Wersha Bharadwa is an award-nominated journalist and iVillage.co.uk blogger. She’s expecting her first baby, and wants you to join her on her adventure from pregnancy to parenting with plenty of insights, ideas, inspiration and must-have products. You can also catch Wersha at her personal website Wersha's World.
The ride of a newborn's life
It was when I had the Maxi-Cosi Pebble car seat delivered back in August 2012 that suddenly this whole I’m-bringing-a-baby-home thing became properly real for me. As much as I had quite a few baby ‘essentials’ in terms of what new mums put on their checklists, there really isn’t much a newborn needs right away except a mother’s loving arms, milk (either via bottle or breast), clothes, a Moses basket or cot to sleep in and a car seat.
Out of all of the items, a car seat is now legally required for each and every child travelling in the UK and is key to taking baby home. The Maxi-Cosi Pebble is a Group 0+ infant carrier and is suitable from birth until baby reaches 13kg in weight (which is approximately between 10 – 12 months in age.) Because I hadn’t found out the sex of the baby, I chose the Intense Red coloured seat, but other colour and design options include Confetti, Total Black, Walnut Brown, Sweet Cerise, Graphic Purple and Maxi-Cosi have a list of approved vehicles which are compatible with their infant carriers listed online.
Because this is the baby's primary car seat and we wanted it to be used in grandparents' cars too, it was really important that it was easily transferable between different cars. The Pebble isn't the lightest seat on the market - weighing in at 4.1kg - but it definitely is one of the sturdiest, made with outstanding quality. There are other seats out there weighing much more and feeling significantly less robust than the Pebble, which gave me peace of mind in choosing this particular seat.
My mother’s car doesn’t have Isofix but the belt system on the Pebble is easy enough – even on cold, wet days she managed to get the belt secured around the child’s seat in less than two minutes. A friend who has a two-door car no longer uses her Isofix as she feels the ease of strapping the seat in via the seatbelt suits her and her daughter perfectly. For me, however, the Family Fix Isofix has provided peace of mind and quick and easy securing of the boy into the car.
The bonus with the Family Fix Isofix is that while it is dearer than the Cabriofix base, it upgrades to fit a Group 1 car seat. With the Isofix, securing the car seat takes even less time. At first it took me a while how to figure out installing the Isofix but after a bit of practice it became a doddle. I can now secure him in his car seat secured onto the Isofix in under 10 seconds. Granted, for first-time mums it takes a bit of getting used to. I mean, there is a LOT to learn when it comes to modern technology and 21st-century babies.
The height of the Pebble means baby can look out of the window in a rear-facing seat, and the colour and sound indicators on the Isofix base help parents to know the seat has been attached both safely and properly. The seat covers can be stripped and washed really easily too - as any new mum can tell you, babies love to leak! So far, fingers crossed, me and the boy have managed to keep the seat intact but I'm sure that will change once he's a bit older and handling bits of food while I sing nursery rhymes with him.
As the main focus on child safety is the fact the car seat must be comfortable and strap an infant in securely, I had no problems. With some other seats there are problems of squirming infants being able to hoist little arms outside of the straps but this isn't a problem with the Pebble. While I initially didn't like the idea of rear-facing car seats (because I like to see how little one is doing, especially when I need to reassure him if he is crying) , I'm now in the camp that they are much safer than forward-facing car seats as the back seat of the car offer cushioning support. The UK government officially recommends keeping babies in rear facing seats until the age of 12 months.
The three point strap system is sturdy. The shape reminds me of a little cocoon which I guess must be part of the intention of giving babies a ‘womb-like’ environment. What many friends have commented on with my car seat is how snug The Boy looks inside. He certainly never fails to have a snooze inside his seat, and loves that it enables him to sit quite upright too. For babies with reflux, the seat also tilts well on the Isofix for more comfort.
In terms of accessories, I particularly liked the head-hugging pillow for added newborn spinal support as it helps hold the baby up in a more upright position. The comfort pads where the straps sit on a baby’s shoulders and chest to help lessen the pull of the strap on a soft and delicate newborns body and bones and are also removable and washable.
Also as I write heavily about travel and intend to take my little star around the globe with me, I am further reassured by the size of the Maxi Cosi Pebble being able to fix onto airplane seats and how well-padded it is. Children can sit on your lap but if you prefer they can sit on their own strapped into a car seat.
I chose Maxi Cosi as it is a trusted brand, and fits most new 3-in-1 travel systems (where you attach a car seat, carry cot and pushchair to a chaussese). Sure it’s not cheap, but the fact it fits on to such a wide range of pushchairs too makes it a practical and essential purchase I have not regretted. With the boy as a three-day-old newborn leaving the hospital for the first time, the seat belt sat flush on my little tester’s shoulders and chest.
The belt is fully adjustable and springs back automatically, and the top handle can be pushed back to make getting your baby inside the seat simple. I've looked at other car seat models where this isn't the case and having tested them would not recommend due to the fussiness, especially when you have an infant who likes to kick enthusiastically whenever he is about to go into his car seat!
Maxi-Cosi Pebble retails from £160.00 and is available nationwide at Mothercare, John Lewis, Kiddicare, Toys R Us, and Halfords. The Family Fix Isofix retails from £160.00. For more information visit the Maxi-Cosi page on Facebook where you can chat online with other parents and have questions answered at. Or visit the website at www.maxi-cosi.com.