Not Enough Room for 3 Carseats in Back Seat

Updated on July 19, 2010
B.B. asks from Nampa, ID
19 answers

I live in Idaho and I'm wondering if its legal to put a carseat in the front seat if there is no way to safely fit all the carseats in the back? We have a toddler and are expecting twins. Would have been fine with just 2 in back, but our car is tiny and we just can't fit all three. There's no way we can afford to buy a new or used car right now. We are figuring I can squeeze in between the two infants in the back and put the toddler seat in the front passenger. There are no airbags.

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answers from Denver on

You do not need kids rear facing to 2 that's insane, but needless to say its dangerous to have any young child in the front seat. I have Radian Carseats and they can fit 3 across in a small car plus they are awesome car seats. They are pricey, but its cheaper than getting a new car. Google radian or sunshine kids car seats.

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1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I took this from the idaho state website. Notice in the last two paragraphs it specifically states the child must be in the rear seat up until age 6..

Idaho’s New Child Restraint Law
Idaho Code 49-672

Most important points:
Kids 4 to 6 years old need to be in belt positioning booster seats once they’ve outgrown their child safety seats. New law is effective on July 1, 2005. Primary law, $60.00 fine.

As a general rule of thumb, never place a child in under 13 years of age in front of an air bag. The following are a list of guidelines to be used when selecting an appropriate child safety restraint:

Children under 1 year of age MUST be in a rear facing infant seat with/without removable bases.

Children 1 year old to 4 years (typically 20 to 40 pounds) a forward facing child safety seat is recommended with harness straps positioned on the child’s shoulders, complete with a harness chest clip positioned at the armpit level, and in the upright position (not reclined), and always in the rear seat of the vehicle.

Children ages 4 to 6 MUST be in an approved booster seat, using both lap and shoulder belts, NEVER with lap belt only. The seat should be located in the rear vehicle seat, facing forward while the lap belt is positioned across the top of child’s thigh and the shoulder belt should be centered across the shoulder and chest.

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answers from Gainesville on

Illegal or no, it's just not a safe place for a little one to be. Putting a little one in the front is just a bad idea all the way around.

Google slim car seats. I just did and found lots of info and suggestions for placement and different seats.

And if your toddler is under 2 he/she should still be rear-facing per the recommendations from the AAP.

*Edited to add* if you think rear facing at 2 is crazy please take a look at the crash test videos on this site:

and google internal decapitation. Also, here are the official recommendations:

My toddler's safety is paramount to me and I think it's *insane* not to recognize the latest research and protect my kids to the very best of my ability.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

NO WAY! Not only is it most likely illegal, but it is SO dangerous (with or without airbags)! Somehow you need to get three seats in the back. I know you said that you cannot afford anything else, but you may have to figure it out if you ever want to go anywhere. Good luck!

P.S. I know that people in trucks do it at times, but to me, that is a whole other ball game (size of vehicle, height of vehicle, etc.)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

First off, I want to remind everyone that you CANNOT put a child under the age of 4yrs and 40lbs in a booster seat.

Secondly, mama you need to figure out how to puzzle 3 car seats into your current vehicle in the back seat. Check out the Radian car seats, they have a very narrow base and they fit three across in even the smallest of cars. You will likely have to suck it up and buy a new car seat for your child. If you can fit yourself between the infant seats, you can fit a Radian back there.

Please find a CPST at in your area to help you out.

If you MUST put a car seat in the front seat, put the oldest harnessed child in the front, put the seat all theway back and make sure the airbag is OFF or removed.

However I would purchase a Radian and put it in the middle iwth infant seats on the outboard seats. Find a CPST to help you. Also google JOELS JOURNEY, Extended rear facing, extended harnessing, and READ THE CAR SEA TMANUAL AND the manual to your vehicle.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I have no idea what kind of car you have, but I see that your only option is REALLY to sell or trade your current car and get a different one. CARS DON'T HAVE TO BE EXPENSIVE! Don't forget that whatever car you have you can STILL get SOME money for it- be it a down payment on another car OR the full price of another car.

For example, Honda Accords are SO reliable- you can get a used one, and still be able to use it for many years to come! Our used Honda Accord ('94) could most certainly fit 3 normal sized car seats. I'd say you could find a good car in this category for under 4,000. You can pay in full if your current car is worth that or more, or do payments, you gotta do SOMETHING, though...

Here's my story:
When we found out that we were going to have a fourth child I panicked because that meant getting another vehicle. I had always paid in full for my cars, and I knew for this one I had to do monthly payments. We decided that a minivan was the best choice out of our two options minivan or suv... We heard from many parents to get a sienna or odyssey- because they have "So many features!", and honestly, they are trendy! BUT i heard from multiple mechanics that a chevy venture had the LEAST amount of issues, and that they see them far less often than the "popular" vehicles. Well, being a woman, I thought the popular ones were cuter and cooler, but the price, and reliability on the Venture sold me on the idea. We got a 2005 Venture two years ago that was JUST $9000 (while other models were over twice as much!), and it hasn't given us ANY problems at all, I LOVE our van! I NEED to also mention that we have very little money- and we literally live paycheck to paycheck, but we had to choose the safe -and legal- option for our family.

You really need to look outside the box of options you have given yourself, do what is best... Good luck and congratulations on the twins!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I would get a booster for the middle of the back seat and then if you can do small buckets on each side do that or really small convertible car seats.

I'm facing a similar situation and with a station wagon you'd think we would be able to fit three back there but its going to be very tight if not impossible.



answers from Chicago on

It is always said that the back seat is the safest for children, but I think much of that is related to airbags. I know my state (IL) has an exception for children in the front when no other seat is available. It would be best to check with your state's dept of transportation regarding the law there. Here is an email address where you can write in with questions.
[email protected]



answers from Raleigh on

wow 3 kids under wishes to you:)
Radian car seats will fit 3 in the row in a small car, you can find them used in craigslist. You might have to skip infant snap in car seats, since 2 of them might not fit with one radian.



answers from Pocatello on

I would call your local police station and ask them for some advice on what to do. They know the laws, and a lot about safety. They might even be as accomodating as sending someone to help you figure it out.



answers from Flagstaff on

It may be illegal to put a carseat in the front seat, but I think they would not enforce it if there is no other place to put it.



answers from Salt Lake City on

We had the same issue. We had a 1994 Toyota Corolla. Our three carseats just fit across the back seat. Once the kids all moved to forward facing carseats we couldn't fit them anymore. Maybe with the Radian carseat we could have.



answers from Denver on

It is a "no way" on the front seat, even without an airbag. Now I do have a confession, I put my son in the front seat once and a while when he was in the rear-facing seat (no airbags) but it still was not wise. There was a story that was on the news a while back here where a woman did not have her grandchild properly secured in the back seat. She basically just did not belt her in the seat right. She got in an accident and her grandchild died. Ultimately the grandmother had charges pressed against her. This is such an extreme story but something to think about.

One thought is to check on booster seats for your toddler. I do not know the weight rules for a booster but he/she may just be big enough to sit in a booster instead of a car seat. They are much smaller and with that you should be able to fit two car seats and a booster in the middle. One of the other things I did also, was find smaller car seats, they are out there. I am sure there is a solution that will work. I totally understand where you are coming from we had the same problem. We went with a booster for the toddler (he was 2 pounds shy on the weight).

Good luck with such a big load of babies. = )



answers from Pocatello on

I live in Idaho, too. It is legal to have a carseat in the front. There is no air bag (hooray!), so no big deal. The only mention of "back seat" in Idaho law is in reference to 4-6 year olds. (weird) So yes--no reason to invest in all new car seats unless you can afford to do so.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Legally there probably isn't an issue with putting the toddler in the front, especially since there is no airbag. I would recommend having a car seat check once you decide which carseats you are going to use. Call your fire department or health department and they will help you check your carseats. That way no matter where you decide to put them you know that they are all in the right way.


answers from Salt Lake City on

My SIL had twins a month before her son turned 2. They had an older ('93) Nissan Altima. When she found out she was having twins, they went to a carseat store and tried all sorts of car seat combos to be able to get 3 across. They explained what they needed, and the store employee helped them haul 15 different car seats out to their car and try them out. They ended up buying 3 new carseats, but it was SO MUCH cheaper than buying a new(er) car. Good luck with finding the right ones for your family! And congratulations on twins! How fun & exciting!

Oh, and she didn't spend TONS of $$ on the car seats. She just bought the cheapest ones that fit in her car. I know she used the infant carrier seats, and a narrower one for her toddler. I know that some people feel that if you spend the most $$ you're going to get the best protection, but I will disagree. Do the research, and find the ones that will work best for your family!

Oh, and rear facing until 2? I know that in Sweden, they rear face until 6, but their cars are a little different, and besides, my kids are WAY TOO TALL for that. My 22 month son is 36.5"! You just need to do what is best for your situation and family.



answers from Denver on

There are lots of skinny car seats. Europe has mostly skinny cars, and therefore many skinny car seats. I don't remember brands, but we found lots of options online when we were looking at moving to Italy with 3 car seats. GL and congratulations!



answers from Austin on

Child safety seat laws in Idaho... I used to live in Idaho Falls, so I know that Idaho seat belt laws are pretty lenient... you are even allowed to nurse as a passenger while the car is moving!!! (not a good idea...) The link above says that 1-4 they always need to be in the back seat...



answers from Denver on

I second the Radians! We carry them at The Giggling Green Bean here in Denver and they are great! Super narrow, so you should be able to get 3 across in the back. I definitely wouldn't but a carseat in the front seat though. Another thing to try would be your local fire station to see if one of their carseat techs can help. Good luck!


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