When it comes to days out as a family, we’re currently faced with a bit of an issue. We want a space for the baby to sleep quietly rather than keeping her in the carrier all day. We have to have a way of transporting the tired legs of a toddler who’s finally burnt off his morning energy. We need something to carry the mass of bags that a toddler and newborn require. It needs to fit in the car easily, not be too big and bulky but still be able to handle a little rougher terrain if required, it’d be great if the baby car seat could slot onto it and if we can find something that suits both mine and Dave’s difference in height then bonus points all round.
Totally reasonable, right? And yet so far we’ve not found the answer. I’m speaking as someone who currently owns six different buggies and is still struggling to find the right mix for our little fam. So, when we were offered the chance to try out the Maxi-Cosi Zelia, I’ll admit to being a little excited and more than a bit skeptical. Surely this little pushchair couldn’t do all that and look that good, could it? We headed off on a day out to put it to the test.
Introducing The Maxi-Cosi Zelia
The Zelia is Maxi-Cosi’s new addition to their pushchair range. Launched in November 2017, it’s designed to take you and your baby from birth through to around 3.5years (15kgs). A 2-in-1 seat unit switches easily between carrycot and pushchair seat in just a couple of clicks. It’s billed as an urban travel system and as such can be use with the Maxi-Cosi car seats using the included adaptors or folded down into two easy-to-store parts. What’s more, it weighs in at a featherweight 9.6kgs, retails for around £260 and is covered by their lifetime warranty. Not bad for a travel system packed full of useful features.
Let’s Start At The Beginning
From the minute I unpacked the box, I was pretty impressed. It’s easy to assemble and really intuitive, not that I’d expect anything less from the Maxi-Cosi brand. Every switch or button that you may need comes in a light grey colour, making it easy to see what you can adjust and how to do it. It took me less that ten minutes to go from cardboard box to fully functioning pushchair and that included reading the instructions as I went. The only slightly fiddly bit was clipping the hood in to place and even that didn’t take more than a couple of minutes. For a parent who lacks any form of time, this was a complete bonus. The pushchair was up, nap time was still in full flow and I even managed to sit in peace afterwards and admire my hard work.
Our Test Day Adventures
As mentioned, we decided to take the Maxi-Cosi Zelia for it’s test drive on a family day out at our local Wetlands. You know, really throw it into the deep end. The baby was due her nap so we could trial the carrycot side and I’ve been too many times without a pushchair to know that the toddler’s legs can’t quite manage the whole walk without hitching a lift at the end.
Space is at a premium in our car so I was pleased to find it fitted easily in the boot without taking up the whole thing. The base frame has a small clip that holds it in a tightly folded position, leaving you with an easy carry handle for lifting it in and out. Likewise, by sliding across a button and lifting a level at the base of the hood, the seat unit folds in half making it a really valid option for those with limited boot or home storage space.
Once we were there, we unclipped the base and it sprang into position. The seat unit slots easily into place on top and we were ready to go. As a test, we trialled the car seat in it first just to see what it would be like. A quick clip in of the adaptors allowed us to then slot the car seat into position, exactly how we would with our existing travel system. Brilliant. I usually find fitting our car seat a little tricky as it takes a while to click into place but on this system it was fast, easy and felt very secure. All logical things considering both the car seat and the base are Maxi-Cosi. As mentioned, the adaptors come as standard with the pushchair and will fit any Maxi-Cosi car seat (we have the Pebble Plus and confirm it works a treat), unfortunately other car seats are not compatible.
Testing aside, we popped the car seat back into the car and fitted the seat base in carry cot mode. To do this, you’d usually remove the seat padding and seat straps, something that’s easy to do, in order to make it as lie flat as possible. Given that we wanted to use it in ‘seat’ mode later in the trip, we left them in place, covered them in a light blanket and laid her in.
The carry cot is huge; nice and deep with plenty of leg space for our long twelve week old. With the cover clipped into place, we soon had a snug little sleep zone for the baby. Pulling the hood up and over, I realised that there’s a zip next to where the hood attaches to the seat, allowing you to extend the hood. It’s things like that that really make the Zelia stand out – little touches that show they’ve really thought about usability!
With the baby in and the toddler running wild, it was time to start our exploring. The first bit of the walk requires covering a rough stony track. The Zelia’s front wheels can be locked into place or left to swivel making covering different terrains that bit easier. It handled the stones with grace, even if things did look a bit bumpy for the baby. Surprisingly, it was then that she fell asleep so it must’ve worked! The Zelia’s an urban pushchair and whilst it did the job on the rough path, it wasn’t really what it was designed for. Definitely something to bear in mind if you’re looking for a more rough and ready system.
We climbed the fences to look for birds, raced our way up and down the paths, found animal prints on the floor and spotted trams making their way along the estuary. We even shared the pushing, thanks to an adjustable handle height making it comfortable for both Dave and I to have a push. The Wetlands were having a special day of bird tagging; catching the wild birds in large nets to careful log and tag them before releasing them. We got to meet the birds up close, see fish from the estuary and even watch the swans. Pulling the backpack from the (impressively large) basket under the pushchair, we had a quick picnic at the end before the baby woke and joined our party!
Switching the carrycot into seat mode is relatively straight forward. Reach under the sides of the carrycot and pull on the two clips either side before clipping them together. Then reach under the foot and clip those two buckles together – there’s your seat. Press the two grey circular buttons either side of the seat to rotate it to an upright position. This will give you a parent facing seat suitable for younger children. Push down the two pale grey buttons either side of the seat to release the seat unit and turn it round to be a forward facing seat; perfect for a tired toddler who wants to rest those worn out legs.
So, What Did We Think?
The Maxi-Cosi Zelia performed really well. It really was packed full of features that made me fall in love with it a little more at each step. I love the adjustable handle, the extendable hood, the fact that the bumper bar swings out of the way if you unclip one side making access incredibly easy. It’s got a huge basket that held our bag, blankets and the toddler’s coats with room to spare. The seat can easily be adjusted using a strap at the back, giving you a huge range of recline angles. There’s a flap in the hood for visibility, great padding on the seat unit and the lockable front wheels are an added bonus. It feels solid which is surprising given how compact it is when it’s folded and all of the fabrics feel tough and durable, with a bonus of leatherette handle and bumper bar. Like I said, it really is packed full of features.
Would I Buy One?
It’s a tough call because I genuinely loved the Maxi-Cosi Zelia. It fits a need for us but it’s definitely a pushchair that’s more suited to urban living given that it prefers a smooth surface to be pushed on. There are also a few quirks that I’m yet to quite get my head round – the brake is really strong and clicks into place easily (totally toddler proof!) but I couldn’t un-click it without reaching down to do it by hand. Likewise, the base unit folds up nicely but I struggle to keep the seat unit in a compact position in the car, although I think I just haven’t quite worked that bit out yet. It isn’t necessarily the neatest looking when it’s in seat mode, but I’d expect that given how flexible it is at recline angles and moving into a carrycot position. That said, those are the only bad things I can think of (and let’s face it, they’re hardly deal breakers!).
Weighing up that, versus the cost and usability of the system, I’d have to say that this is a really strong contender. Not only will it see you from birth through to toddlerhood but, as we’ve demonstrated, the flexibility to change from one need to another is there even midway through a day out. There’s no storing a carrycot in the boot of the car, no making a judgement as to whether you’ll need the toddler seat or not. It’s clever, it’s light and it’s backed with a lifetime guarantee from one of the leading brands in transportation of little ones. Still on the fence? It looks great too, what more could you ask for?!
To see how easy it is to assemble, you can watch our video over on YouTube. It’s a bit rough but I wanted to show you exactly what you have to do straight out of the box!