When I found out I was pregnant with my third, I knew immediately what infant car seat I wanted.
Since becoming a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) in spring of 2017, I’ve learned a whole lot about choosing a car seat and have a handy shortlist in my head of the car seats most beloved by fellow CPSTs for every age and stage. It’s like asking a mechanic to recommend a vehicle or an avid cyclist to help you choose your bicycle—if the experts love it, there’s a reason.
When it comes to the Chicco Keyfit 30, there are three main reasons it is so highly recommended.
Reason 1: Easy installation
My first experience with the Chicco Keyfit 30 was during our practice installations at CPST training. We had to install a variety of seats in different vehicles and have our instructors sign off on each installation.
When I installed the Keyfit, I was confident I had done something wrong. It couldn’t really be THAT easy, could it? I must have missed something. It took me mere minutes to get the seat securely installed and at the correct angle. But guess what? It really IS that easy in the vast majority of vehicles.
Achieving the correct installation angle is extremely important for rear-facing infant seats. The Keyfit has an easy-to-read recline indicator—no need to eyeball it.
Because every vehicle seat is different, the Keyfit’s adjustable recline foot can be extended incrementally until you achieve the correct angle. Finding the perfect position for the foot may take some trial and error: you want to fully install the base and click the seat on to make sure the recline is in the allowable range. If it’s over or under reclined, you’ll want to try again with the foot in a different position.
Achieving a secure installation, meaning less than one inch of movement side to side when you gently tug at the belt bath, is another component of correctly installing an infant seat.
The Keyfit makes it easy with a single webbing strap that you pull to evenly tighten the UAS strap once the connectors are clicked on. If you’ve ever struggle to uninstall a car seat secured with UAS, you’ll also appreciate how easy it is to loosen the UAS strap and then push the release buttons on the connectors.
The installation in the captain’s chairs of our 2014 Odyssey is a breeze, and it was equally easy in our 2010 Elantra Touring.
If the position where you are installing your Keyfit doesn’t have lower anchors, or if using the seatbelt simply gets you a better install, the Keyfit base is equipped with a shoulder belt lock-off to help secure the base.
Like all infant seats, the Keyfit can also be installed without its base using the seatbelt. This is convenient if you’re travelling in a taxi, for example. I installed our Keyfits in our Elantra baseless when our Odyssey was at the dealership longer than expected (with the bases, of course), and it was relatively easy.
Reason 2: High vehicle compatibility
I cannot stress enough that there is no such thing as a car seat that fits universally in every vehicle. Try car seats in your vehicle before you buy, and if this is not possible, reach out to a local CPST to help you make the best choice for your situation. You can also consult my blog post on choosing the best infant seat for your scenario.
While there is no perfect car seat that fits in any and all vehicles, there are car seats that CPSTs have found to fit most vehicles. The Keyfit falls into that category.
It is compact front to back, meaning that even in small vehicles where other rear-facing seats may leave the front passenger seat unusable, the Keyfit fits.
Its base has a small footprint both length and widthwise. For vehicles that have short seat pans and for 3-across scenarios, the Keyfit is often an excellent choice.
Reason 3: Reliable fit for newborns and preemies
When I found out baby number three had a roommate, there was no doubt in my mind that the Keyfit was the way to go. One of the reasons why CPSTs recommend the Keyfit is that it provides a reliable fit even for preemies, and I knew it was likely my twins would be born premature.
When choosing an infant bucket seat, it’s important to look at more than just the weight minimum. The Keyfit accommodates babies starting at 4 lb (and as far as I know a baby less than 4 lb wouldn’t be discharged from the hospital anyway), but remember that 4 lb babies are also pretty short, so you need to consider the height of the lowest harness slot on the seat you choose.
Some seats have a lowest harness height of 9″, which, practically speaking, means the newborn’s torso needs to be 9″ tall. My firstborn’s bucket seat was designed like this, and despite being a full-term, normal birthweight baby, the harness sat a good inch above his shoulders, meaning he was too short for the car seat we were using. (And I repeat, he was a full-term baby of average height and weight.)
The Keyfit’s infant insert along with a 7″ lowest harness slot ensures that even pre-term babies can ride home safely when they are discharged from the hospital.
The harness is easy to tighten and doesn’t get easily twisted. I recommend removing the included harness covers when baby is small as this makes it easier to get a snug fit.
The included head support can be used until the child has reached the top harness slot (at which point there’s nowhere left to attach the head support, as it attaches using the harness slot directly above the one in use).
The infant cushion is used until the child is over 11 lb.
Chicco Keyfit 30 Specifications
Weight range: 4 – 30 lb (1.8 kg – 13.6 kg)
Height maximum: 30″ or when there’s less than 1″ between top of child’s head and top of seat’s shell
Seat weight (minus the base): 9.5 lb
Drawbacks of the Chicco Keyfit 30
There is no perfect car seat, but the Keyfit comes close. None of the drawbacks I’m about to list are deal-breakers by any stretch of the imagination.
- Doesn’t feature a no-rethread harness. Basically this means that when it’s time to move the harness up to the next level you need to unthread and reattach it. You will move the harness up to the next slot only when that slot is at or below your child’s shoulders.
- Not compatible with as many stroller systems as other seats. That said, it’s really, really important to avoid choosing a car seat just because it’s compatible with the stroller you want. It really sucks to have parents choose a seat this way only to discover it doesn’t fit in their vehicle or doesn’t provide a safe fit for most newborns.
- Has a shorter canopy than some other seats. I would love to see the canopy extend even further to provide full weather protection.
- The 30 lb weight maximum is not the highest available on the market. Some infant seats have a weight maximum of 35 lb. However, I do not know any parent who wants to carry a 35 lb infant in a bucket seat. Also, most children who weigh 35 lb are far too tall for any infant seat. For reference, my daughter is almost 3 and weighs 28 lb.
There are very few scenarios in which I wouldn’t recommend a Chicco Keyfit 30, and based on my conversations with fellow CPSTs, I’m not alone in my love of this seat. As always, try before you buy and get input from a technician when in doubt, but when making your shortlist of seats, know that the Keyfit works well in most scenarios and is one of the most compact infant seats on the Canadian market. Its reliable fit for even the smallest passengers makes it an excellent choice for families expecting multiples or likely to have a premature baby, and its extremely user-friendly installation makes it a favourite among the car-seat obsessed!
Important info regarding Chicco Keyfit 30 CANADA recall: If you already own a Chicco Keyfit 30, there is a Voluntary Recall that may affect your seat. Find out what action to take here. If you buy a Chicco Keyfit 30 in store, the box will include the necessary pieces and information.