Now that you’ve finally, after hours of research and an eternity searching, found that perfect infant car seat, it’s time to install it!
From the very first time your newborn leaves the hospital, they will be riding in a car seat. But figuring out how to strap it in, where to place it, or how to use it can be difficult and confusing - whether it’s your first time or tenth time. The first step is to find the best, most secure position to install your car seat.
Here are the safest positions for your infant car seat, ranked:
The car seat placement that will provide your infant with maximum protection from impacts of all kinds is the middle backseat. It keeps them safe from side, rear, and frontal collisions, and is proven to be 43% safer than sitting in one of the side seats. According to research, the center in the back seat is always the most secure regardless of the type of car, or whether or not it has airbags. Providing a buffer between your newborn and the side of the car will reduce their risk of injury and give you peace of mind knowing they’re out of harm’s way.
Rear side seats
Although the middle seat is the most secure place for your baby, there are a few circumstances in which the sides may be an option. It’s always best to choose a spot where it can be installed safely and correctly, so if the middle seat in your car doesn’t have the restraints to secure the car seat properly, opt for a side seat. When it comes to picking one side or another, many parents choose the rear passenger side – it’s actually the most common placement of an infant car seat. This is mainly because it’s much easier to see into the car seat when it’s on the passenger side, and parents have easier access in case of an emergency. It also takes the strain off of new moms in recovery, as they don’t have to lean over the seat to get their baby out, and can help you safely unload your baby onto the sidewalk when parking on the street.
3rd row seats
You may be thinking, if the back seat is the safest place, then the very back must be even safer. This is somewhat correct, but it really all depends on the car. Most cars that have a third row are large, meaning they provide more crash protection simply from their bulk. However, it’s becoming increasingly common to add third rows to smaller cars. In this scenario, the third row would be too close to the rear to provide any protection in the case of a rear crash. Additionally, it’s more difficult to get your baby in and out from the very back seat. If you have the choice, it’s best to go with the second row.
Although it may seem tempting to have your baby within reach in the front seat, it can not only cause you more distraction but also greatly increase their risk of injury. If for any reason you need to place your infant’s rear-facing car seat in the passenger seat, be sure to manually disable the airbags and position the seat as far away from the dashboard as possible. But in general, try to avoid the front and keep your little one safe and secure in the back seat.
What about multiple car seats?
Many parents have multiple children in car seats at one time. In this scenario, place the one with the least protection in the middle seat. Believe it or not, even the smallest baby in an infant car seat is more secure and at less risk of injury than a full-grown adult in the same position. If your car is on the smaller side, consider slimmer car seat models so they fit next to each other the back seat.
A car seat is only as effective as it’s installation, and the majority of injuries from collisions are the result of an improperly installed car seat. The best infant seats are easy to set up, like the Doona Infant Car Seat & Stroller. It’s able to be secured without a base, meaning you can place it in any seat you’d like. Plus, Doona was rated 5-stars for it’s easy installation features.
When it comes down to it, keeping your little one safe is priority number one. No matter what type of car you have, it’s essential to find the safest position for a car seat, so it can do its job – keeping your bundle of joy protected.