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Review of the Sit 'n' Stroll

    combination car seat & stroller

 

Find it online at:   Amazon.com    Baby Earth  

 

 

The Sit 'n' Stroll: a car seat, stroller, dining booster in one.

  • Rear-facing 5 to 30 lbs.
  • Forward-facing 20 to 40 lbs.
  • FAA-certified for flying
  • Weighs 16.5 lbs.

Find it online at: 

  Amazon.com    Baby Earth  

Steering handle shown in down position. Below that, the handle squeezed and slid down (as shown) to deploy wheel mechanism, or squeezed and pulled up to retract wheels.

Wheels extended, small hard-plastic storage compartment.

Guides for seatbelt or LATCH, with forward-facing guide above and rear-facing belt slot below it.

Installed rear-facing with seatbelt.

Overhead of seatbelt through rear-facing belt guides.

Forward-facing belt path.

Comfy 5 pt. safety harness.

Shown in profile with optional sun / rain canopy.

I am often asked by parents facing travel if I recommend the Sit 'N' Stroll, or feel it's "worth the money." I've used the Sit 'N' Stroll with each of my children at various times, and have experienced using it with an infant, a toddler, and on up to 4 years. As well, I've used other car seats during our travels, so I feel I can make a pretty fair comparison of the options. I can certainly offer some insights that might help you make the decision for yourself.

For around $230, you get a convertible car seat that you can use rear-facing with infants from 5 lbs to 30 lbs, and use forward-facing for toddlers up to 40 lbs. The car seat converts to a light-use stroller (see details below) when desired, and may also be used as a dining booster, thanks to its flat bottom that sits fairly well on restaurant chairs. The Sit N Stroll now comes standard with the retractable canopy, which I've found to be a great help in the car and also on airplanes--it helps keep reading lights and undesirable air currents off snoozing kiddos.

Don't be surprised.

There are a few details that may not be glaringly obvious as you contemplate purchasing the Sit N Stroll. I, myself, was surprised to learn that I am supposed to "back it" up and down curbs, rather than bear down on the handlebar like you would with your regular stroller. In short, this means tipping your child forward to get the back wheels up a curb or step, and that does feel a little strange--especially with infants. But while the manufacturer advises this, I will admit I have pushed my luck with this on many occasions, though not with a load over 26 lbs., and have not yet had a problem.

On airplanes, you will need to ask for a seatbelt extender, though this has never been a problem for us. I just make a habit of asking the first flight attendant I see as we board the aircraft, and they usually have one to us as we're settling into our seats. Usually, we need to twist the seatbelt over in one place to keep the latch on the underside of the belt--else wise it's very easy for a toddler to unbuckle.

The "Flex Grip" steering is not appreciated by some people, but I have no complaints. In fact, I feel it steers very nicely on most sidewalks, even one-handed, which is important to me since my other hand is often holding onto my other child.

Comparably priced to the Britax Roundabout, the Sit 'n' Stroll combination car seat / stroller is a bit pricey for most parents to consider just for vacation use. So I am giving my two cents here to help you in case you're considering buying one.

My short answer is, I don't think it's right for everyone. Frankly, as clever as the design is, the Sit 'n' Stroll is not necessarily going to be the stroller you'll want while out sightseeing anyway.  

That said, I'm absolutely in love with my Sit 'N' Stroll, and not just because I can wheel it through the airport. But as we tested out the Sit 'n' Stroll, with both a baby and toddler, we quickly discovered it may have missed its true calling--at least as far as its marketing is concerned.

Forget about your trip to Tahiti. This is the car seat you want right here at home.

The dream car seat for running errands

Many parents lament the day their child outgrows his infant car seat, that little convenience that snaps in and out of the car so easily, that also snaps in and out of the stroller frame (e.g. Snap 'N Go) as you run errands without disrupting his peaceful slumbers. Add to that a handy canopy to shield sensitive eyes and skin from sun, and it's indeed a great convenience both in and out of the car.

By popular demand, car seat manufacturers have increased height and weight limits on these car seats just so parents can enjoy that convenience even longer before finally, inevitably, having to switch to a convertible car seat--from which they must always remove the baby when leaving the car.

Not so with the Sit 'n' Stroll. Babies and toddlers stay buckled in as wheels pop out--yes, you don't even need to go to the trunk to get your stroller (you might not even have to keep a stroller in your trunk anymore). Squeeze the little red levers, pull up the handle, and shout "Sit 'n' Stroll activate!" And, yes, it even has a retractable canopy you can add to use for shade in the car and while strolling (sometimes included as a package).

Other great applications for the Sit 'n' Stroll

Flying - Okay, it is awfully nice to get through airport security with one less piece of equipment (even if you bring your travel stroller, you can check it at the front counter). Rolling a car seat to the gate with your child in it also takes care of a couple logistical challenges, as well. Just don't expect to roll the Sit 'n' Stroll down the aisle of any aircraft smaller than a 747. On the bright side, it's made to be lifted and lugged with a child in it, so if you must carry them both down the aisle, you will at least have a relatively lightweight car seat with two good handles to hold on to. 

Dining - The Sit 'n' Stroll is also designed to work as a dining booster, and does feel fairly solid resting on a variety of chair seats and benches. This can be especially helpful when your baby is not yet ready to use standard-issue restaurant high chairs. The plush cover repels food and liquids fairly well, but there may be phases you'd rather not have your child feast in the seat. If he does, a good plastic or vinyl bib that covers straps and buckles may be helpful. Since it does not strap to chairs, you will want to practice extra caution when using it in restaurants.

Taking a taxi - One of the Sit 'n' Stroll's big claims to fame is the ability to strap it into a taxi cab quickly, then pop it out and roll. Having the belt path rout around the car seat rather than through slots in the seat (rear facing) or in the back of the car seat (forward facing) does indeed simplify installation of the car seat in unfamiliar cars.

Cruising - If ever there were a convenient time to have three pieces of baby gear in one, a cruise is it. No more worries about whether or not to bring along the car seat, and / or the stroller, and / or a dining booster--and where they will all fit in your cramped quarters at sea. The Sit 'n' Stroll provides just what you need for pleasant strolls on deck, light sightseeing, and even touring when you decide to grab a taxi at your port. In your cabin, it also works as a handy seat for your child.

 

My favorite moments with the Sit 'n' Stroll

Election Day - We arrive by car, baby snoozing in her car seat. I extend the stroller wheels to roll on in to our polling place. In line, she snoozes peacefully in the stroller-car seat. Finally, I roll on over to my voting booth, and guess what? The Sit 'n' Stroll fits perfectly beneath my booth, with handle pushed down. Fellow voters watch in awe, commenting, "I sure wish I'd had something like that back when I had little ones!"

Favorite Mexican Restaurant - A short wait for our table? No problem. Baby rests in her car seat-stroller until it's our turn to be seated. We roll her through the restaurant in between the tables until arriving at ours. Handle down, lift her up, wheels retract, and the Sit 'n' Stroll is placed on a chair. Voila. Dining booster.

Quick Trip to the Post Office - Hurry, scurry, a trip to the Post Office, quick before they close. No need to fuss with getting the stroller out of the trunk or the front pack carrier, or un-strapping the child from the car seat and struggling through protests of strapping her in to another conveyance--only to repeat the procedure after mailing my package. I just open the door, lift out the baby in her seat, extend wheels, and roll on in!

The afternoon nap - The drive-induced nap continues on after rolling the baby in and parking her in a quiet corner next to the sofa where I, too, catch a few zzzzs.

But how does it really work?

In the rear-facing position, your seatbelt goes through guides just as it would when using an infant carrier car seat without its base. In the forward-facing position, the seatbelt uses a different set of guides, but the seatbelt still buckles around it rather than through the back, facilitating simpler, quicker installation and removal.

When you get to your destination:

  • Unbuckle the seatbelt and take hold of the car seat's two handles with each hand--one just under the front of the seat, the other on the seat's back.
  • Lift the seat out of the car and squeeze the handle on the back, then push it downward until it clicks, indicating the wheels are out and locked.
  • Set the seat down on its wheels and squeeze the red levers together while pulling up the handle to the desired height. 

When you return to your car:

  • Squeeze the small red levers together to push the handle back down.
  • Lift the seat by the same handles, this time squeezing the handle on the back and pulling up to retract the wheels.
  • Set the Sit 'n' Stroll on your car's seat and buckle the seat belt around it once more, pulling the seatbelt to ensure it's snug.

Note: The wheels must be extended and retracted while the seat is being held in the air--not while it is sitting on a surface (the ground, etc.).

Still, it isn't perfect.

There is definitely a learning curve one masters before using the Sit 'n' Stroll with grace, and you would be wise to practice extending the wheels into locked position--and testing it to be sure--a few times to familiarize yourself with the process before doing so with your child strapped in.

When using this car seats with infants, which you can do from 5 lbs, you will most likely want to use a Sit Rite Leveler (see our recommended car seat accessories) or a rolled-up towel to help achieve a sufficient recline. Once your baby is old enough to support her head well, the seat's normal recline should be adequate.

Also, to offer its functionality and remain as lightweight as it is, the Sit 'n' Stroll is a somewhat delicate piece of gear and requires some thoughtful handling and care. For example, the manufacturer advises you pull it backwards up and down curbs (as you might steer a moving dolly), to avoid bearing down on the handle and steering mechanism. That can take some getting used to, and if your child is only an infant or is napping in the stroller, you may not be so keen on tipping him forward for the sake of a curb, which is inevitably what happens. Admittedly, I have pushed my luck on this point, and have found no problem up to 20 lbs, though some parents have damaged the handle mechanism when trying this with heavier children. (Best not to risk it!)

Why you might consider the Sit 'n' Stroll:

If you run many errands and will need to get your child in and out of your car--and a stroller--frequently.

If you'd like to save money over buying a "travel system" for your infant and, later, a larger car seat.

If you'd like to free-up space in your trunk by removing your usual stroller.

If you can stroller your sleeping child from the car into your home.

If you use taxis on a regular basis.

If you would like to simplify getting through the airport with your car seat.

If you are exhausted from wrestling your resistant child each time you need to get him into his car seat.

Why you might think twice about the Sit 'n' Stroll:

If you encounter serious "curbage" or stairs as a regular part of your routine.

If you have back problems and don't want to lift more than your child's weight when unloading him from the car.

If you have very short arms, it may be difficult to reach down the back as you deploy the wheels.

If you need a stroller with a large capacity shopping basket underneath in order to complete your errands (it does have an optional storage bag, however).

If you're hoping to get away with using this over cobblestones.

Tips for using your Sit 'n' Stroll

On the airplane - Easiest installation on non-bulkhead rows where arm rests are not fixed and can be raised to ease installation. Be prepared to ask for a seatbelt extender, as you'll likely need one.

In the car - Use a Sit Rite leveler or rolled towel to help infants recline. When using the seat rear-facing, slip a baby-safe travel toy with link over the seatbelt where it crosses over her lap. If your car has very slippery leather seats, you may want to use a square of non-slip drawer liner beneath the car seat to help hold it in place during installations.

In the taxi - Rear seats with a combination lap / shoulder belt may provide the easiest installation, as you can pull the shoulder strap portion to ensure a snug fit.

In the restaurant - Use a good vinyl or plastic bib that is long enough to cover the buckle, with a pocket to catch crumbs.

Out and about - In cold weather, use with a Bundle Me or snuggle sack designed to work with car seat and stroller harnesses and your child won't get chilled during the transfer between stroller and car. 

Others to consider:

Gogo Kidz by GoGo BabyzThe GoGo Kidz Universal Travelmate adds wheels to most car seats and can be used to wheel your child in his car seat through the airport and to your gate, but it is not designed to be used as a stroller.

The Pac Back is a backpack carrier for car seats that helps you get to the gate with your hands free for pushing a stroller or rolling a suitcase.

The Radian Folding Car Seat also works from 5 lbs, but goes up to 65 lbs, and has a space-saving design, which can be helpful in cramped airplanes. No wheels, but it folds to 6.5" thick and fits in its own carrying bag with a shoulder strap.

Suggestions for improvement:

High visibility colors to help others see it in all of those places they don't expect to... parking lots, busy airports, restaurant aisles, etc.

Add another harness slot between the first two, which seem too far apart to us.

Ventilation in optional canopy to make the car seat more comfortable in hot weather and climates. As it is, there is no vent in the optional canopy.

Improve the infant neck cushion, which did not work well with this car seat for either infant or toddler, as the center-back is too padded and props the whole head forward. We didn't miss it at all, however.

Find it online at:   Amazon.com    Baby Earth  

Read other parents' comments in the Sit N Stroll blog post.

 

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Over 400 pages of travel advice, insights, tips, and recommendations to help with every trip you'll take through your child's first 5 years.

 

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