Since having my first child over 13 years ago, I began my love/hate relationship with car seats. While they do an important job in keeping my children safe, they are also a major hassle for frequent travelers like me. If you’ve ever lugged a heavy car seat down an airplane aisle or struggled with what to do when you needed to take an Uber or Lyft with a toddler, I’m sure you feel my pain.
I’ve been on a mission the last decade to find the most compact travel car seat products to make my family’s travel logistics easier. While there have been compact travel boosters like the BubbleBum and mifold, until a few years ago, there was no truly travel-friendly car seat on the market with a 5 point harness that worked for younger children.
So when I saw a Google ad in 2018 that a company named WAYB was working on a super-compact 5 point harness car seat for kids ages 2-5, I might have gotten irrationally excited. I immediately emailed the company to get all the details.
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The new seat – called the WAYB Pico – was released in spring 2019. Due my ridiculous enthusiasm at the time, I was able to get one of the first car seats off the manufacturing line (thanks WAYB for sending me a complimentary sample). I used it with my own then 5 year old to test it out at home in a variety of vehicles and circumstances. I also took it on some travels to Hawaii on Southwest, bringing it aboard for storage in the airplane overhead bin and use in our ground transportation between our hotel and the airport.
Since that time, I’ve heard from dozens of friends and readers who have used the WAYB Pico in the years that have followed. In fact, Trips With Tykes contributor Joe Cheung uses it regularly with his youngest child as well. So, I now have a lot of reports and experience with the WAYB Pico at this stage.
The verdict? The WAYB Pico is game-changing for family travelers. I only wish it had been around earlier so I could have started using it sooner with my youngest because he outgrew it (but thankfully has graduated to an even more compact booster). The only real downside to the WAYB Pico is the high price, but since the product has many non-travel uses, it can make sense to invest in one even if you don’t travel as much as my family does.
Here are all the details parents need to know about whether the WAYB Pico is the right car seat for traveling with your child.
Essential Facts about the WAYB Pico
Weight: 8 pounds
Dimensions (when folded): 11.6” deep x 14.5” wide x 18.9” tall
Age: Children ages 2-5, forward-facing only. (The seat can be used for 1 year olds as well, but WAYB recommends a minimum age of 2.)
Weight Limits: 22-50 pounds
Height Limits: 30-45 inches tall (or whenever the shoulder straps are above the level of your child’s shoulders)
Install Method: LATCH or seatbelt path
Colors: Earth, Jet, Golden Hour, Midnight Sky, Slate
WAYB Pico Car Seat Set Up & Installation
What makes the WAYB Pico unique is that it folds up for significant space savings. The seat is constructed of aluminum and mesh to keep it lightweight too. The bottom part of the car seat (on which your child sits) flips around behind the back of the seat and locks into place for a more compact size.
To use the car seat, you flip the bottom around and lock it into place with a red clip. You can then adjust the headrest to the proper height for your child. Once the bottom is locked into place and headrest is set, the rest of the installation process will pretty familiar for parents used to installing other forward facing car seats. There is a top tether and LATCH straps on either side that you use to strap the car seat into the car. (Seat belt installation is also possible but a little more complex.)
Getting a snug fit took me a little longer than some of the premium car seats on the market that have special features to tighten them easily. But it certainly took me no longer on average than it might with a very basic lightweight travel car seat like the Cosco Scenera NEXT.
Strapping your child into the Pico is mostly the same as with any other car seat – but with one important difference. The chest clip is the same, but to tighten the straps, you don’t pull on a single strap between your child’s legs. Instead, there are cinch pulls on either side of your child’s hips. Pull each of those to take out the slack (check out my video below for a demo).
My son complained a bit that the padded strap covers irritated his neck – they aren’t as soft as the ones on many other car seat models.
We had only one real challenge when we used the WAYB in our travels – we found that the top tether strap wasn’t quite long enough to be able to install it in a minivan bucket seat. Newer models have a longer tether so this is no longer an issue (and if you have an older one, WAYB made a top tether extender available at product launch so hopefully you have that already).
Want to see the WAYB Pico in action? Check out the demonstration and installation in this video:
What Ages and Sizes are Right for the WAYB Pico
WAYB recommends the product for ages 2-5, so you should be able to at least use it during those years. When we first tested the WAYB Pico, my son was a 5.5 year old of average height, and he still could very comfortably fit in the Pico. The recommended height maximum is 45 inches and he’s was 42.5 inches at the time. The straps were just above the level of his shoulders. As he passed his 6th birthday, he began to outgrow the seat.
So unless your child is just way off the top of the growth charts, I think it’s safe to say the Pico will work for almost all 4 year olds and many 5 year olds. That should be enough time for your child to be more mature and bigger and ready to use a travel booster instead. I certainly felt much more comfortable with my son at 6 being trusted to sit property in a booster than I did when he was age 4!
How the WAYB Pico is Amazing on Planes
So now that the basics are out of the way, here’s why I’ve been singing the praises of this car seat to traveling families for over 3 years now — the air travel possibilities. So many parents are rightfully fearful of checking their car seat with the airlines. You simply never know how the airlines will treat your car seat and whether it will sustain any damage or get lost.
On some trips, my family brought aboard our car seat for use during the flight to avoid checking it for just these reasons. But that is not without its issues too. On one trip a few years back, my son wanted nothing to do with the car seat and simply wanted to sleep on my lap. I found myself with an unused car seat taking up a ton of seat space when we needed to stretch out.
On another trip, I found the car seat positioned my son just perfectly to kick the seat in front of him repeatedly. That made for an incredibly stressful flight. There are just some times when having the car seat on board causes more hassle than it solves.
The Pico gives you so much more flexibility in dealing with both these airplane dilemmas. When packaged up in its travel bag, the seat is small enough to take onto the plane as a carry on. I had no problem fitting ours into the overhead bin of a Southwest Airlines 737-800. It’s about the same size as my usual roll-aboard suitcase.
But then if you feel you want to use the car seat on board, you have that option too. The Pico is FAA-approved for use on aircraft (several ultra-compact travel car seats are not because they have LATCH only). So if you feel your child needs the extra seat to stay restrained, you can always pull it out of the overhead bin and use it. Due to its slim size, it takes up even less space within the airplane seat than many other car seats you might bring.
Using the WAYB Pico for Uber & Lyft
The other game-changing use for the Pico is when taking ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber with kids. Except in a few select cities that have Uber Car Seat/Uber Family service, its impossible to ride in a Lyft or Uber without bringing your own car seat. It’s quite tough to do that, however, when you don’t have anywhere to store your car seat at your destination, such as when you are doing city touring.
When carried in either of the two optional backpack accessories, it’s conceivable that you can just take the Pico with you. It’s lightweight enough that you can carry it around on your back (or even hanging from some larger stable strollers) – no storage necessary. While I probably wouldn’t recommend this for a family out-and-about for a full day (as it would get tiring for many hours of carrying), it’s a significant improvement to the options for families with a ridesharing quandary.
Uses for the WAYB Pico at Home
Before you invest in an expensive car seat only for travel, most families want to make sure it has uses at home. The Pico does. I used it for two weeks in my normal routine at home. I found it was no more time-consuming to use than with the car seat we normally have installed.
The Pico revealed itself to be ideal for space-saving for anyone who has a tight fit in the back of their car. I have a small backseat in my car. Fitting two additional children in it when my son is in his normal mega-car seat is next to impossible. The middle seat is basically not usable, and certainly not usable when that another child in the back row needs to be in a booster too. When I have the Pico installed, it opens up the rest of the back seat for two children to sit because it is much more narrow.
The Pico is also a great car seat for grandma and grandpa or a babysitter who only transports your child occasionally. They can keep it in a trunk when not in use and it won’t take up a ton of space they otherwise would need.
Pros & Cons of the WAYB Pico
Ok, so that’s a lot of information. Here’s a brief overview of the pros and cons to help you make your choice.
- Incredibly lightweight.
- No other product like it for air travel – that can both fit in the overhead bin and be used on the plane.
- Kids ages 4-5 can ride more safely for longer in a 5 point harness instead of a booster on trips where bringing a standard car seat isn’t feasible.
- Narrow for tight back seats to enable three kids sitting across.
- Cost – at $380, the Pico is a premium product that may be out of the price range for many families, especially as a second or third car seat.
- A tad slow to install compared to premium car seats.
How Can You Get a WAYB Pico?
Last but certainly not least, where can you get a Pico?
Now that the Pico has been out for a couple of years since this post was first published, it’s easier than ever to buy one. Look for the Pico available online the following places:
- Direct from WAYB (free shipping on all purchases over $100 + all color choices and accessories available)
- On PishPoshBaby (only in limited colors and not all accessories available)
- On Amazon (only available in a seat + backpack bundle)
Do you have questions about the WAYB Pico? Leave them here and I’ll answer them. And come back and comment if you buy the product and have insights to add.
Disclosure: WAYB sent me a complimentary Pico car seat and travel bag for review purposes. As always, all opinions are my own.
Editor’s Note: There was a voluntary recall on all Pico car seats manufactured between February 1-May 12, 2019. All seats that are sold November 2019 and later were re-engineered to fix the issue.