What Side of the Car Do You Put the Infant Car Seat On?
By Ana Hammer

What Side of the Car Do You Put the Infant Car Seat On?

Joining the joyful world of parenthood comes with endless decisions to make and questions to answer. One question that’s always puzzling for first-time parents is what side of the car do they put the infant car seat on?

When I had my first child, I remember thinking of this point as trivial, but as new safety research emerges every day, I now realize it’s crucial for both convenience and safety. And that’s why I decided to help you!

In this guide, I’ll answer the common parenting question in detail and give you tips to ensure your baby’s safety in the car, so keep on scrolling!

What Side of the Car Do You Put the Infant Car Seat On?

The safest side to place an infant car seat inside a car is the center rear, as proven by safety research and my personal experience.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the center rear position lowers the risk of injury by up to 43%, as opposed to the right and left rear positions.

The reason it’s the safest is because it’s the farthest away from any impact points. In the case of a sudden stop or an accident, the car seat will be less likely to collide. Of course, these facts are only true if you install the car seat properly.

However, not all cars have a center rear seat, and even if they do, sometimes it’s not an option to put the car seat there.

Suppose you have two closely aged kids, and they both need to sit in a car seat. You can only place one seat in the center rear, leaving you with another dilemma. Where else can you put the infant car seat?

Other Places Where You Can Put the Infant Car Seat and Whether They’re Safe

Most cars have three places other than the center seat where you can put the infant car seat, the passenger, left rear, and right rear. Here’s a quick rundown of them and how safe they are for your child.

Right and Left Rear Seats

The right and left rear seats come after the center rear in terms of safety. They’re both equally safe, so you can choose whichever you like, with a risk of injury significantly lower than any front seat.

Right and Left Rear Seats

My advice here is to choose the spot behind the passenger if you street park a lot, as it’ll be easier and faster to unbuckle the infant seat and carry it out of the car.

Passenger Seat

Putting an infant car seat in the front isn’t recommended at all under any circumstances, and it’s even illegal in cars with an active airbag.

If the car stops suddenly or a collision occurs, the airbags will open and fling the infant car seat furiously, which is extremely dangerous for children of all ages. While it makes it easier to monitor your baby if you’re driving, it isn’t worth the risk.

Passenger Seat

If you have no other choice but to put the car seat there, it’s crucial that you deactivate or remove the airbag as long as your child is in the car for both safety and legal concerns. Also, in this case, you should pull the passenger seat as far away from the dashboard as possible.

Can You Put More Than One Infant Car Seat in the Car?

Another dilemma that parents go through is whether they can put more than one infant car seat in their car, which is especially common among twin or triplet parents.

Let me assure you that it’s completely safe to put multiple infant car seats inside your car, but only under a specific condition.

Each car seat should be connected to its own LATCH anchor and properly installed independently of the other one. If they share any anchor, they can collide dangerously in the case of a sudden jolt or accident.

Safety Tips From an Experienced Mother: Infant Car Seat Installation Edition!

Installing an infant car seat can be overwhelming if you’re a first-timer. Here are a few tips to ensure your kid’s safety and make your life easier.

  • Follow the installation guidelines closely: For proper installation, you need to read the installation guidelines that come with your infant car seat closely. Some brands also offer video tutorials, which are extremely helpful.
  • Go to the nearest local fire department: If you’re having a hard time installing your car seat and want help, drive to the nearest local fire department and ask them to do it. They’ll show you how to install it properly and safely.
  • Install the car seat rear-facing: For maximum safety, your infant car seat should be facing the rear of the car because most accidents happen due to frontal collisions.
  • Check your car’s anchors: If you haven’t bought a car seat yet, check whether your car has LATCH anchors or only the seat belt. Old models don’t have LATCH anchors, which means you’ll have to get a car seat that can be installed using the seat belt only.

Common Questions Parents Ask

When Do I Start and Stop Using My Infant Car Seat?

You can start using your infant car seat a day after your child is born, as it can support your baby’s neck and spine just fine. Meanwhile, you can stop using it once your baby outgrows it, which usually happens around 2 years. In this case, you can upgrade to a toddler seat.

When Can I Turn the Infant Car Seat Facing Forward? 

Ideally, your child should stay facing the rear of the car as long as they can fit in their seat. In other words, leave them there as long as possible, considering it’s the safest option. You can read a more comprehensive answer to this question in this guide!

To Wrap Up

The safest spot you can place your infant car seat inside the car is the middle rear seat. While it’s less convenient when buckling than the right and left seats, it’s the safest in case of impacts, considering it’s far away from all collision points.

If your car doesn’t have a middle seat, you can use the right or the left rear seat, whichever is more convenient for you. However, never use the passenger seat while your airbag is active.
If you haven’t bought a car seat yet and want help from a fellow mother, check out my detailed infant seat buying guide!

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  • August 27, 2023

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