Shelly Rivoli's Travels with Baby
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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.

Sunshade Solution
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.

Safe journey,

Shelly Rivoli, Author of the award-winning guide Travels with Baby

The Ultimate Guide for Planning Trips with Babies, Toddlers, and Preschool-Age Children

Curious about this content? See my editorial content disclosure.

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4 Responses to Travels with Baby Tip #28: Consider the Sit N Stroll

  1. Sharon says:

    I love my Sit & Stroll but it is not an ideal car seat and definitely a luxury baby product for families who fly a lot and will really use it. I too used it on the ground as well. It was nice to not have to cram the stroller in the trunk when going on a car vacation.

    Another disadvantage to the SNS is the top shoulder straps are very low. My daughter outgrew it by height quite early. She could continue to use the Scenera (a product that should be on your list since it's so lightweight and inexpensive) for quite a few more months. I didn't measure the height but I bet they're around 15", far below the 18" on some up-to-40lbs car seats.

    Please really urge parents to NOT travel with lap babies. Either they can buy a seat or try to use an empty one. Let's leave the talk about checking car seats! As a former Flight Attendant, it's scary to think what happens to them in an accident. We have to secure the coffee pots, but not the babies? Just doesn't make sense! You could save a baby's life out there somewhere, if you really make it clear the dangers of flying with a "lap baby".

    One product you *don't* need to promote is the Baby B'Air, which, speaking as a Flight Attendant, is quite useless. A good baby carrier serves the same purpose and a lot of other uses. It's really overpriced and very badly mismarketed. Please concentrate your energies on getting parents to put their children in car seats and to save their money on this gizmo.

    Which brings me to make a request. I wish you'd include some *good* baby carriers with your baby gear suggestions. Those pictures of you in that Bjorn look pretty uncomfortable. Mine barely made it to 6 months and was never used again once I got a sling for my second child, which made it till they were 3 years old. By definition, a good carrier should go at least to age 2 and shouldn't force the child into one rigid position. Many parents are writing in about Ergo and Becco carriers in addition to pouches, wraps and slings. Many of these too, are less expensive. Mei Tai's are easy to make at home.

    The reason the Bjorn and front packs are so uncomfortable and so bad for both the parent and baby is that they suspend the child by its crotch, pulling on the shoulders. Also, as any PT will tell you, the child is carried too low. It was impossible to breastfed in and my baby woke up as soon as all those fiddly straps were unhooked.

    With the sling, I could slide my baby easily from the SNS, to the bassinet, to the stroller, etc. without waking her. You can also sit down in the airplane seat with it on, unlike the Bjorn. I saw a woman struggling with hers' on a flight once, also with three children plus a husband (while I was alone) and she wanted to know where I got my sling at the end.

    Definitely push good carriers for travel. They make such a difference. It was obvious both in the airport and on board how much easier a time I was having, even flying internationally with three small children. Remember your comment about holding the child over your arm in security? Didn't happen to me! Because the sling lifted up, sometimes we "got away" with just a hand check. It also served as my breastfeeding cover-up, blanket, sunshade and baby changer.

  2. Shelly Rivoli, author says:

    Thanks for your input and feedback. I actually had the Cosco Scenera on my recommended convertible car seats for travel (http://www.travelswithbaby.com/gear/car_seats_convertible.htm) in the past, but it became unavailable for a long enough time that I removed it and came up with the ComfortSport as an alternative (which unfortunately doesn’t have tall enough shoulder straps to go up to 4 years as it turns out!). I agree it’s a great car seat for travel—lightweight, all your basic safety features, very narrow base installs easily in airplane and compact rental car seats, and lighter on the wallet than many, which is always appreciated by those saving up for travel! Thanks to your prompting, I took another look and discovered it seems to be available once again (back by popular demand?). I’ll be adding it back to my car seat page with the next round of updates.

    As for the Bjorn… oh, yes, I’ve logged a lot of miles with that thing, yet in spite of all of the photos you’ll see of me wearing my first daughter in one, they are not among my top rated carriers for travel. In my case, it was a hand-me-down, and as we were budgeting so much for travel at the time, every hand-me-down was greatly appreciated and put to good use. My husband wouldn’t sport the more exotic wraps I came up with later on (which you'll see on me in Thailand, Mexico, and some others), so the Bjlessed Bjorn continued to travel on for some time. I think the Bjasic Bjorn really tops out at 15 lbs—after that, your back really resents it and you’ll want to pluck your eyes out by the time you finish your tour of the Vatican.

    I have also tried the Moby wrap, and many other carriers since. I now have an Ergo, too, which has surprised me by even allowing me (a not very tall or strong person) to fairly comfortably carry a 3-year-old on my back. However, when it comes to traveling through airport security, I don’t recommend either the Moby, nor the Mei Tai, nor the Ergo, nor many other carriers that are otherwise terrific! For that, I recommend either not using a carrier until getting to the other side of the scanner, or wearing a simple over-the-head sling as you describe that requires no buckling/unbuckling, etc., and can be removed and replaced with one hand when needed.

    Along with many types of gear and gadgets I recommend for travel in the book, there is a section that addresses carriers, wraps & slings and the ins and outs of the various types as applied to travel. Unfortunately, that page on the website (and a few others!) have had to take a back seat to some other obligations since publication, but it is in the works. Thanks for the added motivation to get it online!

  3. Global Momma says:

    Thanks for the review on the Sit n” Stroll. I’m considering getting this for a trip to Thailand (Bangkok and Chiang Mai). I noticed you have been there – did you use the Sit n’ stroll there? Are the sidewalks good enough that it is workable? Were you able to find taxis with seat belts?

  4. Shelly Rivoli says:

    Good questions! No, I did not have my Sit ‘n’ Stroll for Thailand, and no, I usually did not find seatbelts in the back seats of Taxis in Thailand. There were many places the sidewalks were so chewed up–or so busily “under repair” that it was challenging to navigate with a stroller, and I think the small wheels of the Sit ‘n’ Stroll would be very challenged indeed on city walks. However, it’s a little unnerving riding in back seats without any car seat at all, let alone a seat belt to secure one, particularly if you’ve seen the crazy driving in Bangkok and around the country. If someone had a Sit ‘n’ Stroll, it could be a good option for at least providing some protection for your child while riding in a car without seat belts. No real safe alternatives to “no seatbelts” unfortunately! More recommended travel strollers with the nitty gritty details, car seat alternatives, etc. on my site if you haven’t been there yet: http://www.travelswithbaby.com

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