How to arrange car seats with a toddler and an infant?

Updated on October 23, 2009
S.M. asks from Indianapolis, IN
11 answers

Hi Moms!
I am having my second child in about 4 weeks so of course I have trillions of little things running through my mind! We are getting ready to put in the baby car seats and my husband and I have been debating which seat to put it behind. My almost 3 year old sits behind the passenger seat in both cars (essentially they are both 4 seaters). He is a VERY structured child and I worry about moving him to make room for the baby. I have a Honda Element which has a lot of space between the rear and front seats so I will have a difficult time seeing the 3 year old or handing him anything if he is behind me. What have other moms done??

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Different parents have different opinions and preferences on car seats installation, look at the article for more advices. Have your local police department check your car seat installation for safety.

So What Happened?

Thanks for all your input - I knew this was the right place to ask. Everyone has such great ideas and experiences! Thanks Moms!

Featured Answers



answers from Terre Haute on

If you plan on moving the car seat do it now so he does not think it is to make room for the baby. tell him that now that he is a big boy that is the big boy seat( like a promotion)
also this may help.
When I was born my mother did not call me her baby. she told my brother (22 months older) that i was his baby. When I got married my brother told my husband he had to ask his (brothers) hand in marriage as I was his baby. (we are still close)It made my brother feel special not like he was being replaced.
Best wishes and congratulations!

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answers from Indianapolis on

If you have any car seat issues you can stop by any fire department and they will put your mind at ease. I have two kids and I used to babysit a baby. Anytime I had a question I would stop by and help. If the kids are old enough they would even give the kids a tour of the fire house and let them play on the fire truck. Which would always turn into a great photo opportunity.

Good Luck



answers from Cleveland on

I kept my oldest behind the passenger seat so I could hand him things and he could get in and out on the curb side and not in the street. This is also great for preschool drop off lines.



answers from Toledo on

We divided it. We put the older child behind the passenger seat in our larger vehicle and the older child behind the driver in the other. My husband and I alternate cars enough that basically this way there are never favorites. Actually, we had to have the baby behind the passenger seat because my Neon is so small and that way we could pull the passenger seat up some. My older child did have some concerns about wishing she was behind the passenger in both cars, but it has really worked out well. I have found that for the most part I can still reach my older child in both cars regardless of where she is seated. Good luck!



answers from Bloomington on

we had a major tantrum/meltdown the first time we took baby in the car because both of my kids wanted to sit by the baby. (they are 5 and 3 yrs old) however, since then they have been ok.

do what works best for you to drive safely and meet the needs of both of your children. there will be LOTS of adjustments for your little boy with a new baby... so moving the car seat NOW so he gets used to that change before the baby disrupts things would be good. (i also recommend setting up the baby's room etc now, so new furniture and things are not so shocking. also helps the kids prepare mentally for the baby and think about it.)



answers from Columbus on

i moved my 2 year old from the middle to the side and moved our newborn into the center. it worked great, my son likes to hold his little sisters hand!! explaining that they are a big boy and get to do new things will get you a long way at this age!!



answers from Columbus on

I personally moved my older child behind the drivers seat. She was 2.5 at the time our son was born. We made a big deal about her being the big sister with that as we had with every other change we were making. I have an suv so therefore it wasn't easy for me to reach back behind me & hand her things either. So my "perfect" solution was to help her be more self sufficient. We bought a between the seats car organizer
I was still worried about her dropping her cup and not being able to reach it or freak out.... so I bought a "cup tether". It basically clips to the fabric or strap of the carseat & wraps around the cup. That way they can pull the cup back to themselves. I got it at Meijer. I found a snack buddy one on OneStepAhead that looks just like the cup one I found.... One more thing I did was to get one of those "baby" rearview mirrors that I could attach to the side of my cars rearview mirror. I positioned it to where I could quickly glance up and be able to see her at all times. Of course I also had the mirror on the seat for the baby too... so I could keep an eye on him too. These items were "lifesavers" for me while traveling alone with the little ones.
Good luck & congratulations on the upcoming arrival of your new addition!



answers from Indianapolis on

Do whatever is right for your situation. If you end up moving the older child, do it now. Then in a couple weeks put in the baby's carseat so he can get used to it before baby arrives.

Personally, I'd leave the kiddo where he is. Put the baby behind the driver. When it comes time to get in/out of the car you can just open the door for the 3 year old then walk around and put the baby in while he climbs in and sits down. If you do need to stop to check on the baby it's very quick to jump out, open the door behind the driver and do whatever instead of walking all the way around the car.

Also think carpool situations... in our case, it worked to have the older child behind the passenger because when we pull up to the preschool to do drop-off that's the curb-side. It was easy for the teachers to open the door and get the child out and they didn't have to walk all the way around the car.

I wouldn't put the kids next to each other - that's just asking for poking and stealing toys. :-)

Just remember that it's not set in stone. Put the baby behind you and see how it works out. If you don't like it, switch them. If that's worse, switch them back.

My oldest is also very structured (Asperger kids usually are) and hates change with a passion. However, it's actually good to throw them a loop now by making a change so they learn to deal with it. You can make the whole world revolve around them forever so they need to know that everyday life things cause change and they need exposure to it.



answers from Indianapolis on

when we had our second (ours are almost 2 years apart), we put the bucket seat in the middle so we could get to her with the greatest ease. Our son was behind the driver's side. I could get him out first and then get her out over his seat. We debated and debated, and this worked best for us. Even today, I have our older child (3) behind me. It's easier to get him out, let him walk, and then hold our 18 month-old into the store.

Good luck.



answers from Columbus on

Rear seat center is best for a rear facing car seat. If you have to buckets in the back and not a bench put the infant directly behind the driver. This way you will still be able to hand things to your older child.



answers from South Bend on

When my second came we moved my son stayed behind the passengers seat and we put the baby in the middle of the back seat. He absolutely LOVES sitting next to her and holding her hand. They play together. He is very involved with her. He loves to help so I try to focus on how he can help take care of her. The point I am trying to make is...find whatever "floats your son's boat" and try to turn that into a way for him to interact with this new sibling. If he feels involved with the process rather than something is happening to him that he has control over, it will probably go more smoothly. If you can't put the baby in the middle, just put the baby behind the driver's side. One way or the other there will be one child you can't reach properly. He is old enough to help reach the baby if you can't and that way it won't mess up his routine either. Good luck!

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