Nuna PIPA Infant Car Seat Review

"The canopy is a good size as is and includes a flip-out eyeshade, but it also houses a zip-out dream drape that gives almost total coverage without hindering airflow. The dream drape contains magnets in each corner that attach to the foot of the car seat and hold it taut and in place. Easy peasy!"

My husband and I were so excited to get the Nuna PIPA infant car seat—for quite a few reasons! First, it’s smartly designed … both in terms of style and safety. (It even has a load leg to absorb impact. But more on that later.) Second, the heavy duty shell is tough yet ultra lightweight. The carrier is very light at less than 10 pounds! I am not the strongest mama, so I was looking for the lightest product I could find. Plus, with our baby growing and getting heavier by the day, a light car seat is crucial. Note: an updated version is now available, the Nuna PIPA lite weighs in at just 5.3 pounds!

Nuna PIPA Assembly

When the car seat arrived, I was wondering if it would live up to our high expectations. (Spoiler alert: It did—and then some!) We unboxed everything, but to our delight and surprise there wasn’t really anything to assemble. The canopy was already on. The carry handle was attached. The harness had already been threaded through and set to the smallest setting. (That’s where you’ll want it for bringing home a newbie from the hospital!) There was nothing for us do except learn how all of the safety features and parts worked.

We wanted to make sure we carefully read every page because this car seat would be keeping our little one safe, and it can only do its job if it’s installed and used correctly. The manual seemed daunting—just based on thickness—but I quickly realized half of it was in Spanish. So it wasn’t as much information to take in as I initially thought. We went through each part to learn how it functioned, and we even disassembled (and then reassembled) the seat to get a firm grasp of how to remove the seat cover, which can be laundered but must air dry, and rethread the harness as baby grows. It was all straightforward thanks to the directions. A couple of the illustrations took a few minutes to decipher because they were close-ups, and we weren’t entirely sure what we were looking at. But we figured it out without any major issues.

The part we had the most trouble with was attempting to rethread the crotch strap. There are two slots to size it to fit your babe, but the third option, which is also the smallest setting, involves threading the strap through both slots. That was trickier than we anticipated because the strap was so tight and secure, which isn’t exactly a bad thing.

Nuna PIPA Safety Features

OK now, let’s get to the safety features! The Nuna PIPA has a five-point harness. You will need to rethread the straps to adjust the size/fit for your baby as she grows, but the process is simple. Rethreading the shoulder straps was a breeze. As I said, the crotch strap took a little more effort, but we felt good knowing it wasn’t going anywhere once we got it in place. There’s also a single adjuster strap at the foot of the car seat, so you can tighten all of the straps evenly and with just one easy tug. We loved that!

The straps also have very cozy padding, so they don’t rub your little one the wrong way. The manual noted that they were there for comfort not safety, so you can remove those if you want. Speaking of being comfy, the seat is so snug! The seat pad had ample padding, but there’s also an infant insert—and that even includes an additional (and removable) low-weight cushion for extra tiny newborns. The infant insert is so comfy and supportive; I only wish I could get one in an adult size for my office chair at work!

The carry handle is ergonomically designed, so it is comfortable to carry … well, as comfortable as a car seat can be to tote around. It also has three different positions. To adjust, you simply push in a button on either side where it attaches to the seat, and move the handle bar. You’ll know it’s in one of the three positions because it will lock in place.

The UPF 50+ canopy is easy to attach and remove, though it requires two hands to do so. There is a mesh peekaboo window, which will come in handy when we use it as a travel system with our Nuna TAVO stroller. However, the window flap adheres using Velcro, which is noisier than the stroller peekaboo window, which uses magnets. I wish the car seat used magnets as well.

The canopy is a good size as is and includes a flip-out eyeshade, but it also houses a zip-out dream drape that gives almost total coverage without hindering airflow. The dream drape contains magnets in each corner that attach to the foot of the car seat and hold it taut and in place. Easy peasy! My husband and I both love this bonus feature to shield our newborn from sun and wind … and, let’s be honest, strangers. It provides full coverage to give on-the-go nappers a little more privacy and shade, too.

When it comes to safety, the Nuna PIPA is impressive. It boasts side impact protection and a stability leg on the car seat base to minimize the force of a crash. The load-bearing leg is steel and it extends from the PIPA base to the floor of your car to reduce movement in the event of an accident.

Infant Car Seat Base Installation

Another winning feature: The LATCH install. With the LATCH guides, we had the car seat base installed and ready to roll in a matter of seconds. You simply place the guides in your car to help click the PIPA base in place. Once it’s attached correctly, it isn’t moving an inch. (Insert a huge sigh of relief from this first-time mama!) If you don’t have a rigid LATCH system in your car, though most do, there is an option to use a vehicle seat belt lock-off system without the base. We tried this just to fully test out everything, and while it is secure it wasn’t quite as immovable as the rigid LATCH system—so that’s what we’ll be relying on.

Once you’ve clicked the LATCH system into your car’s anchors, a handy indicator on the base turns green to let you know it is installed correctly. The only other step is to lengthen the stability leg, so that it touches the floorboard. Again, an indicator will turn green to confirm that it’s good to go.

Other features that make Nuna series base installation a breeze include two levels and a wedge you can adjust underneath the car seat base to ensure it’s level with your car’s floor. If it isn’t clear yet, the Nuna PIPA was designed to be easy to use, which any new parent can appreciate.

Side note: Keep in mind this is an infant car seat, so it should only be used rear-facing. It is recommended for use for children from 4 to 32 pounds and up to 32 inches.

I can’t wait bring our baby home from the hospital in the Nuna PIPA infant car seat, and I know it will be getting plenty of use along with our Nuna TAVO stroller. (If you don’t have a Nuna stroller, don’t fret! Nuna makes adapters that make it compatible with many other brands, like UPPAbaby Vista and Bugaboo strollers. It also works with most Maxi-Cosi adapters, too.)

The updated PIPA lite and PIPA lite lx series infant car seats boast most of the same safety features as the original version, with flame resistant Aeroflex foam and no fire retardant chemicals. They have true lock base installation as well as compatibility with various car seat adapters.

Overall, we love the Nuna PIPA! We are confident that it will keep our kiddo safe—partly because it’s so well made and partly because it’s so user-friendly, which means we can know without a doubt that we installed it correctly and securely. Its modern look and lightweight design are the icing on the cake.

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By Leigh

Images: Courtesy of featured brands

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