Babyzen was founded by a group of 5 French doctors who challenged themselves to imagine and design the next generation of stroller, having become fed up with those on the market they felt were bulky, impractical and mediocre.
Their ambition to create uniquely designed and functional pushchairs has gained them several accolades and resulted in the award winning lightweight YOYO stroller.
Their latest offering is the Zen, a complete all-terrain travel system. Unlike its super light counterpart, weight is not the focus here, rather durability and multi-functionality.
The Zen boasts an exclusive multi-position and very versatile carrycot. It’s the only stroller bassinet to also be certified as a seat, travel crib and a bouncer!
It is also compatible with a variety of car seats, including the Maxi Cosi Pebble, Cybex Aton and Graco Snugride and is priced at £849.
Tell us about the Babyzen carrycot.
The carrycot is fantastically versatile, but a little over designed.
It is very spacious and the fabric is soft and comfortable and can be used in three positions on the stroller (adjusted through the use of zips).
It also has a 5-point harness and is suitable up to 6-months. My only issue with the harness is that I do not feel comfortable strapping my little one in when sleeping in crib mode over night.
As a bouncer, it isn’t very bouncy; it’s more like a chair.
As an overnight sleeper, it looks great and I love the idea – especially for a newborn. But I’m not too sure how sturdy it would be with a larger, possibly more wriggly baby in it.
How does it fold?
The Zen claims to unfold in 5 seconds, and indeed it does, initially. But you need to add a little extra faffing time to unfold and zip the seat unit back into place for it to be useable.
Unfortunately folding it is far from easy, as it is coolly demonstrated in the online video I watched!
In fact I find it quite frustrating at times, as even following the instructions and ensuring it was held at the right angle, it doesn’t always lock into place.
Meaning I have had to give it several tries before I managing it. There is definitely a knack to it that comes with a lot of practice!
Is it compact when folded?
Yes, the Zen is really quite compact when folded, especially as its wheels fold flat to the frame, and it also stands upright making it easy to store. I have a very small hallway and this was perfect for occupying the space next to my front door without getting in the way.
It alsos fit effortlessly into a utility cupboard or the boot of a car, great for those where space is a premium.
How does the Zen push, and what is the ‘soft-drive’ feature?
The ‘soft-drive’ feature is designed to make the Zen adapt to different surfaces effortlessly without the need to lock the front wheel, as is sometimes needed with other push chairs, especially over more tricky ground.
Although compact, I was initially taken aback by how heavy the Zen is, compared with other pushchairs I have owned.
Bulky weight does not usually bode well when it comes to the handling pushchairs – especially when pushing one-handed whilst reigning in a toddler with the other! But luckily this is where the ‘soft-drive’ feature comes in useful.
I find it makes the steering easier to handle, especially with one hand, corners and inclines. And there is much less veering or loss of control.
However, when out and about there were a few times when I felt the Zen was not as ‘all terrain’ as I imagined. Every time my walk involved negotiating a tree root strewn pavements and pathways in my local area it didn’t handle very well, I almost tipped over at one point!
Saying that the Zen tackles gravel really well – surprising.
What do you think of the brakes?
The brake system is very effective, I like that it can be applied using the pedals on both sides and never once have the brakes faltered.
How is interacting with your little one when in the pushchair?
Not great unfortunately, as the main seat unit is world-facing from 6 months.
My little boy is 9-months-old and both of us dislike the fact that we cannot interact with each other.
And I never thought I’d say something about a feature that’s usually a wonderful plus point, but the spacious and comfy seat unit (great for older children), looks a bit large for him.
He can sit independently and sits well in other pushchairs, but with the Zen he constantly leans over to the left hand side. This means I am constantly trying to adjust him, and the straps. This is due to an unevenness created by the seat/cushion.
I also find the lack of a bumper bar a concern. Personally, I wouldn’t use the world-facing option from six months, as I think it’s too soon to turn my little one and it doesn’t offer the protection I’d like.
How does the seat recline?
The seat reclines through the use of zips at the back, these can be a bit fiddly, and they do get stuck on occasion, especially when trying to readjust the seat after a nap, with my little one still in it.
On the plus side, the seat/carrycot fabrics (i.e. the seat pad, apron, etc) can be removed and washed, brilliant if you have a mucky little pup with a penchant for redecorating textiles with rice cakes!
What do you think of the solar powered headlamp?
The solar powered headlamp at the front of the pushchair is quirky, but for me, a pointless addition.
I can see it being of use on darker winter evenings or in poor visibility, but it’s not a very bright light, so doesn’t make much of a difference to the dark.
It is operated by a main power button underneath the Zen and a little dashboard of buttons in the centre of the handlebar. This, along with the button to adjust the handle bar height, is a button too many for me.
I like to grip the bar in the middle when using one hand and holding my youngest daughters hand, but can’t really here.
What about the shopping basket?
The shopping basket is shallow and very small, and, well, no use for shopping! You can just about fit the rain cover and a little bag in it.
Saying that, the zip pocket in the back of the seat is handy for keys, tissues and purse, any essentials you may need easy access too!
How is assembling the Babyzen Zen?
Assembling the Zen is relatively easy, although there is quite a bit of poppering, slotting, clicking and hooking so the instructions come in handy.
They are, for the most part, clear, but at times they are a tad confusing. But common sense always prevails (plus there are a couple of videos on Youtube just in case!)
What’s in the box?
- Chassis & Seat Unit
- Seat Pad
- Adaptors for Carrycot
- Apron for Carrycot
Although the Zen handles quite well, is compact when folded and multi-functional, making it a seemingly good choice for those tight on space looking for a versatile travel system, I was not as impressed as I thought I would be. Overall I felt it was a little over designed and overpriced.