August 18, 2009 8:41 AM   Subscribe

Which baby car seat should I buy for my soon to be born grandson? Are the baby stroller/car seats combo's a good idea.?
posted by Tayniksgranny to Shopping (24 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
We like our combo a lot (it's a Graco). It's convenient to be able to sit and attach the baby inside, before carrying them to the car and simply clipping the seat in place. The stroller is huge however (even when folded), so we bought a compact one to leave in the trunk.
posted by ddaavviidd at 8:52 AM on August 18, 2009 is the best place I have found for car seat information.

But, if you'd like recommendations from the hive having more information would really help. What kind of car do you/the parents drive? How will it be used? Will it need to be moved from one car to another often?
posted by a22lamia at 8:53 AM on August 18, 2009

the carseat/stroller combo worked really well in airports for me.
posted by lester at 8:56 AM on August 18, 2009

The travel systems are kind of a waste, I think. It's great to have an infant car seat (bucket style, removable, used with a base installed in the car) as they are much more snuggly for babies and can easily be taken out of the car when the baby falls asleep on the way home but I'd pair that with a simple Snap N' Go stroller frame and save your money to buy a stroller that will last (be useful) a lot of longer.

Actually, if you daughter/son gets an infant car seat, all you'll need is the corresponding base since the bucket can be used in any car with the base.

Graco SnugRides get pretty good reviews but you should check the website to make sure it'll work with your car.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 8:56 AM on August 18, 2009

Car Seat choices are pretty personal choices, but we were very happy with our Graco Snugrider. Also, the car seat / stroller combos are very bulky. We used The Graco Infant SnugRider Stroller, which is essentially just collapsible wheels for the car seat, and it was much more manageable in terms of bulk. This was especially nice when we flew to see relatives.
posted by reverend cuttle at 9:00 AM on August 18, 2009

When I was stroller shopping, I was not impressed by how well the stroller/car seat carrier combos hold together. By these I mean the travel systems, which act as a stroller even without a car seat attached. We are currently borrowing a friend's Graco SnugRider to use with our Graco SnugRide car seat and it is great! You can fold it one hand once the car seat is removed, and the seat is attached very securely.
posted by mkb at 9:07 AM on August 18, 2009

The travel systems, in my friends' experiences, are crappy strollers and crappy carseats.

Is this a secondary seat? If so, DON'T BUY AN INFANT BUCKET SEAT. The bucket seats are supposed to be great because you can lock them into strollers, shopping carts, carry the baby into the house and all that. But the fact is, you're not going to use it for very long. My son grew out of his ($200!) infant bucket seat before he was 6 months old.

Also, my kiddo never needed to be carried in his carseat. We used slings and other carriers for grocery shopping. He also transitioned between the car and the house without needing to stay in his carseat.

Te other option is a convertible seat. It faces back for the 1st year or so, and then it flips forward for a toddler. 99% of people (that I know) end up buying a convertible seat once the baby grows out of the infant bucket seat anyway. But the convertible seats are fine for non-preemie newborns.

So, to summarize, if this is just for grandma's car, get a convertible seat. If this is for the baby's primary transportation, get a high quality convertible seat (because you'll need one anyway) and if you find that baby is too sensitive to transition between car and house and/or parents are into slings, then you can buy an infant car seat for those months.

In general, with baby stuff, I wish that I had prepared LESS and just seen what baby needed. Amazon Prime has 2 day free shipping and 1 day for $4, afterall.

Shopping for carseats: has tons of deals (carseats go on sale every now and then) and excellent reviews ( is great, but is TOO dense. It is a good place to find suggestions for if it fits in particular cars though.)

For convertible seats we use the Britax Roundabout and the Recaro Como. Hate the Como, love the Roundabout.
posted by k8t at 9:10 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

We've got a Graco travel system combo and it's been nice for non-carseat walks around the neighborhood. It seems well put together and it's a smooth ride.

With that said, it's WAY to huge and heavy for everyday "running some errands" type outings. For that, we also have a Graco SnugRider which the carseat from the travel system snaps into. We use it 90% of the time when we go out. Highly recommended.
posted by csimpkins at 9:19 AM on August 18, 2009

Britax Roundabout.

We have one and know several families that have them. At first I couldn't understand why everyone was telling me not to buy anything else, but after having to occasionally strap another seat in my car, and then strap my kid in that seat, I fully understand why they're so highly regarded.

Whatever you get, make sure the cover can easily come off to be washed.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:20 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

We used Graco SnugRide for the car and snapped it into the SnugRider when getting him around; easy, convenient, just works. I would recommend it to anyone. We used a Roundabout after he grew out of the SnugRide, which we liked a lot too; but in our experience there wasn't a price-justifying difference between Britax and Graco.
posted by escabeche at 9:25 AM on August 18, 2009

I second the Roundabout. Here's a previous comment of mine. My son outgrew the Graco Snugride at 5 months, and even as an infant he was just too heavy to carry around in the seat. The travel systems are not as convenient as they would seem.
posted by peep at 9:40 AM on August 18, 2009

One more note: the Roundabout is selling for $159 - $179 right now. The Graco travel systems are $200 minimum. The car seat + snugrider combo is comparable to or greater in price than the Roundabout, depending on where you purchase.
posted by peep at 9:45 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

i also use a snugrider with the frame and could not recommend it more. We have the Britax Marathon for when she outgrows it.
posted by dpx.mfx at 9:48 AM on August 18, 2009

We had heard that travel systems are bulky, expensive, and the baby will only be happy in it for the first 4-5 months. Once head control is established, most kids really prefer to be in a dedicated stroller. What we did was just get the car seat we wanted (Chicco I think) and then a Snap N GO which is very inexpensive. That's been working out fine and now that Baby Bartfast is getting bigger and establishing good head control, we are looking at dedicated strollers and will probably get a Bob Revolution.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:23 AM on August 18, 2009

SnugRide + Snap&Go. That is all.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 10:51 AM on August 18, 2009

Our kid rides in a Snugride carseat right now, but we bought a Phil & Ted's Inline Sport stroller. (Would buy Phil & Ted's seat too, but they don't sell them in the US for some damn reason or another.) With a simple adapter the car seat fits into the stroller, or we can simply strap the kid into the stroller by himself if we are not driving anywhere.

Don't buy a stroller because it comes with a seat. Buy a stroller because it is a good stroller. For example, ours has big round wheels and can be steered easily with one hand, even when crossing a grassy field, which is something I really appreciate when I'm trying to wheel baby to daycare and drink my morning coffee while I walk.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:08 PM on August 18, 2009

The hubby and I are both reasonably tall and figured the kid might be, too, so we opted for a Graco SafeSeat, which is good for kids up to 32 inches tall, instead of the usual 29. We paired it with a Maclaren Easy Traveler, which has longer than average handles. We loved the flexibility of just having the frame to tote around instead of one of those huge systems, especially going through airports.
posted by wallaby at 12:57 PM on August 18, 2009

I'm mostly seconding advice. Ask on for advice about your particular car and situation. The combos are generally huge and not that great.

Check crash test ratings to find out which baby buckets are the highest rated. Baby buckets are safer than convertible seats since there is a shell all around the baby, so I recommend a top-rated baby bucket (Graco Snugride etc) and a cheap snap&go stroller frame. When baby grows out of the bucket, sell the snap&go on craigslist and move baby to a convertible seat, rear-facing until age 2 or longer if possible. If this seat is only in grandmas car for occasional use, then you could skip straight to the convertible.
posted by Joh at 1:34 PM on August 18, 2009

Bucket seats are safer than convertible seats. I'd recommend a bucket seat, followed by a Britax or similar high end car seat. Depending on the child's height and weight, you may be able to use the bucket up to 6-9 months.

As for the stroller, it depends on your needs. Is this for you or the parents? If it's for you and you won't be using the stroller a ton, you could just get an inexpensive stroller with a snap-in bar for the car seat. If the stroller is for your own high use or for the parents, look for one with nice big real tire wheels and the ability to face the stroller front or back (studies show language skills are stronger when baby faces you, plus it's easier to keep an eye on the baby or turn away from the sun), plus a tray for snacks and a drink.

I found that the car seat was handy. If the mom is sore or has a bad tear, it may be easier for her to pop the car seat into a stroller or shopping cart. Some moms also do not have the core strength to carry a baby for long periods when the child is very young. (I am an attachment parent and I carry my kids a lot, but I had those barriers and so it was helpful for me to have the car seat.)

They do say now that you shouldn't let your baby sleep in a car seat for long periods, as the air constriction can cause SIDS. So maybe babes can just learn to transition to the stroller, if it's all they've ever known.

If you or anyone else is carrying a bucket seat, do carry it like a basket. Using one arm is a recipe for injury.
posted by acoutu at 2:09 PM on August 18, 2009

If your child has a Graco bucket seat (the kind that snaps into a base) - and they bring that seat when they come visit you....all you have to buy is a base! My parents lived in another state, and we travelled by plane to see them during many phases in our now 1.5-year-old's life. We would gate-check the bucket and I'd wear him onto the plane in a sling. All my folks had to do was buy a $30 base for our bucket seat.

When he outgrew the bucket and we bought a Britax for our cars, I had my parents buy a Cosco Scenera for visits. Inexpensive, and well-rated.
posted by pinky at 4:47 PM on August 18, 2009

Are you taking the baby home from the hospital?

If yes, get a standard bucket infant seat (Graco or Baby Trend) and a snap-in stroller.

If no, wait. Seriously, just wait. Let the parents figure out what works for their baby (mine both hated their carseats, so I have a literally never-used car-seat-snap-stroller thingie in my basement, and I almost always put the baby in a sling, up to a year old), and they will then be able to tell you what would work the best.
posted by palliser at 7:11 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

My wife and I used a Peg Perego interlocking system with a bucket seat that locked into both a base and a stroller. It's really nice to be able to move the kid around without having to haul him out of the seat for every single transition, especially when their little noggins are flopping around in the first few months. They sleep a lot and it helps to keep them that way. As for the stroller, it locks in okay, but the stroller itself handles like a canal boat. You'll get Maclaren envy.

You're going to have to replace it with a seat for bigger kids at some point. My wife and I went with the Nautilus and we've been pretty happy with it.

Yeah, the bucket seat is a bit expensive for one kid... which is why you should have more than one. You'll feel better about being able to amortize everything you buy for the first one.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 9:29 PM on August 18, 2009

Congratulations grandma! If you're going to be babysitting a lot, FWIW when I was a nanny I found it totally worthwhile to buy my own car seat to keep in my car, rather than having to switch out with the parents. It only cost me about 2 days' pay to get a good one, and the parents never cared what I got as long as it was new and I watched the recalls. Unfortunately I'm not up on my infant car seats as the 5-year-old I watch now is in a booster seat (which are cheaper than car seats). I did get a great deal on my booster seat at Target.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:19 PM on August 19, 2009

SnugRide + Snap-n-Go stroller to start, then a Britax convertible car seat for when they get too big for the infant car seat/tote. We have a Britax Roundabout in the smaller car and a Britax Marathon in the larger car. I think they stopped making Marathons; Boulevard is the new alternative I think.
As for what stroller to get... that's a huge question that needs to take into account a lot of aspects of the family's lifestyle.

Most people will agree the travel systems are a terrible idea - too bulky.
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 7:30 PM on September 8, 2009

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