The Nuna Pipa is a favorite infant car seat of ours as it has rigid LATCH + a load leg on the base, an FAA approved carrier, and a European belt path on the carrier for a super secure installation without the base. All of these features make it a truly travel friendly seat – great for installing in lots of different cars including taxis and rental cars and also convenient to use on planes. The Pipa LITE uses the same fabulous base, but the LITE carrier lacks one major feature – the ability to install without the base in a car or plane.
Therefore, The Car Seat Lady does not recommend the Nuna Pipa LITE for the sole reason that it can not be installed without its base. Every other infant seat in the US can be installed without the base. This enables enhanced portability that is safe and convenient – allowing you to take baby in a taxi, rental car on vacation, airplane, friend’s car, etc using just the carrier.
But what if you live in the suburbs and never go in any other cars? Why does it matter if it doesn’t work without the base? Sometimes you find yourself in a situation you didn’t expect – your car breaks down, you want to go to the zoo in a friend’s car – situations where you’ll want the carrier to work without the base. Or maybe you want to take your 6-month-old on an airplane to visit Grandma… another situation where you’ll want the carrier to work without the base. With the Pipa LITE you may find yourself making bad decisions – like not using a car seat at all, renting a dilapidated seat, or borrowing some sketchy car seat from Grandma’s friend Betty that she used when her grandkids came to visit 5 years ago – choices that you wouldn’t even contemplate if you had a regular Pipa or any other infant seat in the US.
But it’s so light, you say. Sure, the Pipa LITE carrier weighs 2.5 pounds less than the regular Pipa. When lifting an empty carrier you can feel the difference between nearly 7 pounds (weight of the LITE with canopy + infant insert) and 9.4 pounds (weight of Pipa with dream drape canopy + infant insert). But if someone handed you a 27 and 30 pound kid – could you tell which one was heavier? No – they’d both just feel heavy. So too once you put your 20 pound 9-month-old in a car seat, the difference between almost 27 and almost 30 pounds isn’t perceptible. You aren’t strolling through a park carrying an infant seat – you just need to lift it out of a base and onto/off a stroller. Also, in our opinion the best (non-safety) feature of the Pipa is the dream drape… but the Pipa LITE doesn’t have this, because the dream drape weighs 1 pound!
If you choose to use a Pipa LITE on an airplane, you are now forced to drag around the 7 pound carrier and 14 pound Pipa base… making the Pipa LITE heavier and much bulkier to travel with than any other infant seat because all you’d need is the carrier.
From our decades in the field we know that expectant parents often don’t foresee the travel needs they may have in their baby’s first year. Parents may focus only on the travel in their own car (where a Pipa or Pipa LITE would be an equally good option) while neglecting the one or two plane trips they may take for vacation or to visit family. It is these travel situations where you’ll want a Pipa (or any other infant seat that can be installed without the base).
In conclusion, if you want a Nuna seat, we stand by our recommendation of the Pipa – but strongly discourage getting the Pipa LITE because it doesn’t meet many families travel needs.