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How to Fit Car Seats Three In A Row

Renee Whitmore
Last Updated on
by Renee Whitmore

Are you a parent of recent triplets?

Perhaps you’re a babysitter who needs to drive children around during the day. Whatever the case may be, you may find yourself in a unique predicament if you need to fit car seats three in a row.

Car seats fit perfectly in passenger seats due to the over-the-shoulder seatbelt designs. However, things become a bit more challenging when dealing with a tiny middle seat. In this article, we’ll detail everything you need to know about how to fit your car seat 3 in a row.

Learning how to install car seats three-across correctly will go a long way toward keeping your children safe while on the road.

Choose the Right Car

Photo: An Audi Car

The first step in fitting car seats three-across is selecting the right vehicle. Ideally, you would purchase something like a truck or a van that has three rows of seats, so that you don’t have to worry about fitting three seats across. However, this may not always be an option for some people due to:

  • High purchase costs
  • Poor gas mileage
  • Maintenance costs
  • Feelings of discomfort when driving a large vehicle

Make sure that you choose a car designed to fit seats three-across. You should look for cars that have a flat rear seat, which gives you more flexibility in adjusting the car seats from side to side. You should also ensure that the LATCH lower anchor hardware and seatbelt do not overlap.

Choose the Right Seats

Another thing you may have to do to ensure the seats fit three-across is select a narrower model. If you need to fit seats three-across, you’ll need to avoid add-ons like snack and cup holders.

Below, you’ll find a couple of car seats that maintain exceptional safety ratings even though they’re not as bulky as some of their counterparts:

Furthermore, if your child is old enough for a booster seat, you may want to consider sticking with a harness seat. Booster seats can prove challenging when trying to go three-across.

Many parents struggle to find the seat belt buckle. There’s no harm in keeping a child in a harnessed seat, so long as he or she meets the height and weight requirements.

How To Fit Car Seats Three-Across

Photo: 2019 Ford F-150. Credit: https://www.cars.com/articles/which-cars-fit-three-car-seats-1420668847322/

Trial and Error

Even after you buy narrower car seats, you may find that you are still having trouble fitting them three-across. For instance, you may find that features like the armrests just so happen to meet at the same point and are therefore rubbing against each other.

You may need to adjust the seats a bit to get them to fit correctly. It’s possible that you can reposition the seats so that they’re not contacting one another at their widest points.

One of the best methods to help with this is the “Alternate Direction” method. This method won’t work if you have children who are the same age. However, if you have two children who face one way and another child who faces the opposite direction, you can position them in alternating positions.

Say, for instance, you have two children who must be in a rear-facing seat and a third child who is in a forward-facing seat. You can put the two rear-facing seats behind the driver’s seat and passenger’s seat. You could then position the forward-facing seat in the opposite direction in the middle. This setup could also be convenient because the child in the forward-facing seat could buckle him or herself into the seat without assistance.

No matter if you choose the “Alternate Direction” method or you need to have all three seats facing the same way, you’ll want to install the middle seat first. This is the case for a couple of reasons.

First and foremost, you’ll find it challenging to secure the middle seat while having to climb over seats on the outside. Second, you have more flexibility to adjust the outside seats than the inside seats, because the middle seat is so narrow.

Consider Using the Seat Belts

Another option you have to fit car seats three-across is to use the seat belts instead of the lower LATCH anchors to secure the chair in place. May LATCH anchors overlap with the seat belt buckles, making access difficult.

Additionally, most car manufacturers do not put a dedicated lower LATCH anchor in the narrow middle seat in the back of the car. So, using the seat belts will provide you with more flexibility during installation while also keeping your children safe.

Related: Seat Belt Locking Clip Guide

Seek Outside Assistance

If the above methods don’t work for you, you’ll want to consider seeking assistance from a third-party. There may be a Child Passenger Safety Technician in your area who could help solve your problem. These individuals specialize in everything car seats. They should be able to help you fit the seats into your car. They will also make sure that the seats are secure and that your children are safe.

Don’t Remove the Seats

Many of today’s car seats are convenient because parents can remove them from the car and start carrying their child quickly. However, you should not do this if you are looking to fit car seats three-across. Because it’s so challenging to install car seats three-across, you don’t want to have to reposition them every time – especially if you have three crying toddlers in your ear!

Once you’ve found a way to secure the seats three-across, leave them be so that you don’t have to worry about them again.

Final Thoughts

It may take a bit of maneuvering and creativity, but it’s entirely possible for you to fit three car seats in the back of your vehicle. It’s crucial that you learn how to fit car seats three-across properly.

Failure to do so can jeopardize the safety of your children. We hope that after reading this guide, you feel much more prepared on how to fit car seats three-across.

About Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore is an American college professor and freelance writer from North Carolina. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in English Education. When she is not driving her teenage son to wrestling practice or learning the ins and outs of Fortnite from her younger son, she is working on her first book to be published soon.
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