* Prices may differ from that shown
Once I had decided to buy a Maclaren Techno XLR for my new baby I had to decide whether to go for the carry cot or not. They cost around £65 to buy new but I got a pre owned although unused one from ebay for about £20. At this price it was very much worth it, but at the full price it would have been quite expensive for what it is. If you do decide to get one it is worth considering ebay before buying a new one. Although not that many of them come up, they are almost all described as excellent condition as they are used for such a short time.
The carry cot comes flat packed in a box and it made rigid with a thin board of wood slotted in for the base and strips of plastic slotted in the sides and secured with velcro. This makes it easy to take apart if you have limited space for transport, or for storage once you have finished using it.
It comes in a variety of colours to go with the colours available for the Techno XLR pushchair, although I had a grey one to go with the black and champagne (beige!) pushchair and it did not look out of place. The base and sides of the carrycot are padded, although the base did seem quite hard but my baby did not have any trouble sleeping in it during walks. According to the instructions it is not suitable for sleeping in for long periods, and you are not supposed to use an extra mattress with it. There is also a padded removable cover and hood which attach by zips so are easy to take on and off.
I found it a bit difficult to get the baby into the carrycot with the cover in place as it would fall back over the carrycot, so ended up having to fold it lengthways and tuck down the side to keep it in place whilst I put her in as I did not have an extra hand to hold the cover back out of the way! The hood could be folded down but I did find that it would blow down of its own accord in strongish winds.
You can not fit the pushchair raincover over the carrycot but I did not find this an issue as if the hood of the carrycot is up and you unzip the hood of the pushchair and fold it forwards it covered up the carrycot well in the event of rain.
The biggest drawback of the carrycot is the difficulty fitting it to the pushchair. It is secure when fitted as it has prongs that fit over the pushchair, a strap with clip that fixes underneath and rubber straps with holes that fit over bolts on the pushchair. The latter I found extremely difficult to do and it would always take me several minutes of struggling to get them fitted. This was not too much of a problem as I had the pushchair and carrycot up in the house most of the time, but be aware of it if you will need to remove the carrycot often to fold and store or transport the pushchair. Maybe it would get looser if it was removed and reattached a lot more often but I don't know.
In conclusion I was very glad I went for the carrycot and would recommend it if you are going to get the Techno XLR pushchair. I found it especially good as it was winter when my baby was using it so it was easy to add enough blankets to keep her warm without them falling out. She was able to stay in it for about four months but a larger baby may not get so much use from it. It was also good to be abe to have her facing me when she was so little as once she had to be moved to the main pushchair seat she has to face outwards.
As a new mother it was important to me to be able to see my baby when I was taking him out in his buggy and as I had bought a Mclaren buggy I bought the travel cot to enable me to do this. For a newborn baby the travel cot is a good size and because it was winter we managed to fit baby and a blanket into the cot. We did however think that the base could have a bit more padding so we also put in a mattress. Fortunately we had a spare one which fitted his Moses basket so therefore this fitted pretty well into the travel cot.
The cot is well designed and secure as it uses 3 fastenings. The first being plastic handles that clip into the front of the buggy, the second a belt with a buckle that ties underneath the buggy and finally rubber straps that fit over the metal buttons on the buggy. It is the latter that I struggled with. This may be due to the cold weather but sometimes I just couldn't stretch the straps over the buttons. Even my strong husband struggled. It may well be that these would loosen over time but our son has outgrown the cot now. My other difficulty was the strap as it buckles underneath the buggy. It can therefore be difficult to fasten sometimes if you are in a hurry as you can't see what you are doing.
The cot is light to carry which is a bonus and this helped us carry the cot indoors when the baby had fallen asleep in it whilst being pushed in the buggy. This is great as the golden rule is "Don't wake the baby!" as every parent knows. It matched well with our black and champagne buggy. There is also a little canopy to keep the sun out of your baby's eyes which is a nice touch.
The cot costs around £60 and given how happy I am with them Mclaren travel system I would buy it again for the comfort it gave me whilst my son was small enough to fit in it as it was lighter to carry than the car seat. If you are more cost conscious then it is worthwhile knowing that the Recarro car seat when fitted to the buggy will also give you a good view of your baby and your baby wont outgrow it as fast as the travel cot. If I hadn't struggled with the fastenings I would give it four stars but in this case it is just three.
We purchased the soft carry to go with our Techno XLR for our baby knowing full well she would be born while it was still cold and there fore requiring protection from the elements. We were also drawn by how compact and lightweight it was. It also matches the pushchair very well and looks good on there too. Being Black and Champagne we also felt this a good neutral colour were we to have a boy in the future.
It's not not all singing and dancing like other carry cots but then its no where near the price of other carry cots. Its smaller size made it perfect size to fit in our boot along side the pushchair and still leave us room for a couple of bags of shopping. Though lightweight (which is a god send when you have a sore back from being pregnant) its still strong enough to carry baby in and we frequently made use of this when our little one fell asleep after a walk. We were able to carry her in doors with no disturbances ensuring she got all the sleep she needed while very tiny. It's smaller than other carry cots but we didn't feel this was an issue and there was still room for her when she stopped using it at 4 months ( our little one was on the 50th centile all along, a bigger baby could grow out of this sooner) when she wanted to see the world. We did find that access to the shopping basket under the pushchair was restricted with this on as you can only access from the sides otherwise you disturb baby by having to tilt them. This means you can only put small things in the basket if you plan on taking them in and out while out and about, otherwise if your just wanting to carry something from a to b it wouldn't be an issue.
Attaching it to the pushchair can be a bit of a faff at first but once the rubber straps give a little and you get used to it it no longer becomes an issue (unless you have trouble bending down!). It kept our little girl nice and cosy while we were out with the dog at our very windy park. The canopy on it combined with the pushchair canopy kept the bright sun out of her eyes very nicely too. It also has a zip on cover to help keep in warmth. We thought the material may be a pain to clean so to avoid having to find out we lined the bottom with a folded muslin and found this worked really well and was much easier than having to scrub and wait for the carry cot to dry. There is no separate mattress in this like other carry cots but we never had any comfort issues and little one slept really well in it
We have now finished using the carry cot and very pleased we got it, having little storage space we found one more bonus to its style of construction. Its very easy to fold back down and store away for future babies.
The Maclaren Techno XLR Soft Carrycot is designed to convert the Maclaren Techno XLR Buggy into a rear-facing pram for newborn babies. The buggy itself is already marketed as being suitable from birth as it fully reclines to allow the baby to face back, however the carrycot attachment enables you to see your baby and communicate with them.
We received the buggy and carrycot as a prize in a free draw that we entered at the baby show. I don't think I'd have purchased it myself, although we were considering one of the simpler Maclaren strollers as a replacement for our falling apart Silver Cross Pop, as we were not really looking for a newborn pram at the time due to planning to re-use our Mamas and Papas Ultima. However, we were delighted to win the prize and have actually used the soft carrycot far more than I expected to. I am now using the buggy itself as my everyday pram but I will review that separately once I've been able to analyse how well it performs over a longer period of time.
* About the Product *
The Maclaren Techno XLR Soft Carrycot is designed for babies up to six months of age, although it is significantly smaller than carrycots such as the ones for the Mamas and Papas Ultima and the Bugaboo Chameleon. Because of the smaller size of the carrycot, I personally believe it is probably only suitable for babies up to about four months unless they are very small. My daughter is an average size (slightly below the 50th centile on the growth spurts) and she was barely fitting in it length-ways by the time she was four months. The carrycot is made from fabric with thick cardboard side and base panels to maintain the structure without adding any unnecessary weight. The outside of the carrycot is made from the same fabric as the rest of the buggy and the inside is a quilted, suede-like fabric, providing a soft and cosy place for your baby to lie completely flat. It comes in three different colour-ways - ours is black and champagne, so the outside is black and the quilted interior is champagne, but you can also buy it in chocolate / champagne and in what is described by Maclaren as 'charcoal and penguin' (looks like dark and light grey). It is extremely light and easy to move around using the fabric straps on either side. It also has a small hood to protect your baby from the elements.
* Fitting the Carrycot *
As previously stated, the carrycot fits on to the Maclaren Techno XLR Buggy. The first time I attempted to fit it on to the buggy was a bit of a struggle, but it is a process which becomes quicker and easier the more you do it. Basically, you need to prepare the buggy for the carrycot first by detaching and folding down the side wings - a very fiddly process involving undoing some very stiff little button fastenings). You only have to do this once though - you can fold / unfold the buggy with the side wings down so I would highly recommend not re-attaching them until you are ready to use the buggy on its own. To fit the carrycot, you need to fully recline the buggy and then flip out the metal feet on either side of the carrycot. These rest on the frame of the buggy and ensure that the carrycot is in a true lie-flat position. You then attach some strong rubber straps to pegs at the side of the buggy and clip a fabric strap together underneath. Initially I found it very difficult to fasten the rubber straps to the pegs as they are extremely stiff but they did loosen up with time. The carrycot feels very secure once properly fitted to the buggy - I was slightly worried about whether it would feel safe to bump it down stairs or lift it on and off public transport, but it was always fine. The only issue with doing that was that the baby isn't strapped into the carrycot itself, so you do need to be very careful to keep them lying flat, otherwise they slide around.
* Advantages *
The major advantage of this carrycot for me was that it created a relatively lightweight pram which was perfect for taking on and off public transport. Living in London, I tend to use the buses and tubes frequently, and that was always a bit of a nightmare with my enormous Ultima. This pram only takes up as much space as a typical stroller so it is far easier to fit it on the bus or negotiate the stairs at the station. It also provided a cosy ride for my daughter - she always seemed very comfortable in the carrycot and I felt reassured by the fact that I could see her. It was also perfect for travelling with - we went to Disneyland Paris by Eurostar and TGV train and had no problems taking it with us. We also could hook the carrycot over the back of the buggy using the handles, put the baby in the sling and let our three year old have a rest in the buggy when all the walking round Disney got too much for him.
* Issues *
Conversely, while the small size of this carrycot is a positive in the ways described above, it is also a negative issue. The carrycot is simply not big enough for a baby aged over about four months and you may end up using the pram in stroller mode more quickly than you'd ideally like to. It is also very narrow and hard to get blankets into in colder weather. Additionally, it is not suitable for the baby to sleep in overnight, unlike the carrycots on some bigger travel systems which you can use instead of a moses basket. The other issue is that when the pram is fully reclined to enable the carrycot to be fitted, you can't use the shopping basket underneath at all. This means hanging shopping bags off the pram handles and the combined weight of baby and carrycot isn't enough to counter-balance the weight of the backs so there is a danger of the pram tipping over. In retrospect, this seems to be a problem that the pram itself has regardless of whether the carrycot is attached and I would suggest putting some kind of weight into the pram basket prior to reclining the seat / fitting the carrycot if you do intend to hang shopping off the handlebars.
* Cost *
The soft carrycot itself costs £65.in black or charcoal and £80 in the chocolate / champagne colourway. The buggy costs approx. £250. I think this represents fairly good value for money despite the relatively short life-span of the carrycot, as you will be using the buggy itself for a long period of time.
* Final Thoughts *
I would definitely recommend this carrycot if you are planning to purchase the Maclaren Techno XLR Buggy anyway. It provides a comfortable, cosy little cocoon for your baby in those precious newborn days, it fits well into the back of an average-sized car, is ideal for travelling with a young baby and is relatively straight-forward to assemble. Just bear in mind that it really won't last that long - my son was a big baby and I honestly don't believe he'd have lasted more than three months in it, which I would have considered too young to go forward-facing. My daughter, on the other hand, was more than ready to look out at the world at four months - she is very alert and interested in what is going on around her - and I had no issues with moving her out of the carrycot once she outgrew it.
* Review also posted on Ciao as Brownie_Queen