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Can You Put Infant Car Seat in the Middle

Where do I put the infant car seat?

“In the front? The back? Left or right? Maybe center?”

Infant Car Seat Behind the Driver or the Passenger (3)

These are the thoughts most parents had at least once in their lives and conversations I’ve heard hundreds of times, so don’t think you’re the only one.

The middle is known to be the safest spot in the car, and with so many parents trying to keep their little ones as safe as possible, you’ll be curious to learn why.

We’ve collected all the data you might’ve been looking for to create the most valuable and insightful guide to answer all your questions.

Yes, that includes questions like whether you can put an infant car seat in the middle, and how to install it correctly.

Should infant car seats be in the middle?

Yes, infant car seats should ideally be installed in the middle.

Generally speaking, the rear passenger side is the most typical place parents choose for placing infant car seats – 41% of parents put their car seats here.

Does this mean the rear passenger side is the safest place in the car for a baby?

Well, not really.

The rear passenger side, just like the rear driver’s side, isn’t the safest simply because your car can be hit from the side. This means the baby can suffer from a direct impact caused by an accident.

The front passenger side also isn’t recommended.

For example, suppose you place your infant car seat in the front, and the airbag inflates. The burst can cause serious injury to your baby, even if the car seat is in a rear-facing position.

That leaves us with only one place in the car – the center.

So, can you put a newborn car seat in the middle?

You can put an infant seat in the middle as long as you follow the instruction of the manufacturer and your car is a good fit.

The car’s center is the safest area because it minimizes the risk of injury if a crash occurs since the risk of direct impact is lowest.

Related: How to get a free car seat Medicaid

How to install infant car seat in the middle?

The first thing you should do is find the vehicle owner’s and the car seat’s manuals. Even if you can’t find them, there’s no need to panic – you can always look for them online.

Once you get your manuals, it’s time to take them to the car and follow the step-by-step instructions.

These guides are the safest option as you’ll receive instructions for your specific vehicle and car seat models. You’ll also save a lot of time as you won’t need to make assumptions about steps that aren’t well explained.

The LATCH symbol is typically used for the lower anchors to make things easier. If you find 3 of these in your vehicle seat, the lower anchors are specifically designed for the middle seat.

Even if you can’t find 3 LATCH symbols in your car, a seat belt is just as effective.

Just make sure you install the seat belt properly, and you’re good to go. Learning how to tether a car seat without anchors can also come in handy.

At first, most parents aren’t keen on placing their infant car seats in the center mainly because it doesn’t seem like the most natural option. But, once they learn all about the pros and cons of different car seat placements, all they want to know is how can you put infant car seat in the middle.

Related: Infant car seats vs convertible car seats

Which kid gets the middle seat?

The oldest kid should always take the middle seat and here’s why.

  • First of all, congratulations on multiple bundles of joy!
  • Second, there’s an entirely logical solution that won’t leave you feeling guilty.
  • Finally, since the center is the safest part of the car if a car collision occurs, it’s essential to incorporate some balance. This way, all your kids receive the same level of safety.

What do I mean by that?

Infants are obliged to be placed in rear-facing car seats. This position already protects them from heavy blows and keeps them secured in their seat.

If you studied when to forward face a car seat and you already have a kid sitting in a forward-facing or booster seat, they don’t have the protection babies in rear-facing car seats have.

In that case, putting the older child in the middle and the younger one on the passenger or driver’s side is an entirely acceptable solution to provide them with equal safety.

Related: Do car seats float?

When to avoid putting the seat in the middle

Because each baby and vehicle is different, you should avoid the middle seat in the following cases:

  • If you need to make frequent stops to calm or check on the baby, the rear passenger side might be a better fit as you’ll quickly reach the baby even if you park on the side of the street. So, how long can newborn be in a car seat is only one of the many factors you need to consider. 
  • Further, some car models don’t support the proper LATCH and car seat installation. A proper car seat installation is way more important than the center seating position.
  • Finally, some vehicles only have front seats. It’s possible to put the infant car seat in the front; as long as you turn off the airbag when driving with the baby.

Related: Are swivel car seats legal in US?

The bottom line

Now that the “Can you put car seats in the middle?” mystery is solved, you’ll be able to provide a safe ride for your little one every time.

baby in car seat

Although the middle is the safest place, don’t forget to pay attention to other vital factors such as proper installation and weight and height limits.

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