The Best Stroller and Car Seat Combos
Have you wondered what would make the best combination of a stroller with an infant car seat? To find out, we purchased and tested 15 of the most popular strollers and used them in combination with various infant seats, in several tests to find the very best matches. We tested and rated the combinations in seven different metrics from the most important like ease of car seat attachment and weight and folded size, to the not as important ease of setup and quality. While you will only be using a stroller with an infant car seat for the first 9-12 months of baby's life, it is important to choose the best one for your car seat and the needs of your family. Read on to discover which combinations were truly impressive, and which just got the job done.
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Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
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Analysis and Test Results
Important Safety Tip
Do not use an infant car seat as a replacement for a crib. While it is common for a baby to fall asleep in an infant car seat while driving, you should always take the time to transition your sleeping baby to a crib once you are home. Do not leave baby sleeping in the car seat (even if you are watching them). Injuries and death have occurred from leaving babies in car seat carriers not properly attached to the base in the car. Only a crib should be used for unobserved sleep.
Types of Strollers that Work with Infant Car Seats
There are several different options for parents who want to combine a stroller with their car seat. Which one is right for you depends on why you want to attach the carrier, how long you plan to use the stroller, and what your strolling habits are likely to be in the future. With only a few exceptions, the majority of strollers we reviewed work with a variety of different car seat brands, leaving you with more possible combinations than ever before.
Choose your infant car seat first
We suggest parents choose their infant car seat first, or at least narrow down to a short-list of finalists, before trying to decide on a stroller. Choosing the best infant car seat is by far more important because safety is such a large consideration in that category. Finding the safest, easiest car seat to install is more important to baby's general well-being than finding a stroller that is easy to push or has a large storage bin.
Car Seat Frame Strollers
Chicco Keyfit Caddy, the Graco Snugrider Elite, and the Baby Trend Snap-N-Go EX Universal.
stroller review compares more than 20 top-products and rates each on strolling performance, while this review focused on performance in the first 6 months when used with a car seat.
jogging stroller review provides the results of our detailed testing and comparison of 13 top joggers. In this review, we only included the highly regarded BOB Revolution Flex Combo for testing with car seats.
Don't Jog with Your Baby Too Soon!
Avoid jogging with baby until they are able to sit up on their own and have good head and neck control. Most manufacturers recommend waiting until your baby is 9 months old before jogging, and you may want to check with your pediatrician for guidance. We at BabyGearLab feel that a baby generally needs to be somewhere between 9-12 months at a minimum before they have sufficient neck strength for safe jogging.
The Type of Attachment Matters
Infant car seat carriers attach to strollers in a variety of ways, but the two primary methods are click in and strap in options. A click in connection is preferred and is usually provided by manufacturers for their own brand of car seats when used in combination with their own brand of strollers.
The on-going hassle with restraint straps is that they require a second installation step in the process of car seat attachment after the carrier has been set into place. Most straps connect to the sides of the stroller and attach above the carrier across the lower portion where baby's legs go. To attach the straps, you may need to first loosen them, then thread them across the seat, connect them, and lastly re-tighten the straps. The process is not difficult, but it is a lot more work than simply clicking the seat in and out.
While straps can definitely create a secure attachment, one risk is that caregivers may either forget or forgo the use of the straps because they become distracted or because they assume the extra step of attaching and tightening the safety strap is unnecessary. This could leave your baby open to potentially serious fall injury, given that the installation isn't being performed to the manufacturer's specifications.
We Recommend Click in
We suggest you limit yourself to seat and stroller combinations that provide click in attachments since they are much simpler and more convenient. In this review's specs section, you'll see that we list out all the click in compatible combinations for your convenience.
Criteria for Evaluation
Each stroller and corresponding seat were tested individually and compared to others in the competition, as well as other seat options for the same stroller. Wherever possible we tested strollers with their native car seat and at least one other brand, normally the Chicco Keyfit 30 due to its award winning status and popularity. The metrics for ease of car seat attachment and weight and folded size had a higher percentage influence on the final scores than the remaining metrics, because these two are the most important in our minds for this category and for new moms who may need lighter items that are easy to lift and operate.
Ease of Car Seat Attachment
Bugaboo Bee 3 Combo, offered a very easy car seat attachment method with an adapter that is easy to install on the stroller and allows the car seat to be simply lowered into the adapter frame where it clicks into place itself with the help of gravity. There are no obstructions and almost no pressure is needed to make a secure connection. The Top Pick for Frame Stroller award winner, the Chicco Keyfit Caddy, also performed well in this metric as a dedicated frame stroller designed specifically to work with Chicco seats, the opening on the stroller works well and it only requires a small amount of pressure to securely connect with an audible click sound that lets parents know it is properly attached. The UPPAbaby strollers also did well with scores just below the Caddy and 2 points below the Bugaboo options.
Baby Trend Snap-N-Go Ex has a various strap adjustments to make and the carrier of the car seat sits in a net or straps that are adjusted to put the rim of the car seat on the rim of the stroller, and then straps are attached over the middle of the seat to ensure a secure connection with the stroller is made. Theoretically the bottom straps will only need adjusting once, but the top straps will need to be tightened and loosened with every installation. The BOB Revolution Flex Combo also disappoints with a 2 step attachment process that both clicks in and straps. This type is particularly worrisome because we think many parents will feel the click is secure enough as the car seat seems immobile once attached. However, manufacturers must have included the straps for a reason and we think it would be negligent for parents to skip the step, but very tempting to do so anyway.
Weight and Folded Size
Britax B-Agile 3 Combo and the BOB Motion Combo are about 2,000 cubic inches smaller, but heavier with weights of 17.9 and 23.4 pounds respectively, much heaver than the Caddy at 11 pounds. A nice option that is not too heavy and not too big (much like the story of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears) is the Editors' Choice winner, UPPAbaby Cruz Combo, with the lowest standard stroller weight of 14.3 pounds and a folded size of about 8,000 cubic inches.
Chicco Bravo LE Combo and the BOB Motion both weigh over 23 pounds, which is a lot for non-jogging products, and the Mountain Buggy Swift Combo is the second largest folded product measuring over 12,000 cubic inches.
If you are thinking a frame stroller is the way you might go, be aware that none of them performed that well in this metric. They all have smaller plastic wheels and other limiting features that make them useable on flat or paved surfaces only. However, the relatively light weight of a newborn makes pushing any stroller pretty easy, and it is less likely that you'll encounter rough surfaces in your strolls with a newborn.
All the frame strollers, including the Caddy earned 4s thanks in part to the need for two handed pushing, and a rough or no go over grass and uneven terrain. The Bugaboo Bee is better than average with a 7, tying with the UPPAbaby Vista Combo, they both offer enough to prevent frustration while pushing. The Cruz, our Editors' Choice winner, earned a 5 for this metric, and the Britax B-Agile, our Best Value winner, managed a 6.
Our primary concerns in Safety are focused on risk factors related to documented emergency room reports of stroller-related injuries. In our testing we looked at tip over angles, aspects concerning the brakes, the depth and position of cup holders, and the amount of weight that can be hung from the handlebar before the whole stroller topples backwards. While some of these products have been tested before in other categories, their results often changed when outfitted with car seats thanks in part to a change in their center of gravity.
Ease of Use
The quality metric considers the material used and design of each stroller and how well it is put together. While some of the products use aluminum frames and rubber tires, others have plastic wheels and components with rough unfinished edges.
The Revolution and the Vista earned the high marks for quality. Both have rubber tires, suspension, foam covered adjustable handlebars, and sturdy fabric that fits the frame nicely with no loose threads or bunched material. The Cruz, Bee and Cameleon are right behind with one point lower for quality. These products are similar to the high scorers, but had small variations in materials and design that left them slightly lower. The Vista frame and handlebar are similar to the Cruz, but slightly more well defined and sleeker in design. Foam filled rubber tires are on both Bugaboo options, but the pneumatic options on the Revolution are higher quality. The Best Value winner came in just a point lower than the Cruz, and the price drop makes it both understandable and acceptable in our mind.
Graco SnugRider Elite didn't score much better and still brought up the rear with the Graco sporting what look like unfinished plastic pieces with rough edges and plastic shavings.
Ease of Setup
Ease of setup is important, but only so much that you should be aware of what assembly is required and how difficult it might be to piece together for novice gear builders. The upside is that no matter how difficult it is to put together, or how long it takes you, you will only need to put it together once. So while a very difficult setup might dissuade the assembly challenged, for the most part all are doable, even if you need to start over on certain parts, as we did on the Bugaboo Bee canopy.
The easiest to piece together is the Editors' Choice winner, the UPPAbaby Cruz. It comes with a great quick setup guide, but the assembly is so intuitive you might not even need them. It took us under 5 minutes to put the Cruz together from unpacking to ready to roll. The Vista, B-Agile, Baby Trend, and the Revolution were all quick on its heels and fairly easy to assemble as well. Unfortunately, the Bee is very difficult to put together and takes over 20 minutes to assemble, and we did some portions incorrectly initially. The Caddy is middle of the road for setup, but it is easy enough even though it takes longer than it should for such a bare bones product.
— Juliet Spurrier MD and Wendy Schmitz
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