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Lifestyle

The Best Car Seats for the City

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Car seats. They keep your precious cargo safe. But when you live in the city, safety isn't the only factor. Indeed, there are a lot of options and features to consider, and many car seats out there can be quite expensive. So choosing the right one for your family can feel overwhelming, if not impossible. Since it is child passenger safety week, we decided to do the bulk of the work for you and have picked the car seats that experts and parents alike tout as the crème de la crème.

From those with narrow frames to those that are easy to install, here are 13 options that urban parents should seriously consider.

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NARROW

Diono radian rXT. If you’re a city dweller with a small car or a large family of five, you may want to opt for a car seat with a smaller frame. The Diono radian rXT is only 17 inches wide, which means you can fit three across the backseat of most midsize cars. It also provides major longevity, since it can be used for an infant and can even converts into a booster seat. Plus, the frame folds flat for storage and travel. That being said, it isn’t the easiest car seat on our list to install, nor is it the lightest. So it's probably best for parents who plan to keep it installed in one main car. $299, buy here.

Clek Fllo. The Clek Fllo also features a narrow footprint and fits three to a vehicle’s backseat. Clek Fllo is known for its safety features, including an included anti-rebound bar, advanced side impact protection, steel frame construction and energy absorbing technology. An added safety benefit, this car seat allows for extended rear-facing of up to 50 lbs and 43 inches. Like the Diono, all those safely features make it quite heavy and can take a little more time to install. But we love it because we can trust that it's with us for the long haul. $379, buy here.

LIGHT

Nuna PIPA lite. The lightest infant car seat on the market is none other than the Nuna Pipa lite, weighing in at an astonishing 5.3 lbs! This revolutionary car seat is brand new for 2017 and is about to make the lives of many parents a whole lot easier. You'll barely need to lift a finger to transfer baby from the car to the stroller. Although the PIPA lite is just that -- super light -- a word of warning for you city mamas, it is not equipped with a European Belt Path and therefore cannot be used in taxis without the base. If being able to use a lightweight car seat in a taxi is important to you, the Nuna Pipa only weighs 2 lbs more. $299, buy here.

Maxi Cosi Pria 70 with TinyFit. The Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 with TinyFit is the lightest weight convertible car seats on our roundup but that does not mean it skimps on safety or functionality. In fact, the Pria 70, which holds children from 4-70 lbs and 52 inches tall, utilizes Air Protect technology for advance side impact protection and FlexTech technology, providing multi-directional energy management in the case of an accident. The TinyFit system adds a few extra pounds to this car seat initially, but once your baby hits 18 lbs, it can be removed making for a car seat that weights in around 20 lbs. $289, buy here.

CONVERTIBLE FROM INFANT TO TODDLER

Chicco Fit2. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children ride rear-facing for the first 2 years of life. Since most children outgrow their infant car seat between 12-18 months, before you know it, you'll be upgrading to a bigger seat. But not with the brand new 2017 Chicco Fit2 Infant & Toddler car seat. With its 2 Stage design, parents are able to follow the AAP's recommendation without the need of purchasing a convertible car seat before their child’s second birthday. Stage 1 is designed for infants 0-12 months, and Stage 2 situates toddlers in a safe and comfortable rear-facing position while taking up no extra space in your back seat. $279, buy here.

Graco 4Ever Extend2Fit 4-in-1. If you’re willing to forgo an infant car seat, the Graco 4Ever Exend2Fit 4-in-1 is the only car seat you’ll ever need. This car seat fits the tiniest of newborns, starting at just 4 lbs, and safely holds children all the way up to 120 lbs. What’s special about the Graco 4Ever is that just because it grows with your child doesn't mean it compromises in the comfort department. With a plush newborn insert, 6-position recline options and a 10-position head rest adjustment, this car seat will keep your child safe and comfy for nearly 10 years of use. $349, buy here.

EASY TO INSTALL

4moms self-installing. Though installing your car seat properly is the most important first step you can take for your little one's safety, many car seats are difficult to install. Original and ingenious as always, the 4moms came up with self-installing car seat, which makes a perfect installation effortless and worry free. Parent’s must use a compatible smart device and the car seat’s base to take advantage of the auto-installation. But this 4moms infant car seat can also be used without the base, making it possible to take along on quick taxi rides around the city. $499, buy here.

Britax Boulevard ClickTight. Installing the Britax Boulevard ClickTight car seat is super simple with very little room for error. The ClickTight technology allows you to quickly install this convertible car seat using the vehicle's existing seat belt. So there’s no additional LATCH belt to install, and no need for wiggling and tugging the car seat into place. Aside from the assurance of knowing your car seat is installed correctly, the Boulevard is packed with safety features, including two layers of side-impact protection and a Click & Safe Snug Harness Indicator, which ensures the harness is the perfect fit for your little one. $379, buy here.

INNOVATIVE

Doona. If you’re looking for an infant car seat that performs more than one trick, the Doona from SimpleParenting is what you need. It’s the only car seat that doubles as a stroller, taking the ‘travel system’ to a whole new level. Simply remove the Doona from your car, and with one simple motion, the wheels extend down into a functioning stroller. It makes it incredibly quick and easy for getting around town. Even better, the design of the Doona offers extra side impact protection, and the handle bar acts as a built-in anti-rebound bar, making it both convenient and safe. $499, buy here.

Cybex Could-Q. When transferring baby from car to stroller, many parents worry about their little one remaining in a cramped position for too long. The Cloud-Q has solved this very problem with the first car seat with a reclined position. The Cloud-Q has two positions, a traditional setting for when used in a car and a second flat position setting for when used on a stroller. This car seat is also paired with a base that boasts extra safety measures as well as an easy installation. $399, buy here.

Britax Endeavours. Britax's newest infant car seat is sure to keep your new bundle safe. In fact, its anti-rebound bar, which is made of steel and is higher than most anti-rebound bars out there, can minimize potential rebound rotation by 30 percent in the event of a car crash. Plus, the European belt path lets you install your car seat safely without a base, which is perfect for city dwellers who often get in and out of cabs. $299, buy here.

FOR OLDER KIDS

Mifold. Once your child has outgrown his convertible car seat, he’ll graduate to a booster. Suitable for children up to 120 lbs or 57”, the Mifold keeps your kiddo safe while riding around town -- perfect for families living in the city. It's so tiny and lightweight, it can easily fit inside your child’s backpack, which is great for carpooling and after-school playdates. A 30-second installation means your child can ride safe no matter the circumstance, whether it be a quick taxi ride or a trip overseas. $39, buy here.

Clek Olli. Just like many of the booster options out there, the Olli is extremely portable while still providing comfort and safety to your "big little ones." It weighs a mere 5 pounds and has a convenient start for transporting it from one place to the next, which is a feature our kids love. Plus, they have a coulee of playful prints to choose from. Great for everyday use all around. $99, buy here.

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As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

This article was sponsored by Kinder. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


Our Partners

Speaking to the nation Tuesday evening, President Trump addressed something that has been on the minds of pregnant people for weeks: Keeping newborns protected in hospitals that are also treating COVID-19 patients.

"I know many expectant mothers are understandably concerned about exposing their newborn babies to the virus," the President said.

According to President Trump, actions taken by his administration—including the development of field hospitals—this week will help keep delivery wards and COVID-19 patients "totally separate."

He said, "We're giving hospitals the flexibility to use new facilities to treat patients who do not have COVID-19, including expectant mothers, so they can deliver babies in a different environment so as not to worry about infection."

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The President acknowledged that this is a trying time for America and certainly for its expecting mothers, who are dealing with so many worries right now.

Many are worried about having to give birth without their partner or companion (though it should be noted that the New York hospitals that banned partners and visitors were later directed by that state's government to allow partners in), others are worried about being separated from their babies (this happens, but it is rare and a last resort).

Experts admit that everything is constantly changing right now and that birth plans are being interrupted, but medical providers are still doing the very best they can under the circumstances.

"Having a partner available, having birth support, is essential," Dr. Neel Shah, an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School told WBUR's Morning Edition on Tuesday.

Shah continued: "Part of the challenge in this new context that we're in, is that the services that used to be essential a few weeks ago are still essential; we're just not able to provide them in the same way. And so we've got to figure out new ways of delivering the kinds of care that people really need, like virtual prenatal visits."

Some expecting mothers are seeking different hospitals, or birthing centers to give birth in. Others are investigating home birth.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that despite the pandemic, it believes "the safest place for you to give birth is still a hospital, hospital-based birth center, or accredited freestanding birth center" but notes that "every woman has the right to choose where she will give birth."

As Motherly's Digital Education Editor and Midwife, Diana Spalding, previously noted: "It's important to know that [birth centers or home births] may not be available to everyone."

As Spalding explains, "home birth and birth centers are considered safe for low-risk pregnancies", but if your pregnancy has been complicated they may not be a fit for you.

"It's also key to investigate whether your insurance covers out-of-hospital birth. And certainly, you'll need to see if the midwives have availability," she explains.

The ACOG and Spalding both recommend pregnant people talk to their care provider about any fears, worries or changes in plans.

"Perhaps one of the hardest parts of this is that we are still learning. Few questions have solid answers. Still, every day we know more, and I want to assure you that although it feels scary, there is still a good chance everything will be okay, especially if you take the proper precautions," Spalding writes.

Those precautions include staying home right now, practicing good hand hygiene and communicating with your prenatal care providers.

Everyone (even up to the President of the United States) recognizes how hard it is to be pregnant right now. Lean on the people and the resources that are available to you.

If you're pregnant, Motherly has made our Becoming Mama™ Online Birth Class free in response to COVID-19.


News

Sydni Lane, a trauma nurse and Instagram influencer is on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus pandemic and she shared a very powerful message with us this week—she's scared. She's scared of contracting this virus and bringing it home to her family, including her asthmatic children. She's scared for her safety. She's scared people still might not be taking this as seriously as they need to be.

Because she doesn't have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) at work. Because her face is bruised from wearing a mask for over 13 hours. Because she fears we may not have started social-distancing as a collective nation early enough. Because even though she accepted a job as a nurse in the ER, the day she'd have to fight a global pandemic likely hardly ever crossed her mind.

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And because this seems to be only the beginning for her and her colleagues as they prepare for the peak to hit eventually. She is understandably scared.

She wrote—

"I broke down and cried today.

"I cried of exhaustion, of defeat.

"Because after four years of being an ER nurse, I suddenly feel like I know nothing.

"Because my face hurts after wearing an N95 for 13 hours, which happens to be the same N95 I wore yesterday for 12.5 hours, and the same one from all last week.

"I don't know how many times I've heard the statement 'but this is what you signed up for.' Just, no.

"I signed up to take care of sick patients, yes. I did not sign up to be unprotected by their sickness (although my hospital is busting their [butts] to try to protect us). I did not sign up to be yelled at by angry patients because our government failed to be prepared. I did not sign up to risk mine and my family's health and safety because people wanted to go on their vacations after they said NOT to.

"An ER nurse in New York died today of COVID-19. He was in his 40s and had very mild asthma. That's it. This is not just a tall tale, this is the real risk. I have to go into every patient's room and in the back of my mind I think 'this could be the patient that gets me sick... that kills me. This could be the patient that gives me the virus I bring home to my children or asthmatic husband.' This is my new reality.

"But this is only the beginning. We haven't even scratched the surface of the impact of what this illness is going to make on our country.

"And I'm scared."


Our hearts go out to these healthcare workers who are—no doubt—superheroes. They are risking their lives to ensure the safety of ours. They're separated from their loved ones. Some may even be experiencing personal and even financial hardship right now. They are treating patients around the clock under extreme circumstances and, honestly, there are not enough words in the dictionary to accurately explain our depth of gratitude.

What we can do is help. If you have the means to, donate. Donate to Feeding America. Think of a friend or family member working at a hospital and Venmo them any dollar amount—even just enough for a coffee. If you know how to sew, make medical masks for your local hospital.

More importantly, reach out to them and ask them how they are. Let them know you're thinking of them and how grateful you are for their work. I bet they could use the encouragement right about now.

Life

Bestselling author, professor and researcher Brené Brown is well-known and loved for her inspirational approach to life's challenges (and for her Netflix special The Call to Courage)‚ but even she acknowledges that the coronavirus pandemic presents a whole new set of challenges for families.

"Collectively, what I see is a growing weariness. I think we're tired, physically, emotionally, spiritually exhausted," Brown said on Monday in an interview for the Today Show, adding that part of the challenge is acknowledging that we're in it for the long haul. "We're going to have to settle into a new normal, while grieving the old normal, which is a lot to ask of people."

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With schools and workplaces closed and social distancing measures in effect across the country, many parents are pulling triple-duty at home right now as full-time caregivers, homeschool instructors and workers. At some moments, it can (understandably) feel as if parenting through coronavirus requires more than we have to give.

Enter Brown's "family gap plan," which can help families bridge the gap during tough moments.

As Brown explains it, "I'd say (to my husband), 'Steve, all I have is 20%.' And he's like, 'Hey, I've been holding down the fort here. All I got is 20.' So we'd say, 'Okay, we've got a gaping 60%. What are our rules when we don't have 100% as a family?'"

Brown stresses the importance of keeping lines of communication open as a family: "Let people know where you are." She and her husband have a policy of being honest with their children about moments when they feel low-energy or high-stress.

"I'll say, 'We have to make 100 as a family. I've got 20, and your dad's got 20. What do we do to get to 100?' And it's about the way we talk to each other, the way we show up with each other, extra kindness...and takeout."

In fact, Brown's kids helped come up with the set of rules their family follows whenever there's a "family gap" and things aren't adding up to 100%:

  • No harsh words
  • No nice words with harsh faces
  • Say you're sorry
  • Accept apologies with a "thank you" (as opposed to "okay," which can sound frosty)
  • More knock-knock jokes and puns

Every family is different, and your family's way of bridging the gap may call for a different set of rules (and the truth is, it's okay to not be okay sometimes). But as tactical, actionable advice for keeping the peace at home goes, the more humor and kindness, the better.

News

It was 8 pm on Sunday night and the kids were in bed. I was in the middle of urgent work emails for my mental health clinic to ensure we were prioritizing the health and care of our clients in light of the novel coronavirus spread. My work demanded my attention.

My partner walked into the room. I looked up and paused and saw the uncertainty in his eyes. I could see that he needed me.

This was one of those moments. This was a bid for attention.

Bids for attention are our attempts to connect with our partners—to be seen, to be appreciated, to be acknowledged, to be given affection. They can be small bids (like making eye contact and smiling) or bigger bids (like asking for help). Often it is not about what someone says or does, but rather the meaning behind the action.

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When your partner asks, "How was work today?" (or even just, "What's up?") what they are really asking is, "Will you talk to me?"

If they glance over and smile at you, what they really want to know is, "Will you notice and connect with me?"

For some, reaching for connection with our partner takes the form of actual verbal requests for help, as in "I need help" or even "I feel like you don't love me."

For others, nonverbal expressions are how we attempt to connect—for affection, care and engagement.

On that Sunday night, my partner didn't say anything. It was all in the look on his face.

I could have said "I have to do this!" and dismissed him from the room. I could have made a list of the things that were necessary to get done. I could have ignored him altogether.

But how we respond to these bids for attention in our relationships is key.

We can either turn towards our partner and see these bids for attention, or we turn away and shut them down. Dr. John Gottman, the relationships researcher, clinical psychologist and founder of the Gottman Institute, found that couples who were still married six years after their initial research meeting turned towards each other 86% of the time, while couples who ended up divorced turned towards each other 33% of the time.

So how do we respond to bids for attention?

One way of responding is by turning towards your partner. This is you seeing your partner's attempt to connect. This is you deciding that whatever is going on for you can wait because you can see that your partner needs you. This is you, at times, putting aside your own feelings, and seeing your partner's.

What does turning towards look like?

  • Smiling back and holding eye contact.
  • Sharing the feeling that comes up at that moment.
  • Responding to touch and letting your partner know you feel them there and appreciate their efforts to connect.
  • Asking what your partner needs in the moment.
  • Seeing your partner's emotion and reflecting it back to them.
  • Asking how you can help them in this moment.
  • Asking a following up question.

The challenge, of course, is that during times of stress and overwhelm, or when we feel disconnected and distressed, we get stuck in turning away from our partners.

Turning away takes a number of forms, too. Sometimes it looks like walking away and not acknowledging your partner, or passing each other in the hall and not meeting your partner's gaze. It may also look like staying away from your partner instead of going to them, or changing the topic when difficult things are brought up. It may also be minimizing the other person's experience ("it's not a big deal") or coming back with a defensive response. Maybe you don't even respond to your partner at all.

Missing these bids for attention sends our partner the message that we don't see them and that they are not important. This slowly erodes the health of your relationship.

We all miss bids for attention at times—particularly during times of stress and struggle. We must learn to tune into our partner and see them when they are asking—silently or out loud—for connection. What are the ways your partner tries for your attention? Have you shared with your partner how you try to get their attention?

On that Sunday night, in the middle of a pandemic, I chose connection. I paused my work and connected with him. I asked him what was going on for him, and I held him close.

You can choose to respond to your partner during this difficult time. You can choose to see your partner in front of you and create closeness and responsiveness. Because this is a time when we all need to create connections.

Love + Village
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