Car Seat Safety: Where Should You Position Baby's Seat?
Installing a new car seat can often feel like rocket science.
It’s not quite rocket science, but feels pretty close.
So where should you position baby’s seat in your car?
The choices seem overwhelming — especially if you have more than one child and even though there isn’t a cut and dry answer, a little strategy and some guidelines can help you figure out the best spot.
Statistically, the rear middle seat is the safest place for a baby’s car seat. In fact, according to a recent study, the rear middle seat is actually 43% safer than other positions in the vehicle. This is because there are no passenger airbags that reach the rear middle and in a collision, the car seat won’t take a direct hit from any direction.
That doesn’t mean you can’t safely install a car seat in the rear passenger or driver’s side seat.
In fact, the rear passenger seat is usually the most popular choice, in part, because the rear passenger seat gives parents a better view of baby in the backseat and is easiest to reach while hopping in and out of the car.
Before deciding though lets run through the top two things parents often overlook when installing their car seat.
(NOTE: No matter where you install your little one’s seat, the most important factor is that it is installed according to manufacturer instructions. Car seats should never be installed in the front seat. It's unsafe due to airbags and not recommended.)
#1 Where does the seat fit best?
Its actually different for every seat and every car, and there are times when you just can’t get a good install in a certain position (its not your imagination).
If that’s the case, try other positions until you find the best fit or consider a different car seat that fits your car better (@safeintheseat and @thecarmom both have great guides on which car seats fit which cars).
# 2 If rear middle is safest - what do you do with more than one kid?
If you have more than one child in a car seat, it makes installation seem a bit more difficult but with a little strategy you can hit the road in no time.
If you have a newborn, you may not want to reach over a toddler to put them in the middle seat or, if you have a child in a booster seat who can get in and out independently, you may consider putting them further away since they need less help.
If you have a small backseat and three kids in car seats, you’ll find you need space-efficient seats in order to fit everyone safely - Clek has some great slim car seats that can fit three across!
Every family is unique and sometimes arranging car seats can feel a bit like playing Tetris (remember that game!?). But when you find a setup that works for you, it’s worth the relief knowing you’ve done everything in your power to ensure your kids are safe in the event of an accident.
Still have questions?
If you have specific questions or are struggling with installing your seat(s), email me and I can help you get in touch with great resources or get in touch with your local CPST through Safe Kids Worldwide or in Canada search cpsac.org/findatech