I’ve shared about our stroller and car seat over the last several months here and there, but I wanted to dedicate a spot for it on the blog since this is a question I get all the time. And I totally understand – there are a lot of options. I remember when I first entered the world of trying to figure out which travel system to get and it was so incredibly overwhelming. I’m going to do my best to break down the basics for you, explain how I came to the decision I did, and then ultimately share what I got and why.
Something to remember when it comes to baby products is that there are multiple ways or solutions to solve any particular need. In other words, there are several great products that all essentially do the same thing. I am by no means an expert and although I did a good bit of research, I did not go crazy in this department. I talked to my closest friends, watched a few YouTube videos, and then made a decision!
To get started, there are a few buzz words that I became familiar with once I started doing my research on strollers and travel systems. And if you’ve been looking into all these things, then you might have come across them too. I thought it could be helpful to address them first because TBH I wish someone would have broken all this down for me at first! Right now, these things seem like second nature to me, but there was a time when I had no idea that you needed a social car seat for a newborn that he/she would eventually outgrow. Let’s dive in!
A Few Baby Product Terms To Go Over:
- Travel System – Basically a stroller and (infant) car seat combo where the car seat can “click” into the stroller. Sometimes you need a converter to make this happen, and sometimes the car seat works with the stroller. It truly depends on the brand and the model. The purpose of this is to be able to transfer your baby from one mode of transportation to another (from the stroller to the car seat or vice versa) without waking them up. Most strollers included in travel systems are on the heavier side because they have to support the weight of an infant car seat, which is heavier because of the neck and head support it has to offer. Just something to keep in mind if you’re doing research and comparing weights of different systems and want something that works from the newborn stage compared to something for six months and up.
- Bassinet – A stroller attachment that allows your baby to lay flat, which is great for newborns. It can also act as a bed for baby when traveling overnight.
- Infant Car Seat – I didn’t realize this at first but there is a specific kind of car seat you’ll need when your baby is first born; it’s called an infant car seat and is designed to support a newborn’s neck and shoulders since they don’t really have much support this early on. Your baby will outgrow this car seat around 10-12 months and you’ll need to get a new car seat.
- Car Seat Adapter – A gadget that connects your infant car seat to your stroller so you can remove your car seat from your car and “click” it into the stroller. You might not need this if your infant car seat and stroller are the same brand OR if you opt to get the Doona. NOTE: Chicco, Graco and Nuna strollers do not offer adapters and need their own brand’s car seats. However, their infant car seats do fit in a lot of strollers by other brands. (Check out this resource that I found super helpful all about adapters.)
- Lightweight Stroller – I don’t have one of these because we have not needed it yet. Typically, you get a lightweight stroller once your kid gets a little older. Lightweight strollers typically cannot support the weight of an infant car seat. As such, most strollers that *can* support an infant car seat are going to be on the heavier side.
- Convertible Car Seat – The car seat your baby will use once he/she outgrows the infant car seat. This one will stay inside the car instead of being one that you can clip in and out to transfer to and from places (like the stroller).
- Jogging Stroller – This is something you might want to get if you plan to be super active with your baby and go on frequent runs. The main difference between a jogging stroller and a regular stroller is a jogging stroller has three wheels (instead of four) and the front one can lock to improve stability for baby.
- Double Stroller – If you have twins or two kids close together a double stroller is something you’d need. From what I’ve seen, there are two options: side by side or in a line (tandem). If you plan on having two kids and want to get a double stroller from the start, there are also convertible options that start with one seat and you can add another when you’re ready. Otherwise, for two babies, I’d look for a double stroller that can do two infant car seats at a time.
I found a pretty comprehensive list of car seat and stroller comparability if that would be helpful! But basically what I think is the most important to know is that not all strollers work for newborn babies due to their lack of head and neck strength. So if you want a stroller system you can use from day one, here’s what to look for (based on what I’ve read):
- A seat that can fully recline to a flat surface (or has a bassinet option)
- A seat that reclines almost fully but comes with an approved newborn support accessory (like this Infant Snugseat from UPPAbaby, for example)
- The ability for an infant car seat to clip into the stroller (a travel system)
The Doona: Infant Car Seat With Wheels
Based on my close friends’ experiences, I knew I wanted to get the Doona infant car seat. If you’re not familiar with this product, basically it’s an infant car seat that can easily convert into a stroller. But I want to use the term stroller loosely because it’s important to note that its primary function is in fact a car seat. Essentially, it’s a car seat with wheels (that can collapse and expand with the click of a button). I make this distinction because I often get asked if getting the Doona cancels out the need for getting another stroller. I would say it does not cancel out that need (more on this below) but it does eliminate having to lug baby around in a huge, clunky, and very heavy car seat. It’s also Duncan’s absolute favorite baby item we have (next to the Shusher).
Will the Doona Work as My Only Stroller For Year One?
I guess technically, you could make *just* the Doona stroller work but I would not recommend it. As a stroller, it’s not the best. The handle is short and the wheels are not as big and strong as some of the other stroller options/systems out there. It works great for running errands and getting in and out of the car, but it’s not the best for going on longer walks. Plus, your kid will outgrow the Doona within his/her first 12 months. If you want to wait to decide on a stroller until after your baby is born, you’ll be fine with just the Doona for the first few months, but I’d recommend buying a separate stroller. Personally, I loved going on walks using our bassinet attachment on the UPPAbaby Vista 2 during Four’s first few months of life.
We did use *just* the Doona when we traveled with Four this summer, but that was because I couldn’t find a company that had any strollers available to rent that was safe for a newborn. It worked fine for us and we went on plenty of walks on our trip to Palmetto Bluff.
UPPABaby Vista 2 Travel System
Ok, so now onto the UPPAbaby Vista 2 – our travel system. Again, this is what we decided on based on our circumstances and it has worked out really well for us. With that said, there are lots of other great options out there (linking this list again) that I’m sure work really great as well. For us, this is what we love about the UPPAbaby Vista 2 and a little mini-review after using it for a while.
- The UPPAbaby Vista 2 is our do-it-all stroller that will transition into toddlerhood and hopefully take care of us well into baby number two as well.
- There are *so* many different things you can do with this stroller. And if you get the extender/adapter, just LOOK at all the different configurations you can create (see image below). The versatility is wild!
- It comes with a bassinet for when baby first gets here and is not able to sit up. We also used the bassinet around the house and it’s great for any overnight trips as well.
- I also have the UPPAbaby stroller organizer and LOVE for putting my keys, phone, etc. in it when going on walks. We have the cup holder too, which I’d recommend!
- I love the sun canopy coverage! It extends even when you have baby laying back in the toddler seat.
- When you switch to the toddler seat, you can lean it really far back so you can start putting your little one in there when he/she’s able to sort of sit up. And then as he/she gets stronger, you can adjust so they’re sitting more upright (hopefully that makes sense). You can also face the toddler seat (or the bassinet) both ways (facing you or away from you).
- This stroller is very heavy (as most travel systems are that work for newborns like I mentioned above) because it can also support an infant car seat. You’d just need to get an adapter if you get a different car seat brand than the UPPA car seat. I know several people who have gone with the Nuna PIPA lite and then use this travel system.
Was that overwhelming?? I hope not!! I really just wanted to be able to write down what has worked for us since I get asked so often. You absolutely do not have to do any of this or use the same products as us, this has just been our experience so far. If anything, I hope I presented some information in an easy-to-read, digestible way because I know how overwhelming it can be!
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