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3 Car Seats won't fit in the back - help!

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 


Hi everyone,


Yikes, I got the car seat for the new baby (Graco Snug Ride - the old infant seat was too old to use this time) and it won't fit in the back with my older kids!  I have a Subaru Forrester, I think it's an '05 I bought it used. It's a decent sized car. My almost 6.5 year old has a backless booster and I think he's 50 inches and over 50 lb (tall for his age; my 3.5 year old is in a forward facing 5 point convertible harness type (I think it's a Britax, unsure of the model). My older son buckles himself and with her car seat in the middle his belt would actually be underneath her base. I did some on line research and there is a Sunshine Radian car seat that is evidently the most narrow (and it costs $250+, yikes) but for under 40 lb it's supposed to be rear-facing? My 3.5 year old has been forward facing for so long...and we don't have t.v. but when we go on roadtrips (and we go on a lot in warmer weather to visit family) I put the DVD player up for them and let them watch to help pass the time. So I don't think he'd be too thrilled about rear-facing!  I don't think the infant car seats come more narrow, plus the Snug Ride has really good safety ratings...


Yikes!  I did find a local shop (with the help of my MW's office, bless them) that carries the Radian seats and will let me bring them out to the car and see what fits. But oh my I can't afford to buy a new car right now....I never dreamnt that I'd have this problem. I actually have a friend at the dealership who sold me the car who said that people do fit three car seats in the back of this model, so I did ask him today which car seats...I have yet to hear back but he doesn't have kids so he may not be super focused on those details. 


Has anyone tackled a similar problem successfully? I did look at our state laws and kids here have to be in some kind of car seat until they are at least 8 and meet weight & height requirements. There is something on the market called a travel safety vest which looks good for an emergency but I don't even think it'd be legal here.


Thanks in advance,


post #2 of 24

Well, the Britax seats and the Snugride are both notoriously wide seats, so most other seats will be narrower.  The Complete Air is fairly narrow (though not as narrow as a Radian) and very tall.  It CAN be used RF up to 40lbs, but it can also be FF as early as 22lbs.  If he's staying FF the Evenflo Maestro is relatively narrow and inexpensive ($80) for a FF harnessed seat.  Also fairly narrow, but not as narrow as a Radian.  You could also skip the bucket and do a Radian from birth for the new baby, if it can fit in the Subaru.  A scenera is also cheap ($50) and narrow and will fit a newborn, but it's not a very well padded seat so you may not find it comfortable enough for your baby (though my 2yo has ridden long-distance in hers and never complains).  It won't last forever, but it will likely last the baby llong enough for your middle child to be in a booster.  


Unfortunately the Subarus don't always play well with carseats, especially in the center position because of the "bump".   But if you can get the booster in the center, it might work.  Try using the seatbelt (instead of LATCH) to install the FF harnessed seat and the infant seat - sometimes the seatbelt will let you install an inch or two closer to the door, which can make a big difference.  You'll probably have to play around with different seats to find a combo that works.  I'm doing a 3-across right now in the center of my minivan - but I have 3 all in very wide RF seats (two Snugrides and a TrueFit) so it is very snug!

post #3 of 24

Go to carseat.org and search for forester and 3 across threads. It is quite tricky, some people have done it but it is not easy. There are some threads saying they could only do it with a vest and 1 person was able to a radian in the middle. The big issue with the Forrester is that center hump in the middle seat, from what I remember many seats because of that hump will actually end up covering up the buckles for the other seats. Some people are get a radian in the spot and some others can not, it still ends up being too wide. 


ETA: there are baby seats that are a bit narrower, Baby Trend is one. I think often though in the forester, people end up installing the baby seat without the base to make it work. That back seat is very narrow and one of the worst ones out there for 3 across. Every time you change a seat, moving to a booster, etc... it is going to be a challenge to find a combo to make it work. The booster is going to be hard, actually having enough room to buckle it in. Go and search, I *think the 02-08 forresters are the same body design. You should be able to find that out on carseat.org, I am thinking the redesign was in 09 but I could be off.

post #4 of 24
Can you return the snug ride by any chance? I think the only way to get three across with one booster is to get one FF Radian and put the baby in a a RF Corroco (since the Radian takes up so much space front to back RF and often has install issues with Subarus RF anyway)...You also might be able to puzzle in a Complete air FF and a Corroco and possibly a a Graco MyRide (though I spent a long while trying to install a My Ride in a Forester and could not get it in RF). You can also leave you oldest's booster buckled in (it should be buckled when he isn't in it anyway so it isn't a risk to others in the car if you get in an accident) and he can climb into and out of it without needing to buckle it. We do this in my dh Versa and it isn't the greatest solution but it is way cheaper than buying a new car lol.gif

Corroco: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001RADXRE/sr=8-1/qid=1294498160/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=&qid=1294498160&sr=8-1&seller=
my Ride: http://www.amazon.com/Graco-Ride-Car-Seat-Bartlett/dp/B002C3I8WA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=baby-products&qid=1294498565&sr=1-1
Complete Air:http://www.amazon.com/Safety-1st-Complete-Convertible-Silverleaf/dp/B002U41OI6/ref=sr_1_1?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1294498612&sr=1-1 (this seat is on clearnace at my local target for just over $100, maybe check there first innocent.gif)

Good luck mama!
post #5 of 24

Yeeeah, Britax convertibles are wide. Snugrides are wide.


According to the database, the older snugride is 17.5" (snugride 22) and the newer (32 and 35) is 19". 

The babyTrent flex loc is 16.75"

The chicco keyfit 30 and combi shuttle 33 infant seats are 17"

The coccoro is, IIRC, 15"


For the kiddo in the FF harness, the Maestro is 18.5" and it is the narrowest and cheapest option. The Radian is 17.5" I believe and can be used forward-facing 22(??) to 65 or 80lbs depending on the model. All of the other FF only combo seats are 19-21"


Here are some successful three across links.


RF Scenera / FF RadianXT / FF Marathon


Well, I said "some" but the others were UK/Euro so not the same seats. :(


I'd suggest getting the Radian for your middle DC to put in the middle. BUT, you may need to keep the boostered child's seatbelt buckled and have him crawl underneath the belt every time. Either way, the Scenera is 17.75 inches and there are infant seats (and coccoros) narrower than that. The Marathon classic is 19" for reference, but I know it probably puzzles over the Radian. 


HTH a little and good luck!






post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone, 


Thanks for the replies. I checked my younger son's seat, it's actually an Evenflo and I'll have to check what my older son used to use, it's in the garage. I doubt I can return the snugride because I bought a travel system online (never occurred to me it wouldn't fit in the car) so a stroller came too, and my guys immediately turned the box that it came in into a robot fort. I had never considered a convertible seat for an infant, they seem too big and the newbies too small...and I am big into babywearing but when the little one is asleep and you are just doing a quick in-and-out of the car it's so convenient to just take them with you without waking them....especially when you have multiple big brothers to drop off/pick up!


I think my next step will be to look in the garage at what I have and then go to the local store that has the radians, which I can't do until next weekend...my DP might just have to use the bucket seat for his car if I can't use it for mine....so it wouldn't be a total waste at least!  I just can't afford a new car...and while the idea of spending hundreds on new car seats is not appealing I keep telling myself it's a heck of a lot less than it would be to get a new vehicle...I'll let you know what I make work!



post #7 of 24

You might be able to use the SR without the base, but it is kind of a pain to get baby in and out of.

post #8 of 24

Getting another car would be a longer process and more complicated, but it might be the best solution in the long run.  Even if you don't do it now, you might want to start looking -- the kids will only get larger!  It will be a long time before they are all out of boosters and then not long until they are approaching adult size.  (My 10 year old dd is only slightly smaller than me, both in height and hip width!)  One additional advantage of a 7 passenger vehicle, if you would be considering that, is that you can fit a couple of friends in as well, making it possible to carpool with other parents to practices, school, etc.  I very much appreciate being able to do this.  With 3 kids, it's sometimes a real life saver to be able to share those drop-offs and pick-ups!


You wouldn't have to buy new.  Your '05 Forester must be worth a decent amount, so you could probably find something in similar condition for about the same price.  (Or maybe sell dh's car?)  The trick would be the time lag between selling it and using the money to buy a larger used car/van.  You might have to borrow or go with one car for a couple of weeks.  Just something to think about, though not an immediate solution, probably.

post #9 of 24

how long are you required to have your kids in carseats/boosters in your state? In mine it's up til 6 with a booster, so you could just get a little booster to put underneath your 6 year old. Getting a new car just because of the carseat issue when your oldest will be out of them soon seems a little extreme.

post #10 of 24

The laws of physics, anatomy, physiology, and common sense show that most kids need to be in a booster until around age 10 or 4'9", even if state law doesn't require it.  A 50" 6.5yo is nowhere near the end of booster use.

post #11 of 24

We have a 1999 saturn SL2 and DD's radian doesn't cover up the seatbelt next to it.  Whatever seat you use, make sure to turn the buckle around so that your kiddo in the booster doesn't accidentally unbuckle the wrong seatbelt.

post #12 of 24
Originally Posted by chickabiddy View Post

The laws of physics, anatomy, physiology, and common sense show that most kids need to be in a booster until around age 10 or 4'9", even if state law doesn't require it.  A 50" 6.5yo is nowhere near the end of booster use.

Yeah but actual statistical evidence shows that after age 2, the benefits compared to just using a seatbelt aren't that great. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=um5gMZcZWm0

post #13 of 24

something not mentioned is that you could use a radian for your older ds that is in a booster. it is the only seat that you can use to the max weight or till the childs ears are at the top of the shell. this means they would be above the top straps. my dd is 8.5, 55lb & 50" torso hight is 17" but in the seat she is under the top slat. she still has room to grow before she out grows her radian.

Edited by littlemizflava - 1/9/11 at 11:21am
post #14 of 24

You could also put the baby RF'ing in the front seat. As long as you get the airbag turned off (or there is none).

post #15 of 24

A 2005 Forester will have an airbag in the passenger seat, and they can't be disabled in the US.  It is illegal to disable an airbag without a waiver from the NHTSA:  those waivers are only granted in exceptional circumstances (and this would not qualify) and most mechanics won't do it even with a waiver.

post #16 of 24


Originally Posted by Geist View Post

Originally Posted by chickabiddy View Post

The laws of physics, anatomy, physiology, and common sense show that most kids need to be in a booster until around age 10 or 4'9", even if state law doesn't require it.  A 50" 6.5yo is nowhere near the end of booster use.

Yeah but actual statistical evidence shows that after age 2, the benefits compared to just using a seatbelt aren't that great. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=um5gMZcZWm0


post #17 of 24

Geist - maybe you're tall, so you don't really understand. I'm 5'3" and I swear that I should probably be in a booster seat. I've had my seatbelt dig into my neck when my mom stops the car too fast. THAT'S the issue with not using a booster for a young child. If the seatbelt doesn't line up properly, sits too high, it can DECAPITATE the child. And i know from personal experience that even just stopping too fast, not even actually getting in an accident, can make the seatbelt tighten up hard enough to leave a bruise on ME - who knows what it would do to a child. Is that really a risk you would be willing to take for the sake of convenience? And putting the shoulder strap behind the child, or putting the child in a seat that only has a lap belt runs the risk of a child who is still not heavy enough - read filling out the space between the seatbelt and the seat enough - being thrown straight up out of the seatbelt.


Statistics are great tools, but unless it's shown to be 100% effective, is it worth the risk? The seatbelt alone may be all the child needs in 99% of cases - but i wouldn't want my child to be one of the 1% that it's not enough for. My mom and I actually had a similar convo earlier today about  the stroller my sister had registered for - the Graco Laguna. The car seat is great, but there are some issues with the stroller that were mentioned in reviews. So, my mom and I went to check it out. I won't list all the problems unless someone asks, but it came down to my mom saying that she wouldn't be surprised if the thing ended up being recalled for some serious design flaws. My response was "and we don't want OUR baby being one of the reasons it's being recalled". My sister will be picking out a different system. If it were my child, that child would not be out of a booster until I was sure that the seatbelt itself wouldn't be causing more problems than it was solving . I wouldn't want my child to be the statistical anomaly.


Sorry about getting on a soapbox and being all preachy. But we live in an unsafe world and there is just so much that we don't have control over. So, I'm all for doing everything that I can to keep kids safe and minimizing risk where we can. And keeping a child in a booster seat until that child is tall enough and fat (weird word choice, but not sure how else to put it) enough that the seat belt will actually be able to properly do it's job just seems like such a simple thing to do to minimize risk.

post #18 of 24

Chickabiddy - I was about to edit my post and mention that I had never heard any actual anecdotal stories of kids being decapitated by their seatbelts, just that I had heard that it was possible. Then I opened your second link. Looking at that itty-bitty little thing with all that room around him INSIDE his seatbelt and the shoulder belt ALREADY looking like it's digging into his neck without it having tightened up in a crash just makes me shudder. I take back my take-back. I don't see how that can look safe to anyone. I'm just picturing this poor kid being tossed around his seat with that shoulder strap doing who knows what to his poor neck.

post #19 of 24

And the neck isn't even the worst of it.  Lap belts ride high on the abdomen on little (and even not so little -- my almost 9yo can't sit in a seatbelt alone) kids.  In a crash, thousands of pounds of force are directed into the soft tissue and internal organs.  It's called seatbelt syndrome.  There are documented cases of death due to seatbelt syndrome.  Harnessed seats eliminate the possibility altogether:  properly used boosters act as artificial hipbones and absorb the crash forces.  (In people who are large enough to fit in seatbelts properly -- usually around 4'9" or taller -- the crash forces are directed into the hips, which are large bones and able to take the forces better than livers and bellies and all that soft smushy stuff.)

post #20 of 24

I never even thought of what the lap belt might be doing. Being short myself it's easy to see the issue with the neck, because even I have issues with it. And I knew the issue with the belt not fitting properly and the child coming out of it - my sister almost came out of her seatbelt once when we were kids. Not in a crash, she just happened to be leaning forward as we came to a sudden stop and her forward momentum lifted her up and partway out. And you hear all the time about kids getting ejected from the car during crashes.

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