A carseat is arguably one of the most important things baby needs. If you're catching on, you'll know husband and I spent a ridiculous amount of time reading online reviews of every carseat on the market, including several trips to the store to view them in person.
I knew I didn't want a travel system. Those stroller wheels kill me. To my amazement, though, there are actually some decent stroller options with travel systems now. But, I still didn't want one. I wanted an infant carrier/carseat. period. After much discussion, research, and more research, we decided on the Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Carrier.
We love this carseat. Baby seems comfy in it. Even when she was born at 6lbs, 13oz, it looked like she fit in it. Although the buckle looked ridiculously huge, the straps could get tight enough. The seat itself is rated for 4-30 pounds and up to 30 inches, and in my opinion, its one of the few that a 4-pound baby would actually be secure in. This seat comes with infant padding for infants up to 11 pounds, which helps the smaller ones fit better. Not just a head-pillow, but a whole insert, so baby is cradled and secure. The 30 pound/30 inch limit ensures most can use it through their first birthday. The seat itself is deeper than your average seat, so the 30/30 limits mean baby actually has a chance of fitting in it. Several friends had to retire their infant seats before baby was at the limit because they just didn't fit anymore. Feet were going up the back of the seat, baby just looked uncomfortable. Since this seat is bigger, it doesn't "fit" a lot of places other seats fit, such as the top of shopping carts. BUT, you really shouldn't be putting an infant carrier on the top of your shopping cart anyway, so... The bigger size/different shaped bottom also means it doesn't fit in a lot of the "universal" car seat adapters for things like strollers, though too. We were able to find a stroller that worked (see my post about the Bumbleride).
The fabric of this seat is durable, too. After a year of use, the fabric shows no wear. Also washes well. The seat itself weighs in at 9 pounds. Admittedly, this is a bit heavy, but I chalked it up to a good arm work-out and called it a day. Some might find this to be too heavy, though, as baby gets bigger.
The harness of this seat is very easy to use. The buckles work well and don't require excessive force to open or close. The tightening mechanism is also great. We've never had a problem with it. In fact, husband thinks I tend to over-tighten in this seat. The harness also comes with included strap covers. While the strap covers require you to take the harness apart to remove, it is nice they come with it.
The installation of the base into the car with the latch system is very easy. The latches are easy to use, and the base has levels built in, so you can be sure it is installed correctly. The base has an adjustable bottom to accommodate different angles of seats, and keep baby level. Putting the seat in the base is as simple as dropping it in. You hear an audible 'click' too, so you know its in. Taking the seat out of the base does require two hands, but is one of the easier ones I've tried. We were able to train the grandparents how to put it in/take it out in just one session. This is a feat, I assure you. And, I was confident they'd do it correctly, as there is no way to screw it up. Hear the click of the seat in the base, and you know its in!
• Larger than most carseats, able to use longer
• Easy install-base with LATCh system and levels built-in
• Extremely easy to insert seat into base and remove from base
• Easy to use harness, complete with INCLUDED strap covers
• Fits smaller babies with INCLUDED infant padding
• A bit heavy at 9 pounds for the carrier
• It is large. We had to move our passenger seat forward in our Jeep Compass for it to fit in the backseat.