As any mom knows, it’s ridiculously easy to rack up baby stuff (bottles, bibs, Boppies...and that’s just the letter B). So when you find something that will take you through your kid’s next growth spurt, it feels like winning the parenting lottery. Which is why we were so excited to hear about the Chicco Fit4 4-in-1 car seat.
Chicco is consistently rated as one of the safest car seat makers on the market, and this new iteration sounds great on paper: Easy-to-remove layers mean your kid can safely use the seat from four to 100 pounds (in other words, from day one until about 10 years old). It also features a ten-position easy-adjust headrest and nine recline positions, and works in both rear- and front-facing positions. But how does it fare in real life? One PureWow mom put it to the test with her two boys, 4-year-old Henry (stage three: preschool) and 6-year-old Charlie (stage four: big kid).
Installation: “We are a Chicco family through and through—we started with the KeyFit30 (i.e., the stage one infant seat), which both boys used. Then we bought two NextFit Zip convertible seats that we were very happy with. All to say that installation at this point is fairly intuitive, as Chicco has similar features and attachment points across all products. The only thing that was slightly tricky is that, because we jumped straight to levels three and four, we had to flip through the instructions manual a little bit; the beginning shows you the levels, but then the removal of the cushions, padding and straps comes later. I have to admit that we didn’t try to scan the QR code on the side of the car seat, which leads you to instructional videos, but that seems like a pretty cool feature. Because I had previously watched the videos and had the end vision in mind, all in all it was fairly easy.”
Usability: “The seat was super simple to use. It was easy to tighten the straps thanks to the SuperCinch Latch tightener—that strap in between the legs—which was very smooth to operate. And the buckles were easy to clip and unclip; both of my boys were able to do it themselves.”
Safety: “I felt confident that my kids were safe in the seat. For Charlie, the positioning of the seat belt looked spot-on—flat across his lap and shoulder—but it definitely doesn’t feel as secure and protected as using a five-point harness. That isn’t anything against the car seat, but more just something I have to get used to. (I can’t believe my baby is big enough for a seat belt!) That said, I loved the side and head protection the seat offers versus just a booster.”
Cleaning: “Amazingly, I haven’t had to clean the seat yet. But the fabric is just like our other Chicco products, which wipe clean and pop out and into the machine very easily. The ability to toss your grimy, Cheerio-filled car seat cover into the laundry is a must-have in my book.”
Potential drawbacks: “We haven’t been on a long car ride yet—our trips have all been less than an hour—so my oldest may not be used to being so upright if he wanted to fall asleep. And he’s pretty long, so his legs definitely just hang down, but this would happen in any car seat. We’ve started putting a packed bag or a box as a makeshift footstool under him on longer trips.”
What the kids thought: “They loved the seat and were very comfortable there. For Henry, it was more upright than his NextFit, which he enjoyed since it made him feel like a big boy. And Charlie was so proud that he was able to use the actual car seat belt. This definitely gave him much more mobility than his previous car seat, so we had to remind him to keep his tush firmly in the seat and to stop touching his brother! The space-saving CupFolders were also a big hit.”
The final verdict: “I wish we had bought this before our NextFit seats—this will clearly last much longer as kids grow through the four stages and would have saved us money in the long run. (A NextFit seat costs $300, so you do the math.) Charlie is four feet tall and was at the very limit on the NextFit, whereas with this seat, he clearly has room to grow both in weight and height. Overall, this seat offers comfortable padding and great protection and is super easy to use—I’d definitely recommend it.”