How Do You Choose the Right Stroller/car Seat?

Updated on March 10, 2008
J.F. asks from Lake Worth, FL
30 answers

My husband and I have been looking at a few different brands of travel system strollers, and just seem to get more frustrated the more we look. Is a travel system really worth it? Do the car seats that come with a travel system have a high safety rating? We like the idea of the easy to use, one handed fold up stroller. And for me, the lighter the weight of all the equipment, the less of a strain it will be to handle. And we also like the more ergonomic handles on the car seats like Evenflo and Babytrend make. We also looked at the more expensive brands, Bugaboo, Peg Perego and Rockstar Baby...
Any recommendations from experienced Moms and Dads out there? Is it worth paying that kind of money for a system? I'm curious to know what kind of stroller/car seat you bought and how you like it... and if you have more than one child, did you choose a differently the next time around? And where did you buy from?

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K.K.

answers from Gainesville on

Hi J.,
Congrats! THE best advice I got and can give, is to call the Safe Kids coalition. It is a state program ( I believe) and they will do a few things for/with you. MOST importantly....teach you about carseats and how to install them. As far as I am concerned...ALL "almost" parents need to take the class! They also sell carseats AT COST (about $15) to anyone in need of one. As far astravel systyms....I think that they are a waste....I had one that I never used and when I wanted it (like on a trip to Disney) I found it to be more of a hassel than worth. Took it once then rented a stroller every other time we went....anywhere. I used a backpack the most. A Keatly pack (looks like a deer stand...lol) It was the best! My son would love it if I would let him ride in it again! Too bad I can't handle a 50 lb kicking, swing mass on my back! I still have it! I would be happy to pass it on to you if you are close by!

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L.D.

answers from Gainesville on

If you are planning on taking lots of walks (like through the mall, in airports, around the neighborhood), it is handy, but you could do just as well with a baby carrier (the ones that you strap on like a backpack)or a sling, which I absolutely love. Otherwise, most stores that you go in have carts that you can use for the car seat. We bought a combo unit, but looking back it wasn't absolutely necessary. And now we have two kids and don't use it at all. We either use a double stroller or let one walk and use the ultra-compact umbrella stroller. It is just not convenient to lug around the bigger stroller that comes with the combo units.

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J.C.

answers from Daytona Beach on

I loved my graco system, it was really smooth, but it was bulky. As soon as she was able to sit up, I got a smaller one from Sears. But the baby seat was used until she was one, then we got a the toddler car seat. The other one is in storage now. So it really is what you like and what is easier for you. Good luck. Jen

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L.S.

answers from Boca Raton on

hi jen,

I researched a lot also before I registered for my travel system. What you should also consider is the weight of the system, the infant carriers and strollers vary in weight.. Believe me they get very heavy. I have a 2 yr and 4 month old and was very happy with the graco metro lite system. I was going to sell it on craigs list, if you are interested in seeing a picture. email me at [email protected]____.com is excellent condition and has two car seat bases.

good luck

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N.D.

answers from Boca Raton on

Hi J.! I did the same thing that you are doing. I read every review and analyzed everything. Since I couldn't make up my mind I started off with a Graco Snugride infant carseat and the graco snugride stroller frame. These products were great for the first few months, very easy to use, the graco seats have a good saftey rating and are not extremely expensive, but by six months my son was already 29 inches so we had to upgrade to the next seat and a new stroller. I ended up with the Britax Roundabout carseat and the Rockstar Baby stroller. If I had it to do all over again I would have only gotten the rockstar baby. I love my stroller and so does my son. I could have used it with my graco snugride because it comes with an adapter and it also comes with a bassinet and a regular seat that has a full recline. I also love my britax roundabout... it is a great carseat. I guess you can also use it for a newborn, but the infant carseats are nice because they cradle the little guys a little better and you can take them with you anywhere. Anyway, I hope that helps. Good luck!

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L.L.

answers from Melbourne on

I did a lot of research on carseats, ended up spending lots of money on Britax Roundabouts. I do like them but I dont think they are worth what they cost. Not that I have any problems with them, but I've also used other (way less expensive) carseats, and Britax didnt have any special features that made me go WOW! Just go for one that has a good safety rating.

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K.B.

answers from Orlando on

More expensive does NOT necessarily mean better. We chose our car seat based on the safety ratings alone. The top 2 are Flex Loc by BabyTrend (sometimes tough to find) and the Graco Sngride with EPS- both are under $100. The Graco can be purchased as a travel system, which is nice, but often bulky and cumbersome. I had one with my first child and was tired of hauling it around by the 6 month mark. Graco now makes smaller, lighweight strollers (Mosaic & Metrolite) that work with their car seat as a more compact travel system and grow with a child up to 40 lbs. These stollers are much less bulky and weigh under 20 lbs. Best of luck to you!

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S.D.

answers from Orlando on

Like another mom on the list, we had a Metrolite travel system, and have loved it. The baby seat snaps right in when we get her out of the car, so if she's sleeping, you don't have to wake her up. The stroller is *very* nice and very reliable. The basket underneath is huge. Our first child outgrew the car seat by about six or seven months (he was a big boy), but our daughter is still in it at eight months, and I think we can get away with it for another couple of months, at least. Although it's heavy now to lug around without the stroller, it's still nice to be able to lift her out of the car rather than having to unstrap her.

The stroller is very lightweight for a larger system, and the recline is easy to use. I give it two thumbs up. Unfortunately, the Graco choices for double strollers are not as good. Very heavy and clunky. Fortunately, we were given a Graco system for free from a friend, so we never had to pay for it because I'm not sure it's worth it.

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A.F.

answers from Melbourne on

Hi J.,

I had a travel system for my little boy, and thought it was very useful. But I do have to say that the first 6 months I wasn't in school or working or anything so I took my son out a lot on trips to the mall and other stores. I also had one of those carriers, which I found a lot more fun.
The travelsystems take up a lot of space in your car, so if you don't have the intention to use it frequently I think it's a waste of money. My friend has a really nice travelsystem, and I have never seen her stroller leave the garage, she only uses the carseat.
I think it's up to you and your lifestyle whether to get a travelsystem or not.
I hope this helps you a little bit.
A.

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E.B.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi J.! I was just as overwhelmed like you are when I started looking at products. I found that the more reviews I read, and the more hands-on I was with products the better choices I made. We chose the Graco Passage 540 travel system (in Maryanne--pink) and love it! I use my stroller every day through the neighborhood or out in stores and it's still going great. The carseat was nice to just snap in the stroller when we went places, but my daughter grew out of it just recently (8months.) I like how it was lightweight, easy to fold with 1 hand, and had a nice large basket underneath. The cup holders and cubby on the handle have come in VERY handy (especially at outdoor events.) Just look for something that's easy to fold in a snap, folds fairly flat, can stand upright while folded (to keep in a closet or garage), and fits in your trunk with room for groceries or a piece of luggage (or bag of toys for visits to relatives/friends.) We spent $189 on it and it was worth every penny. The carseat is rated well and comes with the base. I've heard poor reviews on Evenflo and Babytrend strollers. Also, make sure it has decent wheels that are rugged. Best wishes for a healthy and comfy pregnancy!

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K.G.

answers from Las Vegas on

Hi J.,

First of all, congratulations!! We all know how overwhelming all this baby stuff can be to new parents. I purchased an Evenflo travel system for my son who is 2 1/2. Though I like the idea of the travel system, I would not choose Evenflo again. There was a recall on the baby carrier/seat that came out AFTER I completely researched the whole thing. The stroller is a tank and hard to manuever in a lot of store with small aisles. If you are planning on have several children, then I would go with one of the more expensive strollers/carriers. Also, it seems that there are more material colors and options now than there were three years ago so I would look for a lighter color. I keep the stroller (tank) in my car and in the summer months, it gets really hot. Babies R Us is more expensive, but they have a really big selection. Burlington Coat Factory is also a good option on prices and selection especially since they will now give refunds on returns instead of exchange only. Check out consumer reports on the carseat recommendations if you get a chance.

KarynG

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T.U.

answers from Miami on

I had the snap and go stroller when he was in the infant seat. It's just a frame that holds the carseat. It only weighs 12 pounds. I loved it and miss it very much. I don't like my new full sized stroller ( a Britax model they discontinued), but I'm trying to put up with it. I've heard good things about peg perego and graco metrolites. If I were you I'd push the stroller around the store for a bit. Don't forget to do it with just one hand too :) And make sure you practice folding it up also.
.....about carseats. Mine outgrew his infant seat (Graco Snugride) at 5 months. He was very uncomfortable. We got him the Britax Boulevard seat, which he loves!!! We went from screaming in the car, to cooing and giggling. It's like his very own lazyboy. It's a little pricey, but it's convertible. It goes up to 60 pounds foward facing. So, I shouldn't have to buy another car seat for him.
Congratulations, and Good Luck!!!

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C.B.

answers from Miami on

With my son I was the same way I bought consumer report magazines for everything, but in the end I settled for the graco travel system. It worked great for me and also most important with the car seat is the installation too.. I went to the local fire station where they will accurately put the car seat in... But sometimes all those different names and prices and the median prices to the same thing as the other prices (atleast according to consumer magazine)Graco Evenflo are pretty good.

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L.H.

answers from Miami on

the best place to look is here:
http://www.windsorpeak.com/dc/dcboard.php?az=show_topics&...

I learned (from above link 4 years ago w/ my first ds)that if you get a Graco Snigride, it fits in to the Peg Perego Pliko stroller (you can get one at Target or, what I did, was to buy one off of Craig's list)

a travel system is a waste bcse they are only in the infant seat for such a short time..

also invest in a great babycarrier!! www.thebabywearer.com/forum !!!

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D.G.

answers from Fort Myers on

J.,
How frustrating it is, I know! I just had my 4th son this past year and the variety of stuff now is amazing. My first baby, 8 yrs ago, I could not afford the big names for strollers, and got one Evenflo from Target with the babyseat carrier in it. I used it for 2 of my son's with no problems. I got a new one just for the updated safety resons with Graco recently, and love it, Graco is very reliable and easy to fold down and the baby carrier is good for the 1st year, which is hard to find.
I am in a MOMS Club and found out that most moms don't really see a difference in the more expensive kind either....

Good luck!

fourboyzmama

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T.L.

answers from Melbourne on

I received the GRACO travel system. It came with a car seat and stroller, and two bases - one for each car! Two years ago it was approx. $200. We loved the system and still use the stoller today. Both the stroller and carrier was one of the lighter ones. :-)
You can check out Consumer Reports for saftey info - they also have a book on baby items that is very good.

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M.D.

answers from Miami on

J.,
Hi, My name is M. and I am 36 y/o and I have 1 child 10 months old. I have to agree choosing the car seat and stroller was the most nerve racking decision for me. I actually dreamt about travelsystems for about a month.
The travel system we eventually chose was the combi because it was superlight and was priced middle of the road. The Peg perego were nice, but my god! why spend all that money for something they grow out of so quickly. The Graco snug ride car seat was rated the best for safety, but did not fit in any of the small light weight strollers I wanted and those SUV strollers are soooo cumbersome. People stop me everywhere to ask where I got my stroller and my Nanny loves it more than any of the others she has worked with. I did my research and found the book "Baby Bargains" extremely helpful in a lot of my baby gear purchases. Hope this info is helpful to you.

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L.P.

answers from Boca Raton on

I personally dont think the travel system is necessary. We purchased one for our first son, the infant carrier and stroller. I only used the infant carrier for 4 months because my son got too heavy for me to carry. It was nice to use it in the stroller, just click it in and go, but when I quit using the carrier and just used the stroller, it also became a pain because it was so big, and in the mall you cant fit in the aisles. Its just way too big. We bought a graco Metrolite stroller. With our second son, I used it again and got so fed up with the entire thing when he was 3 months we got rid of it and purchased regular 3 in 1 carseats, Eddie Bauer ones, and used the Metrolite stroller.

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A.S.

answers from Orlando on

You seem to have plenty of responses so I'll keep mine short and sweet. GRACO TRAVELSYSTEMS! Any model. The great thing is that graco carseats fit into all graco strollers so if you decide to have another child and need a double stroller, simply sell the stroller,but keep the carseat and use it on a graco double stroller.This is what I did. It worked.P.S although it isn't as lightweight as others, you will be thankful when you place your diaper bag (which will weigh 2tons no doubt) around the handle and whole stroller DOESN'T flip likt the more compact light weight ones will.I know from experience.And if you want a great wrap, go to mobyforlife.com it is the best wrap out there for both baby and mom.#1rated by Dr.Sears

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S.S.

answers from Miami on

J.,

As a mom to 3 beautiful boys, I have bought and purchased travel systems for my 2 youngest boys and it was a life saver. They are very easy to use and some of them are very lightweight. I would not suggest buying the expensive systems only because they are not usually in them very long unless you plan on having more children then it is something you could use again. As I was saying they grow so quickly and the money spent there could be saved and spent on other things that are desired a little more. I have used nothing but Graco products for my children they usually have a very high safety rating. If you are concerned about safety check out the consumer reports website and that will give you a lot of good information. If you choose to go with the seperate car seat and stroller I would still recommend Graco and Britax.

Good luck.

S.
SAHM of 3 boys, 12, 4 and 23 months

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P.B.

answers from Miami on

My name is P. and I have a wonderful girl 12 months old...and my best sugestion is LIGHT WEIGHT!, what ever you pick should be easy to carry or fold. All the brands are good. Enjoy a lot your pregnacy is a magic time.

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K.

answers from Boca Raton on

Congratulations J.

There is a book out there for about $6 called Baby Bargains (www.babybargains.com) - it's a great resource because all baby gear is rated (by parent responses, recalls, etc). My husband & I also went to a Baby gear class at Babies R Us, where they demonstrated various gear & explained usage & you got to "test Drive" strollers etc. I can relate my husband & I were totally overwhelmed, we didn't even know how to get the side of the crib down!!!!

I bought the Graco Travel system & loved it, the carrier seat is much more light weight than Eddie Bauer (at least 2 yrs ago it was) & one hand fold up. Down the road you'll also be buying a lightweight stroller (easier for travel & the mall) & maybe a jogging stroller - be prepared!!!!!

Hope this helps, the people who write "Baby Bargains" also have another great read "Baby 411" which really answered a lot of questions for the 1st yr

Good luck

K.

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K.A.

answers from Miami on

I chose the Graco Metrolite travel system. It is only 200 bucks and the stroller is light and easy to close with one hand. AS far as I know the car seat has a good safety rating. What ever you chose it will make your life a lot easier to start out with the infant car seat that comes with a travel system. I works great when baby is sleeping or you are going out to dinner. I hope this helps a little bit.

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A.B.

answers from Miami on

J.,
Honestly - your best bet if you do not care so much is to get a baby car seat second hand and wait to invest in the car seat that is up to 40-60 pounds. We had a Graco baby car seat that happened to fit into our Peg Perego (pliko 3) stroller - they do not tell you that it will fit, but it does...and that was great for the first 4-6 months to carry our son around. Then we invested in the Britax marathon which will last him for a while - it is also good for infants but you cannot carry it around. We bought it at babies r us. Carseats are good for 5 years safety-wise, so if I had to do it all over again I'd do the same thing and borrow/buy 2nd hand for the baby seat - then get a really good next stage seat. You can look on craigslist.org for stuff or even on mamasource - or ask friends/family. Good luck!

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A.T.

answers from Lakeland on

Hi J.,
Congratulations! I hope you find the world of parenting as amazing as I do. It is such an great adventure! As far as car seats and travel systems go, we definitely found is easy to have a travel system. It was so convenient to have it all interchangable and work the same. Of course safety should be the number one priority (ratings can be found online at consumer report), but how heavy the carrier is makes a HUGE difference on you. Go as light as possible, we had an Evenflo travel system and loved it. It had great stearing, comfort (our sons loved being in it), drink holders, big underneath storage for shopping bags and was very easy to use (one hand only to get stroller up and open). It is 6 years old, been through two kids, to Disney numerous times, on an airplane checked as luggage and has never broken anything. When your baby outgrows the carrier I highly recommend Britax brand. The safety ratings are very high and their seats feel soft and comfortable. We did a car seat check at our local fire station and after inspecting it the firefighter told me that it was the best made car seat he'd ever seen. That was encouraging. Also, when buying your travel system...we now know that Babies-r-Us is NOT the place to buy, for a better price try Target. While I was pregnant with our second child, we discovered we were paying way too much for everything and Target has a lot of the exact same stuff for much less. They also have BIG baby sales a few times a year. Good luck!!!
A.

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H.G.

answers from Fort Myers on

i would say go with a graco brand system there good quality and will last for a while there's no sense in paying so much for a system that the baby will grow out of so quickly both my best friend and i had to buy the bigger car seats but the age of six or seven months for our kids and i would just make sure the stroller was a good one because i had to buy another stroller buy the time my child was i would say 8 months(maybe sooner) because it gave out don't stress out to much about it there's so many more things to worry about that are so much more important! congratulations!!

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S.S.

answers from Miami on

Hey! We have a Graco travel system and we love it! It is so economical. We are on-the-go parents who take our daughter everywhere with us. It comes in handy when she falls asleep in her car seat, we would snap it on the stroller and go! It is also very lightweight and I am very capable of handling it myself! Good luck!!

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Y.S.

answers from Miami on

The best carseat is the one that fits your budget, your car, your child and that you use correctly every single time.

A cheap but well installed and used carseat IS safer than an expensive and poorly installed and used carseat.

If you go to www.car-seat.org you will learn lots from all the carseat techs there.

DO NOT buy used carseats unless you know the person really well and you can be 100% sure that the carseat has not been in an accident even if the child was not in the seat at the time. You need to know for sure that the straps were not submerged in water. That the carseat was not mistreated in any way or form.

If you are into the travel systems, the best are those that have the Graco Safeseat and the Chicco Keyfit. They have a weight limit of 30 lbs. and their shell is longer to fit those babies w/ longer torsos.

If you don't like or care for infant carseats then a convertible is the next best thing. These seats can be used rear facing and forward facing. The higher the harness slots the longer it will last your child.

Carseats usually expire every 5, 6 or 8 years. Check your carseat's manual to see which one is yours. It is very important not use the carseat after that date.

Remember that it is safer to keep your children rear facing over the minimum of 1 yr. and 20 lbs.

Here are some videos that explain why.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2DVfqFhseo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRP7ynNI8mI

On my personal website I added some more info aon carseat safety.

http://homepage.mac.com/Y./FileSharing32.html

You can also visit my myspace page to get more info and see more videos.

http://www.myspace.com/yasmel_michael_matthewage.mac.com/

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L.S.

answers from Miami on

I have a 4 month old and I used Babytrend Zanzibar and it was comfortable until he just seems to sink in so I upgraded to a regular infant/toddler chair.
If I had to do it again I probably would not buy a system. I would just get an infant car seat for the first few months and spend more on a good stroller.

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J.M.

answers from Gainesville on

I suggest doing what I did, go online to find the consumer reports and that way yuo can find the safety ratings for all the car seats and the prices. I found Graco to be the best in safety as well as the pricing. A trvel stroller is nice when they are very young, but once they outgrown the small carseat/travel system and you have to get a bigger carseat they are normally big enough for an umbrella stroller than too. I did still use my big stroller because it can lay down and such, but now they are making umbrella stollers with that same element. I did like mine, plus it makes it feel all together you got the new baby and it helps taking the car seat straight out and into the stroller so hopefully you dont wake them up. But, I dont think those $200 and $300 are any more better than and Graco models, but if you go super cheap then you will have problems. Just know it wont last forever, you child will need a bigger car seat, but the stroller you can use for a longer while if you choose to over an umbrella stroller, I go between the two just depending on where I am going, and if I forget its not that big a deal (only if you have an umbrella stroller that lays down.

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