43 answers

Where Do You Position Your Carseats?

We have a 17 month old son and are expecting a brother or sister for him in late June. I am not sure where to position the carseats in our car! Do I put the new babe directly behind me, or our big boy? Either way, I feel like I won't be able to see one of them. We currently have our son in the middle. Any advice/thoughts? Thanks!

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Wow! Thanks to everyone for your helpful advice! Seems like there are many possibilities, but we'll probably go with the babe in the middle and our son behind the passenger seat. This has been a great resource, so many things we didn't know, like behind the passenger seat is a safe spot because it is least likely to be hit in an accident (thanks Susan L). And the reminders to check with the fire dept or health dept (oh, yeah! where is my brain?). I hope the positioning works, we have a small SUV (Rav 4). Am also a little worried about our big boy 'playing' with the babe, but we'll see how it goes. We will definitely take the seats to the fire dept to be checked. Thanks too, for all of the well wishes re: babe #2! You guys are the best!

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I put the baby behind the passenger seat because it is easier to reach there. Also-invest in a baby car mirror that attaches to the back of the back seat to show you the baby when they are rear facing.

I put my 4 YO behind the passenger side (Least likely to get hit because it is away from traffic) and my infant in the middle. It works out great b/c I can ask him to entertain her if she fusses or stick her binki back in her mouth. Hope this helps!

I personally kept the infant where I could see them while driving. Once they are a couple months old then I didn't worry about SIDS or choking episodes, so I just let them sit in either seat. I put both infant-toddler seats behind the adult seats, and I ask my 13 year old to sit between the car seats.

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I personally kept the infant where I could see them while driving. Once they are a couple months old then I didn't worry about SIDS or choking episodes, so I just let them sit in either seat. I put both infant-toddler seats behind the adult seats, and I ask my 13 year old to sit between the car seats.

Hi M., Congrats on the new one coming! I would put your older one behind you, that way he can reach to give/get something from you if needed. You will be able to see the baby over your shoulder and get to him/her in a pinch. A smaller rearview mirror that you can move around to check on them is always good too! Good luck!

I have a 2 year old and a 5 month old. I have the little one behind the driver seat since I can't see her anyway because she is facing the rear. It seems to be working out since my 2 year old is constantly dropping toys and I have to reach back, pick them up and hand them back to her! ha!

If it were me, I think I'd put the baby behind the driver. Most little ones sleep in the car and since he's turned around, you won't be able to see the baby no matter where you put the seat. You'd be able to see and interact with your older son in the car. JMO!

I put my 4 YO behind the passenger side (Least likely to get hit because it is away from traffic) and my infant in the middle. It works out great b/c I can ask him to entertain her if she fusses or stick her binki back in her mouth. Hope this helps!

This might sound a little odd, but if you have your car manual still, it normally tells you the best location for car seats for your particular car. I personally would say that as long as you don't think the 17 month old would hurt the baby in any way, then the baby in the middle and the 17 month old to passenger side. I have a little rear view mirror attacted to my rear view mirror so I can see the back seat. I would not get one that attaches to the back window for a few reasons. One: They give you an extra blind spot that you would otherwise not have. Two: Nothing should be in the back window of a car, if you stop too fast or get in an accident things in the back window can come flying out and hit those in the back seat or the driver.
Best of luck!

The youngest child should be in the middle of the back seat. Your 17 month old can go behind you or on the passenger side of the back seat. You may have to adjust your rearview mirror to be able to see your 17 month old in the back seat but I'm sure he will be fine. Congratulations on your new addition in June!

I am 31 and have been married for almost 12 yrs. My husband and I have 3 wonderful boys ages 10,7 and 4.

I would wait and see what works best for you. I have four kids, 3 of whom are in car/booster seats. It drives my husband crazy, but I like to move the seats around from time to time just to see if a different configuration might be more convenient. I personally don't like any of them behind me (the driver) because then when I parallel park, someone HAS to get out on the traffic side of the car, so I usually put a bigger kid there because they can climb over to the 'safe side' to get out of the car.

We always put the baby in the middle. You're not really supposed to SEE anyone in the back seat. Especially if you have kids...keep your eyes on the road!!! I used to do it too!! With my second we put him in the middle and when the new baby comes along, she'll be in the middle of the 2 boys.

We put our daughter (who was 21 months when our son was born) behind the passenger seat and put our baby boy in the middle. The only problem we have had with that at all is our daughter uncovering her brother.

When we had our second child I put our oldest behind the passenger seat and our new born behind our drivers seat. The reasoning for this was that the newborn A. doesnt need as much attention, B. It is very hard to see them while they are rear facing. Whereas my oldest it was easier to hand him stuff that he needed while driving or taking stuff from him. Hope that helps you. Also you would be surprised how much the older one will tell you if you need to know about your newborn. My son will tell me if she is sleeping or awake or if she is chewing on her toy. So you do have a set of eyes that will be able to see your newborn better than you will be able to.

The baby should always go in the middle and if not behind the passenger seat. I see alot of people that have the behind their drivers seat but I wouldn't. We took our car seats to the fire dept to have them install them so they were correct. They also told us that.


It depends on the size of your car. I drive a Saturn Vue and have no choice but to place each kid by the windows. My daughter loves it, because she can see better. Try placing a mirror on the seat by the baby carseat (the rear facing one) so you can see the infant. Also place one below the rearview mirror and position it so you can see the infant and your oldest. Remember, safety first.

I have a two year old and a five month old and was in a similar position. Because of the size of our car, we had to put the forward facing toddler seat behind the driver seat and the rear facing infant seat behind the passenger seat. The reason being that in order to fit the rear facing seat in, the front seat has to be pushed way far forward. As you can deal with this being the passenger, the driver needs to be comfortable with the distance from the stearing wheel. So, depending on how small your car is, you might have to do the same. It is working out just fine for us. Hope this helps! God bless!

I have my 2yr. old daughter behind me, and my 6 month old on the opposite side.:) Good luck!

Congratulations! We too were in the same dilema. We have placed the infant seat behind the driver, and our toddler behind the passenger. I forget the website, but I read that the safest non-middle position for a forward facing carseat is behind the passenger.

We had the exact same 'dilemma' when our daughter was born. Same age difference between children as yours -- and I still wanted to be able to see my son, as well as the baby!
We decided that it was most important for the driver to see the baby (know if sun's in her eyes, choking on spit up, head falling over, etc.) So baby went behind passenger's seat and we used the mirror that goes on the headrest (wonderful invention!)
My son did fine being behind the driver's seat. We may have considered putting him in the middle still; however, it wouldn't be as convenient to put the baby carrier in and out of the car, plus who wants to continue and break their back getting the almost 2-year-old out of the middle seat ;0)

Best wishes!

according to the wic office, they told me start with the youngest/smallest kid, first choice is the middle, second choice is behind the passenger, third is behind driver, then fill in the 3rd row seats if you have them. The logic being that the youngest kids are the ones you have to worry the most about choking or such like that.

I put my older son (17 months when #2 was born) on the passenger side so that I could reach him. I can see the baby with mirrors but he sleeps in the car most the time so I don't need to be able to get to him. I like to be able to reach Eli to hand him a snack or sippy cup or whatever when I stop at lights and things. We just turned him around this week and now it REALLY easy to get to him. I'm glad I waited for safety, but it sure is nice having him face forward!

The best place to check with about that is the local health department. They have the most current up to date info on that.
If like us, and you have a car seat that just doesn't sit quite right (is is supposed to be level with ground or floor) at the Health dept. they gave us a "cut off" piece of noodle (thing for water play) to put under the one part of the seat to help even it.

Hi M.,
When we had our second child we put the newborn closest to the door. Make sure your older child is able to climb in and out of his seat himself(make a game out of precticing). It would be difficult to reach across a child seat to pop an infant seat in and out. It will be an effort either way but you just learn to make it work! There are also great little mirrors you can buy that will enlarge your view of the back and you will be able to see them both clearly.
Good Luck!

You should always go to the safest place in the car for the youngest/smallest on up. Should the very unfortunate happen, the young the child the more frail. The youngest should go in the middle seat of the middle (or back section if there are only two rows of seats) of the car. The next safest is the passenger side of the car, and then the driver's side. From there go to the 3rd row seating if you have it and follow the same cycle, middle, passenger, then driver's side. This will always keep your children (or other's if you include friends) in the srongest and safest part of the car. It will also make it easier to see both children if one is in the middle and the other is on the passenger side and not directly behind you. I hope that you find this helpful and it answers your questions.

I have a 3yo DD and she is now behind the passenger seat and 5mo DS is in the middle. I gave her the choice of where she wanted him to be. I know your DS isn't old enough to decide. Someone gave me the idea that the older child can crawl over if need be so you only have to open one door? I open her door, she climbs in and I shut it then fasten her belts across the baby. I have one of the little mirrors stuck on my front window so I can see her, and one of the big "backseat" mirrors setup so I can see him.


Dear M.,

I'm one of those moms that likes to be able to see all of my children all of the time! When our second child was born, we received a mirror for the car that I still use today and my three kids are 9,7, and 5. It came from Toys R Us and has two parts. One mirror attaches to your rear-view mirror so that you can see all the kids in the back. The other part is a mirror that goes in the back seat and faces your baby in the rear-facing car seat. You can look through your mirror and see your baby's face as he/she is looking in their mirror. I don't know who the manufacturere is, but I think it's Cosco. Hope this helps!

K. Shelton, mother of 3

The new baby should go in the middle. Put your son behind the passenger seat so you can still see him. This way you can see both of them and make sure that the big brother doesn't accidently hurt the baby. Congrats on the new baby.

Hi M.. I also have 2 little ones, my son is 2.5 and my daughter is almost 1. I have my son behind the passenger seat and my daughter behind me (she is still in the infant seat) with a travel mirror that hangs off the headrest of the back seat. You can get these from babies r us, target, walmart etc and they are not expensive. This has really helped me keep my eye on both of them when we are in the car. Good luck with the new arrival :)

I have 2 girls and they are 19 months apart. When they were that young. I put my older one behind me because she could do more and I did not have to worry as much about her but I put the younger one diagonal from me so I could help her since she could not do as much. Now that they are older they switch themselves all of the time. I hope that helps.

I agree with the others, safest is in the middle.
When my daughter was in an infant seat, I put her in the middle and her brother's farward facing carseat was behind the passenger seat. I put one of those baby mirrors on the back window so I could see her by just glancing in my rearview mirror. Now that she's bigger though her forward facing seat doesn't fit properly next to ds's booster so she's behind me.
Oh, and with her in the middle, it was easier to reach back there to replace a binky or hand her a toy.

My pediatrician recomends one on each end. The belts plus the seat front make for better protection. They make all kinds of mirrors now that you can use in your car. I always found it easier to have the younger one more where I could reach than see. Easier for bottles and binkies.

I ended up putting my newborn behind the passenger seat because it's easier to shake(I can't think of a better word) her to sleep when she needs a little help. Also, we have a minivan and the older kids use the driver side sliding door to get in and out so the newborn seat made it very difficult for them- they had to climb under it.

The safest place n a vehicle is the middle of the backseat, so it's best if the youngest or smallest child goes there.

My two (boy and girl) are 13 months apart, so I know what you're going through. I had my son behind the driver's seat, forward facing, and my daughter behind the passenger's seat, rear facing. There just wasn't enough room in the car to put her in the middle, though if you can do it, that's the best option. It was easier for me to reach back to my daughter while driving if she was fussy having her on the passenger side. Plus, it was nice because the two of them could see each other and play. It always makes me laugh hearing the giggling coming from the back seat. Good luck!

further back in the vehicle,the better and safer. Check with your local fire department or police department, and they will be happy to help you get the carseats in your car in safest possible. They are specially trained in carseat safety, and they are happy to do that for free!

The safest place is where ever you get the best install. If you can install the seats just as good in all spots then as a previous poster mentioned the least protected child needs to be in the middle, meaning the forward facing child because rear facing is the safest for everyone but obviously not practical when we grow up:) You could keep your older one rear facing longer with many seats. My 2 year old is still rear facing and loving it:)

We had our daughter when our son was 17 mo old. For a while I put her on the passenger side and him behind me. As he got older he wanted to jump out of the car on his own. That is when I switched them so he would jump onto the sidewalk and not into the road -- even if I was holding his hand.

They now have mirrors to help with this. You purchase them in the baby section of stores.

i just had a baby girl in oct. last year & was faced with the same delima. i asked the nurse at the hospital and she said if my son was old enough not to try to "feed" the baby or give her toys that were not for her age, then put her in the middle and him behind the front passenger. she said if he would try to give her things that she could choke on then put her behind me and him at the other door.it's been almost 6 mo. now & i have her behind me and him at the other door & i have an attatchment that goes on your rearview mirror where i can see into the back seat to keep an eye on them. good luck & congradulations!!

We put the new baby behind the passenger seat, so that we can see him. I'd rather be able to see the littlest one, to make sure he's okay. Older one never thought anything of it.

I put the baby behind the passenger seat because it is easier to reach there. Also-invest in a baby car mirror that attaches to the back of the back seat to show you the baby when they are rear facing.

If your son is still rearfacing (which would be ideal) then as far as I've read, it doesn't really matter who goes where. I would be inclined to put the baby in the middle, I suppose, because it's the safest seat, and I would think that babies bodies are less physically able to withstand pressure from a wreck/sudden stop/etc. Or you could go with whichever seat will be easier for you to see for the baby. Both choices seem quite reasonable to me.
If you son is forward facing (it might not be too late to put him rearfacing again), I personally would put your toddler in the middle. Ideally, you want to put the least protected child in the most protected seat. The most protected seat is the middle, rearfacing is the safest, followed by harnessed forward facing, then far behind is boosters.

In my opinion, though, being rearfacing is a bigger safety factor than which position. I think it's most important to do what is going to work for you in regards to making sure you toddler won't "feed" your baby (as a pp said), if one of them will need you to hand them things, etc.

Technically, you are supposed to have the 'least protected' child in the center of the backseat. That would mean the older child because facing forward isn't as safe as facing backwards. So, older child in center, baby either behind driver or passenger.

Realistically, that's very hard, if not impossible, to do with most cars. The seatbelts are usually too close together so it makes getting a tight fit hard. Also, many cars do not have latch specific for the center seat -- only for the outside seats -- and the center carseat just uses those latch anchors. You can't have more than 1 carseat attached to a latch anchor so one would have to use latch and one use seatbelt. I like having the baby directly behind the driver because I can see her easily in the mirror. Also, I can reach back to hand her the pacifier or whatever when stopped at a light. If there was a rearfacing carseat in teh middle it would block all access and I wouldn't be able to hand anything back.

What we've done... when we had 1 child, he was rearfacing behind driver. It was too darn hard, not to mention killing my back, to lift him up and into the center of the middle seat. We have a 3 row SUV, btw. When baby #2 came along, she went rear facing behind driver with 3 year old forward facing behind passenger. When #3 came along, baby is once again rearfacing behind driver and no one is in seat next to her. The 5 year old is in 3rd row on driver's side and 2 year old is next to him.

As for seeing him, just put up a car mirror. They make them out of unbreakable material, usually with fabric as a frame, and they can be attached very securely to the seatback. The one we have ties around the headrest, with a loop under it (around metal support sticks), and then we use 2 big safety pins to pin it to the fabric. It's not going anywhere in a crash! Then you can glance into the rearview mirror to see their face in their mirror.

It is best to have the smallest child in the center of the car, however I have heard that the next safest spot is the passenger side rear seat. So I would personally position the younger of the two children there. Also I know at least Lutheran hospital in Fort Wayne does child safety seat inspections and installations. You could go to them or check with your hospital. They will put them in the best position as well as make sure the seat is installed correctly. We did this both times we were in the hospital having our kids as well as when my oldest son switched from a rear facing to a forward facing car seat.

I always put my little one diagonally from me(back passenger seat)so I could reach them if needed. Look for a baby mirror at Wal-mart or Babies'r us, it attatches to the back window so when you look from the rearview mirror you can see the baby's face. It's really cool and takes some worry away from not seeing them.

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