The installation manuals for the new seats explain how to use the seat in various positions, whether using a seat belt or installing LATCH. But which seat in your car is the safest?
We are going to break down the seat placement by your vehicle’s seat configuration.
Cars with 2 seats
2-Seat Cars The rear seat is considerably safer for a child seat, so safety experts recommend against 2-seat baby cars if they can be avoided.
However, if you must seat a child in the front, make sure you can deactivate the passenger-side airbag first. Most of cars have a switch in the glove compartment or on the dash to turn off this airbag.
See your owner’s manual for more information. Also, it is important to the child’s rear face for additional protection as long as the rear face weight limit has not been reached.
Rear Seat Cars
Most extended cab sedans, SUVs, and trucks have a rear bench with seating for three. You must install your child seat in the centre of the rear bench.
If you have two car seats to install, there’s additional to consider.
Auto accident data indicates a slightly lower risk of injury to the rear passenger outboard seats. Keep in mind that the difference is very small, and each accident is different.
However, there is another advantage to baby car seats on the passenger side of the centre seat. If you parallel park your car, the driver looks into the traffic. With a baby car seat on the passenger side, you can have your child enter and exit the car on the curb when parallel.
Minivans and SUVs with 3rd-row seats
Most vehicles with 3rd-row seats have a bench seat in the rear row, but the centre row can have bucket seats or a bench.
If you are installing a single car seat, the closer to the centre of the vehicle the seat can be placed, the better. For cars with a bench in the centre row, install the seat in the centre of the row’s centre. With the bucket seats in the middle, install the seat in the third row.
What if you have two children in the car seats? If you have bench seats in both rear rows, use the centre seats in the centre and rear rows.
With more than 3 car seats or more than 2 seats in a vehicle with mid-row buckets, some baby car seats will need to be installed on the sides of the car. First, install baby car seats in your centre row if you have a centre seat.
Then install in the centre seat of the rear row. The next best position is the centre row passenger seat. If you still have another baby car seat to install after that, use the rear row passenger side seat.
I have two baby seats to install in my back seat, facing forward and facing backwards. Which one should go to the centre seat?
As you know, the centre seat is the safest place in the car. If you have a baby and a small child in the car seats, who should you get the centre position? The answer to the current question isn’t obvious.
Generally, the idea is that the least protected child should get the centre seat. A young child in a forward-facing seat is less protected, as the seat position is just as safe as the rear. For this reason, it is recommended to install the forward-facing seat in the centre and the rear-facing seat on the passenger side.
However, some parents feel that since babies are more vulnerable, they should be in the car’s centre seat. If this is your preference, a small child in the outboard seat should still be adequately protected if both seats are used correctly. I advise you to select a convertible car seat with side impact protection if you make this choice.
Remember, please be sure to carefully read and follow the instructions provided with your car seat. Some child seats claim that they cannot be used in the centre seat of specific car models. Please be sure to follow these exceptions and always install your seat correctly. When in doubt, have your installation checked at a child seat inspection station.