Best forParents looking for an easy-to-install infant car seat with an ultra-lightweight carrier
Top BenefitsUltra-lightweight carrier, rigid connectors for easy installation, side-impact protection, cushiony padding, organic cotton infant insert
ConsiderationsHeadrest is not adjustable
Bottom lineThe Nuna Pipa Lite boasts the lightest carrier among infant car seats in Canada, and it’s designed to make installation quick and virtually fool-proof. With side-impact protection and generous padding, it’s one safe, comfy ride for your littlest passenger.
This ultra-light infant car seat really holds its own: With a carrier that weighs just 5.3 pounds, the Nuna Pipa Lite is easy to tote around, high-quality, sturdy and a dream to install. It accommodates babies from four to 22 pounds and up to 32 inches, and offers head and body support, as well as an organic cotton infant insert, to ensure a safe and snug ride. The breathable micro-knit fabric insert is plush yet cool to the touch, so you don’t have to worry about your baby feeling extra warm in the summer. Plus, it offers a full-size UPF 50+ canopy that extends for added sun protection. Our Today’s Parent Approved editors and parent tester put this car seat through its paces, and all were impressed by how easy it is to use.
All of the car seats we test, including the Nuna Pipa Lite, have been crash-tested by the manufacturer and approved for use in Canada by Transport Canada and Health Canada. So we focused our testing on the car seat’s quality, ease of installation and use, and overall value.
Sometimes it feels like you need a degree in engineering to correctly install a car seat. Not so with this one. The Nuna Pipa Lite is incredibly easy to position, thanks to the clear instructions and illustrations provided in the manual and the car seat's rigid connectors, which have an indicator that turns green when the install is secure (always double check, though). One parent tester said the simple process took less than five minutes, which is pretty impressive.
It is important to note that the Pipa Lite cannot be installed without its base, unlike many of the other infant bucket seats on the market. So if you’re travelling or catching a cab, you’ll need to lug the base with you—which may be a bit cumbersome, as it weighs 14 pounds. You can get an additional base if you're switching between cars, but it will set you back about $200,—and since the installation is so quick and simple, you could easily move the base from car to car when needed.
The seat can be installed in one of two ways: using the universal anchorage system (UAS—also knows as LATCH), or with the lap and shoulder belt. Either way, before beginning, you'll need to ensure your car is parked on even ground to get the correct placement.
The big benefit of a car seat with rigid UAS connectors is there’s no belt you’ll struggle to tighten, plus the connectors on the Nuna Pipa Lite feature an indicator that turns green when the install is secure (but you should always give it a tug to double check). Once the base is secure, you’ll need to click the carrier into place to see if you’ve got the base installed at the correct angle. If the blue line on the carrier isn’t level to the ground, you’ll need to release the UAS connectors, place a tightly rolled towel or pool noodle under the base as shown in the manual, and pivot the UAS connectors and re-clip them to the anchors. (Rest assured, the UAS connectors lock and won’t pivot once they’re attached to the anchors.) With some car seats, getting this angle just right can take a bit of time and effort, but neither our editors nor testers had any difficulty with this car seat.
Unlike most car seats, you can install this one with both the UAS connectors and the vehicle's lap and shoulder belt. If you're securing the base with the vehicle's belt, you'll need to route the vehicle's belt through the base, making sure it lies flat across the opened belt lock-off, and then press the base into the vehicle's seat, tightening the belt. Once the belt is tightened, you close the lock-off to secure it. As with the UAS installation, you'll need to make sure the blue line on the carrier is parallel to the ground; if not, you may need to use a pool noodle or tightly rolled towel under the base to adjust the angle.
The Nuna Pipa Lite is called lite for a reason: it boasts the lightest infant car seat carrier on the market in Canada, weighing in at just 5.3 pounds. Our parent testers loved that the weight made it easier to schlep the seat around without having to worry about aches and pains—especially as little ones grow. While one tester noted that the shape of the handle made it a bit uncomfortable for her to hook over her arm, another found it very comfortable—as with most things, it's really going to depend on what's comfortable for you. Another parent was especially grateful for the lightweight carrier because it's that much easier to get the seat in and out of his tiny two-door car.
In terms of how much space it will eat up in your vehicle, the Pipa Lite is 17.5 inches wide, which allows enough room to comfortably fit another car seat next to it or a couple of passengers in the rear seats of many vehicles. Meanwhile, the height from the base to the top of the handlebar—26.1 inches—is on par with the other infant car seats we tested.
The five-point harness is secure and simple to use, and testers felt it kept their little passenger safe and comfortable. Tightening the harness for a secure fit is simple with a single pull of a tether at the front of the seat. To loosen the straps, you just have to press the harness adjustment button (right where the tether is) and gently pull the straps away from baby. Opening and closing the chest clip is easy (and doesn't pinch you in the process!), but opening the harness buckle is more of a two-hand job, as you need to squeeze and pull simultaneously. One really-nice-to-have feature on this seat is its buckle holders, which keep the harness out of the way when you're placing baby in the seat.
Though the harness does need to be rethreaded to adjust the height as your wee one grows (common among infant car seats), it’s a straightforward task that takes little time. There are three shoulder slots to choose from, and they offer a five-inch range.
The Nuna Pipa Lite is made of high-quality materials, including aerospace aluminum and Aeroflex foam, which is lightweight and absorbs and diffuses impact if your vehicle is in a crash. The car seat comes with Nuna's micro-knit fabric head and body insert, as well as a certified organic cotton version that's extra cozy.
Of course, messes happen, so having an easy-to-clean seat is a bonus. You can clean the carrier shell, handle and harness using a soft cloth with mild detergent and water. (Note: The buckle can only be rinsed with water.) The infant inserts and seat pad are machine washable in cold water on the delicate cycle (music to our ears!), but you will need to let these pieces drip dry. Removing the cover for cleaning is pretty easy, but you'll want to pay attention as there are lots of snaps and angles to remember when it comes time to put it back on.
Whether you’re running a quick errand or planning a longer road trip to Grandma’s, you always want your babe to feel comfortable. The Pipa Lite excels in creating a secure yet cozy spot. The padding throughout the seat (including the shoulder straps) is super plush and soft, and the micro-knit featherweight fabric is breathable, which helps keep your little one cool. Plus, the seat comes with an organic infant insert, as well as a removable headrest and body pillow made from memory foam, to provide any additional support that may be needed for smaller babies. Shielding baby from the sun is also important, and the UPF 50+ canopy is generous, with a flip-out eyeshade for extended coverage.
I love that the head pillow is separate from the body pillow. It allowed my baby to have the extra padding and support needed for his head and neck even when he didn't require the body pillow." —Charissa, mom of one
The Nuna Pipa Lite earned high praise from our editors and parent testers, all of whom found the installation to be incredibly easy. It's also super comfortable for both baby and parent, because of its snug yet chic fabrics and ultra-light carrier weight, and is designed with lots of user-friendly features, like the harness buckle holders and Dream Drape. In fact, parent testers unanimously gave this car seat "very good" ratings for quality and ease of use. Opinions varied on value for money (not surprising given the price is on the high end of the range for infant car seats), with our three testers rating value very good, good and average. But even so, every one of our parent testers said that if they were buying an infant car seat, this is the one they'd get.
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