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This 5-pound car seat is a postpartum lifesaver

In a world of 10-pound car seats, the Nuna Pipa Lite is a gift.

Pregnant person sitting on bed with hand on back in discomfort. Credit: Getty Images / LumiNola

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Decades ago, I decided I would be an Olympic gymnast. But I was 5’10”. While it was an amazing dream that would never come true, the pursuit taught me a million things. It also led to a plethora of back surgeries from age 14 to 22 and a chronic back problem that affects my daily life. When I was wrapping up my gymnastics career, my doctors pushed me to stop playing sports, saying one day I’d want to be able to carry my kids. What they should have said is one day you will want to be able to carry your kids in those awkward and insanely heavy pumpkin seats everyone totes around on their arms.

Heavy car seats are a literal pain

Person holding baby next to car seat.
Credit: Getty Images / Drazen_

Weighty car seats paired with the extra weight of children can create major difficulties for those with chronic back pain.

Despite their warnings, I went on to have four sons in seven years. Each of my children pushed the scales towards the 10-pound mark. Infant car seats range from 10 to 20 pounds, and even up to 30 pounds if they are the convertible type. That means on a good day, many postpartum parents are lugging 20 pounds home from the hospital in their arms, often after going through the most physically challenging and painful experience of their lives.

One brand in particular found this to be unacceptable, and I and my 16 million friends across the country who can commiserate with chronic back pain are here for it. The Nuna Pipa Lite car seat is breaking the boundaries for chronic pain sufferers, weighing in at a slim and back-friendly 5 pounds, making it one of the lightest car seats available.

The load leg improves safety scores

On left, person smiling while removing car seat from car. On right, gray car seat on white background.
Credit: Nuna

Nuna's Pipa Lite car seat may be light in weight, but not on safety

One of the reasons I love this car seat is I can literally pick it up (when the baby isn’t in it yet) with a single finger. This made for an easy time transporting it into the hospital between insane contractions, and means that carrying it with a baby in it is a one-hand task.

My first reaction when I heard how light these car seats are during pregnancy was to second guess the safety. After all, from where are they removing 5 pounds, and how will it fare in a wreck with my precious new cargo, I worried. That’s where the “load leg” comes in. In testing, the load leg, which is a stabilizing bar extending from the floor mat to the car seat, improved safety scores on crash protection.

It’s loaded with bells and whistles

On left. gray car seat. On right, black car seat with sunlight visor pulled down
Credit: Nuna

This super lightweight car seat includes a removable memory foam headrest and full coverage UPF 50+ canopy to protect your baby on bright days.

There are other less important but lovable features that sealed the deal for buying this lightweight seat, such as the trendy leather handlebar, the removable headrest, and even the company’s focus on low-emission production. Five fewer pounds will cost you, though, especially if you plan to buy a base for your partner or grandma’s car as well. Bases by themselves are around $160, and the seat is upwards of $350. Not exactly cheap for something your baby will only use for a year.

A lighter seat gave me more independence

On left, person walking while pushing stroller on street. On right, infant in car seat.
Credit: Nuna

It is incredibly important that new moms, especially those who are in the first few weeks postpartum, don't strain themselves lugging a heavy car seat.

This is the first baby I’ve been able to lift in a car seat into a shopping cart, or to click onto a stroller, which is life changing. There was nothing worse than finally driving around the block to get a fussy baby to sleep, only to realize I wasn’t going to be able to pick him up in the seat to get him out of the car. And, with the state of paternity leave in our country, I was only going to be able to rely on my partner for a few days after the birth, even though my back had been through more trauma than usual producing new life.

Even for those who aren’t suffering from back problems, postpartum lifting might be off limits. Carolyn Cokes, an obstetrician-gynecologist with the Baltimore-based Metropolitan OB-GYN group, says, “In general, for mamas who had a C-section, someone else should lift the car seat for them at least for the first couple of weeks or until they’re cleared by their prenatal care provider—ideally they don’t carry anything heavier than their baby. For mamas who had a vaginal delivery, it depends on how their pelvic floor is.” However, if a new parent must carry their car seat on their own, a 5-pound carseat plus their 7- to 10-pound newborn is a much better option than those 5 to 10 additional pounds of plastic.

If I’m brave enough to have another baby in the future, not only will I continue to use the Nuna Pipa Lite for its back-saving effects, but I will be looking into other products from the same company, as it clearly values parental health and convenience in addition to safety.

Get the Nuna Pipa Light from Pottery Barn Kids for $399

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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