This was originally a sponsored post for the NRMA Motoring & Services via Digital Parents Collective, published on Mums on the Go. This information is frequently searched for so I am republishing on Linda on the Go.
I bought my very first car when I fell pregnant with my first baby. My husband has a work vehicle so I just needed something small and economical to give me some independence with new baby in tow.
I bought this very cute little Toyota Yaris.
When baby number 2 came along the car seats fitted perfectly in back row but there was no room for a passenger in the back. Stroller fitted into the boot and groceries would go under kids feet. Then I became pregnant with baby number 3 and I knew the Yaris would have to go – there was NO WAY 3 car seats could fit!
I was going to have a 4 year old (booster), 21 month old (car seat) and a newborn (convertible car seat – rear facing). We decided to buy some sort of 7 seater SUV so that when we had family visit we wouldn’t have to drive 2 cars. Also, with my eldest due to start school next year I wanted the flexibility to offer to pick up an extra kid if needed at short notice.
I found choosing a car model quite stressful. Not only did I have to consider the basics of price, safety features and fuel economy but then I discovered not all SUVs can fit 3 car seats across the middle row! So then we started dragging 3 car seats (and 2 kids) around car yards on the weekend and we would load in the car seats to any car we were interested in to be sure they would fit … it was an absolute nightmare.
I am kicking myself now as I have discovered the NRMA have a fantastic online resource to help you choose a child friendly car.
They score ease of fitment, seat belt usability and location of anchor points, have great photos showing how child restraints would be fitted in a particular vehicle and they list comments on any problems or obstacles that are found during the fitting process.
By the time my new baby was 6 weeks old we had a few goes at getting our car seat configuration “right” but I confess I still had some frustrations, especially when having to load 3 small kids into the car alone.
- First we tried a configuration that made sense to us in terms of managing safety of kids. Baby on road side (she can’t run away), 4 year old in middle (she can get into car and seat by herself and I trust her not to poke the baby in the eye), and 21 month old on kerb side (she needs help to get into seat, buckle up and is highly mobile and unpredictable). However, I discovered that my rear vision was obstructed by height of 4 year old’s booster seat.
- next my mother-in-law came to stay for a week so we needed Miss 4 to move into the back seat in her booster. The “fold down” middle seat which is used for access to the back is on the road side which seems crazy from a safety point of view. We then realised that long term it was silly for baby to be in that seat as we would have to remove baby seat every time someone needed to get into the back. We also found folding the middle seat forward a little “sticky” with a car seat in the middle – they rub together a bit.
- when MIL went home we tried a new configuration with seats. Miss 4 on road side (which is the folding seat), Miss 21 months in the middle and baby kerb side. This has improved my visibility which is good and so far the baby hasn’t been poked in the eye! What I don’ t like is having to load 2 very young children in from road side and it is really awkward to get 21 month old into the middle seat especially as she has entered the “independent and slightly resistive” age!
We did think about moving Miss 4 into the back seat permanently to make access for loading Miss 21 months easier but then I can only fit a stroller in the boot and nothing else which is not ideal.
The other “issue” I have had is Miss 4 can’t do her own belt up as the 3 car seats are so tightly jammed together she can’t get her hand down between them easily to find her buckle. At the moment that means I have to reach in and do it for her which upsets her sense of independence and also means we take longer to get on the road – and trust me, when a new born baby is screaming in the car every extra second it takes to get 2 kids buckled in feels like a lifetime!
I would love to hear how other families have resolved these sorts of issues having 3 car seats.