16 answers

Which Car Seat Should Go Where?

I have a two year old daughter and am expecting a little boy in a few weeks. I have a 2008 Toyota Camry LE and I'm trying to figure out the best way to arrange their car seats. I currently have my daughter in her Britax Decathalon convertible car seat behind the passengers seat. I put the infant car seat in the middle but it's almost like the Britax is a little too bulky to let it fit comfortably. The infant car seat leans just a tad....and I mean just a teeny tiny bit, but still enough to bother me. I didn't know if it would be safe to put the infant car seat on one of the sides, and if so which one. Should I move my 2 year old behind me and put the infant seat behind the passenger, or vice versa? I didn't know if there were any laws on this either??

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I put the baby behind the driver's seat and my oldest behind the passenger's seat just becuse it mad the carpool line at school easier and I didn't have to get out and walk my oldest around the car. They are now 8 and almost 4 and still sit in the same places. It is also easier because Emma is still in a 5 point harness (and probably will be until she starts Kindergarten because she is so little) so I am able to buckle her in right before I get in.

You have received a lot of advice. I think either side is good but I put my 2nd (16 months apart) child/the baby-- behind the driver's seat. It was easier for me to get it in and out- right behind me. I put my other child behind the passenger seat. She could reach out if I had to give or take something. Blessings to all of you.

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When my youngest daughter was born, I had the same concerns. I ended up putting the infant seat behind the passengers seat and my 4 year old behind the drivers seat. That way, if the baby started crying I could try to reach her. I tried putting the infant seat in the middle but it didn't feel secure. Even now, my girls are 8 years old and 3 years old and they still sit where I placed them when the youngest was born.

Congratulations and good luck!

The newest recommendations are that your LEAST-protected child goes into the MOST-protected seat. That means that your daughter is the one who should go in the middle, since your son will be rear-facing and therefore more protected by his seat. Try it with her in the middle and him rear-facing behind the passenger seat.

For me I put my new baby on the passenger side and older daughter driver side. It was easier to give stuff to the new child. Kudos to Amber who is Extending Rear Facing her 15mo old! I still have my 2yr 10mo old 30lbs ERF as well. You may want to turn your 2yr old RF again because it is much safer. A childs neck bones do not fully form together until 4-6years of age. IF in a accident your childs head will go forward. If your childs neck bones are not connected, a child could face death or paralization. There is an 18mo old 33lbs named Joel, Joelsjourney.org, He was FF in a 35mph car accident and he broke his neck. thankfully now there are 3 carseat that will RF to 40lbs, Sunshine Kids Radian Sep08 and newer. Safest 1st Complete air, Graco My Ride.
Lynn is also right in saying the least protective child goes in the middle. The Rf child is craddeled in an accident while a FF child is not. Mary N, carseat are allowed to touch. How do you think a family with 3 carseat aged kids in a saden do it? As long as each seat is installed independantly and has 1in or less of movement at the belt path then you are fine. I have had in my 06 Pilot RF Britax wizard Passenger using LATCH, Graco Nautilus center using seatbelt and Tether and another Graco Nautilus driver using Seatbelt and Tether. Go to Car-seat.org type in the search box "3 across" and you will get a thread of cars with three carseats in them. I have a picture if you want to see. good luck and if you have any ??? feel free to ask me. I love helping people with car seat stuff. I am a carseat nut.

I have a Honda Civic and a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter and a six month old son. I have my son behind the passenger seat and my daughter, in a Britax, behind the driver. My husband likes to put the seat farther back when he drives. If we had put the infant seat behind the driver's seat, the driver's seat would have hit the car seat when my husband adjusted it to what was comfortable for him. I was concerned about the safety of this, and also the ease of getting the car seat in and out when it is so close to the drivers seat.

As far as putting the infant seat in the middle seat, I don't think it is safe for the two seats to be touching. I haven't read anything officially on this, but it would make me uncomfortable.

I had the same situation. I have a 2.5 year old daughter who always sat in the center, both as a rear facing infant and as a forward facing toddler. So when we were adding the 2nd car seat, I thought the infant should go in the center for safety purposes. But in reality, that just wouldn't work. So, we moved our Britax behind the driver and the Peg infant seat behind the passenger. Here is our reasoning - when its just me and the girls in the car, which it is during the day, I can get to the infant much easier if she is behind the passenger seat vs being directly behind me. And the 2.5 year old is more self sufficient, so needing to get to her is typically not as urgent. Our youngest is now 2 months and this has worked out well. You may want to include your 2 year old in the move though if you switch her from passenger to drive side. You don't want her to feel that she is being removed or replaced by the new baby. Make it a big deal that she gets to move to that side of the car. We made the switch a few weeks prior to the 2nd being born so she had a chance to ride there by herself before adding the baby back there with her.

Good luck! And congratulations!

Put the infant car seat behind the passenger seat, you can reach it it better, and the 2 year old car seat behind you, you can still see it good in the rear view mirror because she is forward facing.

Safekids.org is a great resource for questions like this. They have a number of inspection stations and hold events frequently at Babies R Us where they inspect your carseats and the configuration in your vehicle. Here's the link for upcoming events


I understand the predicament. I was in your shoes a year ago and asked my pediatrician for advice. He said to put one car seat on each side (no one in the middle). I chose to put the baby behind me in case I had to jump out of the car and get to her fast. Good luck and have fun!

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