Chicco is launching their new Fit2 Rear-Facing Only Infant & Toddler Seat this month and I was lucky enough to receive one of the very first production models for review. This may have been my favorite Christmas present but don’t tell my husband or kids that I said that. 😀
Fit2 is an innovative new product that fits children in 2 stages, infant and toddler. Initially, it’s an infant seat rated down to 4 pounds. Just like the popular KeyFit infant carseat, the Chicco Fit2 will be an excellent option for newborns and preemies too. But unlike other infant seats, Fit2 transitions into a stage 2, rear-facing seat for toddlers 9-24 months. The “magic” is in the base which has a infant setting and a toddler setting. The infant setting places the carrier in a reclined position that is necessary for newborns and younger babies. The more upright setting is appropriate for toddlers 9-24 months who are crawling or walking already, and offers the child some extra legroom.
I’m sure many of our savvy readers are wondering if this is just some gimmick or if Fit2 can really deliver on its promise to fit toddlers comfortably up to 24 months. Well… wonder no more because this seat delivers and I’m officially in love. I’m talking pink sparkly hearts with rainbows and unicorns love. 😛
Fit2 retains everything we know and love about the KeyFit and adds a 7-position no-rethread harness, an anti-rebound bar on the base (Chicco refers to this as a “stabilizer bar”), premium Italian fabrics (it’s actually made in Italy), European beltpath routing for installations without the base and you can get a lot more use out of it before your kiddo outgrows it. How do you say, “winner, winner, chicken dinner” in Italian?
Chicco Fit2 Specs & Requirements:
- Age: Birth to 12 months
- Weight: 4-35 lbs.
- Height: less than 35″, top of head at least 1″ below top of headrest (with harness straps in appropriate height setting)
- Handle can be in any locked position in vehicle
- Age: 9-24 months
- Developmental stage: Child must be crawling or walking
- Weight: 15 – 35 lbs.
- Height: less than 35″, top of head at least 1″ below top of headrest (with harness straps in appropriate height setting)
- Handle position in vehicle: it is recommended (but not required) that the carry handle be rotated all the way down and out of the way when using Fit2 for toddlers
- Canopy: can be easily removed if it’s not useful anymore
- Removing carrier from base: When your baby isn’t a baby anymore it is recommended that you just leave the Fit2 carrier in the vehicle most of the time (like it’s a convertible). This isn’t a requirement but honestly, once you have a heavy toddler you don’t want to lug them around in a carseat that just makes them even heavier. However, it is nice to have the option to do that from time to time when you decide it’s worth the effort.
- 7-position no-rethread harness with pull-tab adjuster located on top of headrest
- 2 buckle positions
- Energy-absorbing EPS Foam
- Newborn positioning insert for babies 4- 11 lbs.
- Base has 4 recline positions (for proper angle on your vehicle seat), plus 2 different “Stage” options (Infant & Toddler)
- Stage 2 toddler position makes seat sit more upright in base and increases leg room without taking up any additional space in vehicle
- Anti-rebound bar (a.k.a., stabilizer bar) on base
- Lockoffs on base for easy installation with seatbelt
- Liquid bubble level indicator on base
- Premium push-on lower LATCH connectors
- Shoulder belt guide on back of shell for optional European beltpath routing when installing carrier without base
- 4-position handle can be in any locked position in the vehicle
- Handle position can be rotated with one hand
- Harness strap covers for neck/shoulders & separate set for hips/thighs
- Full-sized canopy
- FAA approved for use on airplanes
- 6 year lifespan before expiration
- Made in Italy
- Cover and canopy made from premium Italian fabrics
- MSRP $279.99
Initially, Fit2 is offered in 2 fashions – “Legato” and “Fleur“. I’m sure there will be more options down the road but for now, these are the choices. The review sample I have is Legato. Fleur has a subtle flower pattern on the sides and on the canopy. Both are made with fine Italian fabrics and the fit and finish is very high quality.
Inserts and strap covers – The Fit2 model I have comes with a lower body newborn insert cushion (Chicco calls this the “newborn positioner”), a separate headrest insert that attaches to the adjustable headrest, a buckle cover, harness strap covers (aka “shoulder pads”) and extra strap covers that go over the hip straps. These hip strap covers are attached to each other under the cover so they stay in place. The buckle cover attaches securely to the buckle so it won’t fall off accidentally and get lost. The newborn lower body cushion is only for babies 4-11 lbs. Once your baby weighs more than 11 lbs., remove this insert. You can continue to use the additional headrest insert for as long as you feel it is beneficial. The shoulder pads, hip pads and buckle cover are entirely optional.
Fit2 base – this very unique base packs a ton of great features. It has a 4-position spring-loaded recline foot, a dual stage base lever, lockoffs for ease of installation when using lap/shoulder seatbelt, Chicco’s patented one-pull center LATCH strap with “SuperCinch” force-multiplying system inside, liquid bubble level angle indicator and a “stabilizer bar” (aka, anti-rebound bar). They chose to use the term stabilizer bar to convey the message that this feature provides a more stable installation with more vehicle seat contact. Of course, it will manage rebound in a frontal crash too but most consumers don’t know what rebound is so it makes sense to market that feature in a way that more people can understand and appreciate.
The Fit2 base is completely different from the Chicco KeyFit infant base and they are NOT cross compatible. In other words, you cannot use a KeyFit base for a Fit2 carrier or vice versa. They won’t snap in or even remotely appear to fit together. This is a good thing.
Below you can see the “base stage lever” in the two different positions. There are sticker labels on that lever that clearly indicate which mode you are in. There is also a “window” on the side of the base that will clearly display the stage you are in.
The more upright, Stage 2 setting, positions a toddler in a more comfortable position (this is the I-want-to-sit-up-and-see-the-world developmental stage!) and it also increases leg room. What’s it doesn’t do is take up more front-to-back space in Stage 2. That’s a big deal since extra space in the backseat is a luxury many people don’t have.
Pictured below is a 2016 Hyundai Tucson with very limited room in back for a rear-facing seat. The back of the front seat was just barely making contact with the back of the carrier. There was no guidance in the manual on this issue so I double-checked with our contact at Chicco and was told that they DO allow their rear-facing carseats to lightly touch the back of the vehicle front seat.
Generally speaking, unless the carseat manufacturer specifically mandates a certain amount of space between the rear-facing carseat and the back of the front seat in the instruction manual, very light contact between the two is acceptable. Many of us like to use the “piece of paper analogy” (if you can slide a piece of paper between the two, it’s okay) although that isn’t an official stance from any manufacturer, agency or organization to my knowledge. It’s just something that someone made up years ago and we all said, “hey, that makes sense and it’s easy for parents to comprehend – we’re going to use that analogy”! Lol.
Anyhow, in this small SUV space is a precious commodity so if you are installing the seat in an outboard position, you really want to give the driver or front seat passenger as much room up front as possible without putting any actual pressure on the point of contact. In the pics below the driver’s seat remained in the same position and you can see that Fit2 took up the same amount of room in both stage positions. I had similar results in the other vehicles I tried as well but so much depends on the shape, contour and position of the front seat so… your mileage may vary!
Stage 1 recline (1st pic), Stage 2 recline (2nd pic). Note – newborn insert was left in the seat during the photo shoot but the insert is only for babies up to 11 lbs., so it should never be used in the stage 2 toddler position.
The no-rethread harness on Fit2 has 7 height settings that range from about 6″ (with the newborn insert cushion) to about 13″ high without the insert. These measurements are all a little subjective because it depends on where you spot the bottom of the tape measure. The adjustable headrest extends above the shell in the top 3 height positions and this gives your toddler a significant amount of additional growing room.
- 7-position adjustable headrest
- Lowest harness height with newborn insert: about 6″
- Lowest harness height without newborn insert: about 8″
- Tallest harness height: about 13″
- Crotch strap/buckle positions (without insert): 4.5″, 6″
- Internal shell height: 22.5″ at max height setting
- Width of base at beltpath: 9″
- Width of base at widest point: 15.25″
- Width of carrier at widest point: 17″ at handle hubs
- Carrier weight: 11.2 lbs. (according to my digital bathroom scale)
The harness straps should always be positioned “at” or “slightly below” your child’s shoulder level. Your child has outgrown Fit2 when they reach 35″ tall or 35 lbs. or if their head is within 1 inch of the top of the headrest in the maximum height setting (whichever comes first).
Preemies and low-birthweight babies:
Fit2 is rated from 4 lbs. and most preemies and low-birthweight babies will fit very well in this seat using the newborn positioner insert cushion.
Preemie doll is 4 lbs., 17″. Harness strap covers and additional headrest insert were removed.
Even though the extra headrest support insert that comes with the seat is designed to provide additional support for a newborn’s small head, you probably want to remove it for a preemie. I know that is counterintuitive but in these cases you want to avoid placing anything extra behind the head that doesn’t have to be there. The section of the additional insert that goes behind the baby’s head only has a little bit of padding in it but sometimes even a little bit is enough to create a problem with the airway.
Average newborns and older babies:
My 20″ newborn doll (aka “Baby Jack”) is pictured below with the newborn insert cushion. I opted to remove the harness strap covers and the extra headrest insert again since I’m firm believer that less is more when properly securing a newborn.
Baby C is 7 months, 14 lbs., 25″ tall. She doesn’t meet the criteria to use the stage 2 position yet but she will fit in this seat for a long time because she’s a peanut. Since she weighs more than 11 lbs., she does not use the newborn insert. However, she can continue to use the additional headrest insert cushion that I removed in my pictures with the Jack doll and the preemie doll..
Okay, I know this is what everyone wants to see. Can kids really fit in this seat until they are 2 years old? Keep in mind that there will always be exceptions for kids who are near the top of the growth charts (or off the charts) or for toddlers who just have really long torsos. However, for the most part, yes – kids will fit in the Fit2 until 24 months! Some kids will fit longer than that.
Child pictured is 26 months, 30 lbs., 36″ tall. Technically she is too tall to use this seat since she is over the 35″ stated height limit but as you can see in the closeup (last pic), she still had about 2 inches of headrest above her head in the max height position. This child is in the 75th percentile for both weight and height at 2 years, 2 months. She fit very nicely, had enough extra harness length to accommodate a sweater or light (non-bulky) jacket and she easily had enough leg room to make herself comfortable.
In comparison, this seat (on its max height setting) measures about as tall as an Evenflo Tribute or Graco ComfortSport convertible. And it’s only 1.5″ shorter than a Britax Roundabout G4 or Cosco Scenera Next. For a rear-facing only seat, it’s really tall! Taller than any other rear-facing only seat currently available.
Installation with lower LATCH anchors –
Only install the base with LATCH in a dedicated LATCH seating position (anchor bars must be 11″ apart). Most vehicles do not have lower LATCH anchors for the center seating position and Chicco does NOT allow installation with non-standard LATCH spacing. Check your vehicle owners manual to determine where the LATCH seating positions are in your vehicle. If you want to install Fit2 in the center seating position but your vehicle only has LATCH in the outboard seating positions – no sweat, just install with seatbelt in the center and use the lockoff. More on seatbelt installation below.
There are no weight restrictions for installing Fit2 with LATCH. You may use LATCH to install the Fit2 base for any child under the 35 lb. weight limit.
It’s sooo easy to achieve a tight installation of the base using the lower LATCH connectors. It takes less than 15 seconds and most of that time is spent connecting the LATCH attachments to the lower anchor bars in the vehicle. For our readers who are familiar with how easily the KeyFit base installs – it’s just like that. The center, one-pull LATCH strap is almost identical to the one on the KeyFit base and makes it so easy to get a proper installation. Even though you can’t see the “SuperCinch” force-multiplying system inside the base – that’s what is assisting you when you pull on the strap. Unlike some other carseat installations – you will still need to go to the gym for your daily workout after installing Fit2. Lol.
Fit2 installed in my 2005 Ford Freestar minivan. Stage 1 & Stage 2. Ignore the newborn insert in the second pic, it should never be used in the stage 2 toddler position.
Ram 1500 Crew Cab pickup (full sized back seat). Again, ignore the newborn insert in the stage 2 pic. 😉
Allowable overhang – Chicco states in the manual that no more than 4″ of base may extend past the edge of the vehicle seat cushion.
Rear center position of the Ram 1500 is NOT compatible with Fit2. The ridiculous indented center seating position in the backseat of all Ram 1500 pickup trucks isn’t deep enough to support the base (or the carrier installed without the base). If you own any model year Ram 1500 with a backseat (Crew Cab, Quad Cab, or Mega Cab), you will have to install Fit2 in one of the outboard seating positions.
Once your base is installed tightly, make sure the tail of the LATCH strap is rolled up and tucked into the little recessed area meant to store it out of the way. A loose tail end of strap could interfere with the attachment of the carrier to the base and you obviously don’t want that to happen.
Installation with seatbelt –
Very easy to install properly with seatbelt thanks to the lockoff built into each side of the base. There are two shoulder belt lockoffs (one on each side of the base) but you only use ONE lockoff. Don’t use the lockoff closest to the buckle. Use the one on the opposite side from the main buckle for that seating position. If you are installing in an outboard seating position – use the lockoff on the door side. Only the shoulder belt portion of the seatbelt slides into the lockoff. You do NOT need to switch the seatbelt into locked mode if you are using the lockoff. Doing so may cause the base to tilt to one side over time.
Seatbelt installation requires a bit more effort because you don’t have a force-multiplying system helping you out but it’s still quick and easy. Chicco has some great installation videos on their Fit2 website here.
In the 2016 Hyundai Tucson (small SUV) pictured above and below, I found that installing Fit2 in the center seating position with seatbelt gave both the driver and the front seat passenger more room to move their seats back. However, I was worried that I might not be able to get a good installation in this position because the seatbelt geometry is weird. In this vehicle the center seatbelt originates from the ceiling in an offset location, the belt is detachable and the mini-buckle that you need to click into first is positioned forward of the bight. In plain English that means this seating position is a pain in the butt and is incompatible with some child restraints because you just can’t get a good, tight installation with seatbelt and there is no LATCH in this position. But Fit2 handled this challenging seatbelt design with relative ease. I did have to put some muscle into pulling the seatbelt tight before feeding the shoulder belt into the lockoff but it with good technique, it still took less than 30 seconds.
Installation without base –
Fit2 can be safely installed without the base. There are two different ways to install the carrier directly to the vehicle but both require a seatbelt that has a pre-crash locking feature because you don’t have a lockoff to use anymore (the lockoff is only on the base). All cars made after 1996 have seatbelts with pre-crash locking features so this shouldn’t be an issue but you need to understand how the seatbelts in your vehicle lock before you attempt a baseless installation. Most (but not all) vehicles have switchable retractors which switch into locked mode when you pull the shoulder belt all the way to the end. If you plan to install Fit2 without the base – check out the installation video on Chicco’s Fit2 website here.
Fit2 offers you the option to route the seatbelt the traditional way or the European way. Euro routing requires you to wrap the shoulder belt behind the carrier. It’s a nice option but some seatbelts aren’t long enough to allow this. If you don’t have enough belt length to go behind or if you just prefer to install with the traditional belt routing, that’s fine. You should be able to achieve a snug installation either way. Euro routing has its benefits but traditional routing is also safe and effective (and takes less time).
Traditional belt routing: Only the lap belt portion of the seatbelt is routed through the gray belt guides on both sides of the carrier. Seatbelt is locked, red line on sticker label is level to ground (indicating a proper recline angle) and the carrier is installed tightly.
European belt routing: Only the lap belt portion of the seatbelt is routed through the gray belt guides on both sides of the carrier but shoulder belt is routed behind the shell and through the grey belt guide back there. Seatbelt is locked, red line on sticker label is level to ground and carrier is installed tightly.
It might be possible to use Fit2 on strollers made by other manufacturers using the adapters they offer for the KeyFit but I haven’t been able to test that out yet so I’m not sure how likely that is. Ultimately, it will be up to the other stroller manufacturers to decide if Fit2 works with their existing KeyFit adapters.
FAA Approval/Lifespan/Crash Guidelines/Inflatable Seat Belts:
- FAA certified for use on airplanes
- 6 year lifespan before expiration
- Must be replaced after any crash
- Installation with inflatable seat belts is NOT allowed. If you have a vehicle with inflatable seatbelts, use the lower LATCH anchors in those seating positions to install the Fit2 base.
Chicco Fit2 Advantages:
- Fits babies and toddlers in a wide range of sizes
- Best-in-class extended usage thanks to generous weight/height limits and size
- Super easy to install properly (with seatbelt or lower LATCH anchors)
- Lockoff on base for quick and easy seatbelt installation
- Doesn’t take up extra room in vehicle when positioned in stage 2
- More legroom for toddlers in stage 2
- Harness is smooth and easy to tighten
- No-rethread harness with 7 height positions
- Stabilizer bar (anti-rebound bar) on base
- Option for European beltpath routing when installed without base (if your seatbelt is long enough)
- Energy-absorbing EPS foam lining the shell and adjustable head support
- Generous canopy
- Comfortable, well-padded cover
- Cover is machine washable – cold water, delicate cycle, mild detergent, hang to dry
- Quick and secure attachment to most Chicco strollers
- Made in Italy
(In fairness, these aren’t necessarily problems but I list them here to inform potential consumers of specific Fit2 issues)
- At 11 lbs., the carrier is 1.5 lbs. heavier than the Chicco KeyFit 30 but that’s the trade-off for getting a much bigger seat with more bells and whistles and premium Italian fabrics. Truthfully, all infant seats are heavy when you have a 10+ lb. baby inside. Spare your back, arms and thighs by using a stroller, a Chicco Caddy, or invest in a good sling/baby carrier and just leave the carseat in the vehicle.
- Not widely available. Babies R Us exclusive (for now).
- Only 2 fashions initially, “Legato” & “Fleur”, and both are black (I’m sure there will be more cover options in the future)
- Removing the cover to wash it and put it back on is cumbersome but not horrible. Chicco has a great video tutorial to walk you through both the off and back-on process here.
- In stage 2, it’s more difficult to find that “sweet spot” to connect carrier to base. I’m sure it gets easier with practice but I fumbled around each time I needed to connect the carrier to the base in stage 2. Eventually, you’ll probably just leave the carrier in the vehicle (which is what they recommend anyway) and it will be a non-issue.
The Bottom Line:
Chicco hit this one out of the park. If you’re expecting your first child, the Chicco Fit2 can offer you all of the conveniences of a typical infant seat for potentially twice as long. Plus you’re getting all the perks of owning a Chicco carseat – safety, comfort, ease of installation, ease of use and great customer service.
If you’ve been down this parenting road before and you cry every time your baby outgrows the infant seat (usually in the middle of winter), this seat could make you a very happy camper next time around. It can also be a godsend for parents of really big babies who outgrow typical infant seats very quickly. I had one of those gigantic babies in 2004 and I really wish I could go back in time and give myself a Fit2. It would have made my life so much easier that first winter. But I digress…
Currently, the Chicco Fit2 is available only at Babies R Us. Eventually this seat will be available at other retailers but right now it’s a BRU exclusive.
For more information on Fit2, including some great videos on installation and proper usage, check out the official Fit2 webpage: http://chiccofit2.com/
Thank you to Chicco for generously supplying my favorite Christmas gift… er, I mean the Fit2 sample for this review. No other compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are those of CarseatBlog.