Installing Car Seats Safely: The Safest Way to Position Forward-Facing & Rear-Facing Car Seats by 30Seconds Mom

2 years ago

Installing Car Seats Safely: The Safest Way to Position Forward-Facing & Rear-Facing Car Seats

There are several factors involved in buying a car seat for your child. In addition to ensuring that you purchase quality car seats from reputable companies like Diono, parents should be wary of the safest place to install the seat. Ideally, the safest place to install your car seat is at the center of the back seat. However, this doesn’t mean that other locations aren’t safe.

Generally, the safest place to install a car seat depends on the vehicle type, the number of car seats and whether you are installing the seat in a forward-facing or rear-facing position.

Safety Car Seat Position for a Minivan or SUV

The best location for a car seat in an SUV or minivan depends on the following factors:

  • If the vehicle has a third row, you should seat your child close to the middle. If the van or SUV has a bench on the middle row, you should install the seat in the center of the middle row. However, place the seats in the third row if the middle row has bucket seats.
  • If you are installing more than one seat and the vehicle has bench seats in the middle and back row seats, place them at the center of each row.

What Is the Safety Place for Forward-Facing Seats?

Several studies have shown that the safest place to install a forward-facing seat is the center seat of your vehicles’ back seat. A 2008 study conducted to evaluate the relationship between car seat placement and risk for injury concluded that children aged between 0 and 3 years seated at the center had 43 percent less risk of injury during an accident compared to kids seated on the driver or passenger sides.

Another study on survival rates of children seated in car seats involved in fatal accidents concluded that children seated at the center have a 13 percent better chance of surviving the collision.

Can Forward-Facing Seats Be Placed in the Middle? 

If a forward-facing seat is the only seat to be installed in the car, you can place it in the middle of the backseat. If you have other kids sharing the backseat, even if they don’t require car seats, this might not be the best position. This is because car seats have a side impact protection feature. It would be safe to position the car seat at the outer ends of the backseat.

Can You Install the Car Seat Behind the Passenger or Driver? 

You should install a car seat in these positions only under the following circumstances:

  • If there is more than one car seat to be installed.
  • If you have one child riding in a forward-facing position and the other doesn’t use a car seat.

The safest place to install a car seat is at the center. However, you can opt for the passenger seat if:

  • You want to use the latch for installation.
  • If the car seat wouldn’t install properly in the center.
  • The center seat has a hump or narrow to accommodate the seat.
  • The mother recently had a C-section and can’t lean over to reach the center seat.

Similarly, never install rear-facing car seats in the front seat or where there is an active airbag. Children should always ride in their car seats for maximum safety.

The content on is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. The information on this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, and is not a substitute for professional care. Always consult your personal healthcare provider. The opinions or views expressed on do not necessarily represent those of 30Seconds or any of its employees, corporate partners or affiliates.

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Donna John
Great tips here! Installing car seats is not as easy as it sounds. And it's so important to get it right.
Elisa Schmitz
I remember being so confused about car seat installation. Many thanks for the helpful tips for parents!
Thank goodness for car seats. Life savers for sure!
Carseats can definitely be confusing so this is great...
I didn't realize the center is the safest place, thank you for letting me know.

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