Can I Travel with my Infant Car Seat Without the Base?

Traveling with a Newborn - Riding in Rental Car
Bub, Safe and Snug

**Editor’s note: This is an old post. And I now know my son was not safe using an insert that came between him and the car seat. Please do not use any car seat accessories that come between your child and their seat.

Once upon a time I attended a travel writer’s conference in New York Citysans kids. Although I was having a good time and learning a lot, I was also pining for the two small people I left at home with their daddy. As a result, I gravitated to a lovely new mom who, along with her husband, had traveled to New York from Oregon with their adorable 8-week-old son.

Now when my firstborn was 8 weeks, I think I was still stumbling around in my maternity wear and intermittently crying for no reason, so I completely admired her and her husband for picking up and carrying on with their little son along for the ride. They mentioned an issue with a cab driver that I found pretty surprising for a couple of reasons.

When they arrived in New York, the cab driver almost refused to take them into Manhattan because they didn’t have the base for their car seat. And theiseat was your typical infant carrier car seat that does attach to a base but also has slots on the side to insert a seat belt, for use without the base.

I must say I admire the cab driver’s commitment to safety, especially since New York is one of the many cities that doesn’t require the use of a car seat AT ALL when traveling in taxis with infants and toddlers.

The TLC [Taxi & Limousine Commission] encourages everyone, including those in the rear of the vehicle, buckle their seatbelts while riding in a cab. Passengers with children are encouraged to bring their own car seats, which the drivers must allow passengers to install.

*NOTE – Children under the age of seven are permitted to sit on an adult’s lap.

It’s clear their driver was mistaken. If the seat has the slots for a seat belt, you can use it in a pinch in a car and an airplane. My son was 10.5 weeks when we traveled to Quebec City, and we also used our car seat without its base. Ours was a Peg Perego Primo Viaggio. I consulted with our user’s manual before taking it to travel with us.

Here’s an excerpt:

Installing the Car Seat without the Base:
Important! The base is designed to avoid consumer misuse by reducing the number of times the seat must be anchored to your vehicle. Please, use and install Primo Viaggio without the base only if needed.

I checked out the owner’s manual online for the Graco Snugride, and it pretty much said the same thing.

Clearly it’s preferred to use your infant car seat with the base. But, if you’re traveling with baby, it’s much safer to use your seat without the base than to not use a car seat at all. Do ensure that your seat CAN actually be installed without a base. The earlier version of the Primo Viaggio we had for my daughter did not have the slots. We couldn’t have used it for travel if we wanted to.

While baby still fits in the infant car seat carrier–and you’re not a hysterical mess like I was)–travel! It gets a lot more complicated once they’re in the larger, convertible seats and you have to start thinking about car seat travel accessory shopping and the like!

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