A Carseat Nerd's Blog

A Carseat Nerd's Adventures in Carseats

Chicco Keyfit 30 Overview January 27, 2013

Filed under: Seat Reviews — carseatnerd @ 9:20 pm
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Chicco Keyfit 30 installed in a (very messy) 2003 Honda Pilot

Chicco Keyfit 30 installed in a (very messy) 2003 Honda Pilot

As a CPST, I’m not supposed to have favorite seats. The best seats are the seats that fit your child, your vehicle and your budget and that you can use correctly every single time. The reason I admit to liking the Chicco Keyfit is because I can usually be pretty confident that the only part of that equation that may not work for every family is the budget part. I can be pretty safe in an assumption that the Keyfit will fit most newborns well.  I can be pretty safe assuming that it will fit in the majority of vehicles I will be in. And this has got to be one of the *most* user friendly infant seats I have ever touched. It retails for about $190 for the Key Fit 30, about $160 for the Key Fit 22, and $85 for an extra base.
Chicco produces two models- the Keyfit 22 and the Keyfit 30.  The 22 lb model is rated for babies from 4 to 22 lbs, and is compatible with Chicco Cortina, Cortina Together, Trevi and S3 strollers.  The 30 lb model is rated for babies from 4 to 30 lbs, and is compatible with the same four strollers. Other stroller manufacturers may have adapter kits to make their stroller compatible with both seats.

I have a Keyfit 30 to play with, so my measurements may be different than the 22 lb  model.

Preemie sized doll in a Keyfit30 with infant insert

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Infant insert reduces lowest harness height to 6″.

First, the Keyfit’s newborn fit. My doll is somewhere between a preemie and a newborn size. The Keyfit comes with an infant insert, which places the baby in a better position to reduce reflux and provide better support for the spine.  The insert must be removed when the baby reaches 11 lbs. The insert reduces the height of the lowest harness position to 6″ and the crotch buckle depth to a tiny 3″.  My doll’s shoulders were almost level with the lowest harness position.

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Infant Insert makes the crotch buckle depth 3″.

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Closer view of the lowest harness height.

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Doll’s shoulders are almost even with the lowest harness position.

Without the insert, the crotch buckle depth is about 4.75″.

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Crotch depth without the infant insert is about 4.75″.

Baby gets about 13.5″ inches of legroom when the seat is installed in my Pilot. Your vehicle’s seat back contours may have different results.

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Pilot seat back offers about 13.5″ of legroom with the Keyfit 30.

This picture isn’t particularly clear, but overall shell height is about 19.5″ inches, which means that a baby may have a seated torso height of about 18.5″ before they outgrow this seat.

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Overall shell height is about 19.5″.

Without the infant insert, the harness positions are at roughly 7″, 9.5″, and 11.5″.

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Harness position heights without the infant insert.

The only “complaint” I’ve had or received about this seat is that the canopy is fairly short, at 15″. Some of the newer models have longer canopies that will shield babies from the elements better.

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Barely functional canopy measures only 15″.

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Canopy doesn’t offer much protection from the elements.

The seat base is very lightweight and narrow. It fits three across pretty easily in many vehicles.

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The level indicators are built in to the base. This is great for installations using the base. On other models, one must install the base, click the seat in to check the level, then removes the seat from the base to make adjustments and replace the seat to check. With the Key Fit, you can make the adjustments even if you left the seat in the house!

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Built-in level indicators!

A brief installation process offers easy installs whether you’re installing with the LATCH connectors or the vehicle belt. To demonstrate how easy this seat is, I took pictures of the entire process using both installation methods. Keep in mind that you must choose one method or the other. Never install with the lower anchors and the vehicle belt.

First, LATCH. I’ve only captioned the photos instead of typing everything twice. I did not photograph the actual connecting of the LATCH connectors to the lower anchor bars in my seat. I have simplified things a bit, in that I don’t describe checking or adjusting the seat/base angle.

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Step 1: Connect both LATCH anchor connectors to your vehicle’s lower anchors, which are typically located in your vehicle’s seat bight, or crack. Sometimes, they may be hidden behind a fabric flap or a plastic cap. Sometimes, they may be above the seat bight a few inches.

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Step 2: Pull the center strap. This strap tightens both LATCH straps simultaneously.

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Step 3: Roll up the excess center strap length and stuff it in the storage cavity. Check for less than 1″ of movement in any direction, by grasping the base at the belt path with your non-dominant hand and giving it a firm but polite handshake. The belt path is where the vehicle belt or LATCH straps go through the seat. In this base, you can grasp the pieces that look like handles on the sides.

And the almost as easy and straight forward vehicle belt installation.

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Step 1: Thread the vehicle belt through the belt path and buckle. Pull the shoulder portion of the belt to snug the lap portion. I had a very hard time getting a decent photo while also installing the seat, but if you grasp the shoulder portion close to the buckle and PULL STRAIGHT UP, you get better leverage than if you pull across the seat where my hand is in the photo. My hand is here to show the two portions of the belt webbing.
Step 2: Guide the excess webbing across the seat, maintaining a snug lap/ lower portion.

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Step 3: Guide the shoulder portion of the webbing into the opposite built in lock-off on the base. These are orange tabs on the bottom of the “handles” on the sides. Do not try to use the lock-off on the seat belt buckle side of the base. Slide the webbing as far into the slot as you can without damaging either the webbing or the base.

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It should now look like this. You’re done!

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Side view of the belt sections going through their respective spots.Remember to check for side to side and front to back movement by using the method described in the LATCH installation above.

See? You can’t get much easier and straightforward, can you? If I were in the market for an infant seat, I would definitely strongly consider a Key fit!

 

Graco SnugRide 22 Overview June 25, 2011

Filed under: Seat Reviews,Uncategorized — carseatnerd @ 5:44 am
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This is Part One of a series of infant seat comparisons.  Part Two will be a Chicco Keyfit 30 Overview.  These  are the most common infant seats I see at seat check events in my geographical area.

Since I lack a newborn baby, and very few have the patience to allow car seat shenanigans to take place for as long as one of my photo shoots  usually do, I used my teaching doll.  I take this doll with me to every car seat check or event to help demonstrate proper harness adjustment and fit etc. He was actually a gift to me from the organization I volunteer with as a thank you for my time. Perhaps at some point, I will show you how I carry him around at events.  He is always rear facing.

Up first: The Graco SnugRide 22 (SR22) .  An identical SnugRide 22, with the rear adjust harness can be purchased for around $80.  For an extra $10, you can get the front adjust harness, which is absolutely worth that Andrew Jackson! More about that in just a moment. I’m personally not a big fan of the SR22 for a few reasons, which are demonstrated in the pictures and explained.  I’m not sure what newborns they designed this seat around, but I certainly haven’t met them!

Here’s a pic of Baby Boy in the SR22. You can kind of see that the baby is swimming in the seat.

“Newborn” in SnugRide 22

A closer view demonstrates that there is a 3.5″ gap between the baby’s crotch and the buckle.  While this can be remedied with a tightly rolled washcloth shaped into a “U” around the crotch buckle strap, I’m not sure why Graco made the crotch depth so large in a seat made for newborns.  I believe that the fewer modifications a parent has to make, the better.   One could  make the argument that my doll lacks a pelvis and a diaper and a real baby wouldn’t fit so poorly.  I assure you that real newborns do not actually fit much better.

Rather deep crotch buckleIn normal daily driving, a real newborn would slide down until their bum met the webbing. This would leave their vulnerable spine completely unsupported by the seat.  It could also cause breathing problems and reflux.

The seat has a 6″ crotch depth for a newborn!

Moving up the seat, you will notice that the lowest harness position is also not making contact with the baby. You may remember that for a rear facing seat, the harness must be AT OR BELOW the baby’s shoulders. Having the harness above the shoulders could allow the baby to ramp up the seatback in a collision before the harness stops him.

Lowest harness position

Again, one could say that my baby is a doll and a real newborn would fit better. Again, I would assure you that most do not.  You can also see that the chest clip is touching the harness buckle (slid all the way down), and is very close to the baby’s neck.  The buckle assembly and chest clip are HUGE!

With only two harness positions and a fairly short shell, not many babies will fit this seat well for very long.  The harness slots measure 8 and 10″ from the seat bottom.  Harness positions are 8" and 10" from the seat bight

The shell height measures 19″.And now the back of the seat. You can see the harness adjusters, which are the metal clips on the harness webbing.   Especially with a newborn, when there isn’t much harness length being used, it can be easier to adjust the harness each time you use the seat.   On the SR22, each side of the harness adjusts individually.

It can be tricky to get each side adjusted the same so the webbing lengths are identical.

It’s just not particularly user friendly.

But it has a nice useful 19″ sunshade!

Here’s the whole seat, with my mismatched base and seat.

So, how does it fit in a vehicle?

Fairly well, but again, not particularly user friendly.  If you happen to have LATCh in the seating position you intend on using, it works great.  If you have a lapbelt, it works well. But if you have to install with a shoulder belt, it’s not user-friendly for the average parent. Which, if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you aren’t. You’re likely above average!

First, the level indicator is located only on one side of the seat itself. So when you install the base, you have to put it in, then click the seat onto the base to check the angle.  If the angle is wrong, you have to take the seat out to reinstall the base, and so on and so forth.

A LATCH install in my Pilot is pretty straight forward.

With a lap-shoulder belt, it looks straight forward. Route it through just like the LATCH strap, buckle it and lock the belt, right?

Not so much. With that approach, you are likely to end up with a lopsided seat over time.

To fix that little issue, I usually recommend using the locking clip (LC) that comes with every car seat instead of locking the belt at the retractor.  It must be within 1″ of the buckle and you ONLY use them on lap shoulder belts.  I took some pictures to demonstrate how to put an LC on a seatbelt, but due to formatting issues,it will have to be a post of it’s very own. Another day…

Anyway, with the SnugRide 22 installed with the base, I measured about 16″ from the car seat “bight” to the vehicle seat back, which means there is 16″ of legroom for the baby. I measured 31″ from seatback to seatback with my driver’s seat where I normally have it to drive.  It was just barely touching the back of the driver’s seat, but not bracing against it.

So, in short, I think that for someone who truly feels like they NEED an infant seat, this one is inexpensive and will do the job, though not particularly well for most babies. I did borrow one from my sister in law to use when I brought Little Man home. And I hated it. She used it for her younger son until I procured from a friend a front adjust SR20, which she used through it’s expiration date. I don’t recommend this seat unless a parent has a real need for an infant seat.  I feel that there are convertibles for less money that will last a child longer and actually fit newborns better.

 

 
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