2020 Chicco KeyFit 30 Review: Infant Carseat Nirvana

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Chicco KeyFit 30 Rear-Facing Only Infant Car Seat

Let me preface this review by saying, Consumer Reports and I can agree on this one! In case you missed it – they rated the Chicco KeyFit 30 as one of the best overall infant carseats among the models they tested. Honestly, KeyFit is a well-thought-out, well-designed, well-constructed infant carseat and that’s why it has earned its place on our list of Recommended Seats!

The KeyFit and KeyFit 30 are infant carseats from Chicco USA (pronounced KEEK-koh). The original KeyFit model (aka, the KeyFit 22) is generally sold with a stroller as part of a “travel system”. Be aware that this version has a weight/height rating of 22 lbs. and 30″ tall, while the KeyFit 30 model is rated up to 30 lbs. and 30″ tall. The KeyFit 30 can be paired with any compatible Chicco stroller (see table below) to create a travel system, if desired. The Chicco KeyFit Caddy is a great option if you want a snap-n-go type product that has many of the same great qualities found in a full-featured stroller.

Chicco strollers compatible with KeyFit 30
Corso;  Corso LE
Bravo LEBravo PrimoBravo For 2
Vario
Urban
Activ3 All-Terrain
Mini Bravo Plus
KeyFit Caddy (stroller frame)
Cortina Together (double stroller)

        

Current models of both the KeyFit and KeyFit 30 utilize the same base. Extra bases are available separately if you want to purchase additional bases for other vehicles.

The review sample I have features a cold weather “boot” cover, which is easy to snap on and off. If you’re having a fall or winter baby, I would highly recommend a KeyFit “Zip” model that comes with a cold-weather boot.

All KeyFit and KeyFit 30 models come with a newborn insert, a head support insert, and harness strap covers.

The newborn insert that comes with both the KeyFit and KeyFit 30 models is used for babies who weigh between 4-11 lbs. The insert provides additional support, as well as a secure harness fit for smaller infants.  It should be removed once the baby weighs more than 11 lbs. It’s worth mentioning that the head support cushion can still be used, if desired, even when the newborn [body] support cushion has been removed. The head support pillow may be used until the child needs to use the top harness slots. The velcro attachments that secure the head support to the shell of the seat must be threaded through the unused harness slots above the ones currently being used for the child. Therefore, once the child needs to use the top slots for the harness  – there’s no safe place to attach that head pillow anymore.

KF newborn insert & head support  KF newborn insert

Measurements:

Harness slot heights with newborn insert (approximate):  7”, 9”, 11”

Harness slot heights without newborn insert:  8”, 10”, 12”

Fit to Child:

The combination of the bottom harness slots and the newborn insert helps the KeyFit and KeyFit 30 models to fit newborns of all sizes and even small premature babies very well. On the opposite end of the spectrum – the KF30 model can accommodate many babies up until their 1st birthday, or even beyond that – although obviously there are no guarantees. My youngest son would have reached the 30” height limit by 9 months old but he was way above average in both weight and height as a baby.

4 lb preemie doll  KF 20" newborn doll

2 days old, 5 lbs 15 oz, 20"  5 months old

 

“Key” Features of KeyFit models:

  • 5-point harness with nice straps that aren’t prone to twisting
  • Energy-absorbing EPS foam
  • Standard buckle (nothing funky or difficult to use)
  • Premium “push on” lower LATCH connectors
  • Unique, single strap, one-pull LATCH strap adjuster
  • Built-in lockoff for lap/shoulder seatbelt installations
  • Smooth-bottom base won’t damage vehicle leather or upholstery
  • FAA-approved for airplane use
  • Can be installed without the base
  • 6-year “lifespan” from date of manufacture
KeyFit 30 on airplane

KeyFit 30 on airplane

The KeyFit and KeyFit 30 models have all the important bases covered when it comes to features. In addition to everything mentioned above, these seats also have the following comfort & convenience features:

  • Handle can be left up while in the vehicle
  • Well-padded, machine washable covers (cold water, delicate cycle, mild detergent – hang to dry)
  • Easy to attach and detach carrier from base and from compatible Chicco strollers
  • Super-smooth harness adjuster makes it easy to tighten and loosen harness straps
  • Easy to rethread harness straps to different height positions
  • Extended canopy
  • Cold-weather boot (on certain models)

2020 KeyFit 30 Fashions:

KeyFit Installation Comments:

The KeyFit instruction manual is clear and well-written with plenty of good diagrams. The manual is English on one side & Spanish on the other. As long as you read and follow the instruction manual carefully – the KeyFit and KeyFit 30 models are generally VERY easy to install properly regardless of whether you are using your vehicle’s lower LATCH anchors or the seatbelt.  FYI – use only one method of attachment. Do not install the carseat with both LATCH & seatbelt. Use of lower LATCH anchors in the center seating position with non-standard spacing between the anchor bars (more than 11″ apart) is prohibited.

The base has a spring-loaded “foot” that adjusts to several different heights in order to achieve an appropriate recline angle in a wide variety of vehicle seating positions. Adjust the foot on the base until the bubble in the level is positioned somewhere between the black lines with the base installed tightly.

If using the vehicle’s lap/shoulder seatbelt, thread JUST the shoulder belt portion of the belt through one of the lock-offs on the base.

If installing the carrier directly (without the base), use the red line on the sticker label to guide you in achieving an appropriate recline angle. Make sure seatbelt is locked (see vehicle owners manual for details).

The handle can be in any locked position when the seat is in the vehicle. If it’s more convenient to just leave it up, then leave it up. If you’d rather put it down – that’s fine too.       

Chicco prohibits the use of most additional add-on products not made specifically by them for this carseat. Items such as Bundle-Me style sleeping bags, additional head-support cushions, toys that hang from the handle, etc., are all currently prohibited.

installed with lower LATCH anchors  bubble level

installed lap/shoulder seatbelt   shoulder belt in lockoff

installed without base

KeyFit Disadvantages:

These aren’t necessarily problems, but I list them here to inform potential consumers of specific KeyFit issues.

  • It’s made in China. Unfortunately, almost all infant carseats are currently made in China. Despite its geographic origin, the quality and components are high-grade. Nothing about the KeyFit seems cheap, flimsy, or lacking. If you really want to avoid buying an infant car seat made in China, consider the Chicco Fit2 which is made in Italy.
  • Carrier weighs 9.6 lbs with the infant insert and head support (according to my digital bathroom scale). This is average for an infant carseat. It’s not lightweight but it’s not what I would consider heavy either. Truthfully, all infant carseats are heavy to lug around when you have a 15+ pound baby inside it. Spare your back, arms, and thighs by using a stroller or invest in a good sling/baby carrier.
  • Removing the cover to wash it can be a little cumbersome. The main issue in the removal process is getting the fabric out from under the plastic adjuster cover. What worked best for me was to pull the bottom portion of the cover loose and then start at the top of the plastic adjuster - cover removaladjuster cover and work the fabric free from that point down. When putting the cover back on – start by sliding the openings in the cover over the seatbelt guides on the shell (where you would thread the seatbelt if you were installing without the base), first. Then work the fabric back under the plastic adjuster – again starting at the top and working your way down. It takes a little bit of work but isn’t too complicated. The rest of the removal/replacement process is simple if you follow the instructions in the manual.

Finally, an important disclaimer:  If this is your first carseat, it may spoil you and make other future carseats seem difficult and annoying to use by comparison. Consider yourself warned!  😉

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