The Ultimate Guide to Baseless Car Seats: 7 Great Choices for Traveling Moms

Traveling to a city where you will use taxis or rideshare services like Uber and Lyft, but don't want to bring a bulky car seat? Here's the ultimate guide to baseless car seats.

The Chicco Keyfit Car Seat.
The Chicco Keyfit car seat offers user-friendly baseless car seat installation. Photo: Amazon

Busy Moms Need Flexibility, like Baseless Car Seats

Before your baby was born, you likely spent hours researching which car seat to buy. You chose one you believed would be easy to use and keep your baby safe and secure. Maybe at that time, too, you hadn’t considered how much time you’d spend in other people’s cars.

Fast forward to the present, now. Do you find yourself in the never-ending hassle of lugging around your child’s heavy car seat every time you travel? If you’re like me, a constantly on-the-go parent, exploring new places with your little ones in tow, you understand the need for a reliable and convenient car seat. That’s where baseless car seats come into play.

From popular infant car seats, to versatile all-in-one seats, and car seats for older children, we’ve got you covered. What makes these seats stand out is their ability to be used without a base, making them perfect for situations like traveling in an Uber or hopping on an airplane.

Ready to dive in? Let’s go!

Related: The Best Small Family Cars to Transport Your New Family In

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Baseless Car Seats Are A Convenient Way To Enjoy Traveling With Your Family.

Baseless car seats are a convenient way to enjoy traveling with your family. Photo: Nuna

What Is a Baseless Car Seat?

A baseless car seat, as the name suggests, is a type of car seat that can be installed without a separate base. It offers a range of benefits for various situations. If you frequently travel, whether by car, taxi, or airplane, a baseless car seat can be a game-changer. It eliminates the need to carry a bulky base and allows for quick and hassle-free installation wherever you go. For city dwellers without a personal vehicle, relying on taxis or rideshares becomes effortless as these car seats can be securely installed without the base, making transportation more convenient.

Even for families with multiple cars, a baseless car seat offers flexibility and ease of transfer between vehicles. However, it’s important to note that baseless car seats may not be the ideal choice for those seeking ultimate convenience. Some models require the seat belt to be buckled over the top of the seat, which can make it challenging to get the baby in if the seat is already buckled in. This means you may still need to reinstall the seat for each ride, which may not be as convenient for some parents.

With all that in mind, let’s explore the versatility and long-lasting benefits of some of our favorite baseless car seats.

The Center Row Bench Seat

The center row bench seat accommodates a baseless car seat for an infant perfectly. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Infant Baseless Car Seats

Let’s explore three exceptional baseless infant car seat picks: Doona, Nuna Pipa urbn, and Chico KeyFit 35. The Chicco KeyFit 35 stands out for its reliability and ease of use. The Doona car seat impresses with its all-in-one design, seamlessly transforming into a stroller. Finally, the Nuna Pipa urbn offers a lightweight and stylish option with top-notch safety features.

The Chicco Keyfit Car Seat.

The Chicco Keyfit car seat offers user-friendly baseless car seat installation. Photo: Amazon

Chicco KeyFit 35

The Chicco KeyFit35 is an outstanding baseless infant car seat that offers a range of impressive features. One of its notable strengths lies in its easy installation process, ensuring a secure fit in your vehicle every time. Additionally, the Chicco KeyFit35 is compatible with a wide range of strollers, allowing for seamless transitions between car rides and strolling adventures. Safety is paramount, and this car seat delivers with its included rebound bar, providing an extra layer of protection.

We know how heavy infant seats can get, but the Chicco KeyFit wins in this category, coming in at a mere 10 lbs. It is notably lightweight, making it a breeze to carry and handle. It’s important to note that the Chicco KeyFit35 has a weight limit of 4-35 lbs. and a height limit of 32″. The Chicco KeyFit35 remains a popular choice due to its user-friendly installation, compatibility, safety features, and lightweight design.

Find it here for $260.

The Doona Baseless Car Seat Brilliantly Converts Into A Stroller.

The Doona baseless car seat brilliantly converts into a stroller. Photo: Amazon

Doona Car Seat & Stroller

The Doona Car Seat and Stroller is an incredibly popular all-in-one travel system that has captured the hearts of many new parents. Its popularity often leads to high demand, making it challenging to acquire at times. Trust this as someone who tried to get one for my baby when she was little. However, its exceptional features make it well worth the effort.

Installing the Doona is a breeze in various vehicle types, ensuring convenience and peace of mind. Despite its compact size as a travel system, it doesn’t compromise on impact protection, offering robust safety features. It’s important to note that the Doona has weight and height limits of 4-35 lbs. and 32″, respectively. It is relatively heavier at 17 lbs. compared to other options, but the Doona’s versatility and convenience outweigh this factor for many parents.

It’s worth noting that the Doona falls into a higher price range ($550), making it a more expensive choice. However, its popularity, ease of installation, compact design, and impressive safety features make it a top contender among all-in-one travel systems for parents.

Find it here for $550.

The Nune Pipa Urbn Baseless Car Seat Offers Exceptional Protection For Your Most Important Family Members.

The Nuna Pipa Urbn baseless car seat offers exceptional safety for your little ones. Photo: Nuna

Nuna Pipa Urbn

The Nuna Pipa Urbn is another highly sought-after infant car seat known for its exceptional safety features. Installing the Nuna Pipa Urbn is a breeze, thanks to its anchor guides that provide easy and secure installation in any vehicle.

What sets this infant car seat apart is its incredibly lightweight design, making it effortless to carry and handle. The built-in latch system adds an extra layer of convenience. It’s important to note that the Nuna Pipa Urbn has a height limit of less than 29 inches and a weight limit of 4-22 lbs, which may be a consideration for families looking for a seat that will grow with their child.

Even though it falls in a higher price range, its unmatched safety features, easy installation, lightweight design, and the brand’s reputation make it an appealing choice for parents who prioritize the utmost protection for their little ones.

Find it here for $900.

Related: How to Keep Your Car Clean, Even with Kids

All-in-One Car Seats

Now, let’s dive into the world of All-in-One car seats, an excellent choice that offers exceptional value for your investment. These seats are designed to grow with your children from infancy all the way up to around age 10. In this section, we’ll discuss two popular options: the Britax One4Life ClickTight All-in-One, which I currently own, and the Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Car Seat.

The Britax One4Life Baseless Car Seat Flexes With You As Your Child Grows.

The Britax One4Life is one of the most versatile baseless car seats on the market right now. Photo: Amazon

Britax One4Life ClickTight All-in-One

The Britax One4Life ClickTight is a remarkable baseless car seat that I have been using with my toddler since she was an infant. This car seat stands out with its easy installation process, requiring just three simple steps to install it in your vehicle securely.

As a brand, Britax is known for its top safety standards, making it a reliable choice for parents seeking the utmost protection for their little ones. However, it’s worth noting that the Britax One4Life ClickTight is relatively heavy, weighing 30 lbs., which may not be as convenient for travel or frequent vehicle changes.

What makes this car seat truly outstanding is its ability to grow with your child. It is the only 10-year car seat equipped with ClickTight technology, ensuring a secure fit in four different configurations: rear-facing infant car seat, rear-facing toddler car seat, forward-facing 5-point harness car seat, and forward-facing high back booster seat.

With its versatility and long-term use, the Britax One4Life ClickTight offers peace of mind and comfort for your child throughout their developmental stages.

Find it here for $400.

Related: Why We Are Just Bonkers for Britax

The Graco 4Ever Dlx 4 In One Baseless Car Seat.

The Graco 4ever DLX 4 in one baseless car seat makes traveling with young ones a dream. Photo: Amazon

Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Car Seat

The Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Car Seat is a fantastic choice that offers a range of impressive features. Installing this car seat is a breeze, thanks to its integrated belt lock off, which simplifies seat belt installation. As your child grows, the Graco 4Ever DLX transforms from a rear-facing seat to a backless booster, accommodating their changing needs.

With a large weight range from 4 to 120 pounds, this car seat provides long-term usability. It has specific weight limits for each mode, including rear-facing, forward-facing, high-back booster, and backless booster. The height limits for forward-facing, high-back booster, and backless booster modes ensure a secure fit for your child’s growth.

The Graco 4Ever DLX weighs 23 lbs., making it relatively lightweight compared to other All-in-Ones. Additionally, it is an affordable option, offering excellent value for your money.

With its easy installation, versatility, wide weight range, and affordability, the Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Car Seat is a reliable choice for families seeking long-term usability and convenience.

Find it here for $330.

Easy to Install Car Seats for Older Children

Lastly, let’s explore the top baseless car seats ideal for traveling with older children. We’ll discuss two exceptional options: the WAYB Pico, which I personally own, and the Cosco Scenera Next. These car seats are specifically designed to cater to the needs of older children during your travels.

The Wayb Pico Is A Foldable And Compact Option In Baseless Car Seats.

The WAYB Pico is a foldable and compact option in baseless car seats. Photo: WAYB

WAYB Pico Portable Car Seat

The WAYB Pico is the go-to seat we rely on during our travels. It excels in convenience and versatility, effortlessly installing on airplanes and in shared rides. With its foldable design and compact size, it is easy to carry and fits perfectly in the overhead compartment.

Whether we’re hopping between taxis or engaging in travel activities like dining out or visiting zoos, the WAYB Pico proves to be a reliable travel companion. Weighing a mere eight pounds and folding into a compact size of 12 x 15 x 19 inches, it can be effortlessly stowed in its included travel bag or conveniently placed in your current carry-all.

Designed for toddlers within the 22-50 lb. range, the WAYB Pico offers an adjustable five-point harness and a headrest, ensuring a comfortable and secure fit for your child. With its lightweight, portable nature and thoughtful features, the WAYB Pico provides peace of mind and convenience for both parents and little ones on the go.

Find it here for $380.

Related: Why We Simply Adore the WAYB Pico

The Cosco Scenera Is A Value-Conscious Choice In Baseless Car Seats.

The Cosco Scenera Next is a value-conscious choice in baseless car seats. Photo: Walmart

Cosco Scenera Next

The Cosco Scenera Next is a standout choice when it comes to value for money. Not only does it offer exceptional affordability, but it also boasts convenient features. Cleaning is a breeze with machine-washable seat pads, and even the cupholder is dishwasher safe.

The versatility of the Cosco Scenera Next is evident as it effortlessly switches between forward-facing and rear-facing positions, accommodating the needs of your growing child. Its slim and lightweight design, weighing just 10.4 lbs., makes it easy to handle and maneuver. With height limits of 19-40 inches for rear-facing and 29-43 inches for forward-facing, as well as weight limits of 5-40 lbs for rear-facing and 22-40 lbs. for forward-facing, this car seat ensures a comfortable and secure fit for your child.

With its unbeatable value, easy maintenance, versatility, and lightweight design, the Cosco Scenera Next is an excellent choice for families seeking an affordable and reliable baseless car seat option.

Find it here for $60.

The Rear Seat Definitely Has Room For Car Seats! Photo: Hummer

The rear seat definitely has room for car seats! Photo: Hummer

Practice Makes Perfect: Baseless Car Seat Installation

Don’t let the first time you install a car seat with no base be when you need to. Practice makes perfect. Try installing the seat — both with and without the baby in it — before you travel. Practice before you go, more than once.

Practice installing the seat on both the center of the back seat and the sides. Studies have shown that the center position in the back seat can be up to 43 percent safer for babies. But some center seats bump out a bit, which can make installation tricky.

What is the right installation? One that you feel confident is secure. So go with what you feel most comfortable with.

Most parents examine safety ratings and ease of installation before they buy a car seat. If you will be using rideshares and taxis regularly, consider buying one with a feature called “European belt path.” A European belt path allows you to stretch the shoulder part of the seat belt behind the infant car seat and secure it through a special “belt path” on the back. That gives the car seat two spots where the seatbelt holds it in rather than just one.

A baseless car seat installation is possible even without a European belt path. But the second anchor will give you peace of mind if you regularly travel with your baby.

Read More: Best Family Cars to Buy When Baby Makes 3

The Rear Seat In The Vinfast Vf 8; The Door Also Opens Wide For Installing Kids Car Seats

The rear seat in the VinFast VF 8; the door also opens wide for installing kids car seats. Photo: Scotty Reiss

How to Install an Infant Car Seat With a Seatbelt

Baseless car seat installation can be tricky. These tips will turn you into a pro.

Let’s walk step by step through a baseless car seat installation.

  • Place your car seat, rear-facing, on the vehicle seat.
  • Pull out the seat belt; thread the lap section through the lap belt guides on the car seat.
  • Put the shoulder belt portion through, making sure it lies flat. (If your car seat has a European belt path, you will pull the shoulder belt behind the car seat and secure it in that belt path.)
  • Buckle the safety belt.
  • Pull down on the shoulder belt to activate the locking mechanism.
  • Push on the car seat and pull on the safety belt to make sure your installation is tight. The seat should not move more than one inch if you try to wiggle it.
  • Double-check that the seat is level.

Read More: 5 Important Car Seat Safety Tips

Installing A Baseless Car Seat In A Rideshare Or Taxi Is As Easy As Step 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!

Installing a baseless car seat in a rideshare or taxi is as easy as 1-2-3-4-5.

Baseless Car Seat Conclusions

After exploring a range of baseless car seats that cater to the needs of traveling families, I hope you’ve gained valuable insights to help you choose the best one for your family. The great news is that all the mentioned seats are airline approved and have high safety ratings. These car seats offer convenience, safety, and versatility, making them reliable companions during your journeys. 

The ideal ages for children to use these car seats vary based on the model, with infant car seats like the Chico KeyFit35, Doona, and Nuna Pipa URBN suitable for babies weighing 4-35 lbs, and the WAYB Pico and Cosco Scenera Next designed for toddlers weighing 22-50 lbs and 5-40 lbs respectively.

While baseless car seats provide numerous advantages, it’s important to note that they may not be the best choice in certain situations. Some models require reinstallation for each ride, which can be cumbersome for families seeking convenience. Additionally, heavier car seats like the Britax One4Life ClickTight and Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Car Seat may pose challenges for frequent travel or maneuvering between vehicles. It’s essential to consider these factors and evaluate your specific needs when selecting the most suitable baseless car seat for your family’s travels.

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Kim Smith is a 30-something-year-old wife and do-it-all mom of two beautiful daughters; her rainbow babies. As if working... More about Kim S.