Ask Design Mom: Orbit Baby

January 16, 2007



Hi Gabrielle,
I’m 14 weeks pregnant with my first child and am overwhelmed with all the baby stuff to choose from. I’m also married to a product designer who’s very concerned that our stroller, car seat, etc. look as cool as they function.
He discovered a new product called Orbit Baby that is a stroller/car seat in one. We live and work in San Francisco so having a very mobile system is a big deal for us (we also love to travel). I’ll be taking the baby on public buses, metro/subway, taxis, airplanes, etc. on a pretty regular basis in its first year. We also own a car so a car seat is important too. Anyway, if you could take a look at the website and product and give me an honest review, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks so much! Michelle Aller

Design Mom Answer:
Congrats on your pregnancy, Michelle! And thank you for introducing me to Orbit Baby. I checked it out online and am very curious to see one in person. I admit I was very skeptical going in. Another stroller? But after I watched the demo movie I was changing my tune and could easily see how your product designer husband was impressed.

Things I like:
-Rotatable seat while on the stroller
-You can dock from any angle before you turn the seat rear-facing in a vehicle. Putting the car seat into the car narrow side first makes good sense and a much less awkward entry.
-The soft carry handle sounds interesting. I’m curious to see if it really is more comfortable, because infant carseat/carriers are notoriously awkward to carry.
-Of course it needs to be one-hand manuverable, lightweight, and easily collapsible — especially in the city — and it seems to be.
-I like that the fabric is removable for washing without undoing the seatbelt straps. You will need this.
-I like the extendable handles on the stroller.
-I like the removable cargo pod. I wonder if it’s convenient enough to use as the diaper bag — simplifying your gear a bit. Or maybe it’s one of those nice option that you’ll never make use of.
-I like that the car seat and base accommodate future seats as your child grows.
-I like the built in stretchy enclosure.
-I like the turn-handle installation.

Things I’m wondering about:
-Carseat/carriers are traditionally replaced when the baby is about a year and can now face forward in the car. Then parents usually transition into a more substantial carseat that remains in the car and a stand-alone stroller. That first year there can be a lot of random napping and it’s nice to be able to move the baby from stroller to house or stroller to car without removing them from their seat and waking them up — thus the carrier option. But this is less important after the baby’s first birthday. And although the base and stroller accomodate future seats for bigger babies, I personally wouldn’t take advantage of it, I would prefer a stationary car seat and a seperate stroller. Which means this would be a one-year use product for me. And that’s a lot of money for something I’m going to use for one year.
-Between 6 and 12 months, many babies would prefer to be sitting up while in a stroller so they can see better and easily reach a food tray or sippy cup. This system offers no option for this. (This of course isn’t an option while in a car until they reach certain age and weight requirements.)
-I’m not sure how I feel about tires that require air and a pump. This is true of our jogger stroller — but we only use it close to home. If I was in the middle of errands and the wheels need air, I’d be irritated.
-If you go with the Orbit, don’t get the added bassinet. It will only be usuable for a couple of months and it defeats the purpose of being able to go from stroller to car or vice versa without disturbing the baby.

Overall it seems like an awesome, well-thought out product. It’s just so darn hard to guess what kind of system will work best for you until you’re in the middle of using it. This doesn’t seem to get easier: if you add more kids down the line, you have to discover each time what works for you again. My husband and I loved having an all-in-one system for our first baby and we used it like crazy. But it was pretty much useless after that first year.

One last thing: well-used baby equipment doesn’t look good forever. It’s nice to replace shabby looking products as the baby grows. I don’t think of baby equipment as long-term investments. Most baby products will only be used for a few months or a year. Babies aren’t babies for long.

I hope that helps. I’m also hoping some of my readers have seen or used this product and can give you a response. Best of luck! And we’d love to hear your final decision.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Miriam January 16, 2007 at 12:26 pm

This stuff looks really cool & unique, which are qualities nearly absent in american baby stuff.

My first concern when choosing carseats (we’re struggling with that forward-facing one year option now) is how does it rate in safety testing.

I didn’t go to the website to check this out so I don’t know if they’ve got it covered, but I personally would not want a seat that looks amazing unless it has successful testing/history behind it.

So for me, requirements for baby stuff go something like this:
1. Safety
2. Weight (I’m 5’1″ and I’ll pay more for lighter stuff)
3. Visual Pleasantness (which I can usually adjust with fabric covers, etc.)

Congrats on the baby!

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2 petie January 16, 2007 at 12:48 pm

Going along with what Gabby said, both of my kids hated sitting in the carseat, so taking it out and putting it in the stroller really wasn’t much of an option for us. They preferred the stroller alone. I know that most kids like the seat, so it wouldn’t be a problem. . .but just in case, you’d be in trouble with this stroller.

And as for the inflatable tires and pump. . .up until recently, we had a Valco as our main stroller, which has the inflatable tires. We never had a problem with them deflating, and we took it to the beach and all over the place.

We’ve had millions of stollers, but I highly recommend the Maclaren. It’s lightweight, looks great, and is such good quality. You’d have to wait a few months with it — it doesn’t work with the carseat, but it’s my recommendation. Until then, I’d use the stroller that’s just a frame where you can clip in your car seat. I’ve heard it’s really convenient. Just an idea. . .

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3 Anonymous January 16, 2007 at 1:34 pm

Thank you so much for the advice and review! A few stores here in San Francisco sell Orbit Baby, so I too want to check it out in person before we purchase anything. I really appreciate the point you made about the baby wanting to sit up around 6 months – I hadn’t thought of this at all. I promise to keep you posted as to whether or not we decide to get it. Thanks again!

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4 Anonymous January 16, 2007 at 5:32 pm

no personal advice, just wanted to say that this guy: http://daddytypes.com/
has all kinds of stroller reviews and discussions (also with design in mind) on his blog, there is a link on the right bar for every stroller related post.
congrats on the pregnancy :)

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5 Anonymous January 16, 2007 at 9:17 pm

I think Gabby is really right when she says baby products are not usually long-term investments. I thought our first stroller (the Peg Perego) was the greatest and most beautiful thing on earth…until we used if for a few months and realized it wasn’t quite tall enough. Since then we have been through about 6 strollers (and our oldest is only 2.5.) Different things work for different times in your life and what you need for changes from month to month. As petie said, we have a Maclaren double know, which we love, so far. But I wouldn’t be surprised if a year from now we want something totally different. So get what you want, but don’t feel like you are married to it. You can always sell the old one on ebay and recoup some of the value.

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6 Anonymous January 17, 2007 at 1:14 am

Have you thought about investing in one or a couple good wraps? Much of the time (but not all–I like to run with my girl) that babies are in strollers, you can be snuggling them instead, or “babywearing.” If you’ve never seen it done or haven’t tried it, it’s worth checking out. Here are two general links:

http://www.thebabywearer.com/
http://www.nineinnineout.org/

And a couple to some of the prettiest websites.

http://www.meitaibaby.com/shopcarriers.html
http://www.haveaballbaby.com/
http://www.mobywrap.com/
http://www.ellaroo.com/
http://www.hotslings.com/

Another advantage: These are baby items you DO use for more than just one year or a few months.

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7 Bek January 17, 2007 at 1:51 pm

My friend has an Orbit and loves it, but she willl only use it for a little while and does regret that it isn’t as felxable as some other strollers……

Babywearing is a necessity in my life now. My two youngest are close in age and I couldn’t go into a store w/out one. WIth my first, it felt like a “choice” and now it is a “can’t live without”. I didn’t like the ones that required lots of wrapping (neither did my kids) but we loved the pouches..the kind you just drop in and go. Try Kangaroo Kids for some ideas and some help.

:-)

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8 Jen I January 19, 2007 at 9:46 am

First of all, I had plans to be so mobile and on-the-go before I had my baby, but I must say, nothing knocks you off your game like having a baby! My expectations of keeping the same lifestyle just with a baby alongside have changed, but we still looked for that same flexibility when we bought our baby gear. We were given a travel system by someone, but it was truly hideous, so we decided it would be the one we would keep at Grandma’s house since we fly there often to visit for a month or so at a time. For our use at home we bought a McClaren Techno XT and really like it. We used it with him as a newborn and just used a Snuzzler with it (basically padding so the smaller baby doesn’t move around). It’s very lightweight and easy to maneuver places by yourself if you need to. Our baby was colicky and a terrible sleeper so we used to take him out on walks to get him to fall asleep and when he did I could easily carry the McClaren up the stairs to our apartment by myself. I imagine it would be much like that if you were in and out of subways and places since handicap accessibility isn’t always easy to find. So I would see if you felt you could do that with the Orbit. There weren’t many places I really felt I needed the whole travel system. I think I used it on a couple trips to the mall, but as has been mentioned, when babies are older they really do want to sit up, and that stroller doesn’t give you that option. Our baby is 7 months old and still uses an infant seat for a car seat and he is constantly trying to sit up out of it rather than sitting back in the chair.

As for airports, I have found the easiest thing for us is just to use a Baby Bjorn. The first time we had the whole travel system and it was just such a pain having to get all our junk out of the stroller to go through security and then get the baby out to go through security, then get it all back in once we were through. Everywhere I’ve been, they just let you wear the baby in the Bjorn through security which was much simpler for us.

If you’re taking taxis frequently though, I guess you would need one with a car seat so you would have one with you. So really, like everyone says, there’s no one perfect solution. Although, my 7 month old would hate being in the travel system now, so I would think you would just plan on having another option when the kid gets older if you really like that one. Good luck!

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9 Mom101 January 19, 2007 at 2:24 pm

Great assessment! I would add however that infant seats are outgrown based on the length/weight of the child. Ours was out of hers by 6 months so that would cut the use for this product in half.

I still absolutely love using our Bug Frog with the infant seat adaptor. That way you get the bassinet feature up front, the infant seat for the first 6 months or so, and then the regular stroller for the rest of your stroller days – all while making use of that primo suspension. It’s not an in-and-out-of-the-car stroller, but for walking I’ve found none better.

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10 Anonymous February 19, 2009 at 7:19 am

I have the Orbit. Both the infant system and the toddler car seat. This system is so easy to use. Ease of use, and being so light my wife who is 5’1 is able to carry this around and lift up to our SUV. I would have to say this is one system that grows with your child.

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11 Bill Traveres August 24, 2009 at 11:13 am

Great points… but what sold us on our purchase was the fact that their infant car seat has more impact protection than Peg Prego's or Maxi Cosi infant chairs.

The foam that they use to insulate is superior and more absorbive. If you're getting a demonstration they should have shown that to you.

The guy at Liapela Modern Baby store in Miami was incredible. He knew everything there was to know about it and basically was the reason we purchased it.

I think that once you own an Orbit infant system you'll know what all the hype is about. It's hands down the most practical stroller system on the market today.

Just my two cents for what it's worth.

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