Maxi-Cosi Pebble 360 and Pearl 360 Review
Founded in the Netherlands in 1984, Maxi-Cosi created the first infant car seat with comprehensive safety features on the European market. Today their car seats are recognisable to most parents and are known for their rigorous testing and great safety ratings. We are taking a look at their brand new 360 Family - the Pebble 360 and Pearl 360 that can take you in a spin from birth to around 4 years old.
We love that even though it's a brand new product, with new technology, Maxi-Cosi haven't increased the price of the Pebble 360, both that and the base are the same price as the previous version - £199 each. Having an infant carrier with a swivel feature can make life so much easier. It's a modular system so even if you use the Pearl 360 first or after your infant carrier, you've got that rotation to the car door to help get little one in and out. Babies are soon too heavy to carry in their infant carrier, but you've still got that great feature once you need to leave it in the car. Everything about the 360 Family is simple to use and operates without a hitch. The red to green indicators give you the reassurance that everything is installed correctly before you set off on your travels. Being able to use the Pearl 360 from birth now will be a great solution for lots of parents that don't think they need an infant carrier and offers longevity up to 4 years old. It's also brilliant that you can use it rear-facing for the entire time too as it is 5 times safer for them to stay rear-facing for longer. Once outgrown at 105cm, they should be around the age to move to a forward facing high back booster.
- Simple to use
- Easy to install
- Modular system
- One-handed rotation
- Ventilation built in
- Offers extended rear-facing
- Great comfort for baby
- Pearl 360 has a maximum weight of 17.5kg
Something that is so popular at the moment in the car seat world is rotating car seats, and the new 360 Family is Maxi-Cosi's modular offering to this category.
Whether you choose to use the Pebble 360 first and then upgrade to the Pearl 360, or use the Pearl 360 from birth, they both use the same ISOFIX base, the FamilyFix 360. This modular system is designed to evolve with your family.
Installing the FamilyFix 360 base couldn't be easier. Just sit the base on your vehicle seat, extend the ISOFIX arms with the buttons one side at a time, and push them to connect to your ISOFIX points. Once connected, you'll see the indicators on the arms turn green. Next, push the base so that it is flush with the backrest of the vehicle car seat and then extend your support leg until the indicator turns to green on the foot.
You will see a grey switch on the top of the base in the centre. This is the TravelSafe rotation lock which is there to ensure safe rearward-facing up to at least 15 months. Once switched to rear-facing, it won't allow the car seat to be spun forwards. If using the Pebble 360 with the base, it will always stay in the rear-facing position. If you are using it with the Pearl 360, you would keep the switch to rear-facing until at least 15 months as per the i-Size regulation. The seat will also rear-face for the entire time you use it too, which is great! Once you're ready to forward face, you have to make the conscious decision to flip the switch to allow the car seat to forward face. A great idea to prevent misuse if someone is not used to the car seat and keep your little one rear-facing for longer. Spinning to forward from rear-facing once you've moved the switch is done with one hand using the lever at the side.
If you decide to go with an infant carrier for your child's first car seat, the Pebble 360 is a great option. You can either belt it in the car using the vehicle seat belt in the usual way - lap over lap, horizontal around the back, or pop it onto your FamilyFix 360 base! If belting in, you might notice that the belt guides are now green rather than the previous blue. This is inline with the new i-Size regulation and shows there is only one way of installation. It sits onto the base easily and changes to the green indicator on the side of the base and clicks, once attached securely.
When travelling in the car, your handlebar needs to be in the upright position and ideally your hood covering the child too, to act as another barrier in a collision.
To take the Pebble 360 back out of the car once you reach your destination, just lift the handle at the front of the FamilyFix 360 base and lift up with the infant carrier handle.
If using the ISOFIX base with the Pearl 360, it is just as easy. Pop the car seat on the base until it clicks and you see the green indicator! Removing again is done with the button at the front of the base. If you struggle at all, which we didn't, you can look under the seat to find the bars to line up with the correct place to put it on your base.
As an i-Size infant carrier, the Pebble 360 uses height to judge when a child can use it. The height of the baby for this car seat is 40-83cm, which is from birth up to approx. 15 months, but still with a maximum weight of 13kg. Once baby reaches any of these maximums, or their head comes out of the top of the seat, then it is time to move onto their next stage car seat. It's great to see that the Pebble 360 can be used for longer, as many of Maxi-Cosi's previous infant carriers have been up to a maximum of 75cm, which is around a year old.
One of the biggest advantages of using the Pebble 360 along with the new FamilyFix 360 base is the fact that it can rotate to the car door to make it easier to load and unload your little one. There aren't many infant carriers on the market that can do this! It's also not long before they get too heavy to lift and carry them anywhere in the seat, even when the seat only weighs just over 4kg!
It's easy to swivel the car seat to the side using the lever at the side of the base. This can be done smoothly with one hand and there's a lever at each side depending on which side of the car you have the base installed in. When the car seat is in the side loading position, your indicator on the lever will be red to remind you that it isn't safe for travel. As soon as you put back to rear-facing, it changes to green for go!
Nestled inside of the car seat is the beautiful newborn insert. Used from birth up to 60cm, the new baby-hugg inlay is one piece that keeps baby in a more comfortable and flat position for their development. Once removed it's a deeper seat to cater for an older baby. Hidden under the insert is a headrest that stays in place in the seat during the whole period of use. It has a little circle loop at the top which you pull to move up and down to make sure that the harness is always the correct level for little one - level or just below their shoulders. This is a much easier way than having to rethread your harness.
Securing baby into their car seat is the three point harness. Very cleverly designed, it's an easy-in harness that holds itself up out of the way to make it easier to get your little one in without sitting them on the straps. The button to release the harness length is just below the buckle and you can tighten again by pulling the strap. It's really easy to adjust to the correct tightness for your child - just make sure you can get two fingers under their harness pads, but not rotate them.
You'll notice that the panels on the side of the Pebble 360 have had a massive upgrade from the Pebble Pro and have perforated material. This is a special ClimaFlow and breathable foam that helps air circulation and keep baby at an optimal temperature in both the cold and warmer weather!
As Maxi-Cosi's focus is always the safety of their car seats, you know that there are lots of great safety features added to any of their products. To pass the latest R129/03 regulation, the Pebble 360 has to be able to protect little one in a side impact collision or rollover, as well as front and rear collisions. The Pebble 360 has G-CELL technology hidden in the side of the seat to add great side-impact protection and is like small hexagonal shapes which spread the energy force. Think about it like a football net!
The ergonomic carry handle of the car seat makes it really comfortable to transport little one to and from the car. It has three different positions - from upright for carrying and travelling in the car, back to be level with the seat to make it easier to access baby and all the way back to keep it stable if used on the floor. There are now tabs on either side of the handle which you can press to adjust smoothly.
The independent hood on the Pebble 360 is a great improvement from previous models! You can move it back and forth and it keeps its shape with the plastic rim. The main part of the hood is made from a stretchy material to keep baby protected from the sun and wind when outside and shaded when in the car. It also does a great job of being another barrier from anything flying around the car in a collision.
Being an infant carrier, lots of people will want to use their car seat on their pushchair chassis. The Maxi-Cosi Pebble 360 can be used on lots of different pushchair brands with the universal adaptors, including their own pushchairs. We would just advise that newborn babies aren't kept in their car seat for longer than 30 minutes at a time for the first 6-8 weeks of their life, as it's not a great position for their airways and spine development. Once they are older the time frame moves to 2 hours when they'll need taking out to feed, change or stretch out.
The fabrics used on the Pebble 360 are beautiful and soft against baby's delicate skin and come in four lovely colours. We've been testing the Essential Grey which we love!
The Pearl 360 has had some dramatic changes from its previous version. Thanks to the cushy new baby-hugg inlay, it can now be used from birth, 40cm, right up 105cm and a maximum weight of 17.5kg.
If you use it from birth, the newborn insert is really thickly padded and in once piece. With a head section, wedge and body piece with side supports too. Your little one needs this in the seat up to 60cm, which is usually around 3-4 months old. It can then be removed to create a larger space for a growing baby and older toddler.
The easy-in, five point harness helps to keep it out of the way while you pop baby in. We found this to be a great addition to the seat and made day to day use much simpler. It's easy to adjust the harness by pressing the button under the buckle to extend and then just pulling the strap to tighten again.
The headrest of the Pearl 360 has a button at the back so that you can squeeze and move it up or down. Perfect for older children, the highest position allows a child of up to 105cm to sit comfortably. The harness moves along with it too to get the right position for them - level or just below for rear-facing, level or just above when forward facing.
As it's used in conjunction with the same FamilyFix 360 base, parents who have used the Pebble 360 first will be more than used to how to install and use the base.
We LOVE that the Pearl 360 can be used rear-facing for the entire time from birth to around 4 years old - it's five times safer for them after all. With the clever feature of the TravelSafe rotation lock on the base, it prevents misuse. Have it switched to 0-15 months and it will only spin your car seat into the rear-facing position, push it the other way and it will allow your seat to forward face. It's nice to have the switch there for parents to make a conscious decision to change their child to a forward facing position once they are old enough, and a minimum of 15 months.
Placing a baby or toddler in the seat and securing is made so much easier with the one handed rotation. Same as with the Pebble 360, just press the lever at the side and swivel in the direction of your choice. Whether you have your little one reclined for naps or in a more upright position, the rotation is possible in them all and it's handy to do when side facing so you don't have to reach behind the seat.
Children can get really sweaty in their car seats on warm days and Maxi-Cosi have added breathable foam and fabrics to the seat to combat this. The ClimaFlow panels built into the backrest and perforated material at the bottom, ensure air is able to circulate and keep them at an optimum temperature.
As with the Pebble 360, the Pearl has safety features aplenty to ensure that it adheres to the R129 regulation and keeps your child safe in a collision. G-CELL Side Impact Protection lines the sides of the seat. This is the honeycomb shapes that help to disperse the energy in the event of a collision.
We love that even though it's a brand new product, with new technology, Maxi-Cosi haven't increased the price of the Pebble 360, both that and the base are the same price as the previous version - £199 each.
Having an infant carrier with a swivel feature can make life so much easier. It's a modular system so even if you use the Pearl 360 first or after your infant carrier, you've got that rotation to the car door to help get little one in and out. Babies are soon too heavy to carry in their infant carrier, but you've still got that great feature once you need to leave it in the car.
Everything about the 360 Family is simple to use and operates without a hitch. The red to green indicators give you the reassurance that everything is installed correctly before you set off on your travels.
Being able to use the Pearl 360 from birth now will be a great solution for lots of parents that don't think they need an infant carrier and offers longevity up to 4 years old. It's also brilliant that you can use it rear-facing for the entire time too as it is 5 times safer for them to stay rear-facing for longer. Once outgrown at 105cm, they should be around the age to move to a forward facing high back booster.
We just wish that they'd kept the maximum weight at 18kg, rather than 17.5kg as more and more children are reaching this sooner. If their child outgrows the seat earlier, parents may then be tempted to move their child into an unsuitable car seat sooner, or have to buy another seat for extended harness use until they are safe to use a high back booster, which we wouldn't recommend doing until at least 4 years old. Just a point to consider if you know you have a child on the higher weight centile.
If you're after an infant carrier that can work in a modular system with a next stage seat, all on the same ISOFIX base that also allows the ease of a rotation feature - definitely take a look at the new 360 Family from Maxi-Cosi.
Also, keep an eye out for another addition to the family - the Coral 360! Fitting on the same base, it features a light removable insert to carry baby in.