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Chicco KeyFit Car Seat Review

Price $189

Echelon$$$$

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“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. (Pssst: this Chicco KeyFit car seat review is totally unsponsored.)

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, 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.

installing base with SuperCinch

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. Finally, it’s a champion in the stroller compatibility department.

Basic Keyfit Infant Seat Models

You should know there are 3 basic Chicco KeyFit lines for 2023, the number next to the model denotes the weight limit for that seat:

– the OG Chicco Keyfit (which is the 22lb entry-level model, my fave value!)
– the Chicco Keyfit 30 (their most popular) and
– the Chicco KeyFit 35 (the fancy pants model)

To make it as complicated as humanly possible… within each of these models^^, you can get:

– the “ClearTex” version (which means non-toxic fabrics, yes please! more on this below) and/or the
– the “Zip” version, which has an all-season little zippy cover or “infant boot” (not available on the OG model)

Let’s break these down.

The OG Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat

The basic Keyfit is their entry-level infant car seat. For about $150, the OG Chicco Keyfit is a great value. This one is their lightest seat (by half a lb), weighing in at just 9lbs. This Keyfit is pretty barebones, but if you don’t have a lot to spend, I think you’ll be very happy with it. This is the seat I used with my little one (below) – and I loved it.

The weight limit is 22 lbs. This is really the only difference between it and the Keyfit 30, which has a 30lb weigh limit.

Is Chicco Keyfit FAA approved? Yes it is 😁.

On an airplane

The Chicco Keyfit 30

Moving up the ladder, if you have a little over $200 to spend (current price is around $229), the Chicco KeyFit 30 is also tried and true – and their most popular model, but here’s a little secret: the only difference in the base model and the “30” is the weight limit. If you know me, you know I think high weight limits for infant seats are silly and unnecessary because a baby will almost always outgrow a seat by height before they outgrow it by weight (and these seats have the same height limit).

So, honestly, you should only buy the “30” if you expect to have an exceedingly heavy baby.

Comparing the 30 to the 35, the only downside is that the “30” does not have a “no rethread harness”, which means 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.

Both the 30 and the OG Keyfit seats are this way (you must manually re-thread the harness straps as your baby gets taller). It’s something to consider if you think changing the strap heights every few months will be annoying (I don’t think it’s a big deal, but some parents like to have every bell and whistle).

*Note that the Chicco Keyfit 30 does not have a European belt path, while the 35 model does.

KeyFit 30 Zip

Again, you can opt for the “Zip” version. We love the KeyFit 30 “Zip.” For 20 extra bucks ($249), 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.

KeyFit 30 “Zip”

Yes, you can achieve this without the Zip factor by using a regular Infant car seat boot, but with this one, you know it will fit.

About Chicco Cleartex

Again, all models of the Keyfit (the OG Chicco Keyfit, the Keyfit 30 and the Keyfit 35) ALL offer a “ClearTex” version of the seat. And guess what? It’s the same price! So should you go for the ClearTex model? Absolutely yes, without a doubt!

What is ClearTex? 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.

The Chicco Keyfit 35

The KeyFit 35 is a newer, upgraded model line altogether. A few key differences: bigger (taller) seat, a no rethread harness, an anti-rebound bar, extended leg room and a European belt path. This seat also weighs a full pound heavier than the “22” (10 lbs).

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 (when their head is past the top of the seat) before they outgrow it by weight. Taller babies will outgrow it sooner, obvi.

It has a no-rethread harness, so the height adjustment to the headrest happens 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:

KeyFit 35

Finally, the European belt path makes installation much easier when traveling without the base.

The are 2 options here: the regular ol’ Keyfit 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.

KeyFit Zip 35

Chicco Keyfit 30 Stroller Compatability

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.

To see if the your stroller of choice is compatible with the Keyfit, you must check the stroller’s website to see if they have a Keyfit car seat adapter. Because this seat has been a favorite for so long, it’s almost always on the list.

See also: Best Infant Car Seats.

KeyFit on Mockingbird Stroller (see review)

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.

Chicco Stollers

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…)

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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