New or soon-to-be parents that are looking for efficient travel solutions for their infants often look to a Car Seat Stroller Combo (aka travel system) as an all in one convenient solution. It’s likely that if you’re looking for an infant car seat then you will also be in the market for a reliable stroller at the same time. Both of these are essential items for new parents that intend to be fully mobile. So why not combine the two and save the hassle of buying independently whilst gaining other efficiencies at the same time?
As is the case with making any significant purchase, in order to make the right choice you need to really know what your requirements are before you set out. Consider your lifestyle and how you will use the Car Seat Stroller Combo and the locations that you will take it. By thinking about where you will take your Car Seat Stroller Combo and the activities you might be doing, you can define the features you will need.
With such a range of car seat stroller combos on the market, it's important to know what the different design options and pros and cons are before you commit to this significant purchase. This will be the focus of this article, so if you are considering a car seat stroller combo then please read on!
Key Benefits of Car Seat Stroller Combos
A car seat stroller combo seems like a “no brainer” if you want to save time and money and make your life as simple as possible when it comes to getting around with your newborn. Parenthood is an extremely busy time, especially during the first year and anything that can be done to improve efficiency can really help make life easier. Life can seem such a rush sometimes so every little bit of time saved adds up! These are the key benefits of getting an all-in one solution to your baby mobility needs via a car seat stroller combo:
- Save time: through seamless change over from car to stroller and vice versa.
- Save baby crying: by avoiding un-strapping, moving and re-strapping your child they will be able to carry on dozing undisturbed when you transfer from car to foot or vice versa. It’s amazing how often infants doze off once you put them in a car seat or stroller and they don’t like being disturbed and will let you know that for sure! You simply unclick the carrrier from the carseat and snap it into the stroller or vice versa.
- Save money: by buying a Car Seat Stroller Combo as a bundle there are often good discounts available.
- Save space: by not having to load your car with a seat for the stroller as well as the car seat for travelling in the car. All you need to transport is the stroller frame, which in itself can take up a considerable amount of space in the car.
Design Features of a Car Seat Stroller Combo
The main components of a car seat stroller combo system that you will find are:
These vary from ultra-lightweight infant car seat frames to heavy duty frames that can support children up to the age of 5. Choice really comes down to how much you want to spend and how versatile and long lasting you want the frame to be.
The lightweight frames are usually only suitable for the first 6-12 months from birth and after this time you will need to upgrade to a full stroller once your child has outgrown the infant car seat. The heavier duty frames will be useful for much longer as they can support a larger stroller seat once your child has outgrown the infant car seat. However they are larger, heavier and more expensive.
Some of the more expensive frames can also be fitted with a bassinet to act as a traditional pram for baby to lie down and sleep in luxury comfort during their first few months. The frame can then also be used for the separate car seat and stroller seat. Many frames also offer the ability to fit the car seat or stroller seat either forward or rear-facing depending on your preference.
Infant Car Seat
These are specially designed to easily snap fit onto the carrier frame or onto the car seat base. Not all car seat stroller combos provide a separate car seat base, some just rely on the use of the seat belt for securing the infant car seat in the car. This is typically the style on many european infant car seats.
Car Seat Base
A base for easy snap fitting of the car seat into the car. The base is secured and left in the car when you detach the car seat.
A separate seat that easily fits to the carrier frame instead of the car seat. These seats are larger and will outlast the infant car seat as they can be suitable for your child until they can walk and no longer need it. The seats offer different levels of recline, some can fully recline to almost horizontal.
Another separate seat that easily fits to the carrier frame instead of the car seat or stroller seat. Usually these are an optional extra to travel systems and are only suitable for around your baby’s first 3-6 months.
The best advice if you’re looking for a car seat stroller combo is to choose a pram/ stroller that you are happy with and that fits in your car first and foremost!
You don’t necessarily need an all in same brand system as the bigger brand name strollers usually have adapters that can fit other infant car seat brands. For example you could purchase a bugaboo pram and use adapters to fit a maxi cosi infant car seat.
The pram/ stroller will be used for longer and more often than the infant car seat. Make the stroller your main priority as the infant car seat will only last for the first 12 months at most. However you will find that many manufacturers price the stroller/car seat combo cheaper than the sum of the separate pieces and so it often makes economic sense to buy all the same branded parts.
Car Seat Stroller Combo Styles
There are a few classic styles of car seat stroller combos that you will find in the marketplace. If you are searching for one that is just right for you, why not check out our Best Car Seat Stroller Combo Reviews. The main styles are as follows:
Typically consisting of 3 rubber, air filled wheels for use on a variety of terrains. Better suspension for when you go off the footpath. Check out our Jogging Stroller Reviews for 3 great options.
Better overall maneuverability than the 4-wheel version, turning easily even with only one hand. Usually the wheels are plastic, which means a harder ride with less cushioning of bumps than the Jogger stroller.
Often folds easier than the 3-wheel strollers and are easier to store/ stand. Usually more sturdy than the 3-wheel strollers due to the extra wheel. Plastic wheels so best for those parents that want to stick to the footpath.
Double Stroller with Car Seat
If you have more than one infant or for those lucky enough to be blessed with twins there's a wide choice of double car seat strollers in the marketplace. These strollers are designed to carry two or more children either side-by-side or one in front of the other. Beware though that the full size, all terrain versions can be very bulky and heavy (around 35lbs). There are however lightweight options available that are only around 20lbs.
Car Seat Stroller Combo Features
There are a range of Car Seat Stroller Combo features that are available, so you should consider if any of the following are important to you:
- Reversible Seat/Handle: When babies are young they like to have eye contact with their parents to interact and connect with you. With a reversible seat or handle you can switch them around so they can see where they are headed when they get a little older.
- Handles: Most strollers feature a soft-grip handle, but look out for height-adjustable handles for a perfect and comfort fit.
- Folding: Folding any stroller should be intuitive and easy but, above all, quick.
- Reclining Options: This is really a must-have feature and is included in most strollers. Being able to adjust your child’s position when they sleep keeps them comfortable and happy. Babies should lie reclined for the first few months of their lives to help develop a healthy spine and respiratory system. Many stroller seats offer a full recline to almost horizontal, which means it is not always essential to purchase a separate bassinet.
- Wheels: Front wheels can usually be locked or allowed to swivel; swivelling makes cornering easier, while locked wheels provide stability on uneven ground. Larger wheels work better on sand and dirt but smaller wheels allow for a smaller folded stroller size. Quick-release wheels are also a common feature, which can make storage in the home or car even easier.
- Storage Space - this varies quite dramatically between models and is worth paying attention to if storage is likely to be important. There’s usually a trade off between storage space and size/ weight though so you may need to compromise and determine your priorities!
- Accessories - cup holders can be very useful as well as sun/ rain canopies!
Infant Car Seat and Base Qualities
As mentioned above, some car seats come with bases that make use of the LATCH system and some have no separate base and are secured simply with the seatbelt. The Chicco Keyfit 30 Car Seat and Base that we reviewed here is one of our top choices for an infant car seat. Chicco also make a compatible carrier frame, which is very lightweight and folds up easily. There’s also the Britax B-Safe infant car seat that we reviewed here and is also FAA approved. This is also a very popular choice and is compatible with a number of Britax and BOB stollers (Britax now owns BOB).
There are a number of key elements to the infant car seat and base that are worthy of note and are standard on many quality infant car seats (both the Britax B-Safe and Chicco Keyfit 30 infant car seats include these features):
- Side impact protection and energy absorbing foam liner
- 5 point safety harness
- Removable comfort pad for a snug fit for newborn babies
- Level indicators so you can easily be sure that the seat is fitted properly on a level base
If you've managed to read this far then congratulations, you are one well informed Car Seat Stroller Combo shopper! Hopefully this guide has been helpful and will allow you to decide if a Car Seat Stroller Combo is right for you and which of the various options fit with your specific requirements and needs. To further assist in your search for the right travel system for you we will put together a Top Car Seat Stroller Combo review in the near future so watch this space!
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