The Doona car seat, launched early in 2014 the Doona has been described as the “next generation car seat”, as it has integrated wheels, which means it transforms into a travel system at the touch of a button.
It’s the first such hybrid car seat and travel system on the market and, with safety features including a double wall structure and anti-rebound handle, it has already been given the thumbs up by celeb parents including X Factor’s Sam Bailey and JB Gill.
At around £400 for the car seat and ISOFIX base, it’s at the top end of the Group 0+ car seat market, comparable to the Stokke iZi Sleep (£434 with ISOFIX base) and Cybex Aton Q (£295 with ISOFIX base).
Saying that, it is difficult to place it into a set category as it’s in a class all of it own and there’s nothing else like it on the market.
Looking at the Doona, you can be awed by its innovation, but it is worth remembering it’s a car seat, and as such can’t use it for more than 2 hours at a time for babies (as it doesn’t lie flat) and so, it won’t replace a buggy.
How easy is it to convert it from a car seat to a buggy and back again?
Incredibly easy, and fun too as you can see in our video below:
Simply press on a red button
Pull on a white handle at the back of the car seat and the wheels pop outwards and downwards.
Adjust the handle height, and you’re done.
Converting it back to a car seat is just as quick: you press/pull the same buttons and kick the wheels back up and underneath.
How heavy or light is the Doona?
It’s quite heavy when compared to other infant car seats. The wheels mean the Doona weighs 7kg, noticeably heavier than other seats I’ve tried (such as the Maxi-Cosi CabrioFix, which weighs 3.5kg).
However, it is still possible to carry it with a baby strapped inside, and besides, the idea is to push it, rather than carry it.
How do you install it in the car?
In car seat mode, the Doona works either with or without an ISOFIX base (available separately), meaning it fits in any make or model of car – great for visiting relatives or using in hire cars on holiday.
It’s also been approved for use in air travel, in both Europe and the US.
Fitting it into the car is fairly simple, and involves wrapping and securing a normal seatbelt around the car seat.
It takes practice though; as you need to make sure you pull the seatbelt out far enough before you start.
I also quickly discovered you have to put your baby in the Doona and fasten their five-point harness first, before you secure the car seat with the main seatbelt.
If you’re taking your child out of the car but leaving the seat in situ (rather than using it as a buggy), you also need to undo the car’s main seatbelt before you can access your little one. A minor issue but still a bit of a faff.
Tell us about strapping your little one in.
The car seat comes with a padded Newborn insert, apparently inspired by the position of a baby in its mother’s arms.
My baby fitted snugly into it until four months old, and seemed to enjoy the fact it raised her up so that she could see the world around her when we were out and about.
Without the insert, she still looked comfortable, thanks to the padded harness covers, and fell asleep within minutes. As she isn’t usually a car seat fan, I was impressed!
Yes. The Doona feels sturdy and boasts double walls (to allow the wheels to fold into the body of the car seat) which give it better side-impact protection.
The handle also rests against the back of the seat that it’s secured to, meaning it would jolt less in the case of an accident.
What’s it realistic life span as both a car seat and a travel system?
My baby had outgrown the newborn insert by four-months-old. Now nearly five months, she fits into the seat without an insert, but as she’s on the large side and the Doona is Group 0+ (only suitable up to 13kg), I’d predict it will last her up to her first year.
Is it fully functional in both modes, and does this make it value for money?
Yes. As a car seat, it does what it says on the tin; and as a buggy, it’s nippy, light and simple-to-use.
Having said this, it probably won’t last you past a year, so is probably best for parents who travel a lot, have smaller homes or limited car boot space (meaning they can’t pack a buggy), or who live in built-up areas.
When in buggy mode, what’s it like to push?
The Doona rolls along nicely on pavements and roads. But I didn’t feel it was designed for off-roading, as it was pretty bumpy on uneven surfaces like cobbles and hard-going on grass – although this didn’t seem to bother my baby too much.
It’s able to handle going up and down kerbs without problems, although you might prefer to carry it down steeper steps.
While it’s heavier than normal car seats, as a buggy, it’s pretty light, and therefore great for lifting onto public transport – plus as it’s so small and compact, it fits easily down a bus aisle. I
I took it into a busy town centre and liked the way it navigated around small shops without bumping into things. One shopkeeper even complimented me, saying it was the smallest buggy she’d ever seen.
Tell us about the pushchair brakes
These work a bit differently to the usual, push-down-kick-up brakes. There is a green lever on the left-hand wheel, and a red on the right-hand one. To secure the buggy, you press down on the red one; to release it, you press down on the green one.
Once I’d got the hang of this, I actually preferred it – the brakes were easier to access than some buggies I’ve tried, and the wheels felt securely welded to the spot.
Is it easy it is to store?
Yes. I loved not having a bulky buggy sitting in my hallway – most of the time, the Doona lived in the car; and when it was at home, it only took up the space of a normal car seat (66cm long x 60cm high x 40cm wide).
What is the basket like?
The design means there is none whatsoever. If you’re not the kind of person to travel light, you can buy three different kinds of optional clip-on storage bag from Simple Parenting, or you can use your own buggy bag – as I did (see pic) – clipped over the handles.
What’s in the box?
Doona car seat
Vehicle seat protector
Any additional extras?
Doona ISOFIX base – £99.99
Car seat raincover – £19.99
Car seat wheel cover – £9.99
A clever, nicely-designed, easy alternative to a travel system, perfect for a quick trip out-and-about and those short on space.
It’s not the most practical of car seats, as you do have to put your baby in the Doona and fasten their five-point harness first, before you secure the car seat with the main seatbelt.