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Middle Row Car Seat Conundrum

If you’ve got three young children that all need a child seat, you may feel like you have a problem. How do you fit three seats in a row while providing the necessary restraint to make sure your children are safe? It’s certainly not easy, and many car buyers complain that their vehicles simply can’t do the job.

Try the Car Seats Out First

There are a number of ways around this, however. The first is to think about the conundrum before purchasing the vehicle, making sure you check with the dealer whether your shortlist of cars is going to be able to handle three child seats. In truth, many car dealerships may not know the answer, so persistence is key. You may even want to buy your chosen child seats first and then test them out with a selection of prospective vehicles. The manufacturers themselves should also be able to help also.

motormum which car seat

Eldest On the Outside

If you’ve already got the vehicle and need to adapt the child seat configuration accordingly, it gets a little harder. The general rule is to put the oldest children on the outside and the youngest in the middle, because fitting a seat fit for a toddler in the middle can be tough. If the two outside seats are isofix, they may also not be positioned close enough to the doors on each side to allow space for a middle child seat, so getting the configuration right is absolutely key.

Volvo XC90 Seating Configuration

The above is a Volvo XC90 seating configuration interior view.

Three Across the Row

The other option, which is much more flexible in terms of the cars that can pull it off, is to arrange three seat-belted children across the row. This really only works for children over nine months, given that a Group 0+ must be used for babies below this age.

Booster Seats are Less Fussy

It’s also a question of safety; therefore, if you have children that are above this age and able to use either a Group 1, 2 or 3, then the options for a seat in the middle become much more viable. Group 3 seats are more doable than Group 1 seats when it comes to fitting three across the second row. The former are booster seats, which are a great deal more flexible than an isofix, for example.

Middle Seat is the Safest

Then there is the significant issue of using the middle row for a child, regardless of whether there are any more children in the back. Tests have shown that children seated in a restraint in the middle of the back row are much less likely to be injured in a collision than if placed to one side. And yet the middle position is the least used in almost every Western country. Why is that? It may be convenience (placing a child in the middle requires leaning over and fiddling with straps), or it could be the misplaced perception that a child positioned behind a front seat is safer. Whatever the reason, making sure the right seat fits in your vehicle is key.

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