out and I must add that it collapses perfectly when the basket is empty.  The whole unit is very light to lift in and out of the car and most importantly IT FITS!!!!

It fits!!!!
I have experienced one mechanical problem with the pram and this was the brake on the handle.  I pulled the lever up one day and the brakes locked as expected but when I released the brake the wheels would still not move.  I called BabiesRUs and they offered to fix the problem but when Mr PB & J came home he had a fiddle and noticed that I just needed to push the entire lever unit down manually.  It seemed something had become loose or stretched and it prevented the brakes from automatically releasing.  I have chosen not to have this looked at for the moment as its not affecting the daily use of the stroller.  The only other problem I have had is a punctured tyre (damn hawthorns) but this was easily repaired and replacement inner tubes are available from most bike shop suppliers.  As with any item with inflatable tyres you need to expect that punctures do and will happen.

Other than those couple of hiccups the pram is still in good working order.  It has got a few scuffs here and there from bashing it through the front door or lying it on its side to put it in the boot but again this should be expected.  Another expectation is the size of the shopping basket.  I've seen a few reviews detail that the basket size is disappointing however, on viewing the Symbio B online or in person its very easy to see that the basket is very small.  I do think that the access points to the basket could be improved to allow larger items to be placed inside with ease.  This is a particular problem when the seat is in parent facing and the swivel wheels are to the front.
Small scuffs are expected
A very modest shopping basket
Overall I would say that I bought the PERFECT pram for me.  I get many compliments on its style and manoeuvrability.  Its light, affordable, easily cleaned (no discolouration or shrinking when washed) and has some fantastic features.  It's not the best pram for woodland walks but it negotiates cobbles and mild uneven surfaces easily.  If your looking for style without the price tag then this is the pram for you.

PB & J

Further information on the Symbio B and other Graco products can be found their website.

Disclaimer: I received no payment or incentive for writing this review.  All words are my own. 

1 comment:

  1. how do you put the sit in lie flat function??? I can not figured out....