Diono Rainier 3 across car seats
One of the most common car seat questions I’m asked is, “Is there any way to get three car seats into one row in my backseat?” People are often surprised to find out that the answer is, “Yes, you probably can!”
Three-across is like a puzzle. The smaller the car, the trickier the puzzle becomes. In some cars, it may truly not be possible to safely seat three children in the back. In most cases, though, it’s just a matter of finding the right seats. Here are a few to check out if you need to fit three kids in car seats and you don’t drive a tank.*
Please note that the prices listed are the suggested retail prices. These car seats are often available for significantly less from various retailers, so be sure to shop around!
*The Diono Rainier is pictured three across in the Toyota Sienna.
Here are some narrow infant seats to check out. These are typically used from birth to about 10-12 months.
Chicco KeyFit 30 - $200
Urbini Petal - $100
Tip: In some cases, you may save space both width- and depth-wise by installing the seat without the base.
A convertible seat can often be used rear-facing from birth; each of the seats listed below can be used rear-facing until the child meets the maximum height or weight limit, and then convert to forward-facing. In recent years, manufacturers have responded to consumers' demand for narrow convertible seats and produced some great options:
Cosco Scenera NEXT - $45
Safety 1st Guide 65 - $100
Combi Coccoro - $240
Clek Fllo - $380
Clek Foonf* - $500
*The Clek Foonf is pictured three across in the 2016 Toyota Sienna.
Also known as harnessed boosters, combination seats are appropriate for children over age 2 who are forward-facing, and can later convert to a booster when the child is ready. At this time, there are unfortunately few narrow options for combination seats, and parents may want to consider one of the convertibles on the previous page for their forward-facing harnessed child instead, but here are a couple to check out:
Harmony Defender - $100
IMMI Go - $200
These belt-positioning boosters are appropriate for children age 5 and up who meet all of the requirements of the booster and are able to sit correctly with a good belt fit for the entire ride. Keep in mind that most children need a booster until at least age 10.
Harmony Youth Booster - $26
Ride Safer Travel Vest (functions as a "wearable booster") - $159
Safety 1st Incognito - $20
As you can see, there are a lot of options out there to consider for your 3-across situation. You will probably get the best results by installing all three seats with seat belts rather than LATCH, since you will have more flexibility side-to-side. Try different combinations and arrangements if possible. Go to a baby store such as Babies R Us where you can try various floor models in your car. And keep in mind that the price of the seats that work best for you may be a little steep...but it's probably still a lot cheaper than a new car.
Happy puzzling and safe travels!
Note: The Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 convertible seat, Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30 infant seat, and Safety 1st Incognito booster seat are pictured three across in the 2016 Ford Escape.
Photo by Chris Chavira