For such tiny things, babies require a lot of bulky gear. While there are plenty of items you can get by without, there’s really no getting around the need for an infant car seat and stroller. Because of this, there is no shortage of travel systems available for parents, and while there are some fantastic options out there, the unique and compact design of the Doona really sets it apart from the competition. Seriously, there’s nothing else like it on the market and it’s why many parents are big fans of the 2-in-1 car seat and stroller system, despite its hefty price tag.
What is the Doona?
The Doona technically falls under the “travel system” category, because it consists of a stroller, an infant carrier/car seat, and a car seat base. However, unlike every other travel system out there, the carrier/car seat and stroller are all one piece. There is no clicking the carrier in and out of the stroller base and there’s no need for extra trunk space to store the stroller when it’s not in use.
When it’s all folded up, at first glance, the Doona looks like a traditional infant car seat. However, you’ll notice little wheels tucked up under the backrest. With just a few quick adjustments, those wheels come down and the carrier’s handle extends and repositions to transform the whole thing into a stroller (and it happens within seconds). There’s no need to move the baby and there’s no clunky, separate stroller you have to deal with. Just unfold and start strolling along.
If you find yourself in a crowded or tight spot while you’re out, you can quickly fold down the stroller’s wheels and push the handle back in to transition it back into a carrier for easier maneuvering. Similarly, when you want to take the baby on a car ride, just collapse the wheels and handle and click the carrier into the car seat base (which needs to be installed in the car first). It’s so easy and compact, and it’s especially great for anyone who travels a lot or lives in a walkable city.
How much does the Doona cost, and is it worth it?
Admittedly, at first glance, the $550 price tag might cause you to gasp a little, but you have to remember what it is you’re getting for the cost. This is considered a travel system, so it’s important to compare the price to other travel systems on the market (in general, travel systems can range in price from around $250 to more than $1,000). For instance, the Graco Modes Pramette Travel System goes for around $300, and the Chicco Bravo Primo Trio Travel System will cost you around $650. One thing you will notice with all of these travel systems, though, is that the carrier/car seats are separate from the stroller base, so they require more work and more storage space than the Doona. On the flip side, you can use these other systems for much longer than the Doona — well into the toddler years, and maybe even longer.
Whether or not the price tag is worth it depends a lot on you and your needs. If you’re someone who travels a lot, gets on/off public transport frequently, lives in a walkable city, or doesn’t have a car large enough to store a stroller in, then the Doona may be very well worth the money. However, if none of these things apply to you, then it may make more sense for you to invest in a travel system that has a stroller with more longevity than the Doona.
Doona pros & cons
- The design is good for tight spaces, like busy stores
- Convenient for getting in and out of the car without disturbing the baby
- FAA-approved for air travel (plus, you won’t have to check a stroller)
- Easy to convert from the car seat to stroller mode (and vice-versa)
- Car seat base is included with purchase
- Can be safely installed in car seat without the base (making it very travel-friendly)
- It’s expensive
- Can only be used for a limited time based on weight/height maximums
- At 17.2 pounds, it’s heavy when used as just a car seat/infant carrier
- There are no storage compartments
- It’s not compatible with other stroller brands, so you cannot click it onto a stroller base (which you might want to do if you like under-stroller storage
- Even in stroller mode, it’s still a car seat, and infants should not be in a car seat for longer than two consecutive hours in a 24-hour period
Doona reviews from users
“Excellent experience using Doona on my first travel experience in an airport and with a car rental. Doona made traveling with an 8-month-old manageable and less overwhelming. Definitely a travel MUST HAVE! I have been highly recommending the convertible car seat/stroller to all the new or expecting moms I know! Love the Gold Edition, I received multiple compliments.” — Brigitte O. (Doona)
“This car seat is so convenient however as my baby has gotten bigger, and..he is on the chunkier side, the chair is very heavy to carry, it feels lighter if I just carry it with the wheels down because with wheels folded in it’s almost impossible for me to carry, my back hurts.” — Joana (Amazon)
“Super convenient!!!! I no longer have to carry around a heavy car seat to appointments! Best invention and INVESTMENT ever! Thanks, Doona!” — SML (Target)
“The stroller handle seems pretty wiggly. I'm not sure if this is normal but for a $600 item, I was hoping it would be a little more sturdy.” — Anonymous (Doona)
“This is amazing, it has made traveling with our infant so much easier, not to mention just basic errands. With the ease of folding it up and down, he doesn’t wake up when you go from the car to the store. I do wish the handle was 2” longer and that it came with a cup holder but otherwise I’m in love and have recommended it to every new parent since we got ours.” — BCG117 (Buy Buy Baby)
How long can I use the Doona?
The Doona is designed to be a rear-facing car seat only. It cannot face forward. It’s safe for babies between 4 and 35 pounds and/or up to 32 inches tall (whichever comes first). To put it into perspective, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s growth charts, on average, both baby boys and baby girls will reach 32 inches by the time they’re around 18 months old (and likely won’t reach 35 pounds by the time they’re 2 years old).
This is the area where other travel systems have an advantage because most strollers in these systems are designed to last a child from birth well into toddlerhood. However, depending on the type of infant car seat you purchase, you will most likely still have to invest in a new car seat around the same time as you would with the Doona, as infant carriers are not designed for long-term use.
Is the Doona safe?
Yes, the Doona is absolutely safe. It features an adjustable five-point harness, comes with an infant insert and head support (to keep even the tiniest babies safe), and is lined with breathable fabrics and inner foam to reduce the risk of accidental suffocation. It also comes with a car seat base with LATCH system to keep it firmly in place while driving. The Doona meets all U.S. safety standards and is certified safe for air travel.
Do I need to worry about it causing my baby to have a flat head?
Plagiocephaly, which is also referred to as flat head syndrome, is caused by leaving your baby in any prolonged position on a specific part of the side or back of their head. This could be on the floor, in a car seat, swing, or other furniture. That being said, a specific car seat or baby gear product won’t intentionally cause it.
“Doona (or any other car seat for that matter) certainly doesn’t give babies a flat head,” the Doona team tells Romper via email. “Generally, when growing up, a baby should move and change positions all the time. This is true whether in a stroller, car seat, crib etc. Movement is necessary for the baby’s body to develop.”
Rather, it’s important that you follow the best and safest car seat practices no matter which infant car seat you use. That includes taking frequent travel breaks (at least every 2-3 hours), monitoring their breathing while in the car seat, properly installing the car seat in the car, safely securing your baby in the car seat using a 5-point harness, as advised by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Also, don’t get comfortable with a specific time frame. “Any attempt to define a time limit in which it is “safe to leave a baby in a car seat” might give caregivers the impression that it is OK to leave the child unattended for this “safe time limit”, and this can be dangerous,” the Doona rep tells us. Instead, they stress the importance of supervising your baby closely and watching for signs of discomfort or distress to assess their safety. “The main parameter should not be ‘time’ but how the baby is feeling in the car seat (or stroller, high chair etc). Babies have a natural “system” for alerting caregivers that they have a problem – Crying. A baby can be safe and comfortable in a car seat for hours and hours and in another occasion a baby might have discomfort or even distress after just a couple of minutes.”
More and more, uniquely designed travel systems are emerging into the baby gear market, but the Doona still stands alone in its quick and compact model. It may not be right for every family, but it can be well worth the cost if you’re a family on the go.
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