Best and Worst of the Popular Infant Car Seat
- What: Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat
- Why: If you want an infant seat, get the best
- Where: Amazon
In a previous post, I explained why I hated infant car seats in general. Then why did I use one? My husband hadn’t had the chance to experience the horror of infant seats for himself, and he wanted to try one. And I had a toddler, so carting my infant around with one hand instead of two was huge for me.
I never bought an infant car seat of my own. I couldn’t bring myself to spend $200 on something I knew I would use for less than a year, and then have to spend another big chunk of change on a convertible seat that served the same purpose, effectively doubling the cost of car seats for me. But I did manage to borrow an infant seat not once but twice, for use with my second and third child.
I borrowed from two different friends, once for each time I used an infant seat. But both times I used the Chicco KeyFit 30. You might think that’s because that’s what my friends owned. In part, that’s certainly true. Everyone I know well enough to have seen their infant seat owns a Chicco KeyFit or KeyFit 30 (unless you consider my European friends – but that’s a different story – and in my opinion, a much better infant seat that’s sadly not marketed across the Atlantic). But that alone wasn’t enough for me, as I wouldn’t use anything I considered less than the safest for my kids. Luckily, Consumer Reports agreed that the Chicco KeyFit 30 had the best safety rating – not just one year, but every year I’ve looked at the reviews.
Another important fact to consider when buying an infant seat is your stroller. I’ve always bought my car seat independently of my stroller because I care more about safety than I do about my stroller. But I know people who bought their stroller, and their stroller choice limited their car seat options. Most strollers accommodate the Chicco KeyFit and the Graco SnugRide, as those two infant car seats remain the most popular choices.
I liked the multitude of color choices in the Chicco seat, though obviously I never choose colors for myself, having not purchased one. It also comes with a ton of infant padding at no extra cost to make sure you get a good fit for your baby regardless of size. I found the installation super easy to understand and do, and I loved the center strap used to tighten the LATCH connection, which was my favorite feature. I liked that the base had places to store the LATCH connectors when not in use,, especially since I often installed the base with one or two additional car seats and couldn’t always use the LATCH connectors. The cover material went into the washing machine and I could get it back on the seat without too much hassle, and most importantly, at least to me, the handle of the seat didn’t destroy my hands. I used one infant seat once where the seam in the plastic handle grip fell right on the edge of my hand and it constantly rubbed my hand the wrong way. Had it been my own, I wouldn’t have kept it, but I suspect it didn’t bother the parents
I didn’t hate anything about the Chicco KeyFit 30 that I didn’t hate about all infant seats. The biggest downsides were inherent to the type of seat: how bulky and heavy it was to handle and maneuver into and out of the car, how much space it took up when I wasn’t using it, and how my kid never slept through being schlepped around anyway.
If you are considering an infant seat, I recommend heading to a store with a ten pound bag of sugar and carrying the seat around for several minutes to get a feel for the options and what works for you.
If I had bought an infant seat, I’d have gone with the Chicco KeyFit 30 myself. Luckily, through the generosity of my friends, I didn’t have to. Chicco also offers a new trim level called the Keyfit 30 Magic, which includes a zipout mesh extension on the canopy cover and a fabric boot to cover your infant’s feet. But from a safety standpoint, they offer the exact same protection and materials.