Our Top Pick for 2016: Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base
Read our full review.
Nothing is more exciting or scary than being a parent who is expecting a new baby. Before they are even born, you will worry about their safety and well being. In most situations, the first item that they will come in contact with outside of the hospital is a car seat, so it is important that you find a safe option that will be ready for their tiny bodies to lay in on the way home from the hospital. As a new parent, deciding which car seat is right for your baby can be a difficult decision. Which type of car seat is best? Will he or she be comfortable in the seat you choose? We have made a list of features that new parents will want to consider as well as a few options that are top picks in the market currently.
Table of contents
- #1 Gold Pick (1st Place Winner)
- #2 Silver Pick (2nd Place Runner-Up)
- #3 Bronze Pick (3rd Place)
- #4 Budget Pick (Best Cheap)
Impact Absorbing Base
Side Impact Protection
Side Impact Protection
Full Body Inserts For Newborns 4-11 Pounds
Integrated Click And Go System
Adjustable Multi-position Canopy
Auto-retracting Mini Latch Connector
From Birth Up To 30 Lbs
For Infants 4-35 Pounds
#1 Gold pick (Winner): Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base
View it on Amazon for $199.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
For over 50 years Chicco has been providing families with everything a newborn will need the whole way up until they enter pre-school. Our gold pick, which is the Keyfit 30 is a car seat that will be a great option for your baby from the time that he or she leaves the hospital until they are a few years old. This car seat is designed to accommodate a child that weighs between four pounds and 30 pounds, which means that they will be using it for a while. It also has the height restriction of 30 inches, which means that when your child’s head is less than an inch from the top of the car seat, it is time to move on to the next step.
There is an insert that is perfect for a newborn between four and 11 pounds that will secure your child’s tiny body a little more than the car seat itself. Once the baby is 11 pounds, the infant insert should be removed, but you can keep the head cushion attached until you need to move the straps into the top slots of the seat. When your child outgrows the current setting of the straps, you will need to raise them to the next level by manually rethreading their position. This can take a few minutes, but it will assure that your child is safe.
This car seat uses a five point harness that comfortably secures your child into the seat. There is a chest clip to bring the straps closer together and give additional security. The buckle of this car seat is a standard metal buckle that is easy to use. This car seat is well padded for protection and comfort. It features an energy absorbing EPS foam that will absorb most of the impact if you happen to be in an accident with your child.
The Keyfit 30 is designed to be used with the LATCH system as well as with a base. If you decide to use the LATCH system, make sure that you secure the straps by tightening the one pull strap adjuster. You can either use this car seat with the included base, or you can forgo that part of the car seat and place it directly in the back seat of the vehicle. If you decide to use the base, make sure that it is installed properly. It is imperative to make sure that the bubble level that can be found on both sides of the base reads that the seat is properly installed. If it is not perfectly level, use the spring loaded adjusting system to make sure that it is in the best position for your vehicle. Each back seat is different, but this system gives you the ability to readjust the chair in each car your baby rides in.
The car seat is easy to attach and detach from the base, so if you are in a hurry to get out of the car and to your destination, you can easily grab your baby and go. In addition, this car seat is compatible with any Chicco stroller, which makes it even simpler to be a busy parent who is always on the go. There is also a canopy included with this car seat as well as a cold weather boot.
The padding in a car seat only lasts a certain amount of time, so make sure you know when the car seat was manufactured to ensure your baby will be protected. This car seat only has a lifespan of six years from the date that it was manufactured. The cover of this specific car seat is detachable, and it can also be washed on the gentle cycle of any washing machine. Just remember to use a gentle detergent to help prevent your baby from having a reaction to harsh soap.
A gold pick on our list will always be loved by critics and consumers alike, but this specific car seat has also been rated the number one car seat in America, which says that it is a truly safe option that your child can use in the car for years. On Amazon, 90 percent of the 558 reviews that are present there are positive reviews. In fact, 75 percent of those reviewers gave the Keyfit 30 a five star rating. Parents love how safe this car seat is for their babies; in fact, here is a five star testimonial about how this car seat saved a baby’s life: “We were in an accident when she was 5 months old and rolled our SUV one and a half times, landing upside down. She stayed put – she started crying but there wasn’t a scratch on her, thank God. As a precaution we took her by ambulance to Dell Children’s Hospital, but she checked out OK with all of the doctors there. They told us to keep doing what we had been doing, and that the car seat not only saved her life, but saved her from minor/serious injury.”
#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat
View it on Amazon for $168.00*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Britax has been a leading manufacturer of mobile child safety for more than 70 years. Their products always focus on what is best for the child to make sure they are always safe and secure during any travel experience, so it is no surprise that a company with such dedication to the safety of children would be in our list. The Britax B-Safe 35 is a rear facing infant car seat that maintains that level of dedication, which can easily be seen through its design.
This car seat is designed for premature infants who only weigh four pounds up to a toddler who weighs 35 pounds. The height limit on this specific model is 32 inches, so once a child reaches that height or their head is an inch from the end of the car seat, it is time for them to graduate to their next big kid chair. This car seat has two different buckle and belt positions. The first one is designed for young children that weigh between four and 11 pounds. The second option is for a child who weighs more than 11 pounds.
The B-Safe 35 is designed with a five point harness that has a standard metal buckle and a chest clasp that adds additional security. The harness is easy to adjust. Simply squeeze the red adjustment tabs that are located on the back of the chair together to move the shoulder restraints to the appropriate level for your child. This car seat also has a removable head pillow to give your baby a comfortable place to take a nap as well as a canopy that is designed to protect your baby’s eyes from the sun.
Insofar as installing the car seat, there are multiple ways to secure it. You can use the LATCH system if you desire, just make sure to tightly secure the straps. You can also use the base or decide to simply secure the car seat with the vehicles seat belt. Make sure to utilize the red side levels when installing the base to make sure that it is secure and safe for your child.
This car seat has a six year lifespan, so it will easily last until your child outgrows it. Another feature that you may appreciate is the removable cover, which means that it can easily be tossed in the washing machine to be cleaned. Insofar as safety, this car seat has a SafeCell impact steel frame, a deep protective shell that is designed to absorb impact, and a side impact protection. The padding is also energy absorbing EPP foam to help protect your child. As you can see, safety is the main priority of Britax, and that is why it has been named the number one brand in safety technology.
The B-Safe 35 has a sleek design that you will not be embarrassed to carry around. It is available in eight different color options, which are black, sandstone, red, steel, slate strip, cyan, meadow, and sapphire. That many color options allows you to match your car seat to your stroller and other baby accessories, especially since the B-Safe 35 is compatible with any Britax stroller.
When it comes to reviews, this car seat has 73 reviews on Amazon, and 73 percent of those reviewers have given this product a positive rating of four stars or more. Many of the reviewers have expressed that they like the design of the car seat as well as the safety features that are incorporated into the seat. Here is a five star review given by first time parents: “Had our baby a week ago and already love our Britax B-Safe 35. As first-time parents we haven’t known anything else but this seems like it’ll last for years and through multiple children as well. We even bought a second base for the grandparents! We also love that this works with our Baby Jogger stroller via adapters.”
#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): UPPAbaby MESA Infant Car Seat
View it on Amazon for $289.87*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Our Bronze pick is the UPPAbaby MESA, which is a backwards facing infant car seat. UPPAbaby is a company that is dedicated to manufacturing high quality baby products that will protect your child as well as allow you to have stylish baby accessories. The MESA is a car seat that is designed to make the life of a new parent easier. This specific model has a lifespan of seven years, which is one year longer than the rest of the picks on our list. It is a durable car seat option that will support your baby’s travels from infancy to the time that they outgrow this car seat in their active toddler years.
The MESA is designed to comfortably secure a baby between four pounds and 35 pounds. You child can use this car seat until he or she reaches a height of 32 inches or the top of their head comes within one inch of the top of the car seat. Since the MESA is designed for such a range of children, the crotch buckle and straps can be adjusted into two different positions. One is for when you are using the seat for an infant, which will cover them until they are about ten pounds, and the other is for when the child grows out of that stage of life. There is an infant insert that is designed for children between four and eight pounds as well, which can easily be removed when the child grows a little bit. There is also an adjustable head support and a hideaway canopy that are designed for your baby’s comfort.
The harness is a five point system that is designed to comfortably secure a child. When the straps need to be adjusted because the child has grown, it can be done by simply adjusting the harness from the back of the car seat. There is no need to rethread the straps. This car seat features a SMART secure system that auto retracts the straps used when utilizing the LATCH system. There is also a tension indicator that is used to ensure that the base is installed properly. This indicator light will remain red until the seatbelt and strap tension is tightly secured, and then it will turn green to inform you that the car seat is installed adequately. There are also four different reclining positions that are designed to make installing the base easier, since each vehicle has a differently designed back seat.
The Mesa is designed with soft, plush padding that gives your baby extra comfort as well as energy absorbing EPS foam, which will give your child protection in an accident. The headwings on this car seat are designed a bit large to give your child extra head protection in the event of an accident as well. This car seat has a removable cover that is machine washable. In addition, it can be paired with any Vista or Cruz style stroller with a single button press. There are five different color options that you can choose from, which are black, red, grey, wheat, and marine blue.
The reviews of our bronze pick are great, but there does not seem to be a lot of them on Amazon. Out of the 44 total reviews on the site, 34 of them were above a four star rating. Most of the reviewers have expressed how easy it is to take the car seat from the car and place it on the stroller. If you do happen to have any issues with your purchase, the customer service team will happily fix the issue and get you a new car seat using the manufacturer’s three year warranty.
Here is an example of a five star testimonial from the mother of a newborn who loves this car seat: “It’s so beautifully designed and function really well for our newborn. We have the Cruz and it’s so easy to attach/detach from it with one hand. I didn’t want to get an adapter for other brand’s seats because this seat looks so nice with the Cruz. We don’t have the issues others have, my baby seems to be very comfortable in it, and he falls asleep every time we’re on the go!”
#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Baby Trend Flex-Loc Infant Car Seat
View it on Amazon for $76.49*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Baby Trend is a company that has been creating products for young children for over 26 years. They are dedicated to meeting the challenges that you have to overcome and creating products that help make your world a little easier. The budget can be tight when you first enter the world of parenthood, but buying items for your child does not have to break the bank. There are several car seat options that will protect your child while you are in a vehicle at lower price points. The Flex-Loc is an infant car seat that does exactly that.
It is designed to be used for children who weigh between five pounds and 30 pounds, which means that this car seat can be used for the first year or two of your child’s life. It is designed for children who are up to 30 inches tall, so once their head is less than an inch from the top of the car seat, it is time to find a big kid option that will suit your kid better.
One of the reasons that this car seat is so loved is that it is a lightweight option that is easy to carry. If you live in a city, you can easily put the car seat in a taxi, and then carry it a few blocks to your destination if you need. The carry handle is a triangle design that makes it easier to hold the car seat in a comfortable manner. In addition, this car seat has a canopy to protect your baby from the sun, the rain, or the wind.
The Flex-Loc is designed with a five point harness that will secure your baby in the seat. It also has side impact protection in case an accident does occur. The base of this seat is designed with LATCH technology, but it is also simple to use the car seat belts to secure the base in the middle seat. Once there is no red in the angle indicators, then you will know that the car seat is secure. In addition, this car seat is compatible with the Baby Trend Snap-N-Go stroller and the Baby Trend Expedition ELX. The Flex-Loc can be purchased in three color options, which are elixir, phantom, and zoology.
When it comes to review, 72 percent of the users on Amazon who purchased this car seat considered it worthy of a four star rating or higher. Here is a great five star testimonial regarding the quality of this car seat: “I could not give this car seat enough stars!!! When my son was 5 months old we were in a HORRIFIC car accident and I didn’t hear him crying so I panicked. He was playing with his toes like nothing happened!!”
There are two types of car seats that you will want to take into consideration. The first is an infant car seat that is strictly designed for babies. This type of seat often has a detachable base that allows you to easily carry the car seat once you get to your destination. In most cases, this type of seat is outgrown around the time of your child’s first birthday. The second type of car seat is a convertible one. This type of car seat has an infant seat that attaches into the car seat. When your baby outgrows it, it can be removed and the car seat can continue to be used. These car seats can be a safe option for children between five pounds and 70 pounds, depending on the specific car seat model. You will be able to use this type of car seat for a much longer period of time, but the down side is that you cannot simply take the car seat. Each time you exit the car, you will need to either carry the baby or place them in a stroller.
Most car seats are constructed in a similar fashion. They typically all start with an external shell, which serves as their main layer of defense. Think of the car seat like a bicycle helmet, there is a hard outer shell, then internal padding to provide a cushion. In a car seat there are two types of protective padding; hard foam and soft foam. The hard foam is the layer that is closest to the shell. This material is designed to absorb impact, so it should protect the child’s head as a main priority. A great car seat will have this hard foam throughout, but if it does not, make sure your baby is protected on their sides and head.
The soft foam is the next layer. This is not designed to protect a child; rather it is mainly designed to add comfort to your baby. Some car seats place airbags around this soft foam layer, which can be a nice addition to consider. Sometimes there is an extra layer of padding that can be added to the seat of an infant to keep their heads positioned safely away from the straps.
Seat Anchor and Installation
Before you install a car seat into your vehicle, it is important to know whether you wish to have your baby in the middle of the back seat or next to a window. Many parents will place their child behind the passenger seat so that they can keep an eye on them, but it has been discovered that the middle seat is actually the safest location for a child to be. Also make sure that you are installing the seat properly; the last thing that you would want is for your child to be injured because they were not buckled in properly.
There are three ways that a car seat can be installed into your vehicle. The first is a system that is designed with newer vehicles in mind, and it is not a method that works in the middle seat of all vehicles. The LATCH system, which stands for lower anchor and tether for children has been required in cars since 2002. This is the quickest and easiest way to assure that the car seat is attached securely. The second way to attach a car seat to your vehicle is to use a base. This method is used for placing the car seat in the center of the car, and the base is firmly held in place with a seat belt. Many infant seats simply snap into place on the base, so it can easily be left in the car at all times.
The third method is to install the car seat directly and secure it with the seat belts that are present in the vehicle. This is the method you would most likely use in a taxi, in a friend’s car, or on an airplane. Every car seat has a level indicator or another alternative method that can help you to be sure that the seat is installed correctly.
The safety of your child should be one of the primary concerns in your life. You do not want to purchase a used car seat to protect your baby that could not be functioning properly. Each car seat that is sold a retailer must adhere to government safety standards. Making sure you buy a new car seat will ensure that the car seat is in line with the today’s safety regulations. Saving a few dollars on a car seat is never worth risking injury to your child in the event of an accident. Some car seats even have side impact protection for a small child, which is also an important consideration.
Easy to Clean
Babies can be messy. Whether it is slobber, spit up, or pieces of food as they begin to grow, you will want to have a car seat that can easily be wiped off. One great feature that you may wish to consider is having a detachable cover that can easily be removed and washed.
One thing that everyone knows is that newborns grow fast. This means that you will want to find a car seat that can grow with them and adjust to their needs. Consider height and weight restrictions before deciding on a car seat, and also make sure that the seat you decide on can be adjusted to accommodate a growth spurt.
On any car seat, there are going to be two main items that you need to adjust. The first is the straps, which will need to be made longer as your baby grows. The best type of safety belts for any car seat is a five point harness. It is designed to secure a small child with a strap across each shoulder, one across both thighs, and one between their legs. These types of straps are designed better than they were in the past, which means that they are safer and more secure, but they are also easier to adjust as well.
You will also need to accommodate for height, this could means simply raising the harness straps to a higher level, which is a quick adjustment, but some car seats can be more difficult to adjust. The most inconvenient type of adjustment is rethreading the shoulder straps all together. This method takes time and that means that parents will sometimes put off making the necessary adjustment. If you happen to make the straps a bit too loose, there is often a tightening strap to quickly make an adjustment.
Some models have features that you may not consider a necessity, but they can add a level of comfort for your baby. One of these types of features is a canopy, which is offered in infant seats. It serves as a way to protect your baby and keep them out of direct sunlight. Some offer visor type coverage while others offer full coverage with a peek-a-boo window. Stroller compatibility is another feature that may be useful for a car seat. These make it easy to simply remove the entire car seat from the chair and place it directly on the stroller. It is a great feature for a parent who is often on the go.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
We have visited the features of infant car seats that are the most important considerations to make before deciding which one to purchase. We have given you four great selections that may be perfect for your newborn, but make sure that you do your own research. A car seat is the first item that you will need to purchase to protect your child. As they grow up, they will require more from you, but for now just make sure that your baby is loved and protected. Hopefully this guide has helped you with your baby car seat decision, and you can make a purchase well before you bring your baby home for the first time.
Discussion and comments
We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?
Do you know of an even better product?
- Kecia, Chicco KeyFit 30 Review: Infant Car Seat Nirvana, Car Seat Blog, January 4, 2010
- Kristian, Chicco Keyfit 30 Review, Kid Safety First, March 3, 2014
- Heather, Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Seat Review: Easy Install with Safety You Can See, Car Seat Blog, February 20, 2015
- Laurel, Britax B-Safe 35 Elite Review, Car Seats for the Littles, August 15, 2015
- Baby Gizmo, BG Review: Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat, YouTube, January 27, 2015
- Angela Tastad, UPPAbaby Mesa Review, Car Seats for the Littles, May 12, 2014
- Alicia S, On the Up and Up with the UPPAbaby MESA: Infant Car Seat Review, Car Seat Blog, March 26, 2014
- Pitin, The Baby Trend Flex Loc Baby Car Seat Base and Seat Review, First Time Parent Guide, April 15, 2016