• Longevity—fits babies 4 to 30 pounds
• Easy to install
• Comfortable padding
• Easy to wash
• On the heavy side
If you’re in search of an easy-to-install infant car seat you don’t have to think about, one that works as a travel system with your stroller and will carry baby through to toddlerhood, the Chicco KeyFit 30 will fit the bill.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Ready to register? Shop our catalog for the Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat.
Before baby no. 2 arrived, I’d heard that 1) most parents install their baby’s car seat incorrectly, putting them at risk for injury, and 2) Chicco KeyFit 30 was really easy to install. So I was sold right away. I was even more sold when my brother and sister-in-law handed down my nephew’s KeyFit 30 to us—it was what I was already going to buy! ( Ed Note: We’re all for reusing and recycling, but when it comes to car seats, you’re much safer buying new. If you do choose to go with a used one, make sure you check that it’s never been recalled, that it isn’t past its expiration date, and that you get it from someone you trust who can tell you whether or not it’s ever been in a crash.)
The 30 in the name refers to the maximum weight limit (in pounds) that the KeyFit can hold. When used with the infant insert, it accommodates babies as little as four pounds, so on the scale of infant car seat longevity, this one is definitely high on the list. To put it into perspective, my 18-month-old isn’t quite 30 pounds yet, so that’s a year and a half of use.
Features like the RideRight bubble level indicators, which are located on both sides of the base, help ensure the base of the seat is easily and accurately installed at the proper angle. It’s used in conjunction with the ReclineSure spring-assisted leveling foot, again guaranteeing the seat is safely adjusted. A five-point harness with easy one-hand tightening and a push button chest clip keep baby secure. Plus, the cushioned seat is lined with energy-absorbing foam for extra safety and comfort.
The only feature I wish was different on the KeyFit is the sun canopy. There’s an extra sun visor that pulls out from underneath the canopy, but I still feel that my son’s legs get too much sun in the backseat of the car or while he’s in the stroller.
The KeyFit 30 definitely lives up to its reputation as being easy to install. You simply take the two LATCH connectors on the car seat base, clip them into the LATCH connectors of your car and then tighten the center pull belt (they call it the SuperCinch One-pull LATCH Tightener to be exact). Admittedly, I’m kind of a weakling, so getting it tight enough takes a fair amount of effort on my part, but it’s really straightforward. Two buttons on the sides of the base allow you to tilt the seat until it’s level, indicated by the RideRight bubbles mentioned above. (If you needed to, you can also install the base using your vehicle seat belt or install the car seat without the base.)
When you put the seat over the base, it clicks right into place so you can hear that it’s connected properly. (I had a car seat in the past that was sometimes difficult to connect, so this was such a nice change.) To unlock it from the base, just pull the handle at the back of the seat and take the seat out of the car.
To create our own travel system, we used our KeyFit 30 with a Baby Jogger City Mini GT stroller. The car seat is compatible with a majority of Chicco strollers, including the Bravo, Cortina Magic, Urban and TRE, but since we had a different brand, we had to purchase and use a car seat adapter. That was no big deal; it was just one extra step (taking the adapter on and off) and required a teeny bit more space in the trunk. The City Mini stroller with the KeyFit 30 was a little top heavy and big, but it fit just fine. Sometimes I just had to double-check that the seat was clicked properly into the stroller. While on vacation, we also used the KeyFit 30 with a Baby Trend Snap-N-Go, and they worked quite well together. (The KeyFit is a great universal car seat that adapts to a ton of other brands as well, like UPPAbaby, Bugaboo, Joovy, BOB and Britax, to name a few).
I liked the fact that you can use the KeyFit 30 up to 30 pounds, but realistically you won’t be able to use it as a carrier all the way until that weight limit. While my son does still fit in it at 18 months, we haven’t picked up the whole seat with him in it since he was about 9 months old. The seat itself is just under 10 pounds (17 pounds with the base). Add to that your growing baby’s weight, and then try carrying baby in the car seat using a one-handed grip—it’s no easy feat!
As I mentioned, our KeyFit 30 was a hand-me-down and a year and a half after receiving it, it’s still going strong. It has some stains on the strap and we’re using off-brand strap pads since we lost the originals, but there’s really no wear and tear on the seat.
The KeyFit 30 isn’t too exciting in terms of looks. But seriously, it’s a car seat and it’s okay with me if it’s less about form and more about function. Though the fabric we have is an older gray geometric pattern, there are nine fabric options in brighter colors and trendier patterns you can pick from.
We used the infant insert to protect his head for quite a while because it seemed to be better than letting his head tilt to the side all the time. The fabric seems very comfortable for my son—he often falls asleep in the seat. Best of all, you can take the fabric off the seat and machine wash it, which, as any parent who has used a car seat before knows, is a crucial feature.
You seriously can’t go wrong with the Chicco KeyFit 30. There’s a good reason it’s consistently rated one of the top car seats on the market. It may be no-frills, but who needs frills? You want a safe seat that isn’t going to take you an hour to install and that doesn’t slow you down when you’re on the go. With the KeyFit, you won’t ever have to think about your car seat, and that’s the beauty of it.