The best car seat strollers have:

  • A top-rated car seat: Buy the safest infant car seat with a five-point harness, LATCH system and other features recommended by car safety experts. Then buy the best stroller for that car seat. One made by the same manufacturer is usually the safest combination.
  • Snap-in features: The best travel systems or car seat stroller frames allow the car seat to snap into both the stroller and the stay-in-car base. This is the most secure, foolproof installation.
  • Easy push: The stroller should be sturdy enough to push well even with a heavier child in the car seat. It should be maneuverable enough to navigate in a tight space.
  • Uncomplicated fold: Parents who need to get on a bus or have just put a squalling child into the car don't want to jump through hoops to fold a stroller. It should take no more than one or two steps, and an automatic lock when folded definitely saves time.
  • A full recline: If you plan to use your car seat stroller or travel system for longer outings, be sure it has a full recline. This will allow the stroller to be used by an infant without having to keep him or her in the car seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests limiting a baby's time in a car seat to prevent a positional skull deformity.

Know Before You Go

Before you choose a stroller to tote your infant car seat, consider the following:

How early you want to commit: A stroller is an item you'll use for four or five years. If you decide on a travel system during pregnancy, by all means buy one. If you want to wait until you see what type of rider your baby will be, buy a good infant car seat and frame for now, and go stroller shopping before he or she outgrows the car seat.

Your car's dimensions: Measure your back seat to be sure the infant car seat fits, while allowing some room for the front seat passengers. Measure the trunk to be sure the folded stroller fits inside.

Available storage space: Unless you have a big garage where you can just park the open stroller, you'll need to be sure you have a place to put it. Again, this requires measuring the closet or alcove where you plan to store it. If you don't have space and decide to just lean it up against the wall, look for a standing fold.

Your strength: Strollers included in travel systems are generally known for their heft. Be sure you can lift the stroller in and out of the trunk -- or carry it upstairs -- sometimes multiple times a day. If you have back issues or other strength challenges, consider a car seat stroller frame for now, and a lightweight or umbrella stroller for later.

What's to come

Are travel systems becoming a thing of the past? Strollers with infant car seats attached, especially full-sized travel systems, are a topic of much controversy in the stroller/parenting world. Most experts say it's just too much stroller, and babies aren't in an infant car seat all that long. Some babies never even have an infant car seat; many parents opt for a convertible model that can accommodate the baby from infancy to childhood. These bigger car seats don't fit on strollers or stroller frames, instead staying in the car. Some restaurants, public spaces, popular tourist attractions and public transportation agencies have banned full-sized strollers altogether.

In response, the trend in travel systems is lighter, easier-to-use strollers with a smaller footprint. Many popular models are now car seat compatible, making them "travel systems" even if their manufacturers prefer not to use that term. This may make the old, SUV-style travel systems obsolete.

Where the traditional travel systems rule, however, is value. For the cost of a good basic, full-featured stroller with no extras, travel systems include the car seat, car seat base and great convenience features a lot of those other strollers either make you pay for or just don't have. When higher-end strollers can include more add-ons for the price, thus appealing to a wider audience than just the well-heeled, the travel system landscape may begin to look very different.

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