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Chicco KeyFit Car Seat Review

Price $219

Echelon$$$$

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Weight: 9.6 lbs

“Old Faithful” — the Chicco (pronounced KEE-ko, it’s Italian!) KeyFit is rated #1 by consumers on multiple 3rd party sites, including Consumer Reports. And we agree! The KeyFit is a high-quality, beautifully designed car seat that won’t break the bank.

This seat is best known for ease of installation, safety, and fit (trust me, after doing many car seat checks for my CPST certification, I totally concur).

I love how easy it is to tighten and loosen the straps on this seat. It has a removable newborn insert, a decent canopy and best of all, the “SuperCinch” Latch Connectors (on certain models), which believe me, are the most amazing thing in the world (same as found on the NextFit). Yes, this seat is ridiculously easy to install — whether you are using a seatbelt or LATCH — and that, my friends, means a lot to a new (frightened?) parent. This seat has extremely high user ratings – and I almost never hear about defects.

It’s also a favorite for transporting preemies (babies 4+ lbs) home from the NICU.

You should know there are two basic KeyFit lines: the “30” and the newer, more upscale “35”. Let’s break it down.

The 30

The 30 is the entry level seat, but it’s their bread and butter. If you have a little over $200 to spend, the Chicco KeyFit 30 is tried and true.

The only downside is that the “30” does not have a no rethread harness, so you’ll have to remove the splitter plate on the back and manually re-feed the straps through the taller slots as your baby grows. All KeyFit 30 seats are this way, even the 2 upgrade models. Something to consider if you think this process of changing the strap heights every few months will be annoying (I personally don’t think it’s a big deal, but some parents like to have every bell and whistle).

Note that the base model also comes in a “ClearTex” (what is ClearTex?) version (for the same price, $219). ClearTex is a blend of polyester fibers that are inherently fire-resistant, with no additional chemical fire retardants added. This “FR free” thing is a newer trend in the baby product/car seat world, as parents have begun to care more about the toxic chemicals some juvenile products are treated with in order to meet flammability standards.

If I were a betting woman, I would wager that all of their seats will soon be this way (ClearTex), and right now they are just phasing out the original version.

KeyFit 30 Upgrades

The two upgrade models are the Zip and AirZip.

We love the KeyFit 30 “Zip.” For 20 extra bucks ($239), you get a super easy-to-remove seat pad (you’ll understand how key this is when your kid yacks all over it) and an all-season “boot” (great for cold winters). Worth the extra $20? In this case, yessss.

If you live in a warm/hot climate, check out the KeyFit 30 Zip Air. It has 3D AirMesh breathable backrest, which reduces the sweat factor for your baby in the summer heat. Rear-facing car seats are inherently hot (because they don’t have direct access to a/c vents), so anything you can do to reduce the heat factor is appreciated by your little hot potato.

The Keyfit 35

The KeyFit 35 is a newer, upgraded model line altogether. Three main differences: bigger (taller) seat, a no rethread harness and an anti-rebound bar.

The “35” denotes a weight limit of 35 lbs and this line also has extended legroom; they claim it to be usable up to 18 months, though in reality, your child will outgrow this seat by height before they outgrow it by weight. Taller babies will outgrow it sooner.

It has a no-rethread harness, so the height adjustment happen at the push of a button (unlike the “30” models).

Both variations of the 35 have an anti-rebound bar built into the seat base (learn more about anti-rebound devices here). You can see the anti-rebound bar here:

The are 2 options here: the regular 35 and the Zip. The regular 35 ($269) comes in regular and ClearTex fabric options.

The 35 Zip has a cool zip open privacy shield, shown below. I affectionately call this “full cocoon mode”. This is the highest end model they offer ($299) — and I believe it will rival any of the luxury seats out there. I just love the fit and finish on these seats, it’s really top notch.

Because the KeyFit is such a popular seat in the U.S., you will (almost) never have trouble finding a stroller adapter for this seat. It’s nearly ALWAYS on the list. See also: Best Infant Car Seats.

Bottom line: If you want a great infant seat and don’t want to think too much about it, the Chicco Keyfit 30 (or 35) is your guy. It’s super easy to install, either with LATCH or seatbelt (but especially with LATCH). The 30 is a great entry-level seat that only lacks a no-rethread harness. The 35 is the upgraded version that has more legroom, a no rethread harness and an anti-rebound bar. These seats are sleek and not at all clunky, like many seats in its price-range. It’s lightweight, it’s compatible with almost every stroller under the sun, and come in FR-free fabric options. Winner!

*The KeyFit is an American-style seat.

Stoller Compatibility

Chicco excels in car seats (of all types).

Strollers?? Not so much. These are all strollers that are designed to go with the KeyFit, but they aren’t necessarily our top favorites. It’s very possible you’ll have to mix and match brands to get your ideal combination.

Your lightweight stroller option

The exception to my distaste for Chicco strollers:

The KeyFit + KeyFit Caddy ($109, below) is a classic combination you’ll see everywhere. The Caddy is simple, lightweight and has a HUGE storage basket. See also: Best Frame Strollers.

Your “travel system” option: The Bravo stroller ($249 stroller only or $399 as a travel system) is a high-quality, all-purpose stroller — and VERY well-liked. At 23 lbs, it’s not at all lightweight, so it’s not one I would personally choose, but it’s very well built and people seem to like it for whatever reason (for 23 lbs, I’d expect a reversible stroller, but whatevs). You can also use the Bravo as a stroller frame by removing the seat, so I guess it’s pretty versatile (but 23 lbs? I think you can do better…).

(Can you tell I don’t like heavy strollers? Just checking…)

Chicco also has an ok jogging stroller called the Activ3 ($529 with car seat). It’s not our favorite jogger, but a decent all-terrain stroller.

Bottom line: Outside of the Caddy, strollers are not Chicco’s strong suit… (that sounds harsh, but it’s true…). But we love the KeyFit! And we think you will too. Good luck!

Back to: Best Infant Car Seats

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