By now, you’ve heard of the Doona Infant Car Seat, the most innovative transportation system on the market. It’s a car seat with wheels! It’s the Transformer of the baby world! This super-cool, brand-new-to-the-US product performs all the functions of a travel system, without a separate frame. That doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily your top choice, though, which is why, today, we’re going to compare the Doona head-to-head with the Chicco Keyfit + Caddy travel system.
But first, here’s an important factoid: while your infant car seat’s weight limit maxes out at 30-35 pounds, no child is going to be still using theirs by the time they hit that weight (at the age of perhaps 3). They’ll hit the height limit much faster, usually around 9 months. So if you’re looking for a car seat to last you the longest amount of time, look at the max length/height, since the higher that number is, the longer your child will fit. (The reasons to choose a higher length/height capacity are another blog post entirely, though!)
Moving on: let’s start with the specs.
- Min/Max Weight Capacity: 4-35 pounds
- Length/Height Capacity: 32 inches
- Weight (when empty): 15 pounds
- Price: $499
- Longevity: 0-9+ months
- Min/Max Weight Capacity: 4-30 pounds
- Length/Height Capacity: 30 inches
- Weight (when empty): 9 pounds
- Price: $199-$204
- Longevity: 0-9+ months
- Weight (when empty): 11 pounds
- Price: $109
- Longevity: 0-9+ months
- Total Price (with car seat): $289-$294
Pros for Doona:
- It’s an all-in-one system! There’s no need to lug around another stroller – your car seat IS the stroller.
- Very easy to go from car seat to stroller mode without waking baby.*
- Uses memory foam, so it’s nice and cushy for the baby, but still provides excellent protection.
- The max length is 32”, two inches more than the Chicco Keyfit 30, meaning it could potentially last you a little bit longer.
- The Doona handlebar doubles as an anti-rebound bar, which will reduce forward momentum in the event of an accident.
- Doona uses a European Belt Path, which makes it super easy to install the seat in your car without the base (although of course the base is always faster). Here’s a video showing the difference. This car seat DOES come with one base and extra bases are available, but you won’t want to lug the base along if you’re traveling far from home – if you’re traveling by cab or by plane, the belt-only install will be a godsend!
*One of the bigger concerns I’ve seen has been the clicking noise the Doona makes when popping out the wheels. However, I can say with certainty (and experience) that most babies will sleep through this. Before the Doona was available in the US, a woman from London came into our Brookline store and showed me all the features while her baby slept through the whole demo!
Cons for Doona:
- All storage bags are considered accessories, and must be removed to collapse the stroller back into car seat mode.
- The weight. It’s obvious where the extra weight comes from (you can’t add wheels without adding some necessary weight), and hopefully the wheels will allow you to avoid carrying it almost entirely, but the Doona is still a heavy car seat to lift up and put in your car. Moms who have had c-sections may find this very difficult and uncomfortable until their incision is well on its way to fully healed. (Hopefully you’ll have someone to help you out!)
- Small wheels: this will be a con for winter babies especially. Taking in account the massive amount of snow we got here in Boston this year, we know just by looking at the wheels on the Doona that this would not really serve you well trying to walk around the insane snowbanks in the city. This car seat will not attach to a bigger stroller that would glide through the snow, so you would have to go with another REALLY TOUGH stroller that has a bassinet option (the Bugaboo Buffalo is a Brookline favorite) or wait until the child is 6 months old and go with the BOB Flex (which can easily handle everything from snow to sand, mud, and grass).
- The price: we know that it’s a steep price for a baby gear item that you may end up using for less than a year. But you also need to check this thing out: the quality of each piece is spectacular, the company practices for employees are superb, and the design is outstanding and unique. There is truly nothing else like this on the market right now. Doona is one of a kind!
Pros for Chicco Keyfit + Caddy:
- Lightweight: this car seat is 6 pounds lighter than the Doona. Chances are, you’ll end up carrying this car seat more than the Doona, and every pound counts (especially when you add a baby!).
- Very user friendly: every button in orange has a function on the base and on the car seat.
- The Caddy is made for the Keyfit specifically, so it will snap into the Caddy the same way as it snaps onto the base.
- The Keyfit is easily adaptable to other strollers, so winter babies rejoice! Just add the appropriate adapter and you can snap your Keyfit onto a variety of tough-as-nails all-terrain strollers.
- The Caddy has a HUGE storage basket!
Cons for Chicco Keyfit + Caddy:
- You have two separate items, meaning that the Caddy will probably always live in the back of your car, taking up precious cargo space. This also means that when your baby grows out of it, you will have three pieces (car seat, base, and caddy) to store, sell, or give away.
- The Keyfit uses an American Belt Path (see video above for difference); however, this car seat does come with a base, and extra bases are available.
- The Keyfit has a lower length/height max, so your child could potentially grow out of it sooner than the Doona.
- You must clear everything out of the huge storage basket on the Caddy, or it will not close.
- Small wheels: like the Doona, you’ll have trouble navigating the Caddy during the winter, and you’ll find that a tougher stroller can handle the sidewalks better. (However, a quality baby carrier will let you take your baby everywhere without wheels!)
- No anti-rebound bar or load leg. These are standard in Europe and are gaining popularity in the US, and you will see more and more car seats (infant and otherwise) with either of these options on the US market in the coming months/years.
What do the experts here at Magic Beans Brookline think? We’re pretty split on the topic, honestly. We love the all-in-one Doona, but we also appreciate the ease of use with the Chicco. The Caddy has enormous storage (we actually use it to help put out stock in our store!), but the Doona lets you skip using adapters and extra pieces. The Chicco Keyfit gives you the option of popping it onto a big “house” stroller, giving you more flexibility, but if you get the Doona (and you don’t need all-terrain capabilities), you may be able to skip buying the “house” stroller altogether and just get a lightweight umbrella stroller once your child outgrows the Doona.
There’s so much to consider, and ultimately, the choice is going to depend on your lifestyle and what feels best to you. If you’re nearby, come visit one of our stores, and we’ll help you run these two strollers and car seats through their paces, so you can choose the travel system that’s perfect for you!