Just because your car has three spaces for human beings across the back seat doesn't mean it can actually fit three properly buckled children. I know I had a moment of panic when I was pregnant with my third, when for a minute it looked like it might not be possible to fit all my kids in my car.
Photo by Emran Kassim.
Consumer Reports has some tips to help you figure out whether your car can fit three seats, and if so, which three seats they should be. Some of the things you should be aware of:
- Buckles and LATCH attachments should not overlap. If they do, you may not be able to attach two seats next to each other; the manufacturer figures you'll either put one seat in the middle or two on the sides.
- Try before you buy. If you're in the market for a new car, bring your car seats and test whether they actually fit.
- Some child seats are narrower than others. Check out the list of highly rated seats that are narrow enough to give you a better chance of fitting in.
- Consider attaching some of the seats with seat belts instead of the LATCH system. This strategy could save some space.
- Alternate rear-facing and forward-facing seats, if you can. This helps to keep the widest parts of each seat from being in the same location.
In the end, my Toyota Rav4 ended up just barely fitting three kids, if I put the oldest in the middle on a tiny booster. Check out the link below for more tips, and if you're really stumped, consider consulting a Child Passenger Safety Technician — a car seat expert — in your area.
How to Fit Car Seats Three Across [Consumer Reports]