Elsie Rose is now four months old, and we’ve been using our Doona car seat since we left the hospital back in October. You can read our first review of the car seat here, and find me on Instagram where I often share snaps of it in use too. I wanted to leave it a little while before I wrote an update, because I wanted to have a good few weeks more experience of using it. I want to now share with you the realities of using the Doona car seat for a simple parenting experience.
The first thing I want to talk about is safety. Before Christmas I was lucky enough to have a visit from one of the designers of the Doona, who was keen to chat to Ghostwriterdaddy and I about the mechanics of the seat, safety aspects of it’s use and general tips for using it to it’s full potential. We are so grateful that we were given this opportunity! Our visit was arranged after I expressed concern over one or two issues we were having with the seat, and because I was concious I had not had a real life demonstration of how to use it. As you can imagine, Elsie is very precious cargo, and we were keen to make sure we were transporting her safely each and every time we went out in the car.
NOT a stroller.
The Doona is a car seat. It is not a stroller, therefore not intended to be your only mode of transport for baby. I have another pram that I use for Elsie when we know we will be out for the day, or for a longer trip. The Doona converts to a stroller for convenience, and not so that you don’t need another pram. The Doona eliminates the need for a travel system, and means that if you are on the school run you don’t need to struggle with frames and seats and wheels. You just unfold the Doona’s wheels and go. The reason why the Doona is not a stroller and should only be used as a car seat that extends into a stroller for occasional use is because newborn babies need to lie flat for optimum development and to keep their airways open.
Can baby lie flat?
I expressed my concern over whether or not the Doona enabled baby to lie as flat as was required for newborns. At the time, Elsie was happily kicking in her bouncer chair and we spent some time discussing why babies need to lie flat, and whether or not it was possible to know exactly how long a baby should stay in a car seat for. Guidelines say that newborn babies should only be in a car seat for up to 30 minutes, and older babies no longer than two hours at a time. The school run doesn’t take this long by the way! We noticed that the Doona lies a lot more flat than the bouncer chair, and has passed all of the necessary regulations that certify it safe for use. A quick comparison assured me that was the case too.
After a few week’s use, I expressed concern about the straps on the Doona seat. As this is one of the only car seats that has a five point harness, I was worried about the bottom straps digging into Elsie’s legs. Now, she has never complained about being put into her seat, but I was concerned all the same. I was shown how to adjust the straps so that they were on the correct height for Elsie, and advised to use the newborn insert for as long as possible too. It’s also a good idea to regularly check the position of the straps as babies grow a lot faster than you realise! We’re still on the lowest setting but I check all the time that the straps are at the right height. I was also shown how to loosen the bottom straps that go across the bottom, so that Elsie’s legs will never be uncomfortable. The video below shows you how to do it.
Once the safety concerns had been addressed, we were keen to find out more about the design of the Doona, and the features that were carefully considered at the design stage too.
The Doona can ‘tote’ across snow or muddy grass- fold the wheels under, extend the handle to it’s longest length and pull the seat along behind you. This really works and has been brilliant in all the snow we keep getting. It’s also great for sand, I imagine.
The Doona has a ‘coffee shop’ mode. Again, fold the wheels under and extend the handle. The seat can now be rocked, thanks to the rocker at the bottom. I’ve used this mode in the playground waiting for The School Boy to come out at the end of the day. Sometimes patience isn’t Elsie’s greatest virtue!
The rainsover has a handy access panel and velcro holder. I hadn’t noticed this before, but for the past few weeks I have not taken the raincover off my Doona at all. The front panel unzips so that you can reach in to baby without needing to take the whole thing off. And once inside the car, the velcro spot on the top of the cover keeps the panel folded back safely. Another fantastic time saver.
As with anything once you’ve used it for a while, there are one or two niggles with the Doona. As a car seat, it is wonderful. It has been tested against all the necessary safety standards, and is the only seat of it’s kind with an award wining anti-rebound bar. That is all great. The fact that it has wheels is also great- it is a real time saver, and using it with the isofox base means that Elsie is in and out of the car in seconds. So the niggles I have are only slight, but worth a mention in the name of fairness. In wet and muddy conditions, I have yet to find a way to stop the wheels marking my clothes (as seen in the photo above) as I put the seat in the car! It would be too faffy to wipe them each time I use the seat, so I’ve yet to find a way around this! My other little niggle is that there is a slight rip to the raincover. As already mentioned, this has been used every single day so a little wear and tear is expected, but I really hope it lasts us!
Look out for my next Doona post, which will focus on the adventures we’ve been on, and how the Doona fits in with it all.