This was a interesting topic that recently came up in a conversation on Twitter, and it gave me a moment to pause and think. What are your best options for seating placement when you have multiple car seats, at multiple ages, in the same car? Most people are faced with this question at some point or another, whether it be for a single child, or adding some to the existing mix. In honor of Child Passenger Safety Week, I am going to do my best to help solve this problem for you!
Here are two key factors to keep in mind when trying to figure out how to position your child(ren) in your car.
- In the past, I have discussed the importance of rear-facing and gone through the facts on how much safer it is for your child. If you have not read this article, please do so here. I always (and passionately) recommend that if your child is within the two year old range, that you keep them rear facing up until them, or longer if your seat allows it.
- A child placed in the middle seat is at a 43% lower risk of injury than those in either side position.
- Always check with your car’s manual for their guidelines and recommendations, unfortunately, not all cars are built to accommodate a car in the middle position.
So how do you decide how to place your children throughout the car, for the safest fit? below are a few scenarios and how, in my opinion, they should be seated.
- Single child, rear facing OR single child forward facing – Middle seat.
- Infant in a bucket seat OR rear facing toddler and a toddler in a forward facing seat – Infant on the outboard seat (passenger or drivers side), with the forward facing toddler in the middle seat beside them. Reasons behind this are because the rear facing child is already 80% safer, just by being RF and you automatically give the forward facing toddler more protection by keeping him in the middle seat.
- Two forward facing toddlers and one rear facing toddler OR infant in a bucket seat – if you are in a 5 seat vehicle: rear facing toddler or baby on the outboard, with the two forward facing toddlers on the other side, one in the middle and one on the outboard. If you have a 7 or 8 seat vehicle: Rear facing toddler or infant on the outboard, forward facing toddlers in the front and rear middle seats.
- Two rear facing toddlers OR Infants in bucket seats and one forward facing toddler: Rear facing kids on the outboard with the forward facing toddler in the middle seat.
Another question I am frequently asked is: ‘Which car seats have the best fit for 3 across?’ As of right now, the Diono (previously called SunshineKids) Radians, and the soon-to-be-released Clek Foonf (which I am SO insanely excited about) are the only seats on the market that have a narrow enough base to fit three across. If you are looking to add a infant seat to add into the mix the Chicco Keyfit and Peg Perego Primo Viaggio SIP has been getting some solid recommendations.
Ideally, you would like to have all the car seats properly installed, by a CPST, using the LATCH system, but in older model cars, and even some newer ones, it’s just not possible. If you do not have access to a LATCH system, please make sure you have your seat installed professionally and you learn how to do it properly yourself, for future references.
I hope this takes some of the guess work and frustrations out of keeping your children safe in your vehicle. I know that adding a child (or two!) to the mix, can be a tad daunting, especially if you are trying to plan for the future. My best piece of advice for first time parents is to always keep the future in mind when choosing your car seat. If you know you want at least 3 children, make sure to pick the car seat that will accommodate that set up, in order to avoid having to buy new seats later. Perhaps this insight will even cause you to change around your current seating set up, and if so, I am always happy to help! As usual, if anyone has questions in regards to car seat safety, please please please feel free to contact me (Twitter, Facebook, or email me firstname.lastname@example.org), or leave a comment below.