Infant Car seat review: Simple Parenting Doona

Price$500

Type: Infant seat, five-point harness.

Limits: up to 35 lbs., 32″.

NHTSA ease of use rating: Not yet.

Pros: It’s a car seat! It’s a stroller!

Cons: Heavy. Pricey. Dirty stroller wheels could muck up your car’s interior.

Comments: And now for something different . . . the first mash-up of an infant car seat and stroller.

Simple Parenting’s Doona is an infant car seat with a base that folds out to reveal stroller wheels—when the telescoping handle extends, you get an infant stroller.

Hong Kong-based Simple Parenting first debuted Doona in Europe and brought the presto-chango seat to the U.S. in 2015.

All this morphing is going to cost you—the Donna sells for a hefty $500. Considering our top picks for infant car seats run around $200, that’s quite a premium for the stroller feature. And those folks looking closely at the above picture will notice something missing from the stroller.

Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Give yourself a pat on the back if you said storage basket.  You’d think they’d throw that in for $500 . . . but no, that is an extra $55 (for the “essentials” bag that hooks to the handle) or $28 for a snap-on storage bag. An extra stay-in-the-car base (the Donna comes with one) is $120 and a few other accessories include a rain cover ($28) and an extended sun shade ($28). Worried the stroller’s wheels will drag muck into your car’s back seat? Doona offers wheel covers for $15 to “prevent stains and soiling” of your upholstery. And that’s one of Donn’a major drawbacks—if you roll through some muck in a parking lot, that could very well end up in your vehicle’s backseat.

We had a chance to play with a Donna prototype at a trade show and had to admit, the stroller morphing is impressive. But we could see one major drawback—the carrier weighed in at a jaw-dropping 15.5 lbs. Considering most infant car seats are in the 7-10 lbs. range, the Doona is a beast. Add in a 10 lb. baby, and we can imagine more than a few parents might have to wear a weight lifting belt to extract the Doona and baby from a car.

We realize the point of Donna is not to carry it around by the handle—and if you look at it from the point of a stroller, 15.5 lbs, isn’t that heavy. But since you are supposed to have a kid strapped in the Doona as you maneuver it . . .  and the company claims it can be used up to 35 lbs., you could quickly see how this heavy contraption might be too much for some.

So who would the Doona be best for? We’re thinking New York City parents who need an option for ubers, taxis and subways—the Doona can be installed without a base, with the European belt-path.

As for safety, Doona’s base features a load leg for stability in a crash. Add in the EPS foam and the handle that doubles as an anti-rebound bar and you’ve got an impressive car seat. In Consumer Reports latest crash tests, the Doona scored a “better” on a three-point scale (basic, better, best).  CR ranked the Doona in the middle of the pack among 30+ car seats tested.

Given the high price, this is obviously a niche product. Even though the Doona works up to 35 lbs., most babies will outgrow it before their first birthday. Then those parents have to go out and buy a stroller. Since stroller adapters are widely available, it makes more financial sense to buy an infant car seat and a compatible stroller. After baby outgrows the infant seat, you still have the stroller. When a baby outgrows the Doona, you have to buy a separate stroller.

Since its debut in 2015, the Doona hasn’t exactly set the world on fire, sales-wise. Availability is limited to small boutiques and a handful of online stores (not Amazon or other major baby gear sellers). We’ll give the Doona a B+ for its innovative design and good safety marks. But the high price makes the Doona a tough sell outside of urban environs where you walk more than drive.  Rating: B+