Car Seat Delima!

Updated on April 28, 2010
H.A. asks from Colbert, WA
27 answers

Hi mamas, my husband and I are struggling with what kind of car seat to get, we received a big car seat as a gift, but are wondering if a infant seat with stroller combo would be better?

What experiences have you mamas had with car seats? Do you like the bigger seats for baby or the infant seats better? What about purchasing a regular stroller, can we put a newborn in it?

We are first time parents and have no clue.....

It seems like the large seat we have is fine, but the infant seat you can carry look more appropriate for a newborn.

Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance.

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So What Happened?

Thanks to everyone for the input and help, my husband and I read each response and appreciated the feedback.

So here's what we've decided:
-the carseat got as a gift had only one recline position, so we decided to return it.
- we bought the Graco Snugride 35, which allows infants up to 35 pounds and 32 inches tall.
-we also purchased the Kolcraft Jeep Liberty Urban Terrain Stroller-which is compatable with the Graco carseat. We really wanted a jogger that we could take off road, but that was also compatable with a carseat for all the wonderful reasons you Mamas provided.

I never even considered that we would have to wake the baby to put him in a harness or sling carrier everytime we got in or out of the car!
Thanks again, you've all really helped us!
H. and Stan

Featured Answers



answers from Cleveland on

I would DEFINITELY get an infant car seat (the kind you can carry them around in). They fall asleep very easily in the car and that way you can just pop out the carrier and shop, go to Dr. appts, and go out to eat in peace while they are sleeping! That is all you really need for the at least the first year (and 20 lbs.)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Provo on

Hi H.,

I wondered the same thing, we just had are first. I would recommend the infant carrier and stroller comb. It makes it easier transfer baby to stroller or just to carry on own easier especially when they are asleep. The individual car seats, in my opinion are for when they grow out if the infant seat and are more stable at controlling their bodies. I hope this helps. Just remember the infant seat and stroller combo wouldn't be so common if it wasn't more effective and prefered by moms.



answers from Denver on

I used a Graco seat with the base and a stroller frame, and I was really happy with it. The Graco stroller frame (or snap 'n' go version) doesn't look like much, but is much less expensive than a whole travel system stroller combo, and has great storage. (And Graco infant seats typically get really good safety reviews too.) I used the stroller frame for a lot of very long walks the first year, and it held up just fine.

And I liked that in cold weather I didn't have to unbundle my son, or wake him up when he was sleeping. I just unsnapped his infant seat and popped it into the stroller frame.

Also, I agree with you about infant size. I never felt comfortable about a big combo seat with a newborn or really small infant. There is only so much padding and tightening that you can do in a bigger carseat to get a 6 1/2 pound newborn to fit in one.

The downside is that the infant seats are heavy, and a nuisance to lug around. As a single parent who did all of the lugging -- it was definitely not great for my poor post-pregnancy back. But I would still definitely consider the pros greater than the cons; for me, an infant seat was a very worthwhile expense.

More Answers



answers from Denver on

I call them Baby Buckets, 'cause that's what it felt like trying to carry it to/from the car, it get heavy quickly and I found them very awkward (we had a Combi). While the stroller was great for a little while, I eventually just saw it as another thing to wrestle with getting in/out of the car (and that City Savvy that went with the Combi Seat was super lite & maneuverable).

Newborns will sleep just about anywhere, they'll "shut down" if there's too much stimulation. But a bit later there was slim chance that mine would stay asleep if I was jostling her in the bucket trying to get it stable on a cart or in a restaurant. So, I kept up with wearing my baby in a sling or with an Ergo Baby Carrier. Becoming adept at the sling, I found it was oh-so easy to pull out baby from the seat, plop her in the sling and off we went, warm n' cozy, cuddled & safe. This was awesome with shopping, then I didn't have to worry about the ichk on the cart! (I tried a cart cover for a split-second, also, turned out to be yet another item to keep track of.)

Also, little f.y.i., baby wearing is developmentally best for baby when he/she gets face to face with mom or dad. It's super important for infants to see those facial expressions!



answers from Denver on

I think the infant carseats are a blessing. It is wonderful to be able to carry a newborn into a shopping mall, a restaurant or any other venue from the car without waking them. I think that our graco system that had the stroller and carseat that fit together were great! I know that it can seem costly because they grow out of them before the first year but I can tell you the benefits of mobility with a newborn that sleeps alot far out weigh the costs. Besides that, the stroller grows with them and can be used until they are ready to walk all the time at age 3-4.



answers from Denver on

I use both. The infant carrier is MUCH easier with a new baby. They fall asleep in there so you can easily transfer them to the stroller or home without waking them!! I moved my babies into the bigger carseat when they got too heavy to carry them in the infant carseat. About 9-12 months?
Don't return the bug carseat, but look into an infant carseat to use at first. Congrats on your baby, whatever you do will be good: mom knows best.



answers from Denver on

Hi H. - we used an infant carrier at the beginning that came with a base that stayed in the car. When they are really little, it's very useful because you dont have to wake them up when they are sleeping etc. My son grew out of his just before 12 mos old and then we switched him over to the larger convertible seat. An infant carrier is worth every penny.



answers from Denver on

We just had a graco snug ride and the $60.00 frame that it snaps in this is why I LOVED IT! It fit really well in the car it was so portable. If the baby was sleeping I did not have to wake him. It was not fancy but it had a lot of storage. My friends suggested not getting the whole sha bang of travel system and I am glad I listened. We spent the extra money on a nice jogger stroller that we made sure our son liked sitting in when the time came to move out of the infant seat. We also got the Zeus 360 combi chair for the car. I can't say enough about this seat and how it saved my shoulders from hucking our son up into my SUV. You can make anything work though no fret.



answers from Denver on

If you by-pass the infant seat, you'll save money because they grow out of them within 6 months or so. I think it is worth it if you are going to have more than one kid in the next few years. If you don't have an infant carrier, you'll want a good sling or something like that so that you have something to carry them in at the store, etc. . .and you may want something to set them in at restaurants and such- the infant carriers are great for that.
I've known people who go both ways (skipped or not skipped the infant seat). Personally I was done carrying my baby for hours on end by the third trimester- I relished being able to set the carrier in the stroller or shopping cart. You can put a newborn in a stroller without the infant seat, but you will need one of those things that go around their head to stabalize it, which is also helpful in car seats for newborns- infant and big ones alike. Of course, it is also possible to just roll up a small towel or the like and use that to stabalize the baby's head.



answers from Nashville on

I loved having an infant seat with a stroller. I know a lot of babies outgrow their infant seats quickly and parents feel like they were a waste, but you won't know whether that is going to be the case until it happens.

Personally, I used my infant seat until a year. My son never actually outgrew it for the size limits but it wasn't practical or comfortable anymore for him at that point. But I definitely got my money's worth with my son.

I would have hated having to carry him in and out of the house to buckle into the carseat outside every time. It was great to just buckle and bundle him inside, then carry him outside and snap him in the base. Especially since he was a winter baby. You shouldn't put babies in carseats with lots of puffy layers on, so with an infant seat I could tuck and bundle on top of the harnesses. You are always carrying so much STUFF with newborns, and it is nice to be able to not juggle baby too. Yes, you are juggling the seat, but you don't have to worry about supporting their heads.

I stopped carrying the seat in and out of stores at about 7 or 8 mos, because he was heavy. But I could still easily strap him in inside the house and carry to the car, it wasn't too heavy to do that. Plus when he starts crawling and you are trying to unload the groceries, he can just stay in the seat for a minute on the kitchen floor while you finish unloading. Or baby can fall asleep in it in stores or the car and you aren't waking them up when you have to go in and out.

Also, you can use the infant seat in other cars without removing the base. Your instruction book will tell you how to use it with just a seatbelt. So I could drop him off with my mom and if she needed to go somewhere, she could use the seat in her car, with no removing and reinstalling the convertible seat in each car.

You might very well have a baby that outgrows it quickly or that hates the infant seat, but you have no way of knowing that until it happens. Chances are, baby will be fine in it and it is really so much more convenient. And there is no way my son would have fit well into a convertible as a newborn.



answers from Johnson City on

i had a seat stroller combo until my kid was ablt to turn around front facing then i went out and got this huge seat with the lap bar and everything it was great until the kids got to big for it, it eventually started hurting their legs then i got a booster, convertable seat as they are now 5 and 6 but i did save the big one for the ages not quite old enough or big enough to fit in the booster thing until they were 4ish when they got to where the convertable booster was appropriate but i did use an infant seat to begin with until about a year old


answers from Dallas on

Save the convertible seat for when he/she starts to outgrow the carrier seat. My fatty baby girl weighed 20 lbs at 8 months old, so we put her in the convertible seat (rear facing) until she was one. She's 2 1/2 now, and still rides in it, so they last forever!
But yes, get an infant seat. They make life so much easier.


answers from Provo on

Personally I liked the infant carrier for about a day. Then I had to lug it everywhere. It was nice to go grocery shopping with. I didn't have to hold him. Just secure him in the cart and go. But economical wise I would have gotten a convertable seat and just done that. My son is HUGE and was only in his infant seat for 3 months. He also prefered me carrying him at the store until about a month ago when I tried putting him in the seat. HE LOVED IT.
Anywho. I think it's really up to you. Both ways are just fine. All though I'd suggest getting a stroller frame (it looks just like a normal stroller but you just snap the car seat in)
and that way you can get a really great umbrella stroller and not have to lug around a huge stroller. If you go this route it's about the same cost as getting the carseat/stroller combo, depending on the umbrella stroller (I really like the new combi cosmo ex. They fold up really small and are very light weight). Sorry, I used to work at babies r us and so I can ramble a lot about different ways to go. If you want any other advice or what not, just email me!



answers from Phoenix on

We've always had the car seat carriers to tote baby around. Now we have the stoller combo which is wonderful... the base of the car seat stays put and the car seat carrier can be removed with baby in it and just snaps into place either in the car or the stroller.



answers from San Francisco on

A combo seat is definitely the way to go if you can! It is so convenient for the growing process and like Melissa S. said, who wants to wakes up a baby when they've FINALLY gotten to sleep. LOL


answers from Minneapolis on

An infant car seat typically fits infants better. For a rear facing child, the harness must come from at or below the shoulders, and in a convertible car seat, the bottom harness slot is typically too high for this to work for an infant.

What car seat did you get as a gift? There are only a few that fit newborns well enough to be used from birth. The weight of a convertible car seat may say 5-xxlbs, but most just do not fit newborns properly. Again while rear facing the harness must come from just at or below the shoulders. If your seat will not accomidate a newborn, and you purchase an infant seat, consider returning the seat you got as a gift because if you use an infant seat, you will lose time on the larger seat, as car seats have a 6yr life span before they expire. You can also return it for a convertible that will fit a newborn, or return it for an infant seat and purchase a convertible yourself when your child outgrown the infant seat.

I would encourage you to join a car seat safety forum, and start researching car seats, proper installation, proper usage, extended rear facing, extended harnessing, and view some crash tests on youtube. Car seats are not just a 'throw in the car and its good' thing. Its the very thing that will save your childs life in a crash and must be used properly, installed properly, 100% of the time. Learning how to use a car seat properly is one of the most important things you need to do.



answers from Boise on

I think that the best reason for the infant seat is the ability to keep the baby asleep. I used a lot of front carrier/sling things, but if the baby was asleep, and I could put him on the stroller, it could make it that much easier. Or, even to bring him into the house, so that he didn't wake up trying to put him into a cool crib. They are short lived though, so make sure that you like the stroller (even if it is one that you keep at home for walks around the neighborhood). We switched to a Britax convertible at about 10 months (although I wasn't carrying the seat around much after about 6), and didn't turn him forward until about 19 months. With number two, we will probably follow the same pattern, and wait till the Britax sales (twice a year) to get our next convertible.


answers from Denver on

what kind of car seat did you get as a gift?



answers from Salt Lake City on

For both my boys, we had the infant carseat with the stroller. It comes with one base and it stays in the car at all times. Very easy to take the car seat in and out of the car. Plus having the stroller, you can put the car seat on it and push around the stores and what not. The infant car seat goes up to 20 lbs I believe. Much easier to have them in the infant seat and carry them around in, then taking them in an out of carseat that stays in the car all the time. You probably won't need to get another car seat for your baby until they are a year old. Good luck in making your decision.



answers from Los Angeles on

I loved using the infant seat with a "snap and go" stroller (not a stroller system). It was easy to get my son in and out of the car and we didn't have to wake him up to transfer him from the car to the house. The snap and go is much lighter than a system, fairly inexpensive, and gives you the option of purchasing a larger stroller later when you have a better idea of what you want/need. BTW - you will still use the car seat that you got as a gift when the baby is old enough. Keep the box around - we installed the large car seat about eight months ago, and my son is still playing with the box.
Congratulations and good luck -



answers from Provo on

we were in a similar situation with our second baby. i found the infant carrier so cumbersome with the first baby, and our son was too long to fit in it for more than a few months. so we didn't buy a new one for our second because we had another seat that said on the label that it was for like 6-22 lbs. but when we were leaving the hospital, we saw how tiny and floppy our new baby was in that larger carseat and we felt very uncomfortable with it. it seemed like he could so easily slide out of the straps, and we had to put rolled up blankets all around him to hold him in place. instead of going home we drove straight to walmart and bought an infant carrier. it was a good fit. we eventually used the larger car seat when he got too long for the infant carrier.



answers from Charlotte on

Hi I m a mother of three i would def. recommend the infant seat stroller combo the bigger seats are really to big for a newborn and the infant seat detaches and fits right into the stroller much easier and safer seat for a baby in my opinion. good luck



answers from Denver on

I may be one of the few but I never liked carrying the infant seat around. It is huge, heavy and cumbersome. I just carried the baby unless we were going into a restaurant then I brought a car seat in. Restaurants have a sling to set car seats in. I also never liked the car seat stroller combo, while my girlfriends used them for EVERYTHING I just found them to be such a pain. they didn't fold down much so they were huge, they are heavy and they do not fit in a lot of stores and other places. My favorite solution was the baby-slings or baby packs that you wear and I kept a newborn blanket in there with them. The baby was right next to me so I could tend them at any moment, they typically didn't make a sound because they were so close to you and they are light and easy to maintain. I also never carried the huge diaper bags. I always had one in the car for any unexpected supplies but usually just put a couple of diapers and a small bag of wipes in my purse so I was prepared in case I needed some.

Very simple, very light, and easy to get around.

Good luck on your first one, prepare for the ride.



answers from Boise on

Infant car seats (the ones you can carry) are WONDERFUL. They don't use them long, though, so if finances are a problem, you can skip it. But I simply couldn't live without one because:
1) You can buckle the baby in inside the house, where it's much easier to fumble with all the straps and buckles.

2) You can carry the baby into places without taking him/her out. This is especially helpful when he/she is sleeping. Which is a lot.

3) You have somewhere to put the baby down. At church or in a restaurant, you just don't want to hold the baby constantly. I'm sure people had other solutions before infant seats (such as Moses baskets?) but now, it seems like everyone uses the car seat.

4) What else would you do with the baby when you're grocery shopping?

I bought an inexpensive travel system when I was expecting our first, and I liked it. That was until my first two babies outgrew the included infant seat in 5 and 4 months, respectively. Then I had to move them to a "big" car seat (they're called convertible car seats). Luckily, they sat up very early, so I could put them in a shopping cart seat soon after they had to stop using the infant seat. Even so, for a while I had to haul the infant seat in the trunk so I'd have somewhere to put the baby while shopping.
I later learned that more expensive car seats have higher height and weight limits. That is totally worth it to me.

And then there's the question of the stroller. I liked the one that came with the travel system fairly well, but they're bigger and bulkier than others you can buy. And strollers last far longer than car seats. I sold our infant seat at a yard sale, and felt like I had to sell the stroller with it because they matched. The car seat was going to expire before I had another baby, so I wanted someone else to get some use from it.

With my 3rd baby, someone gave us a higher height/weigh limit infant seat. Good thing, because baby #3 would be outgrowing our old seat about now, and I'm so glad to still be able to use an infant seat/carrier still.

I think if I'd known what I know now, I would have bought an infant car seat separately from a stroller. Most of the time, we don't click the car seat onto a stroller, anyway. My babies like looking out at the world, not back at me, so they prefer to sit just in the stroller. The only time I can imagine clicking it on is when we've driven somewhere, the baby's asleep and we're going on a walk or to a store without carts. And that just doesn't really happen. Besides, you will use the infant car seat for a few months, and the stroller for years, so get an awesome stroller!

Now, you could keep the car seat that someone gave you, but I think I'd return it. Depending on which infant seat you buy, you'll probably need a convertible car seat when the baby is about 6 months old. But I learned the hard way that these seats have expiration dates, so it really does matter when you purchase it! There is a date stamped on the back or bottom of every car seat, and you need to throw it away when it reaches that date. Even when the seat is sitting in your closet, the clock is still ticking on it's expiration! I would return it, put the money aside, and repurchase it when you need it. Chances are you'll get a seat that was manufactured months later, giving you longer to use it.

I learned this when I bought a car seat on clearance. Don't do that! I didn't even think about it, but when I opened the box and looked at the expiration date, it was only 5 years away. It had wasted a whole year uselessly sitting on on a warehouse shelf. And I only saved $15 on the thing!

As for strollers, I loved going to Baby Depot inside Burlington Coat Factory to test them out. They have floor models that you can "test drive" around the store. Be sure to fold them up and lift them and imagine hefting it into the trunk of your car. Most stores just have boxes to look at.

Hope that helps!

P.S. I just read down a ways in the comments and you should NEVER EVER NEVER turn an infant seat forward-facing! And infants shouldn't be forward facing under one year anyway.



answers from Pocatello on

I think something to consider when carseat shopping is your climate. If the weather gets below freezing and you have a carseat that is installed in the car, then you bring a bundled newborn out to the car, (a newborn that you have just gotten to sleep so that you can go out) then have to fiddle around with buckles on a cold seat, even if the car has warmed up that seat is going to be cold still, only to wake the baby up. I hated that system, it never worked for us. Or, you can put baby in a warm seat that is already in the house while they are still asleep and click them in place, no fuss. Whether the it is hot or cold outside the seat in the car is going to reflect that and more often than not be an issue for a newborn, thats why I liked the carriers.
Granted my babies were all quite small and stayed in their infant carriers for at least 10 months. Then I switched to the Evenflo carseat because of the shape of them, they sat a bit higher and it was totally adjustable without having to take it apart. Congrats on the new little one, happy parenting!



answers from San Diego on

My son was 10lb 23 inches at birth... 25lbs and 29 inches at 6 months. We had the infant seat with the carrier strap... but had to turn it into a forward facing "chair" at 6 months. We'd moved on to a convertable 5point at under a year. But I don't regret the infant seat for a MOMENT. LOVED it. It became my "purse". Ditto all of the reasons RM gave. Also, in a pinch, it's a safe place to strap them into and set next to the bath if you need to take a shower. I've had days with poop and or vomit in my hair. Those days cannot several hours for a shower wait.

If they'd been selling the pram-type strollers when kiddo was an infant (the kind used all over Europe, they're smallish and maneuverable but ****Most Importantly***: your baby is facing you I would have gotten that in a heartbeat. ((The facing you bit is huge... not just for their security/bonding/safety... but also because you can actually SEE them. You know when they're licking their lips/hungry before they cry, know when the sun is in their eyes, know if they're shivvering or sweating... and strangers actually have to negotiate you to get to your baby... as opposed to forward facing strollers where the infant is like the prow of a ship... leading the way, ambassador to everyone who reaches out to touch them, and completely unseen except through *maybe* a little square window of plastic or netting.

They started coming out here in the US a couple years ago.



answers from Philadelphia on

We love our Chicco Keyfit infant car seat and Kolcraft Universal car seat carrier! My son is 8 months old and it's gotten us this far... He's pretty big for his age too. You will definitely get good use out of it! You will not want to take your son out of the car seat when he's finally sleeping. :)

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