Updated 10/14

Car Seat Options

Let’s start with the hard stuff, dig?

Unless you never drive or you take taxis, you need a car seat. Some say it must be new because it’s the only way to ensure it hasn’t been in an accident. I mean, what kind of mean mother-effer would sell a wrecked car seat secondhand? Ha! JERKS.

Anywho, not to be totally morbid but motor vehicle crashes are the #1 cause of fatal injuries in children (AND adults) up to the age of 34. Eek. This is important stuff here, peeps, pay attention…

infant seat

Infant seat / “bucket”

convertible car seat

Convertible car seat

There are 2 options for transporting your new babe: an infant seat (a.k.a. “the bucket”) or a convertible seat, called so because it starts as a rear-facing seat and “converts” to a front-facing seat later on.

The majority of parents start with the infant seat because of its portability.

However, you may skip the infant seat altogether and go directly to the larger, heavier convertible seat. Yes, you can save some money this way, but keep in mind you won’t be able to use it in conjunction with a stroller, which is a major con.

Carrying Car Seat

A supermodel I’ve never heard of

**If you choose to go straight to the convertible seat for your newborn, be sure to choose a seat with low bottom harness slots, as this can be a problem area for newborns. See my recommendations for newborn convertible seats here.

Infant seats are smaller, lighter, and portable and last until your babe is about a year old (give or take). They also come with an adjustable sun shade, which is extremely handy.

Stroller Carseat

Baby Alice falling asleep while running errands

You see, most moms end up using the infant car seat for more than just riding in the car. There is a good reason for this: your newborn baby falls asleep in the car on the way to the grocery store. The last thing you want to do is unearth your peacefully slumbering baby from the bucket. What’s that saying about letting sleeping dogs lie? Yeah, well, the same goes for babies.

With an infant seat, you can simply remove the car seat from the car, snap it into your stroller base, and get on with it (right). Your baby finishes his nap in situ and everyone’s happy. You can’t do this with a convertible seat.

Since 95% of moms start with an infant seat for the first year, that’s what we’ll discuss here.

Infant Car Seats

There is no one “best seat” out there. Why? Mainly because everyone drives a different car, and what fits properly and safely in a Honda Accord may not do the trick in an Audi A3, for example. And sometimes, to complicate matters, what fits in your car (a sedan) may not fit in your husband’s car (a pickup truck). Ack! Everyone’s situation is different.

prince william

The young prince prefers the Britax B-Safe

The only way to know if a seat will fit – FOR SURE – is to try it out right after you buy it (keep the tags on!!). If installing the car seat requires you to push the passenger seat all the way forward (rendering the passenger seat useless), take the damn thing back and get a smaller one. This is a very common problem. Don’t get stuck in this situation, otherwise the only thing calling shotgun will be your diaper bag…

Also, take comfort in knowing that even the cheapest of rear-facing car seats are, generally speaking, extremely safe because the head and neck are cradled and fully supported in the direction of impact in the rear-facing position. According to Kristy Arbogast, PhD, engineering director at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, “Our investigations of real-world crashes over the past ten years found infants in rear-facing car seats had an extremely low risk of injury in a crash. Of the crashes studied, very few infants in rear-facing seats were injured.”

Yet another reason to keep your baby rear-facing for as long as possible.

Types of Infant Seats

Essentially, there are American style infant seats and European style infant seats, even though few people use this nomenclature.

The European seats are typically more expensive because they *usually* (not always) have additional safety features, such as an anti-rebound feature. An anti-rebound feature will prevent the seat from flipping up and back down (or, “rebounding”) in the event of a front or rear-impact collision.

An anti-rebound feature can take the form of a load leg (as seen in Cybex and Nuna seats) or an anti-rebound “bar” that’s built into the base (as seen in the Maxi Cosi Prezi, below).

antirebound

An anti-rebound bar

Euro seats also have a European-style belt path, which means that the shoulder portion of the lap/shoulder belt is routed behind the seat (below), which makes for a more secure “base-less” seatbelt installation.

Don’t let any of this make your head explode; the takeaway here is that if you are a City dweller who plans on taking taxis (and other cars you don’t own), I’d definitely recommend a Euro-style seat. The rest of you will be just fine using an American-style car seat.

eurostyle belt path

A European belt path

Yes, it’s true, we are a bit behind our Europeans counterparts when it comes to car seat safety standards, but it doesn’t mean that the American seats are necessarily inferior. In fact, the vast majority of Americans use American seats and it’s just fine (so there :P ).

Favorite Infant Seats

There are loads of infant seats to choose from, but here are the ones we like the best (depending on your budget, of course): 

$ — Graco SnugRide 
$$ — Chicco KeyFit OR Britax B-Safe
$$$ — Cybex Aton 2 (or Q) OR Nuna PIPA

See these on Pinterest.

Stroller and Car Seat Compatibility

Ideally, you should select an infant seat that’s compatible with your stroller of choice. It will save you $40+ for a special “car seat adapter” alone. Yes, this is tricky because it’s a chicken and egg problem (the seat you choose kinda depends on your stroller; the stroller you get kinda depends on your seat). I recommend you read the Stroller Intro to get a basic idea of what to look for.

Onward.

1. Graco SnugRide Classic Connect 30

Graco Snugride 30

Graco SnugRide Classic Connect 30

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If you have less than $100 to spend, as many of us do, the Graco SnugRide Classic Connect is your best bet. This seat is affordable, reliable, and fairly easy to install. It has a nice canopy for keeping the sun out of baby’s eyes and best of all, it weighs in at a mere 7.5 lbs, score!

Don’t be confused, there are about 7 different SnugRide models out there. Note that the less expensive models have straps that adjust behind the seat (as opposed to between the legs). This makes it way more difficult to adjust than this version; I don’t recommend.

The best deals ($99ish) on the SnugRide Classic Connect (with harness adjuster in the front!) can be found at Walmart and Target (exclusives).

Note that the SnugRide Click Connect is also a fine car seat, but at that price point (~$150+), I would definitely opt for the Chicco KeyFit or Britax B-Safe (below). Just sayin.

And just to complicate matters, we were just informed (9/14) that all SnugRides going forward (sometime in 2015 perhaps?) are going to be Click Connects because they are phasing out the Classic Connects altogether.

My big beef with the ClickConnect seats is that they are NOT compatible with the vast majority of strollers out there. If you buy the Click Connect (as opposed to the Classic Connect) (stay with me, here), you will likely be stuck with a Graco brand stroller. Yes, they did that on purpose, so don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

However, given that it will be ALL ClickConnects going forward, stroller manufacturers will likely start making adapters for the ClickConnect, but for now – that’s the sitch.

“But shouldn’t I buy the 35 or 40 lb SnugRide and get longer use out of it?” No. When Lucie was about to turn 4 years old, she weighed a mere 36 lbs soaking wet. There’s no way on Earth that an older toddler or preschooler is going to sit in an infant seat. It’s completely preposterous.

The Graco SnugRide is an American style seat, BUT the SnugRide Click Connect 35 has a European belt path option (who knew?). That would be the only reason you’d want to buy the SR 35, not because it will last longer.

Stroller Compatibility

The SnugRide car seat goes nicely with their basic car seat stroller frame, the Snug Rider Elite.

Another favorite Graco stroller is the Graco Modes, which is sold exclusively at Babies R Us. The Modes has many modes (hence the name): use just with the car seat alone – or with the stroller seat in forward-facing or rear-facing position (rear-facing is typically an option found only on luxury strollers). 

Generally, I don’t recommend any other Graco “travel system” strollers because they tend to be heavy, bulky, and not as well made as others in the same price category.

Runner Up in this category: Safety 1st Comfy Carry


2. Chicco KeyFit 30, $189

Alice in her KeyFit on a plane

Alice in her KeyFit on a plane

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“Old Faithful” — the Chicco Keyfit is rated #1 by consumers on multiple 3rd party sites, including Consumer Reports. And I agree!

The KeyFit is a high-quality, beautifully designed car seat that won’t break the bank. This seat is best known for ease of installation, safety, and fit (trust me, after doing many car seat checks for my CPST certification, I totally concur).

It has a flip-out visor for extra sun protection and a removable newborn insert; it’s also the seat of choice for transporting preemies (babies 4+ lbs) home from the NICU.  If there’s any reason to think you might go into labor early or you are expecting multiples, definitely get this seat(s).

* The KeyFit is an American-style seat.

Stroller Compatibility

For your lightweight stroller frame, go with the KeyFit Caddy.

BUT WAIT! The Chicco Liteway Plus is also a great option; it offers a lightweight base for your car seat, then later becomes a regular umbrella stroller. You may not appreciate this now, but once your baby turns 9 months or so, you’ll want/need an umbrella stroller anyway. With the Liteway Plus, you can kill 2 birds with 1 stone. Score!

Also, Chicco just came out with a pretty awesome jogging stroller called the Activ3. If you’re planning on buying a  jogging stroller anyway, the KeyFit car seat+ Activ3 is a pretty rad combo.


3. Britax B-Safe, $179

Britax B-Safe in red

Britax B-Safe in red

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Britax makes a damn fine seat and this one is no exception. Compared to his rival, the KeyFit, there are VERY FEW tangible differences between these 2 seats.

The KeyFit is a little easier to install, while the B-Safe has a much better sun canopy. At the end of the day, you should really decide based on stroller compatibility (see below).

* The B-Safe is an American style seat

Stroller compatibility:

The true beauty of the B-Safe is his compatibility with Britax and BOB strollers (Britax now owns BOB).

Unfortunately, Britax doesn’t make a lightweight car seat stroller frame, like the Chicco Caddy and Graco SnugRider, AND it doesn’t go well with the “universal” car seat stroller, the BabyTrend Snap N Go, so your options for a lightweight stroller frame are just about nil.

That said, the Britax B-Safe car seat + B-Agile stroller is an awesome travel system combination (my top pick, perhaps?).  You can also use the B-Safe with the ever popular Britax B-Ready stroller, which upgrades to a double when you have another kiddo (see best convertible strollers here). All three of these strollers utilize the Britax Click & Go connection systems, so you don’t have to buy a car seat adapter.

In the jogging stroller department, the B-Safe goes with any of the BOB jogging strollers (with an adapter). In fact, if you are already sold on BOB, you can get a special BOB/B-Safe infant seat that will be all matchey-matchey with your BOB stroller.

Britax is really good at bundling nice products together for a crazy-ass good price — take advantage!

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Runner up in this price category: the Maxi Cosi Mico AP

People love the Mico because it is SO very lightweight and GREAT if you have a small car, not to mention very stylish. On the downside, the canopy is very flimsy and stains easily (in the rain and such) and the seat will be outgrown earlier than most, due to the 22 lb weight limit and the generally smaller proportions.

maxi cosi ap

Bottom line: If you’re looking for a <$200 seat for a small car with a great color selection, check out the Mico AP.

Maxi Cosi also makes the Prezi, which is a very nice seat with some amazing features, such as an anti-rebound bar (built into the base), the “Air Protect” side impact feature, easy in-and-out straps and a no-rethread harness. However, this seat is bit heavier (9 lbs) and larger than the Mico (takes up a LOT of room in the back seat) and the sun canopy is a bit of a joke.

Bottom line: The Prezi is a great seat with lots of cool features, but I would not pay full price for it. For that price ($280), I’d opt for the Cybex Aton 2 instead. Unless, of course, you are planning on using it with a Quinny stroller, in which case it’s your best bet.


4. UPPAbaby Mesa, $279, 10.5 lbs

UPPAbaby is another luxury brand that’s actually worth the money, in my opinion; their gear is always sleek, attractive, and well-designed, and their customer service is top-notch.

UPPABaby Mesa

UPPAbaby Mesa

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They made their foray into the world of car seats with the Mesa last summer. The schtick with the Mesa is ease of installation; with a self-ratcheting base, simply push the base down with your body weight (using LATCH) and BAM! He’s done. Finito. Most other seats require lots of pulling, tugging, etc.

The Mesa also has a no-rethread harness (very hard to find on infant seats!) and a superior sun shade, although some have complained that it stains and fades easily. The only thing not to love about this seat is the weight; 10.5 lbs is definitely on the heavy side for infant seats.

Hence, the Mesa is a great Euro-style seat (yet from an American company), but it’s heavier and bulkier than others in the same price category, such as the Cybex, Nuna, or Maxi-Cosi. Therefore, I would only choose the Mesa if you’re purchasing an UPPABaby stroller, which are so very awesome and popular.

Stroller compatibility:

Again, if you are in the market for the UPPAbaby Cruz stroller or the Vista stroller (see below), both of which I love, you are best off with this seat. Your problem is going to be finding a simple, lightweight stroller base for this guy. I know of none (so far)…

 5. Cybex Aton 2, ~$299, 9 lbs

If your budget is a bit more generous (or you have a really rich Aunt), the German-engineered Cybex Aton 2 (and Q) is, in my opinion, the best infant seat on the market. Here’s why:

  • safety features galore
  • easy to install without a base
  • small footprint
  • freakin’ beautiful!

Safety features: The European-style Aton 2 (and Q) boasts two safety features that most other seats lack ~

1. The LINEAR SIDE IMPACT PROTECTION (LSP) system.

This is a “wing”, of sorts, that pops out from the handle of the seat, which transfers side-impact crash energy to the seat’s shell (see it perform here in a crash test). If you are installing your baby’s seat in an outboard (side) position, take special note of this.

2. The Load Leg

loadleg
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The Aton 2′s load leg is a “leg” that pops down ( shown left) from the car seat base, which minimizes “rebound” and transfers crash energy to the floor of the vehicle and away from your baby. The Nuna PIPA infant seat has this feature as well.

Want more? Attention people in cities who don’t own a car: this seat is super easy to install WITHOUT the base because of its European belt path, which routes the shoulder strap behind the seat. You can do this with other seats as well, but this installation is particularly easy and sturdy.

Furthermore, this guy takes up much less space than other popular seats, such as the Graco SnugRide. If you have a small back seat or a sports car perhaps, this may be your only option.

Stroller compatibility:

The Aton 2 can be used (with adapter) with any of Cybex’s strollers: the Callisto, Topaz, or the Onyx.

With a Cybex OR Maxi-Cosi car seat adapter, the Aton 2 can also be used on the vast majority of strollers in the strollersphere, especially the luxury strollers.


6. Nuna Pipa, $300, 7.7 lbs

Nuna made a splash when they entered the US market a couple of years ago.

Here is a demo of the fabulous Pipa infant seat at from year’s Baby Show.

The Nuna Pipa infant seat is VERY similar to the Cybex Aton 2 (above), but with a nicer/larger sun canopy that includes the “dream drape” for total darkness (I LOVE the dream drape!!)

The Dream Drape

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The Pipa also has what’s called “rigid LATCH connectors”, which click right into your LATCH hooks without using force to jam them into place.

Like the Aton’s load leg, the Pipa has an anti-rebound stability leg which serves the same purpose.

Although the colors aren’t as inspiring and it lacks the linear side protection feature, the Pipa is worth a look if you are spending these kind of Benjamins.

Stroller compatibility:

Nuna makes a few strollers that may interest you, including the Pepp and the Ivvi. The Pepp is a lightweight, compact stroller that folds nicely and has an easy, one-hand push. The Ivvi is a full-size all-terrain strollers, much like the UPPABaby Vista.

For compatibility with other strollers, it seems anecdotally that the Nuna Pipa and the Cybex Aton(s) all fit well onto the Maxi Cosi car seat adapter for any given stroller.

 

 


Infant Car Seat Notes

Infant Seat Weight Limits

You don’t need a 35 or 40 lb weight limit infant seat.

Most people upgrade to a convertible car seat around 12 months of age anyway, so 90% of you will be just fine with a 22 lb weight capacity seat… and 100% of you will be just fine with a 30 lb seat. 35 and 40 lb infant seats are ludicrous. There’s NO WAY a 2, 3 or 4-year-old is going to sit in an infant bucket [3-year-olds weigh between 30 and 35 lbs]. Also remember: car seats (of all types) are outgrown height-wise BEFORE your kiddo reaches the max weight. Promise.

Can you use a USED car seat?

Technically, yes. Provided that a) it hasn’t expired (see below) and b) it has never been in a crash or has been otherwise compromised. If you have a reliable friend or family member who wants to give you their old seat that meets these requirements, then by golly, do it!

Expiration

Car seats expire *roughly* 6 years after the date of manufacturing, unless otherwise noted. The date can always be found on a sticker on the bottom or side of the seat. Check the base as well (they should have the same manufacturing date unless they weren’t purchased together). Is this a gimmick? No. In fact, the plastic degrades over time, especially when exposed to cold, heat… puke, apple juice. It doesn’t magically implode into dark matter right at 6 years, but experts agree that it’s about the right time to be replaced.

Yes, but where are the crash tests?

While all car seats rated by the NHTSA meet Federal Safety Standards and strict crash performance standards, NHTSA does not quantitatively rate or rank them in any way. The only thing the NHTSA rates car seats for is Ease of Use, which most of us car seat technicians agree is a bit of a joke because many of our favorite seats score poorly according to them. However, Consumer Reports (membership required) published a fairly extensive review in 2014. While I generally feel that Consumer Reports misses the mark on juvenile products (they overlook important usability features and give too much weight to features that nobody cares about), I’ll admit that this year’s report was fairly sound.

Car Seat Notes:

* Many people don’t know this, but car seat bases are simply for convenience. You install the base very snug and secure in your back seat and leave it in place. The car seat simply snaps in and out of it. This is good if you doubt your ability to properly install and remove the seat every time, especially if you are always in a hurry (like me!). However, you don’t *have to* use the base.

car seat base

In fact, if you are caught across town in the rain with your car seat/stroller, you can hail a cab, install the car seat (only), throw the stroller base in the trunk, and be on your merry way. The same goes for renting a car, flying on a plane, etc. Bottom line: Just buy a base for the vehicles you use most frequently (the seat itself should come with ONE base). You don’t need a base for every member of the extended fam-damily. And for godsakes, don’t bring the base when you travel. What a pain {learn more about airline travel in mah book, Flying with Baby!}.

* I know a lot of moms who don’t really know how to remove and re-install the car seat or base, or are afraid to. They’ve been scared by propaganda that ensures them they will screw it up and their baby will die a hideous accidental death. May I suggest you and your partner take a couple of hours one day in your third trimester to learn how to put it in and take it out. You can even drive to an inspection station near you for some additional instruction and peace of mind. AAA offices offer this service as do many (but not all) local police and fire stations.

Practice a few times and, for godsakes, don’t wait and do this on your car ride home from the hospital! By then your brain will have lost the ability to learn or deal with anything new. For tips on installing your infant seat, click here.

Stroller Frames – See these on Pinterest

Chicco KeyFit + Caddy

Chicco KeyFit + Caddy

For the first six months or so, most moms use an infant car seat in conjunction with a very lightweight, simple stroller frame {translation: wheels for your car seat}. Forget about a heavy and bulky full-size “travel system”, this is the way to go!

This concept is ideal for a newborn for so many reasons… the stroller frame itself is inexpensive, lightweight, and compact (tip: buy it used on Craigslist!). After heaving this thing in and out of your trunk 50 times, you will come to understand why being small and lightweight is of the UTMOST importance. When folded, it takes up very little space. Also, the under basket is heee-YOOOGE so you can go on a major shopping trip and not have to worry about lugging around your loot.

And as a practical matter, moms and dads, the logistics of getting out of the house with your new baby can be shockingly overwhelming. The LAST THING you want to worry about is how to operate some big, heavy, complicated stroller. Your sleep-deprived mommy brain is not going to have the wherewithal do deal with ANYTHING that isn’t super simple. Trust me on this one.

The universal solution is the Baby Trend Snap N Go, but again, you’re much better off if you can get one that goes with your seat. For the Graco SnugRide, go with the SnugRider Elite. For the Chicco KeyFit, go with the Chicco Caddy or EVEN BETTER, the Liteway Plus. For Britax seats, if for some crazy reason, you aren’t getting the B-Agile travel system (which you should), consider the Britax B-Nimble (which is really an umbrella stroller that also accepts a car seat; an analog to the Liteway Plus).

stroller-careseat

Sexy they are not; the beauty of these stroller bases is that they are super lightweight, affordable, and easy to collapse and fold.  

Real Strollers

The car seat/stroller solution mentioned above is a wonderful *general purpose* item for the first year and a must-have for air travel, but afterward (when your baby-in-car-seat becomes too heavy to carry), you’ll probably want a real stroller that will take you into toddler/preschool years.

In my opinion, these are the top 4 criteria when selecting your long-term stroller:

  1. What is your access-to-the-street situation?

    Meaning: Do you have a garage at ground level that you can roll right out of? Or perhaps you live in a walk-up apartment (stairs, no elevator)? Maybe you’re just looking for something to keep in the car? Think about where you will keep the stroller and how you will get it outside each time. This is probably the most important factor to consider (i.e. size and WEIGHT).

  2. What is your budget?

    Strollers range from $60 to about $900 for luxury strollers. And some are more (ridiculous!). Think about how much you want to spend. Keep in mind you can probably find a high-quality USED stroller on Craigslist without too much difficulty.

  3. Do you have plans for another baby in the next 3 years or so?

    If you’re pretty darn sure that another baby is in your nearish future (less than 3 years or so), you may want to consider a stroller that upgrades to a double, also known as a “convertible” stroller. The top 3 are the Britax B-Ready, the Baby Jogger City Select, and the UPPAbaby Vista. See my side by side comparison of these strollers hereAlso check out Phil & Teds inline strollers and if you have mad money and a big ego, the Bugaboo Donkey. Kidding.

  4. What terrain will you (predominantly) be rolling over?

    For those who have to roll over bricks, sand, gravel, or any other unpaved surface, you’ll want an “all-terrain” stroller with large tires and good suspension (not to be confused with a “true” jogging stroller, which is for running).

Ponder these questions.

In addition to the car seat/skeleton combo mentioned up top, here are some other strollers that mommies love:

A. The City Mini or Britax B-Agile

The Babyjogger City Mini

The Baby Jogger City Mini

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The City Mini was my original love — I was horny for this stroller the first time I laid eyes on it; so compact, sleek, sporty, easy to fold. Mmmmmm mmm. Since I lived in the city (SF) and had to walk up a flight of stairs to get to my apartment, I needed something lightweight that also had some suspension. A 57-pound stroller the size of a small golf cart (sneeze: BOB) was not going to fit the bill.

Here’s the thing: it collapses into a neat, carry-able package with one lift of the arm (see my quick demo here). That’s it! When you’re at the subway station and you realize the elevator is out of service, this is the stroller you wish you had. Yes, it has a pivoting front wheel, which makes it easy to steer with one hand (you are so demanding!). It scoffs at bumps and curbs. The seat lies down flat for a napping baby (what I call the “first class” position) and sits up for “Coach” — and every position in between. It’s also beautifully designed. Yes, my dears… it’s the iPhone of strollers. It also has a fabulous sun shade that pulls alllll the way down.

If you really want *just one* stroller in your life, you could get this stroller with the car seat adapter and be done with it.

A couple of downsides: 1. a small(ish) cargo basket. You can’t take this one to the grocery store and plan on filling it up, sadly (you can only fit about 4 bottles of wine in the bottom…so I’ve heard). 2. Because the upright position is slightly still reclined, some babies/toddlers get annoyed that they aren’t sitting all the way up; whether or not this will be a problem just depends on the temperament of your child.

* A couple of years ago, Baby Jogger came out with the City Mini GT, which is the lovechild of the City Mini and the beloved all-terrain City Elite. If you want the features of an all-terrain stroller without the size and bulk, check out the City Mini GT for $100 more. 

* Both of these also come in a double version.

B. Britax B-Agile (~$249)

Britax B-Agile

Britax B-Agile

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See above. Just kidding (sort of).

So… Britax came out with the B-Agile, which was SHOCKINGLY similar to the City Mini. SO similar, in fact, that they were then sued for patent infringement. Oopsie!

Anyway, I’m torn. City Mini gets props for doing it first, buuut the B-Agile gets props for packaging it with 2 fantastic car seats (see above), the B-Safe and the Chaperone, then selling it CHEAPER than the City Mini. Viva la competition!

If someone were to ask me, “Which car seat and stroller should I get?”, I would say, “get the Britax B-Safe + B-Agile combo”. Get them together for $320 and THAT, my friends, is an amazing deal. You WON’T be disappointed, I promise.

C. The Baby Jogger City Versa ($399)


Baby Jogger City Versa
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Baby Jogger strollers are soooo thoughtful and well-made; the Versa is no different. This stroller is still small(ish), compact, and easy to fold like his brother, the City Mini, but he also allows baby to face the rear (i.e. YOU) or to face forward (there are only a FEW strollers on the market that do this). Everyone and their mom will tell you it’s MUCH better/easier/happier for baby to face you rather than staring off into space. If he’s eating, you can make sure he’s not choking. If he’s sleeping, you’ll know that too (yada, yada). You can be much more… in touch when you’re facing your babe.

Unlike other rear-facing strollers, you DON’T have to switch the seat back around in order to fold it. And THAT’S why the Versa is the best in the rear-facing-strollersphere (among UPPAbaby Cruz, Bugaboo Bee, Mamas & Papas Sola, etc.).

The Versa also has a large, accessible storage basket, he lies flat for napping, he’s got great suspension… I can only find good things to say about this stroller. You will love it.

D. The BOB Revolution (~$450)

The notorious B-O-B is the Land Rover of strollers. It’s expensive (~$450, although usually on sale), it weighs 27 lbs, and it does not care what you think of it. If you have to walk up steps to get to your door, don’t even *think* about buying this stroller. However, if you live in suburbia (which I imagine most of you do) or you have a garage in the City, this stroller may be the one for you.

With a 12″ wheel and the ability to roll right over homeless people lying across the sidewalk (oh please! I would never!) (okay, just that one time), it is the ultimate all-terrain stroller. It holds up to 70 pounds of human flesh, so you can actually use it for your 4’10″ grandmother. See, very versatile!

BOB Revolution

BOB Revolution

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This is an all-terrain stroller (NOT a true running stroller), so the suspension makes for a very smooth ride. It also has a front wheel that locks (for light jogging or rough terrain) or swivels (for maneuvering around the grocery store). Bottom line: If you need a heavy-duty, super durable all-terrain stroller and have some cash to drop, this is the stroller for you. Ask anyone who owns this stroller and they will tell you it is well worth the money.

My petite friend, Cheryl, has this stroller and uses it with the car seat adapter. She weighs about 105 lbs soaking wet. I’m not sure how good you are at arithmetic, but when you sum the weight of the stroller (27 lbs), the car seat (9 lbs) and baby (12 lbs), it’s about half of her body weight. No wonder she is gasping for air after pushing that thing up the Noe Street hill. Point being: This bad boy is HEV-VEEEEE. You feel me?

If you’re getting this stroller, do yourself a favor and get the Britax B-Safe or Britax Chaperone car seat. Other car seats require all sorts of shenanigans to get the adapter working (styrofoam blocks, etc.). Don’t want. Hey, and if you’re a matchy-matchy kind of gal, they have a special B-Safe seat that matches BOB colors (available only at REI). Oh, won’t you be the envy of your Stroller Strides class!?

Notes:

* Consider this stroller if you have to roll over grass, sand, gravel, brick sidewalks, or any other non-paved surface in order to get from A to B.

* Ironically, this stroller was not designed to be a true jogging stroller. It’s an “all-terrain” stroller, which many people use for jogging. The true jogger from BOB is called the Ironman and has a fixed front wheel. Even the folks at BOB are baffled by the fact that everyone uses their Revolution for jogging…

* It also comes in a double version if twins are in your future.

E. The UPPAbaby Vista ($730) – The NEW Vista 2015 ($819) is coming in November 2014. See more here.

I will tell you right upfront, this bad boy costs over $700. Ouch. This and the Bugaboo are the two popular high-end strollers ’round these parts (San Francisco). This is one actually worth a damn.

UPPABaby Vista

UPPAbaby Vista

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The Vista is a versatile, fancy pants stroller. It boasts an easy, one-step fold mechanism. For your newb, it comes with an old-fashioned bassinet so your babe can slumber horizontally. The seat adjusts to face forward or backward, which is actually a very cool feature (it’s MUCH better to be able to see your baby and make eye contact rather than having him face away from you). Attention tall people and NBA players: this one has adjustable handles (up to 6’6″), which is key for us tree-people. This and the floating arch “no kick” rear axle mean you will never kick or trip on the back. The sun canopy is extra large and comes with a zip-in weather shield and mesh bug/sun shield. See it in action here.

To me, the Vista is better than the Bugaboo Chameleon because the Bug is $150 more expensive (if that’s even possible) and requires you to remove the seat in order to fold it (seriously?).  For that price, I’d expect more, but hey that’s just me.

As mentioned earlier, the Vista can also convert to a double stroller with the added 2nd seat (the “rumble seat“). While it’s not my favorite as a double, most find it sufficient.

This stroller weighs 24 lbs as a single and can be used until your baby (eh… 7-year-old?) reaches 50 lbs. For your bassinet, you can also buy this beautiful bassinet stand, which actually converts to a laundry hamper when you’re done with it. ISN’T THAT COOL?? So cool.

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** If you love the Vista but can’t afford it, check out the UPPAbaby Cruz. It’s slightly watered down but has all the good features… definitely worth checking out.


Onward.

E. “Travel Systems”

Basically, a travel system is a car seat/stroller combo that is specifically made to go together, except the stroller is bigger and is meant to be used for a longer period of time (i.e. into toddlerhood).  The car seat snaps into the stroller (for infants) and can be used without the car seat as your child gets older. Great, sounds perfect, right?

Well, the big beef people have with these is that they tend to be very bulky and heavy (about 45 lbs – whaaat?). Everyone I know who bought a travel system (other than the ones I’ve listed above) ended up ditching it pretty early on for a lighter weight, less bulky stroller. Hence, I do not recommend.

BTW — there are waaaaay more strollers than what I’ve listed above (about 200, in fact), these are just the most noteworthy.

Recommendations Summary ~

Okay, peeps, that was the hardest one. Congratulations!  On to: 2. Baby Carriers