Heavy, but Well-Appointed
Very safe, easy to use and adjust, convenient.
Heavy and bulky, short period of use.
The Bottom Line:
It's a great seat. Heavy and a bit bulky, yes, but extremely safe and user-friendly.
There are so many choices for infant car seats. You can use a convertible seat or choose separate infant and toddler seats. There are inexpensive ones, while others are pricey enough that frankly, for that price, they should not just keep my kid safe, but change his diapers and do the laundry too. There are plenty in the middle price range as well, but how to distinguish them from one another?
We used a convertible seat with our first son, and I envied every other parent I saw carrying their peacefully sleeping baby in a carrier. After my sister and her husband used a Chicco KeyFit with their child and I learned that it was the top rated seat by Consumer Reports, I decided this was the perfect infant carrier for us this time around.
The Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat comes in two parts, the seat itself and the base.
- holds a baby 4-30 pounds, heavier than many infant carriers, and up to 30 inches tall
- 5-point restraint harness
- can be used with or without the base (using a locking seat belt)
- newborn inserts to comfortable cradle a smaller baby
- attaches to base with two audible "clicking" sounds, allowing you to be sure seat is safely and correctly placed
- compatible with many Chicco strollers
- includes canopy and rain visor
- LATCH system
- shoulder belt lock-off to keep shoulder belt from moving or loosening if using in place of LATCH system
- "reclining foot" that can be adjusted to provide proper angle
- level bubble which shows when base is correctly positioned
- storage pocket for LATCH connectors when not in use
- storage compartment in the back of the base that holds the User Guide
When the base is installed, it must be level. Instead of having to guess if it's level, as with most seats, the Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat includes a level bubble that shows when the seat is correctly reclined. To adjust the angle of the base to level it, you simply push the two recline buttons while lifting the seat. This causes the "recline foot" or "level foot" to pop out from the bottom of the seat. When the bubble in the leveler is centered between the two arrows, you're good to go!
The LATCH system on this seat uses buckles, as opposed to earlier models of the system that used hooks. To attach, you simply find the LATCH anchor bars in your car, then push the LATCH buckles or connectors, as they call them, onto the anchor bars. You can hear them click when they attach, same as a seat belt buckling. Once the connectors are in place, the straps can be easily tightened using the LATCH pull strap. The buckles have a release just like a seat belt buckle release, making them easy to detach. When not in use, the LATCH connectors are stored in pockets in the base, keeping them from interfering with seat when using a belt. Once the seat is levelled and the LATCH connectors are fastened, the base is ready to go.
If you're driving a car made before 2002, then you may not have the LATCH system. Installation with a lap or shoulder belt is almost as simple as using the LATCH system. You follow the same steps to level the base, then thread the seat belt through the openings in the seat, securing a shoulder belt by using the shoulder belt lock-off, which is basically a place on the seat into which you wedge the shoulder belt so it cannot loosen. Easy as pie!
The Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat is easy to use. The newborn insert provide a snug fit for babies as small as 4 pounds, but can be easily removed as your child grows. The head support and body insert can be used separately, so you can still use the head support even after your child is big enough to no longer need the body insert (which is intended for use from 4-11 pounds.) I continued using the head support until my son was about 4 months old, but I still use it for longer car trips when I know he'll be sleeping.
The straps can be adjusted to 3 different heights to fit your growing baby. Changing the straps is a relatively easy task, but it requires flipping the seat over, detaching the straps from the splitter, pulling them through the pad, reinserting them through the correct slot, and then reattaching them to the strap splitter.
Once the straps are the correct height, adjusting the straps is a breeze. You loosen the straps by pressing the adjuster button at the front of the seat and pulling on both straps. To tighten, simply pull the adjuster strap (located immediately below the adjuster button.) The straps loosen and tighten easily, sliding well without catching.
The seat is incredibly easy to use with the base. Once your child is strapped in, you set the seat on the base and push down. When it's installed correctly, you'll hear it go "Click! Click!" at it locks into both the front and back of the base. Removing the seat is also relatively simple. Depress the release button while lifting up the seat. I have found that unless you lift straight up, the seat can fail to release. This can be frustrating when your hands are full. The straps can be adjusted while the seat is snapped into the base; just be careful not to trap the adjuster strap between the seat and the base when you snap in the seat.
The seat can be used without the base by fastening a seat belt under belt guides on the seat, but I've never used it this way.
A sun canopy and rain visor are included. The canopy attaches easily and the rain visor folds back under the canopy when not in use. The canopy is, unfortunately, a bit small. It does not seem to ever adequately shade my son's face. I have also found that the width of the shade when it is pushed back interferes with moving the carrier handle into the store position (even with the top of the seat) or in the stand position (all the way back, bracing the seat on the ground behind it.) Repositioning the handle requires depressing the buttons on both sides of the seat, making it a task that is impossible to do with one hand.
We have not yet needed to remove the seat cover for washing, as thus far any messes we've had have easily wiped up or been spot cleaned. As we've had it for only around 5 months, I cannot speak to long-term durability, but so far there have been no loose threads, no fraying, etc.
+ Extremely safe - number one according to Consumer Reports.
+ Easily adjustable straps
+ Simple installation of seat and base
+ Flexibility of installation method
+ Level bubble lets you know correct angle for installation
+ Separate newborn head and body inserts
+ Wide weight range (4-30 lbs)
+ Buckles on LATCH straps
+ Self-contained storage for LATCH straps and buckles and User Guide
+ Convenient - You don't have to wake a sleeping baby!
+ Audibly clicks when correctly placed in base
+ Less expensive than many other seats with high safety ratings.
- HEAVY. Seriously. The seat alone weighs about 10 pounds. That may not sound like much, but once you add a baby, it gets pretty hefty, pretty fast.
- Sun canopy too small, yet still manages to make repositioning carry bar difficult.
- Takes two hands to reposition carry bar.
- Takes two hands to remove from base.
- Can only be used for around a year. That's not terribly long considering the price.
- Bulky. This could be a problem with smaller cars.