The best lightweight pram and car seat combo for a newborn and mama who takes taxis, likes to walk, and travel
In this week’s Car Seat Chronicles, we look at Elise’s recommendations for a soon-to-be Mama, Karen, who’s on a hunt for a car seat and pram for her little bub. Shopping for baby essentials can be really stressful, but fret not, we’ve done the legwork for you. Read as Elise explains her choice of car seats and strollers for this mama and see if anything fits your lifestyle. If you know any mummies who are popping soon, please share this article with them!
Karen’s preparing for the arrival of her baby, and she has started to research on baby essentials like car seats and prams. With the numerous prams and car seats in the market, Karen’s overwhelmed by the many choices available; before she knew it, Karen has gone down the rabbit hole of endless baby gear reviews. She’s not sure which car seat and pram would fit her lifestyle—she loves to go for a light run/walks at the park, and would like to bring both her baby and her pup along (altogether in a single pram). Ideally, she wants an elusive do-it-all pram and a car seat for her baby.
Hi Karen! The stuff that I’m going to say can be controversial, and that is going to feel really wrong and I think you might be quite resistant—just like myself when I was at your stage. However, allow me to plant the seed of thought and see what you think in a couple of days after the seed has had a chance to germinate. When I was looking for my very first pram before the arrival of my firstborn, I wanted just one pram just like everybody that I knew and every new parent that I’ve met since. They want one pram that can do everything, but I can quite confidently say that—sorry to burst your bubble—if you don’t have a car and you need to use taxis/ride-hailing apps to get around, it’s unlikely that you’ll have that one pram that’s good at everything you need it to do.
Difference between having your own car and taking the taxi
There is a subtle difference between having your own car and taking a taxi and it makes a really big real with prams. If we lived in Australia or the UK and you had a car, finding a do-it-all pram is probably quite plausible because you have a little more flexibility with the car seat; when it’s time to have a toddler car seat, it could just stay in the car permanently and you won’t have to worry about its compatibility with your pram. I know sounds a little intuitive, like if you were willing to put your pram at the back of your car, why wouldn’t you be willing to put that pram at the back of a taxi? There’s just something in the universe that makes it a little different—whether it’s rushing to get it into the back of the taxi, whether the taxi boot is sometimes small and packed, or just the fact that you’ve got to do it so frequently. Plus, if you had a car maybe you wouldn’t take the pram in the car as much, maybe you’d leave it at home and take it out around your neighbourhood.
The best infant-friendly car seats
Shall we begin by looking at car seats first? Things are a lot simpler in terms of car seats, simply because you’ve fewer options. You have two options, broadly, and they are: 1) infant car seat and 2) convertible car seat. We’ll look at different car seats under each category but before that, I’ll like to caution you against choosing an American car seat in Singapore, because they are not automatically compatible with the seat belts we’ve here and you’ll need to use an additional hardware, called a locking clip. The European seatbelt system is used here in Singapore, so they work best with European car seats generally—we tend to find that European infant car seats work a lot better here.
Infant car seats
Infant car seats are car seats that are rear-facing only and they’re sometimes called bucket seat or capsule. They’re called bucket seats because they’ve a handle (just like a bucket) but they vaguely look like a bucket and they’ve their own integrated sunshade. If you’ve your own car, you could get a separate base to attach them to but they work without the base as well and that’s what makes them so handy to use in taxis! Almost every brand of car seat manufacture will produce infant car seats but they’re not created equal. Your infant car seat should be able to last you until some time around your child’s second year of life, so it’ll be between one and two years old when a child will outgrow their car seat, typically. Do note that children don’t outgrow their car seats by age and instead outgrow it by size, either because they’ve met the weight limit—twelve/thirteen kilos depending on car set—or they’ve reached the torso/seated height limit, once their head is no longer contained inside of the shell of the car seat, for most car seats. You’ll have to check your manual because each seat is a little different on that, or you can let contact us for help!
Infant car seat #1: Mountain Buggy Protect — your best option for taxis
The Mountain Buggy Protect is the lightest (slight over three kilos!) and narrowest infant car seat and I used it with my third boy. I think it’s great because the weight of the car seat does make a huge difference when you’ve to lift the car seat in and out of taxis so many times and especially if the child grows. The narrow car seat body makes taxi rides more comfortable—in the future when you have another child, you’ll need another car seat in the back of the taxi and saving an inch or two on the width of the Protect can make a big impact on squeezing everybody across the backseat. It fits tiny babies very well and it’s also shockingly cheap at $183, which I really think it’s great value.
Infant car seat #2: MaxiCosi and Cybex
The other options you can look at are car seats from MaxiCosi and Cybex, but there are a few models—mainly the Cybex Cloud Q and Cloud Z—that I’d actually caution you against. The Cybex Cloud Q and Z (ref: image above) are super popular amongst parents because of their lie-flat mode; when the baby is out of the car, you can pop the car seat apart to achieve a lie-flat mode and this notion is really valued by parents. However, this more than doubles the weight of the car seat! The Protect weighs around three kilos, the rest of the regular infant car seats like MaxiCosi and the normal Cybex Aton weigh around four-and-a-half kilos and the Cybex Cloud models are over seven kilos! These car seats can get outgrown sooner because their padding is less adjustable and removable because of their lie-flat feature. We’ve parents coming to us and say, “it’s heavier than what I can handle now that my child is over six months old and my child seems to be outgrowing it sooner than I had expected given its price point.” You can also look at other infant car seats, they typically cost about three hundred or more and if you’ve any questions, just drop me a message.
If you do go with an infant car seat, here’s what you need to know: once your child has grown out of the infant car seat, you’ll need to change into a toddler car seat. If you still don’t have a car and you’re using taxis in Singapore, there are only two options: 1) the Cosco Scenera NEXT and 2) the Urban Kanga. The Urban Kanga is however a forward-facing car seat that is five times less safe than a rear-facing car seat and so if you decide to keep your child rear-facing for longer than one and a half or two years (depending on how long your infant car seat fits) then you’re only left with the option of going with the Cosco Scenera NEXT, which we’ll look at the next section.
Convertible car seats
A convertible car seat converts from an infant car seat to a toddler car seat later and the market leader is the Cosco Scenera NEXT. This is an American car seat—I know I’ve cautioned you against using American car seats in Singapore, but there aren’t European car seats in this category. If you buy the Cosco from us, we’ll give you the locking clip that you need to use with the car seat, it’s quite an easy one to use that’s approved with that car seat. Let’s look at the Cosco in further details.
Convertible car seat #1: Cosco Scenera NEXT
The Cosco’s lightweight (only three kilos!) design gets you in and out of the taxi without getting weighed down. Just like the Mountain Buggy Protect, the Cosco also fits preemie babies very well; I’ve small children, they were born two or four weeks early so they were around two-and-a-half kilos and these car seats fitted them really well. The mainstream car seats tend to not fit tiny babies well, they fit really well when the newborn is about a month old. It’s long-lasting—it will last children from birth until they're ready for a booster seat, about four to six years old. If you want to use the Cosco Scenera NEXT from birth, it’ll work almost only with the Mountain Buggy prams (which we’ll look through later) because they’ve the adapters that accommodate the car seat. Although the Cosco can be hacked onto the Bugaboo Bee (I’ll explain more later), the Cosco works in a very upright mode which is not suitable for newborns because they need to be reclined at forty-five degrees at least. You’ll probably need an infant car seat in that case.
There are both pros and cons of choosing a longer lasting car seat like the Cosco versus an infant-only car seat. The infant car seat is easier to carry because it has a handle, and it’s has its own integrated sunshade, which can be really helpful during the early period. A lot of parents find it easier to install the infant car seat, although not all; a chunk of parents are relieved when they changed from their infant car seat to the Cosco because they actually find it a little bit easier to use. Plus, depending on the pram you purchase, the infant car seat sort of clicks into the stroller whereas the Cosco Scenera NEXT straps onto the pram that it’s compatible with or sits onto the stroller frame. This may take a little more getting used to and maybe extra couple of seconds when you’re attaching/detaching the car seat from the pram and that’s something to ponder over.
If I had a do-over, I’d skip the infant car seat completely and gone straight to the Cosco. It’s just great value. You can definitely skip the infant car seat and go straight to the Cosco—that’s what I did with my second boy (ref: image above), it’s definitely possible! My firstborn was in a MaxiCosi Cabriofix from birth and when he outgrew that, he used the Cosco. My youngest used the Protect from birth and then moved into the Cosco. As you can tell, I’ve tried the different permutations. If you wonder why I went with the infant car seat instead for my youngest, here’s my rationale: the value that the Protect offered was worth the price ($183) that I had to pay for and it’s more convenient than convertible car seats in my opinion—not always but in this case it was for me. I liked the added convenience of being able to click it onto my stroller and to have the handle and sunshade et cetera.
The best strollers for the active mum
I was probably willing to fork out a little bit more for a pram if I thought it could do everything, but now I’ve learned and I don’t know anybody now—with a kid over two—who still just has one pram. My advice would be: instead of buying an expensive pram that purports to do everything, I’d recommend buying two prams that cost a little less each, but incredibly good at their jobs (especially when you don’t have a car). I’m pushing for two prams not because I want you to buy more prams, this has been my advice for a lot of parents and we’ve only started selling prams recently. We’re almost at the recommendation section (I promise!) but before that, I’d like to briefly address the difference between a three wheel pram and a four wheel pram. Three wheel prams typically have better maneuverability and they handle better over uneven terrain. I’ve owned a couple of three and four wheel prams (gosh I’ve a lot of prams in my lifetime) and I really think that if you get a pram that’s really good for a specific job that you want, then it’ll tend to work better than taking a pram that’s really good for something else and trying to adapt it to your situation—horses for courses, as the saying goes.
Alrighty, let’s dive further into the prams’ section! I’ll recommend the following prams: Mountain Buggy Nano/Duet/Mini/Swift and Bugaboo Bee. I’ll also talk about the BabyJogger since you’ve asked me about it. In case you’re curious why I recommend so many different buggies from Mountain Buggy, here’s a little backstory: we’ve only started selling Mountain Buggy because I’ve became really evangelical about them. My first four prams were not from Mountain Buggy but my last three prams are because I just think that they’re the best, in my honest opinion. We’ve got the Mini, Swift and the Duet, you can drop by and have a look or you can head our stockist, Motherworks— they’ve some of them, but not all.
Pram #1: Mountain Buggy Nano — your best companion for taxis and travels
For taxis, I reckon the best pram is the Mountain Buggy Nano and it’s at an affordable price of $435. The Nano’s closest competitor, which is the Babyzen Yoyo amounts up to $1200 if you were to buy all of the components—and you do need to buy them because it will not be suitable for your newborn without them. The Nano suits from birth without the need to change the seat or add any attachments (read: save money and effort). The Yoyo can take infant car seats only, but the Nano is compatible with infant car seats and taxi-friendly toddler car seats like the Cosco Scenera NEXT (ref: image above) and the Combi Coccoro. If you foresee yourself taking the pram in a taxi very frequently, you can consider that.
You may find that the Nano can actually do a good chunk of what you want to do, especially if you’re thinking of traveling in the future when the world is once again connected. It’s a cabin-sized pram—unlike a lot of other prams—and you can take it on the plane with you. Now that an huge benefit because you get to use it all the way to the terminal! You won’t have to carry your child with you and if your child had a meltdown/wants to be carried, your stroller is here to save the day (and your arms). If you’ve a pram that is not cabin-sized, you can take it up till the gate and hand it over to the gate crew for them to put it in the aircraft’s belly. It’s essentially the same thing but there’s a few drawbacks: 1) you don’t get to use the pram at the terminal at your destination, 2) you probably have to wait longer because it’s together with the oversized baggage and somehow it always takes longer, and 3) it can get beaten up even if the pram is wrapped in a travel bag. The prams can be bulky and hard to maneuver, and sometimes the luggage guys are in a rush. So yep, there’s definitely a benefit of having a pram that you can take carry-on.
Pram #2: Mountain Buggy Duet — your best bet in this urban jungle
The Mountain Buggy Duet is a full-sized pram; it’s as wide as the Bugaboo Cameleon. The Duet can be used in single mode, which means you have an incredibly comfortable seat for your child and two baskets! It’s got a huge basket underneath and if you were to use it in single mode (ref: image above), you can put your pup in the basket beside the baby. I don’t know if it’s not okay having your pup at the same level as the baby, so you’ll have to make that call yourself. The Duet is my favourite pram and here’s why: it’s surprisingly compact and seamless—it handles like a cat on carpet, and it goes over kerbs like a hot knife through butter! I wished that I bought the Duet as a single right at the beginning when my first son was born instead of the BabyJogger, because then when we had our second baby I’d have been able to add the second seat. We use it for the three boys now; my two-and-a-half-year-old and one-year-old sit in the pram itself and my five-year-old stands on the Mountain Buggy Freerider scooter/buggyboard at the back of the pram.
If you’re going to bite the bullet and get a different pram for taxis and travels, you can perhaps get something a bit more robust for jogging/walking around in the park and I’d recommend the Duet (that’s my personal decision, I’d choose the Duet hands-down any time). It’s a bit of a beast; it’s the biggest pram I’ve got but it handles the best. There are two options available with the Duet, you can have it either with city wheels or air-filled tires. The city wheels are also known as aero-tech wheels, and they’re puncture-proof where there’s no inner tube. If you think you’ll be running with bub and you need more suspension and some give then I’ll recommend you to go for the traditional air-filled tires.
Pram #3: Mountain Buggy Swift and Mini — your best pick for an all-in-one pram
The Mountain Buggy Swift is the single version of the Duet, and the Mini is like the Swift but lighter and a little more compact. The Mini comes with city wheels but you can change them out to air-filled tires if you wanted to. If you’re pretty set on looking for an elusive all-in-one pram that ticks all your boxes, I reckon the Mini’s probably going to be the ticket—it’s one of the lightest regular strollers and it accommodates any infant car seat! It now has an adapter that’s compatible with the Cosco Scenera NEXT, which is both an infant and toddler car seat. The Mini features an adjustable handlebar that doesn’t extend but it tilts, and my husband (six foot four) and I (five foot six) both use it comfortably! Another point to note is that the Mini sunshade would not go over the top of the Cosco.
Pram #4: Bugaboo Bee — your second best pick for a do-it-all buggy
The other pram you might want to consider is the Bugaboo Bee. It’s a four wheel pram and it has suspension (it doesn’t have air-filled tires). It’s also light and compact but it’s not officially compatible with the Cosco. You can head over to our strollerhacks database to see how other parents fit their Cosco on their Bugaboo Bee! It’s just a sheer coincidence that the car seat sort of nestles into the stroller frame (when you take the seat out). However, the Cosco works in a very upright mode (as you can tell from the images above) and that’s not suitable for newborns because they have to be reclined at forty-five degrees minimum. Another downside to this Cosco + Bugaboo Bee combination and that is the Bugaboo’s sunshade doesn’t fit over the top of the Cosco, unlike the Mountain Buggy Nano (ref: image below). Also, I reckon the Bugaboo Bee will not handle light jogging/traipse/off-roads—like those in Botanic Garden—as well as the Mini would. If you decided to roll with the Bugaboo Bee, I’ll recommend that you get an infant car seat.
Pram #5: BabyJogger — not your best ally in Singapore
Like you, the BabyJogger was my first choice as well, but it’s just not quite narrow enough for what you want to do in Singapore, in my opinion. All of my friends back in Australia have the BabyJogger and when we took ours back to Australia it worked—it was seamless unlike in Singapore! I guess that’s just something to do about the size of the footpath and how life is lived here that sort of didn’t really work for me with that pram.
I know this is very complex—it’s basically a minefield and I’m sorry about that. In summary, for car seats you can choose infant car seats like the Mountain Buggy Protect, MaxiCosi Cabriofix (if you find that on sale) or Cybex Aton, but not the Cybex Cloud lie-flat car seat. You can also go with the Cosco Scenera NEXT which saves you some money. You might have to make some slight concession for the first six months but the the grand scheme of things, it’s not the end of the world. In terms of strollers, if you’re going ahead with just one pram, the Mini might be the one for you. It’s compatible with either any of the infant car seats or the Cosco Scenera NEXT as well.
If you’re leaning towards getting another pram for taxis use and travels, like the Mountain Buggy Nano, perhaps you can consider something more robust for jogging/walking around in the park, like the Duet. I do think that it’s is the best pram in the world—it’s in fact one of the bestselling prams in the world—and I think it’ll do really well for taking your pup along with you for jogs/walks. I reckon that you’ll get incredible use of a Mountain Buggy Nano plus a Duet because that will all that you need to buy in the pram category in the next six years or forever, really, they really cover all of your bases. Have a look at all your options and slowly digest them, and if you’ve any questions, please let me know. I’ll talk to you later, see ya!
Karen came back with the following questions:
Hi Elise, it sounds like where you're suggesting we land is:
- Mountain Nano (mini/swift/duet) with the infant car seat or Cosco, or start with one and graduate to the Cosco.
- If we consider a second 'jogger' stroller we should get the BabyJogger I guess (Bugaboo Bee is really out of my price point).
I remain a little bit confused about a couple of things (and I am sorry if I am throwing new things into the mix here).
- You used the BabyJogger City for #2 right? How did it handle for public transport and what car seat did you use with it? Was it, in fact, sturdier?
- The Mountain Buggy infant seat - just to confirm - you mentioned it can be used for 1-2 years depending on child's weight? Some reviews said nine months, hence i was wondering.
- Any opinions on the Doona? My cousin has thrown that into the mix but the other two (Mountain Buggy and BabyJogger) seem sturdier.
Hi Karen, after reviewing your questions, I reckon you've three choices to choose from: 1) get one pram, 2) get a travel stroller plus a jogger and 3) get a jogger pram and the Doona. I'll also address your questions as we go!
Option #1: one pram only
If you're very firm on getting just one pram, then I want to flag that you may find that it does a halfway job at everything that you want it to be, instead of doing a perfect/very good job at everything you want it to do. Some of the do-it-all pram cost more, so if you play your cards right you may be able to get two fit-for-purpose prams at the same/lower price point than an elusive do-it-all pram that does everything okay. If you just want one pram only that's halfway between a travel and a jogger pram, perhaps you only have two options: 1) Mountain Buggy Mini and 2) BabyJogger City Mini Gt.
The Mini is a smaller version of the Swift, it's got the same platform, it's easy to lift and fold but it's not a travel pram (it's not a cabin-sized pram). You can use the Mini and Swift with the Mountain Buggy Protect infant car seat or any infant car seat (with an additional car seat adaptor accessory) or you can use it with the Cosco. The Mini costs about four hundred dollars (sans shipping) but you don't have to get it from us; First Few Years, Motherswork and Mothercare are all Mountain Buggy's retailers in Singapore. Do note that the Mini is currently sold out in these stores.
You can also consider the BabyJogger City Mini Gt pram (ref: image above). With reference to your Question #1, I had the City Mini for my firstborn, together with the MaxiCosi Cabriofix car seat, and I find that the City Mini does a relatively decent/okay job. Back when I had my firstborn, we weren't allowed to take prams on the bus, so I couldn't take it on the bus at all. We can take pram on the bus now—they just have to fit a certain dimension. The City Mini, however, wasn't sturdier than the Mountain Buggy Mini and the Duet. It's sturdier than the Mountain Buggy Nano, which we will look at in the next section. All in all, if you're only going to get one pram, think about three prams that I've just mentioned. In my personal opinion, I think that the Mini beats the City Mini Gt, hands-down. The BabyJogger prams aren’t actually joggers; they started out that way for sure but they’re not anymore.
Option #2: travel stroller + jogger stroller
The Mountain Buggy Nano is a portable, cabin-sized pram and it has a lie-flat mode! It's got four wheels and it doesn't have much suspension. It's sturdier than other cabin-sized prams (that's for sure), but it's not very fair to compare it with a genuinely rugger prams. The Nano competes well as a cabin-sized travel strollers and it's got amazing price point. It compares to the Babyzen Yoyo, which is three times the price of the Nano, and I think the Nano wins, hands-down.
In terms of a jogger pram you can perhaps consider the 1) Mountain Buggy Swift and 2) Duet.
The Swift is Mountain Buggy's bestselling single stroller—it's sturdy, rugged and it's got an adjustable handlebar and a decently-sized canvas basket. I've got a demo set at our office, if you want to come and have a look at it. It costs about five hundred and forty dollars sans shipping, we'll check if Mountain Buggy will ship it to us for free or we can check with other retailers if they've got an in-stock for you.
I know that the Duet is out of your price point, because it's the same price as the Bugaboo Bee but I just want to show you what the beast looks like. I bought my Duet side-by-side buggy secondhand at $400, I'm not sure if that's an option you want to consider. It has gone through all my three boys and someone else's children and it's still pretty solid!
The Duet cleverly designed and engineered at just 63cm wide at the wheel base, it's is no wider than a single stroller. I bring my boys out for walks with the Duet and there's always trees in the middle of the footpath and I was certain that the Duet couldn't get around it. But boy, I was wrong—it did, the Duet is shocking narrow (ref: image above)!
I thought you'd be interested in the Duet as a single (ref: image above), in which one of the seats are replaced with a basket, also known as a joey tote. I'm a bit evangelical about the Duet but I understand that it's out of your price point. To sum up, if you're getting a second jogger pram, perhaps the Swift or the Duet (if you want to find it secondhand) might be the ticket. I'd caution you against the BOB baby jogger prams, they don't jog that well because they're sort of all purpose pram that purports to do everything for everybody.
Option #3: jogger stroller + Doona
Option #3 is just a variation of Option #2, which is to get your jogger pram and the Doona. To answer your Question #3, yes I like the Doona and we're looking at stocking it because we do recommend it quite a bit. I think the Doona is a good car seat in general. For you, if you're looking at that whole two pram situation then perhaps the Doona might be an option for this kind of initial travel pram. It's a bit heavier because when you lift it into the car, you'll be lifting both the stroller and car seat component, so that's something to watch out for. The Doona installs reasonably easy and it'll be outgrown at the same time that the Mountain Buggy Protect or the MaxiCosi Cabriofix, which is around the child's second year of life. This is definitely not a jogging pram, it's something that you'd use only for taxis. I'm not certain if you'd like to take it on public transport, it feels okay but it doesn't have anything on it like a normal stroller, so I reckon it'd won't be as convenient as having a stroller. Once this is outgrown, you'll have to get a pram anyway.
Mountain Buggy Infant Car Seat
Referring to Question #2, yes, you'll find that the reviews state nine months, and this is common across most car seats. We noticed that when parents come to us asking about second stage car seats, almost all of them moved their child out of the infant car seat into a toddler car seat six months to twelve months earlier than they really have to. This is due to a common misconception among parents, who thought that their children has outgrown their car seat because they are starting to resist the car seat or they look uncomfortable in their car seats. It's not necessarily the case and here's why:
At nine months, child are cooing and moving, and any time a child goes through a developmental leap like that, they'll resist their car seat even if it's a verbal developmental leap! Children might also start looking uncomfortable in their car seat a long time before they reach the physical height and weight limit of the car seat. Parents mistakenly believe that the car seat must be uncomfortable because the children are crying or trying to bust their way out of the harness straps. Children only outgrow a car seat when: 1) their head is no longer contained inside the top of the car seat shell and 2) they’re no longer within the weight limit.
It's usually when the child reaches nine months when a lot of parents get in touch with us and say, “I think my kid is outgrowing their car seat, no matter what brand of car seat. If you head to our Car Seat Chronicles, you'll see two articles there about parents who thought their children were out of their infant car seats at nine and ten months. You'll read that in both of those cases, the kid actually had way more than six months left in their infant car seat.
That's all for now, let me know if you still have any questions!