When asked to write about the best infant car seats of 2016, the first brand that popped to mind immediately was Nuna. The Nuna Pipa Infant Car Seat has not only dominated our infant car seats sales in 2015, but has changed the game for all infant car seats. It’s light (only 7.7 pounds), it’s narrow, it’s so easy to install correctly, and it has that nifty load leg, which has been shown to decrease head and neck forces in the event of a collision.
The Pipa is still the only car seat I told my sister she could get when she found out she was pregnant with her third (and I still stand by it).* And it easily fits between her older kids’ boosters without anyone squishing a finger every time they have to click in their seatbelt.
New for 2016 is this beautiful new color (let’s take a moment to say goodbye to “Scarlet”) and fewer warning labels!
I’m very happy with what they’ve done (and haven’t done), and it is definitely the car seat I would choose for myself (er, my baby).
Pros: Light weight, easy to install, narrow, European seat belt path, load leg
Cons: Fits with MOST Maxi Cosi adapters but not all
Coming in second is the Cybex Cloud Q Infant Car Seat. This so brand new, with nothing else like it available anywhere, that its release date keeps getting pushed back. Does it even exist? Will Americans ever see it? Soon, we hope. But in the meantime, I was lucky enough to see its German counterpart…
Spot the differences: You can immediately tell this is a European car seat and not American by its lack of a chest clip, a very controversial piece used only in the US.
What makes the Cloud Q so innovative? It’s an infant car seat that turns into a bassinet. Whaaaaaaaaaaat? On the left, you can see the Cloud Q in car seat mode. A regular ol’ car seat, much like the Cybex Aton Q Infant Car Seat that came before it. But what’s this in the right picture? Oh yeah, the whole thing stretches out so the baby can go from car to stroller without worrying about the baby spending too much time in their car seat (infant car seats are for cars, and babies shouldn’t be left in them all day – it’s healthiest for newborn babies to lie flat). And don’t worry, there is no way you can accidentally “install” the car seat in bassinet mode – you can see the built-in failsafe here.
I think this is PERFECT for those in the city who love the ease of a travel system (either a build-your-own, which we prefer, or premade ones that exist out there in the world). Because the Cloud Q also has a European seat belt path, which makes it easy to install and uninstall without a base, it’s super easy to get in and out of taxis and Ubers, and then you can pop the Cloud onto your stroller and stretch it out to allow your baby to lie flat. Suburban families might not get the same use; my sister’s littlest tends to go from the infant car seat to the baby carrier and back to the car seat because in the suburbs, you have to drive, and there’s more of a chance that the stroller is a bigger pain than it is helpful (she’s only used her stroller twice!).
Pros: European seat belt path, load leg, LSP (Lateral Side Impact Protection), turns into a bassinet, fits Maxi Cosi adapters
Cons: Heavy, wide, not available just yet
So we’ve concluded that the Pipa is my favorite all-around car seat, and the Cloud Q is going to be amazing for city families. The last one I want to talk about today is great for suburban families: the Doona Infant Car Seat.
Most people see the Doona and expect it to be a city car seat, because it turns into a stroller. Yes, it’s true – you can pop out wheels and push it! It’s ideal for families who are in and out of the car constantly: getting your kid in their infant car seat, wheeling the car seat to the car, popping the wheels in and putting the car seat onto its base, get to Target, pull the car seat out, pop the wheels out, shop, put the car seat back in the car, etc etc etc. It’s also brilliant for taxis and Ubers, as well as trips on airplanes – just wheel it onto the plane, pop up the wheels, and install.
My main hesitation with the Doona as a city stroller is the weight: if you have stairs to your apartment/condo in the city, you won’t want to carry this. This car seat is made to be pushed, not carried. And it also goes back to not wanting to keep your baby in the car seat for too long – babies need to stretch out to allow their spines to grow in way they should. So while the Doona feels nice to push, it’s not ideal to use it as a stroller all day long.
But it’s awesome for short trips, going in and out of the car, with the only lifting you’re doing involving getting the car seat in and out. And you can use it for the entire first year, so after you’re done, you can transition into an umbrella stroller, without the guilt of purchasing a house stroller you never want to use.
Pros: You won’t need a stroller/snap’n’go, European seat belt path, anti-rebound bar
Cons: Heavy, wide, will need to purchase additional stroller or some sort of baby transportation after about a year
Watch Magic Beans co-owner Eli Gurock unboxing our first Doona:
These are only a few of the infant car seats that we sell at Magic Beans, and as with any baby gear, car seats aren’t one-size-fits-all-families: any of these might be the right fit for you, or you might prefer one of the other models that we sell. If you’re not sure which one you prefer, we’re here to help! Visit me at Magic Beans Boston, or drop by your nearest Magic Beans location, where our Gear Gurus will help you evaluate your needs and find the infant car seat that will work best for you. Or, live-chat with us here on mbeans.com, call us at 866-600-2326, or sign up for a FREE consultation – there are plenty of ways to tap into some great advice!
* Editor’s note: it was also my top pick for one of my best friends when I helped out on her stroller consultation. The light weight and the cool safety technology make the Pipa an obvious choice if you can afford it!