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#1 of 24 Old 03-26-2010, 06:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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after reading in the family safety forums, i have some questions about how to best arrange my 3-across carseats in my 1996 subaru outback.

i understand that the least protected child should go in the most protected spot.

here is our situation:

dh is disabled and must be able to have lots of leg room and lean back a bit in his seat. he's 5' 10"

i typically drive and am short - 5' 2".

we have a 35 lb 4 yo dd.

we have a 25 lb 2 yo ds.

we are expecting #3 in july.

we have 4 tethers in the back for anchoring seats.

we have a britax marathon, a recaro and a graco infant seat.

at this point, i have dd ff in the middle in the recaro and ds rf behind the driver in a marathon.

i'm going to have to buy at least 1 radian to be able to fit an infant seat back there.

so here's my main dilemma: it seems that i won't be able to have 2 carseats rf, due to dh needing room. so, it seems that i will have the infant seat behind me, and the radian in the middle and possibly another radian (or marathon/recaro) ff behind the passenger.

so, dd really needs to be sitting down lower, like the radian would put her, because she is just bigger and is always putting her shoed feet on top of our seats. but that would mean that 2 yo ds would be ff outboard. not good.

i know that many of you are going to come back and say that ds needs to be rf still. i KNOW this. it's just not going to happen with a disabled husband in a front seat, so please no flames or harping on ds being rf'ing.

so would it be better to try and afford 2 radians and put ds ff in the middle? or should i just deal with feet on our seats and leave dd ff in the recaro/marathon and buy 1 radian to put ds in the middle ff (least protected child in most protected spot)?

thanks for the input!

eta: the only way i can get 3 across with an infant seat safely is with a radian in the middle.
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#2 of 24 Old 03-26-2010, 07:56 PM
 
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I have no advice as I am long out of the car seat stage but I do feel your pain. 11 years ago when my Subaru outback was new I had to do the same configuring.
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#3 of 24 Old 03-26-2010, 08:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ScarletBegonias View Post
we have 4 tethers in the back for anchoring seats.
A 1996 Outback has three top tether anchors (in the ceiling) and no lower anchors. How exactly are you installing the seats?

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#4 of 24 Old 03-26-2010, 08:06 PM
 
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I was in your situation several years ago when I had one child in a booster, one front facing, and an infant. The infant was a friend's baby that I only needed to transport occasionally. I had a 2002 Outback at the time. I was able to fit the infant in the middle and the other two on the sides, but it was super tight. If I remember correctly, the seats ended up sort of having to overlap a bit. It was ok in a pinch, but I never felt very safe doing it. Is there any way you can get a bigger car?
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#5 of 24 Old 03-26-2010, 08:44 PM
 
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Put the 2yo rfing in the radian in the center if you can get it installed (at least in the '01 it would fit rfing between the seats), the baby behind you in your snugride if it fits, otherwise a scenera or concoro, and your oldest ffing in whatever fits behind the passenger and deal with the feet.

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#6 of 24 Old 03-27-2010, 03:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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34me - thanks for the commiseration!

Quote:
Originally Posted by chickabiddy View Post
A 1996 Outback has three top tether anchors (in the ceiling) and no lower anchors. How exactly are you installing the seats?
hmmmmm, never seen the top anchors , but there are 4 anchors bolted in in the bottom of the cargo area. there are slits (factory molded) in my cargo liner to pull the anchors through. am i mistaking these anchors for something else?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rockymtnmama View Post
I was in your situation several years ago when I had one child in a booster, one front facing, and an infant. The infant was a friend's baby that I only needed to transport occasionally. I had a 2002 Outback at the time. I was able to fit the infant in the middle and the other two on the sides, but it was super tight. If I remember correctly, the seats ended up sort of having to overlap a bit. It was ok in a pinch, but I never felt very safe doing it. Is there any way you can get a bigger car?
well, i can technically fit the infant seat in, but i *cannot* get a safe install. already the door hits ds' seat when i close it. when i tried it with the infant seat installed as well, every time i shut the door, the seat would lock the door. not good!

and technically we could buy a bigger car, but, and this is a BIG but, that would mean living in a travel trailer for years longer than planned and not building a house. not an option for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DahliaRW View Post
Put the 2yo rfing in the radian in the center if you can get it installed (at least in the '01 it would fit rfing between the seats), the baby behind you in your snugride if it fits, otherwise a scenera or concoro, and your oldest ffing in whatever fits behind the passenger and deal with the feet.
if i properly install *any* carseat i have rf'ing in the middle, the front seats either won't recline even to the first click, or will recline to the first click, which is straight up and down. i can't safely drive with my seat like that, and dh can't ride reasonably un-cramped. which is weird because my carsetas seem to fit just fine rf directly behind the seats.

eta: i think it's the hump that is to blame!

i think because the 1996 outback legacy is the first year they started making that particular model, it's a bit funky compared to the other years. at least from what i've read on forums that seems to be the case. the back door design sucks - it sticks out pretty far and dh has whanged himself in the family jewels not a few times with that door. it's also slanted so severely at the window area of the rear doors that i couldn't get ds out of the recaro rf'ing once he was about 16 months old.

i love my car but hate it at the same time! i'll play with the seats more on monday (we have a busy weekend) and see what else can be done with what i already have.

thanks everyone for the help and ideas!
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#7 of 24 Old 03-27-2010, 09:43 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ScarletBegonias View Post
hmmmmm, never seen the top anchors , but there are 4 anchors bolted in in the bottom of the cargo area. there are slits (factory molded) in my cargo liner to pull the anchors through. am i mistaking these anchors for something else?
Yes, you are. The top tether anchors are in the ceiling. The anchors in the cargo area are for cargo and are NOT rated for carseats. Use the seatbelts to install the carseats and the tether anchors in the ceiling to top-tether forward facing sets.

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#8 of 24 Old 03-27-2010, 09:59 AM
 
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Getting three across in a Subaru -- pretty much any year -- is near to impossible to do. At least on a regular basis, safely. I've tried in a 98 and a 2006 and the only way to do it that I've found has the door banging a seat, as you've said. Though I'm not a big ticket recommender, this situation would have me looking at used cars that have wider back seats, as Subarus are notoriously horrible for getting more than two car seats installed.

Good luck!

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#9 of 24 Old 03-28-2010, 04:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chickabiddy View Post
Yes, you are. The top tether anchors are in the ceiling. The anchors in the cargo area are for cargo and are NOT rated for carseats. Use the seatbelts to install the carseats and the tether anchors in the ceiling to top-tether forward facing sets.
gotcha! thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by megincl View Post
Getting three across in a Subaru -- pretty much any year -- is near to impossible to do. At least on a regular basis, safely. I've tried in a 98 and a 2006 and the only way to do it that I've found has the door banging a seat, as you've said. Though I'm not a big ticket recommender, this situation would have me looking at used cars that have wider back seats, as Subarus are notoriously horrible for getting more than two car seats installed.

Good luck!
yeah, it sucks! fortunately though, i rarely ever need to move carseats, so i have that going for me, i guess. they are pretty much permanently installed in my car. i would *like* something new and different and easier to install carseats in, but i really just need to make this safely work for just a few more years. i've seen people do it, and even if i have to buy 3 new seats (which it's looking like i will) it's still better for us than getting a new car right now!
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#10 of 24 Old 03-28-2010, 02:04 PM
 
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Ok, one other possible option for keeping DS RF would be a Radian RF behind you, your FF DD in the middle and the baby RF in a Coccoro which I think takes up less front to back room than an infant seat. I don't know how much room your DH needs but it fits with plenty of room in my 98 Forrester and because of the infant padding doesn't require quite as much recline in the actual seat (46 degree angle is achieved via the padding)

Or what about a Saftey 1st Complete Air? I hear they're narrow like a Radian but they install much more upright.

If you absolutely can't manage to keep your 2 year old RF I'd make sure he's in the middle in a tethered seat.

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#11 of 24 Old 03-28-2010, 04:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i thought that the radian has a very wide angle of rear recline and is almost impossible to get a safe install rf'ing?

i was also going on the premise that infant seats are the only safe seats for newborns because of the shoulder heights. i thought my marathon was safe for my newborns but the cpst ladies on here pointed out that even though convertible carseats are rated for 5 lb babies, the shoulder heights are too high to be safe.

and my infant seat sticks out far more than my rf'ing recaro.

this is sooooo frustrating! i think ds will just end up ff in the middle if i can't get something figured out that is reasonable!

any recommendations for an infant seat that doesn't stick out so far??? i started another thread but no one has responded yet.
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#12 of 24 Old 03-28-2010, 05:14 PM
 
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Britax convertibles are not safe for the vast majority of newborns*. There are plenty of other convertibles, including the Coccoro, that are safe for average-size full term newborns.

Radians don't always install well in Subarus. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

I'd try FFing Evenflo Maestro for the 4yo, RFing Coccoro or Scenera for baby, and RFing Complete Air (can install very upright) for the 2yo.

* Every time this comes up, someone says that her child did fit in a Britax from birth. There are exceptions to every rule. But a child must be 10" from seat to shoulders to safely fit in a Britax convertible, and newborns have legs and heads, and it is very very rare for even a 24" baby to have a 10" torso.

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#13 of 24 Old 03-28-2010, 05:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by chickabiddy View Post
Britax convertibles are not safe for the vast majority of newborns*. There are plenty of other convertibles, including the Coccoro, that are safe for average-size full term newborns.

Radians don't always install well in Subarus. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

I'd try FFing Evenflo Maestro for the 4yo, RFing Coccoro or Scenera for baby, and RFing Complete Air (can install very upright) for the 2yo.

* Every time this comes up, someone says that her child did fit in a Britax from birth. There are exceptions to every rule. But a child must be 10" from seat to shoulders to safely fit in a Britax convertible, and newborns have legs and heads, and it is very very rare for even a 24" baby to have a 10" torso.
so the scenera does have low shoulder heights for a tiny newborn? if it does, and is narrow-ish, that would probably work out better than an infant seat for us, as i rarely take out the bucket part anyway, and the scenera would last longer rf'ing than an infant seat.

i'm off to see how narrow the evenflo maestro is compared to the radian and the complete air is compared to the marathon. i'm guessing much narrower for the latter of the two?
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#14 of 24 Old 03-28-2010, 05:55 PM
 
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The Scenera fits most average-size full-term newborns. It might probably even fit one on the smaller side. I think it probably wouldn't work for "tiny" (in the ballpark of six pounds and under).

Seat measurements, while helpful, are not the whole story. You really need to see and play with seats in person to see how they install and puzzle.

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#15 of 24 Old 03-28-2010, 06:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thank you for the info on the scenera! that is very helpful!

the main problem i seem to be having with width is that all the carseats i currently have are really wide up high, where the carseat "armrests" are. i *think* if i had just 1 carseat that didn't have armrests for my ff dd (as in the radian or the evenflo you suggested), then i could leave ds rf in the marathon and use the infant seat i have.

eta: though i can't seem to get a really tight install with the evenflo infant seat, so maybe i would be more comfortable using a scenera or coccorro???
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#16 of 24 Old 03-28-2010, 06:12 PM
 
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Not sure how helpful this will be for you, but I had 3 seats (2yo friend, tall 3 yr old DD, really tall 5 yo DS) in my 97 Subaru Legacy Wagon last year. I changed up the arrangement a number of times. Here are some notes on the combos

* all were seatbelt installs, and I was able to get the tightest install with the lap belt in the middle.
* FF marathon (side) worked well next to RF roundabout (center)
* I could get the front seats back farther for tall (6'4") DH if I rearfaced Roundabout in the middle only. This allowed us to trade off driving without shuffling carseats.
* FF radian worked very well in center next to FF Marathon and/ or Roundabout
* Scenera was sometimes traded for Roundabout, and seatbelt booster sometimes traded for Radian or Marathon.
* I found that with three across and RF kid in middle the youngest two bickered so ended up putting FF Radian in center for oldest and best behaved child, and put the two who did not get along on the sides.
* the whole set up worked better once they were all FF

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#17 of 24 Old 03-28-2010, 06:15 PM
 
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oops, double post

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#18 of 24 Old 03-28-2010, 07:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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jtbuko - thanks! i tried some new configurations with the marathon rf in the middle and i think everything will work out perfect if i buy a new seat for ff dd, like the radian or evenflo maestra.

another question though?

with ds and the new baby both rf, and dd ff, who is the "least protected" child? would that automatically be dd? how unsafe would she be outboard? or would she be technically safe outboard?
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#19 of 24 Old 03-28-2010, 07:23 PM
 
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The absolute most important thing is to have all seats installed independently securely. I don't think that will be especially easy, and you need to go with the best installs you can get.

But as a point of information, if you have a 4.5yo FF, a 2.5yo RF, and a newborn RF, the most protected would be the RFing 2.5yo and the least protected would be the FFing 4.5yo. If that changes to 4.5yo FF, 2.5yo FF, and newborn RF, the newborn would be the most protected and the FFing 2.5yo the least.

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#20 of 24 Old 03-28-2010, 07:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i *can* get secure, independent installs. yes, it's definitely been work, and now my back is hurting, but the installs are secure independently.

BUT ff dd is outboard. should i do everything i can to get her in the middle (assuming the 2 yo and the nb are rf)?

oh, and the reason i've never noticed the top anchors, is because they aren't there! i have to order them. anyone know of a good source for replacement top-anchors?
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#21 of 24 Old 03-28-2010, 08:49 PM
 
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Different scenario, different vehicle, but I have 2 FF and 1 RF in the back seat of my Jeep Grand Cherokee, and while the FF are the "least protected", if I have the baby in the middle, the seats fit better and I have less bickering from the older two with their baby sister between them, so am better able to pay attention and drive. I have 7yoDS in high back Turbobooster, 2moDD in Graco Snugride RF, and 4.5yoDD in Britax Decathlon FF. I plan on getting a Radian for the baby when she gets bigger (would have started her out in that, but a trusted friend gave us the Snugride her DS outgrew for free).

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#22 of 24 Old 03-28-2010, 09:09 PM
 
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Are you sure it's a 1996 Outback? Not possibly a Legacy? (I'm not just being nitpicky. Tether anchors are model-specific.)

Carseat-checking (CPST) and WAH mama to a twelve-year-old girl.
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#23 of 24 Old 03-28-2010, 09:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
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Are you sure it's a 1996 Outback? Not possibly a Legacy? (I'm not just being nitpicky. Tether anchors are model-specific.)
actually, it's a legacy outback. as in, it's a wagon, but the emblems on the back say legacy on the left side and outback on the right side. i can take a picture of the back of my car if you don't believe me! like i said, it's the first year this particular model started being made. eta: ooops, 1995 was the first year. they only made the legacy outbacks 95-97.

eta: i'm assuming the 3 screw-holes at the back of the roof of the cargo area would be where the anchors go. i tried looking up some info about it but the car forums/sites are a pita to navigate.
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#24 of 24 Old 03-29-2010, 12:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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just got back from car-seat.org with a part number for the anchors. hooray!
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