Cosco Scenera Next: Is It Best Travel Car Seat for Toddler?

When it comes to travel car seats in the USA there aren’t very many that are lightweight and small enough to travel with. Once your baby grows out of their infant bucket car seat, which in some cases when the baby is tall can happen as early as 8 months (speaking from experience) you’re in trouble.

The Cosco Scenera Next is one of very few travel car seats that fit a younger toddler who cannot sit front-facing in the car just yet (the legal requirement in the US is 2 years while in most European countries is 12-15 months). Naturally, as avid travelers with babies and toddlers, we used Cosco Scenera Next on dozens of trips and watched other parents using it too. Is it truly a good and more importantly safe travel car seat?

Cosco Scenera NEXT Car Seat:

  • Weight: 10.4 lbs (4.7kg)
  • Cost: $59
  • Rear-facing from 5-40 lbs & Forward-facing 22-40 lbs
  • Height range: 19-43 inches.
  • Adjustable harness
  • Machine washable seat pad
  • Certified for use on aircraft
  • Removable cup holder included

What We Liked About Cosco Scenera Next Car Seat

First and foremost the undeniable advantages of Cosco Scenera Next car seats are three things: it’s extremely lightweight, child can be rear facing for longer, and extremely low price. I can easily carry it with one hand for an extended period of time when traveling or put it over my suitcase and roll it around.

The Cosco Scenera Next is an FAA-approved car seat It’s also narrow enough to fit on the airlines that are very strict when it comes to the width of the car seat.

Cosco Scenera Next vs WayB Pico

What We Didn’t Like About It:

It’s not the easiest car seat to install in the car or on the plane. I often saw other parents having it incorrectly installed on planes which defeated the purpose of having a car seat on the airplane in the first place. It’s not the manufacturer’s fault, it’s a definite user error, but they could have made it simpler so people would have easier time to install it.

The problem is that for installing it on the aircraft the belt buckle is likely to be at your child’s back, which can make things uncomfortable. I witnessed a family in front of us once whose child kept screaming bloody murder for an hour that the buckle bothered him until a family was forced to put the car seat away.

The materials on Cosco Scenera Next isn’t free of flame retardant chemicals, which are toxic to babies, so that’s something to take into account as well (you can read more about flame retardants here).

In fact, even when it was properly installed the seat kept wiggling and moving to the side, especially when front-facing. We almost always had to put the towel underneath and it still felt loose.

It gave us a feeling of the complete lack of side protection, to be honest. Not to mention that while many parents are afraid of gate checking the car seat in case it can be thrown around, Cosco Scenera arrives without any padding in the box at all which could be an issue if a delivery driver wasn’t careful with the package.

And that’s on top of the fact that it doesn’t offer almost any head side protection for the head on top of the padding being on the skimpy side. While it’s approved from newborn and up, I would never put a baby under at least 6 months in it. If you have a chunky child that might work, but for smaller and thinner toddlers it’s often impossible to fit the straps properly and securely.

We instantly saw that despite the lack of rear-facing option WayB Pico was holding the child much safer than the straps on Cosco Scenera.

Basically, due to the weight limit (40 pounds), height limit (40 inches), and head height limit of 1 inch below the shell of the seat this car is really couldn’t be used until at least 10 months and by less than a year it became unusable, because I had tall toddlers right after 18 months.

In fact, I tried putting my son in it and after his head instantly flopped I immediately decided that we’re not using Cosco Scenera Next car seat seat until he’s older and replaced it with a German nachfolger car seat for our travels outside of the US.

We felt much better and safer using European nachfolger car seat

Final Verdict: Cosco Scenera Next Review

I’ll be real, we were very underwhelmed by Cosco Scenera Next and ultimately we quickly ended up being a European travel car seats for our travels outside of the US, which proved to be a more comfortable and actually legal solution (using a US car seat in Europe is illegal officially).

I won’t say that Cosco Scenera is a bad car seat, because it’s a functional and approved one, but I just wish there were other options on the market because it simply doesn’t work as well as it should.

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