I’m often asked if I feel the Sit N Stroll — the car seat that converts to a stroller–is “worth the money.” Having traveled at home and abroad with two different children at various “car seat ages and stages,” both with the Sit N Stroll and with other car seats and options, I hope I can shed some light on the topic for more parents considering the car seat (and those who are interested will find it online at Amazon.com) .
I’ll start by saying, I DON’T believe the Sit N Stroll is right for everyone or every situation. But to assume it’s a car seat you’ll only use for travel would be to greatly underestimate the value of the Sit N Stroll. As it happens, ours is out in the car right now, and the next destination is merely the post office down the road.
Here are the handful of reasons I’ve found myself logging numerous miles with our Sit N Stroll without leaving town
Outgrowing the Infant Car Seat
For any parent lamenting the transition from handy infant carrier car seat to toddler car seat and losing the ability to easily transport child in and out of the vehicle (sleeping or awake) without unbuckling straps, this is the next best thing. Perhaps, since it means you don’t also have to keep an extra stroller or stroller frame (like a Snap N Go) in your trunk to use with this car seat, it’s an even better thing. You can use the Sit N Stroll from 5 lbs to 30 lbs rear-facing, and from 20 lbs. to 40 lbs. forward-facing with your toddler, so you could technically use this car seat from birth and skip the infant carrier variety of car seat altogether and start here, although I found I usually needed a rolled up blanket to wedge to get enough of a recline for an infant, and a body pillow insert (like the Snuzzler) would be a nice addition if you plan to use the Sit N Stroll with a small infant. In the rear-facing position, the seatbelt (or LATCH strap) feeds through slots on the car seat just as it does with infant carrier car seats that can be used without the lock-in base.
The Tantrum Advantage
No more back seat wrestling matches with the two-year-old as you struggle to get her out of the car seat and into the stroller, and back into the car seat for a simple quick trip into the bank or post office. Just pop the wheels out, roll in, roll out, run the seatbelt around (much like you would on a high-back booster), and you’re on your way. I’ve found this to be a real sanity and time saver
A.K.A. The “Nap N Go”
Soundly sleeping in the back seat after an afternoon (or morning out)? Worried she won’t make the transition from car seat to your arms to her crib without waking? No problem. Unbuckle the seatbelt (that again goes around the seat instead of through the back) and either carry your sleeping kiddo in the seat by its handles or pop out the wheels and roll her along to a quiet corner of the house and take care of the dozen other to-dos on your list.
Another great feature the Sit N Stroll has in common with infant carriers is the sunshade canopy–as useful in the car and on airplanes as it is out and about. If you’ve found yourself using the sunshade on your child’s infant car seat during trips in the car, you can imagine how it is also useful on a toddler car seat. While the sunshade canopy used to be an optional “extra” for the Sit N Stroll, it now comes standard with the car seat. It works very well at blocking out side sun, overhead AC vents and reading lights, even with a taller-than-average 3-year-old, as shown here (I should add the strap height slots also provide a good fit for tall children as compared with many other convertible car seats on the market–another reason mine is back in the car!).
Trains, Taxis, and other Transportation
If you have many taxis in your future, you’ll appreciate the ability to wait at the curb with your child safely buckled into the 5-point harness, then simply lift the Sit N Stroll (as the wheels retract in mid-air) and set it on the back seat. Slip in beside her and buckle the seatbelt around the car seat, then yours around you, and you’re on your way. Considering the option of struggling to get a car seat installed, folding up and stowing a stroller, and reversing the process once you arrive, or perhaps opting to go without a car seat at all on a short ride. On train rides, our older daughter appreciated being able to sit in it (unbuckled) and having a better view of the passing scenery–and better access to the tables when we were seated where she could doodle and play games. On public transportation, including buses, light rail, and subways, there have been times I’ve also been glad I could just fold up the wheels and set the Sit N Stroll on an actual seat beside me, rather than fuss over my stroller out in the other passengers’ pathways or compete with bicycles and wheelchairs for the extra space near the doors.
Less Junk in Your Trunk
If you have a small car, or just a lot of stuff (and people) to haul in it, it’s also nice to be able to stow your stroller beneath your car seat–so long as you only need a light-duty stroller during your outings. For most sidewalks, stores, and other smooth terrain, the Sit N Stroll is perfectly adequate as a stroller. Just note you won’t be able to store many goods beneath the seat (there’s an optional attaching storage bag).
So if any of these points sound advantageous to you for trips around town, you can probably imagine how the Sit N Stroll might also serve you well on trips across the country or around the world: In tiny compact rental cars, on train trips and cruise vacations, and in taxis upon arrival wherever you may land, not to mention killing time in airports during marathon layovers and making time between gates when the first flight comes in late (trust me). That said, there are some applications for which the Sit N Stroll is not suitable.
Possible Drawbacks for Some:
Whether or not you use the Sit N Stroll to help get to your destination, you may still want a different stroller to use once you get there. For example, it won’t be your best friend on bumpy trails and through rough terrain, nor over cobblestones, and not while sightseeing outdoors in extremely hot climates (the upholstery + the ventless canopy makes it a bit of a heat trap). You may want to check your stroller on certain trips, or simplify things altogether and rent a stroller at your destination (an especially good option if you’d like a jogger or cobblestone-worthy buggy during your vacation but don’t want to travel with one!).
Also, the Sit N Stroll is a finely tuned piece of very lightweight equipment, and as such it deserves to (and requires that it) be treated with respect. If you tend to man-handle your gear and have a low frustration tolerance, you might be not like retraining yourself to buckle the seatbelt or LATCH strap over the car seat each time your load the car.
I have found the seatbelt to be the simplest and most user-friendly over all for installation, and when using the car seat rear-facing, I’ve found I can just leave the seatbelt threaded through one side of the seat to keep it visible and easily accessible when I’m not removing the Sit N Stroll between drives.
It might also take a while to get the feel of deploying and retracting the stroller wheels while the stroller (and child) is in midair–this took me some time, but now I can do it without even thinking, even with my 28-pounder strapped in. You’ll want to practice a few times at home before heading out into the world with your Sit N Stroll.
Here you can see both the handlebar, which is raised by squeezing the two red levers together, and also the lower handle you squeeze with one hand and press down to extend the wheels (or squeeze and slide up toward the top of the seat to retract the wheels into the base. Which leads me to the next consumer who may want to reconsider the Sit N Stroll: Those with back problems may not be able to use it for as long as other parents. For the bad-backed among us, it’s hard to beat a good lightweight travel stroller, weighing in from a mere 9 lbs. to 12 lbs, for around-the-town use.
If any of these possible drawbacks speak to you in more than a whisper, you may be happier in the long run with a different car seat solution for travel–of which there are many. Be sure to check out these recommended car seats for travel, accessories, and car seat alternatives. Travels with Baby (the book) is also loaded with tips for traveling with car seats, both across state lines and around the world. UPDATE: And now you can browse all Travels with Baby Tips for travel with car seats here.
Click here to see available models of the Sit N Stroll at Amazon.
Shelly Rivoli, Author of the award-winning guide Travels with Baby
The Ultimate Guide for Planning Trips with Babies, Toddlers, and Preschool-Age Children