profile picture of Kellee Kratzer
Kellee Kratzer
Managing Editor

Doona Infant Car Seat Review

The first of its kind, this car seat/stroller hybrid is guaranteed to turn heads.

Pros
• Two in one—don’t have to pack both a car seat and stroller
• Super simple to convert between car seat and stroller
• Compact size makes it great in stores and restaurants

Cons
• Had trouble using it without base depending on various car models. Even a seat belt extension didn’t work in a few cars we tried.
• Not great for taller people as handle doesn’t adjust high enough.

Bottomline
The one-of-a-kind Doona is a great urban asset for baby’s first year—no need to invest in both a car seat and stroller when you own this two in one.

Rating: 4 stars

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Features

I admittedly did little research on the Doona from Simple Parenting prior to its arrival, or my son’s, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when we started to use it. But luckily it turns out all of the features were easy to master, and my husband and I were quickly impressed with this car seat–stroller hybrid right from the very first use. We strapped my son into the seat in the hospital room and wheeled him down to the car, where we converted it back to the car seat for our drive home.

Converting the Doona is fast and easy—a quick squeeze of the lever at the back of the car seat drops the wheels out and down to convert the seat into a stroller or vice versa. The double wall structure, which enables the wheels to fold up into the body of the seat, also means there are two layers of impact-absorbing plastic. Additional layers of energy-absorbing foam and textile also provide enhanced side-impact protection. ( Ed Note: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 42 percent of child fatalities to rear-seated children under age 8 happen in side-impact collisions, and overall side-impact crashes result in more severe injuries at lower crash severities than frontal collisions.)

The Doona handle can be used in four positions. The first mimics that of an upright suitcase, which is pretty convenient when navigating crowded stores or restaurants. The second, pushed back, allows you to take baby in and out easily. Both of these handle positions allow the stroller to roll right up to a table at a restaurant before baby is old enough for a high chair—another great perk of this product.

The handle must be placed in the third position setting in order to then extend it out to its fullest length (38.9 inches). We don’t typically use it at this level but we’ve found that it’s the perfect height if you have older children or nieces or nephews who love to push strollers. This is also the position you use when it’s in car seat mode—Doona refers to it as anti-rebound protection, which means the handle will absorb the impact in a collision and prevent the seat from rotating quickly toward the back of seat, reducing injury.

And finally, the fourth position is where the handle is fully extended. Unfortunately, one downside is if you’re tall this height likely won’t be comfortable for you. My husband, who is 5 foot, 10 inches, has to shorten his stride to walk behind the stroller when he’s pushing it.

The included infant insert is perfect for newborns. Our son weighed less than 7 pounds and wasn’t big enough for carriers, so we relied heavily on the Doona for several months—so much so that we preferred it over a carrier once he passed the 8-pound mark. (The Doona holds babies 4 to 35 pounds and up to 32 inches.) The insert does come out as your child grows, and we kept the head portion in for continued extra protection. With or without the insert, though, the Doona has a soft interior, which creates a cozy environment should baby nap while you’re out and about.

There are also some great storage features sold separately. An All-Day Bag ($80) hooks into two slots at the back of the seat when it’s in stroller mode. This diaper bag features side pockets perfect for phone and keys, plus a front zipper that lets you access the large compartment without taking the whole bag off of the stroller which, as you can imagine, is pretty convenient. (A smaller Every Day Bag ($55) and a separate Snap On Storage compartment ($28) are also available.)

Performance

In our seven months of using the Doona, we’ve never had a problem with the conversion from car seat to stroller. Despite the bumpy sidewalks of New York City, the wheels of our model are holding up nicely. Included safety mechanisms—a green brake-release pedal and red brake pedal—work well, but sometimes the green pedal comes up slightly and we need to adjust.

In terms of installation, the LATCH base is easy to secure in the car. A green button lets you know it’s securely locked, and a glance at the instructional stickers on the side of the base make it easy to tell whether the seat is level and in the proper position to keep baby safe. It’s also a snap to attach or remove the car seat from the base—just a quick push of a button and it slides in or out quickly. Similar to other car seats on the market, the Doona has a padded five-point harness, which we found easy to buckle our son into.

For our family, the Doona is particularly helpful at the airport. We use it as a stroller until we get to our gate and then we zip it into the lightweight backpack-style travel bag ($40) to gate check it at the airport. (The company says the car seat can be used on an airplane seat but we have yet to try that option since we’re still traveling with our son as a lap baby.) The bag is also great for carrying the base when traveling by train.

I also love how convenient the Doona is around the house too. At 16.2 pounds, it’s light enough to carry up one flight of apartment stairs without even converting to the car seat. (Other travel systems, when combined as a car seat/stroller unit, range anywhere from 20 to 30-plus pounds.)

Design

The Doona is compact, modern and sleek. We get nothing but compliments in our neighborhood, especially employees at restaurants who have never seen a stroller so small. The fabric has held up well and we’ve had no rips or tears. Our son tended to chew on the shoulder protectors, so they got quite dirty but luckily they unbutton, which makes them easy to clean. The white infant insert also showed sweat stains after a while, but it’s washable as well. (Full disclosure: We never took the time to wash it, so not sure if it cleans up nicely or not.) We went with the Doona in black figuring it would be a good option for New York and we were right, since it did show less dirt from the city streets. You can also get it in gray, beige, turquoise, red, pink or green.

Summary

Since the very first day, we’ve continuously received compliments from hospital employees to passersby on the street on the Doona’s sleek design and functionality. The company refers to it as the Next Generation Car Seat, and it really is like nothing anyone has seen before. It’s a great asset for an urban family, but I would also recommend it to anyone who drives a lot, since you don’t have to pack an extra caddy or stroller for when you arrive at your destination. The price may be a point of consideration for some, but it’s really the only stroller and car seat you’ll need for the first year.

Kellee Kratzer lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her son and husband. She is managing editor of XO Group and her son was part of the company's mini baby boom in 2015 (including three babies in editorial!). While managing deadlines and daily duties, she swaps stories on pregnancy, breastfeeding, baby food and weird infant ailments with her other XO moms.

PHOTO: Simple Parenting