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April 2017

Compact Car Seats: The Solution For Small Cars

Fitting Three Car Seats Across

If you are a parent or are soon to be a parent of more than two children, the question of which car seats and cars are the best if I need to put all children in a safety car seat will be one of the top most in your mind.

Many states have passed laws that require that children below the child of 8 need to be transported in booster car seats. As such, every parent with more than two children will likely have to deal with the issue of the best car seats to fit three in the back seat at one time or another.

However following the following recommendations should be of great help in securing your young one safely

The Car

If you need a car that can fit three child car seats in the back but do not want or do not have the budget for a minivan SUV or any other large model of car, a small car will still do. Nonetheless, you will need to find a car that has some features that will make it easier to install the car seat in your small car.

If you want to easily install three seats in your backseat, you will have to find a car whose rear seat is as flat as possible. A car whose rear seats have a humped center, are sloping or have deep contours are not the best for car seats, let alone three car seats.

Check to see if the LATCH or seat belt hardware overlap or whether the space in which the hardware is installed is too narrow. If it is too narrow or overlaps, it may make it impossible or too complicated to install the car seat. A good car will typically have the LATCH and lower anchor spaced out at about 11 inches. Seats that will be unsuitable for three car seats may have center LATCH lower anchors that overlap given that many of these cars assume that they will be used with two child car seats rather than three.

If you already have a car, it is always advisable to try out the installation of the car seats in the back seat before you make the decision to purchase.

Go for Compact Car Seats

Compact car seats are usually some of the best convertible car seats you can find given that they have smaller overall dimensions and footprints. The dimensions of car seats will vary depending on manufacturer and add-ons such as snack and cup holders that can make a seat wider. The following are some of highly rated compact car seats from the different types of car seats that will fit three car seats in the back seat.

  1. Infant Car Seats: Nuna Pipa, Uppababy Mesa, GB Asana 35 DLX, Chicco Keyfit 30
  2. Convertible Car Seats: Cosco Scenra NEXT, Evenflo Titan 65, Evenflo SureRide, Britax Marathon Clicktight
  3. Booster Seats: Safety 1st Boost Air, Graco Affix, Evenflo Big Kid
  4. All-In-One Car seat: Graco 4Ever, Graco Milestone
  5. Combination/Toddler-Booster: Cosco Highback Booster, Evenflo Securekid DLX,Britax Frontier, Graco Argos, Graco Nautilus

While the Diono Radian and the Combi Coccoro are also good options given that they are some of the narrowest car seats you may find, installing them in rear facing mode can be quite a challenge. But if you are going to install the car seats in forward facing mode, then by all means you can take the two models into consideration.

Child Car Seat Interactions

Sometimes even the most compact car seats will not install three in the back safely given that their shapes and designs may clash with each other. For instance if you have two narrow car seats whose armrests meet at the same point, they may not be the easiest o install given that they will take up more space. Finding car seats that fit together may take a bit of trial and error but eventually you should find car seats that do not interfere with the installation by meeting at their widest points.

Alternate Direction

One of the easiest ways of dealing with the issue of conflicting designs is by installing the car seat in different modes. If you have three children it is likely that their ages may be different. Given that the bases of the car seat are usually the narrowest, you can make the seats fit by installing the rear facing car seats at the ends and the forward facing car seat in the middle. You can install the middle seat first for the toddler first and have the kid climb in before installing the other two seats for their siblings. Nonetheless each family will have a different puzzle to solve and by trying out different configurations you will find the one that best works for you.

Harnessed Seats May be Advantageous to Booster Seats

If you intend to use three seats in the back, a harnessed seat may be a better option as compared to a booster. It is more difficult to buckle a booster seat when you have three of them in the back due to the narrow space that will be left after installation. However, given that a harnessed seat does not need you to reach for the buckle at the edges of the seat, they will be preferable as long as you have the child in a seat that is appropriate for their height and weight. While installing a harness seat is complicated and tedious at first, they are easier to use thereafter as you can easily access the harness from the front seat to buckle the child in afterwards.

Seat Belt Installations May be Preferable to Lower LATCH Anchors

Again it is better to install your car seats with vehicle seat belts as opposed to lower LATCH anchors as these will make it easier to use the car seat. This will come in very handy in instances in which lower LATCH anchors may be in conflict with seat belt buckles making it harder to access them. Most vehicles still lack the lower LATCH anchors making installation in the center of the rear seats almost impossible.

Consult Local CPS Professionals

With three across the back an increasingly common problem, CPS professionals are becoming more proficient at offering tricks and advice that will make it easier and safer to install three seats in the back of the vehicle. A CPS may have some nice solutions that will help you install car seats in your small car that you may have never thought of.

Find a CPS instructor or technician in your area.

The safe and secure installation of a child safety seat may be hard enough even with just one car seat. You need to be ready to engage in some trial and error to make three in the back seat work and if not return the car seats until you find the ones that fit in your car.