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Car seat/Stroller for 1 year old from US to UK to Croatia?

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I will be soon be traveling with my infant from US to Croatia (connecting in UK) and have purchased a seat for him for his comfort and my sanity! We have an 8 hour flight to London, a 5 hour layover at Heathrow Ariport, a three hour plane ride to RIjeka Croatia and then a 2 hour carride. My question is regarding whether or not a carseat would be advisable for use on the plane(s) or just have my son use the seat seatbelt or possibly use a CARES type harness.

A second question I have is regarding stroller. I would like to bring his day-to-day stroller which is 4 inches larger than the dimension (LxWlH) permitted by continental airlines (62 is permitted, stroller is 66 total LxHxW). Further, I wonder whether I could check the stroller at the gate so that I have use of it during our 5 hour layover in London.

I will be contacting the airlines for their guidance but would love to get feedback from those with experience since sometimes the "rules" can be flexible.

Many thanks in advance!

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