A common question, especially for parents of twins or triplets, is whether they need a car seat for each car. The answer to this question will depend on your specific situation and what kind of car seats you have.
You must use a restraint while riding in a private vehicle, like your family car, for each baby, toddler, and young child in any car. Some convertible car seats can be used with multiple vehicle fitted bases, so you don’t need to purchase multiple car seats for each child.
Check with your local transport authority to find out when your child no longer needs a fitted restraint in your car. In some jurisdictions this depends on a child’s age, and in others it is based on height or weight.
Baby car seats are a must if you have children. The question is though, do you need to buy one for each of your cars? This article briefly covers the key points about why you may not need one extra infant car seat per vehicle, but if you can afford the extra one it might just be worth it.
Should you get a car seat for each car?
The thing to remember is that a car seat can only be used in one vehicle at any one time, so you don’t actually need two different seats for each child. If your child has a convertible seat and fits on a range of vehicles, then it may be more economical for you to have one car seat per child, and move it between each car.
Convertible seats are more commonly rear facing, as they’re likely to be ‘capsules’ – used for newborns. Rear facing convertible car seats are often also able to be used as the seat of a stroller, saving on an infant bassinet purchase.
A rear facing convertible seat like the Chicco Fit2 Infant & Toddler Car Seat can be used from birth to 24 months, and you’d use a car seat base in each of your vehicles. If you will need to be moving the car seat quite often, this would absolutely be a cost-efficient way to go.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines recommend you keep your child in a rear facing car seat for as long as possible. Buying a convertible seat that can change from rear facing to forward facing will save you the additional purchase of a capsule that you will only use for 4-6 months.
How many car seats can you have in a car?
The number of car seats you can have in one car will be limited by the size of your vehicle. Most smaller cars can fit two car seats in the second row – one behind each front-row seat. In terms of rear facing car seats though, many vehicles will not have enough room behind the driver’s seat to safely install a rear facing car seat.
This might not be a problem if you have one rear facing, and one forward facing car seat installed at any given time. This was me; when my second was born my eldest moved to a forward facing seat behind the driver’s seat, and my youngest rode in a rear facing seat.
How hard is it to move car seats from one car to another?
It’s not difficult but it can be time-consuming. There are a number of steps involved, and installation nuances between different brands of cars as well as different types of car seats. There is a reason that car seat installation services exist!
When deciding to move a car seat from one car to another, consider the vehicle seat itself, the age of your child and whether they are using a forward facing seat or rear facing seat, the number of other child passengers you will have in your car, whether you would use a car seat with a harness or lap belt, and how many appropriate seat belts you have in your vehicle overall – particularly if you will have an adult who needs to ride in the back.
Make sure you allow an appropriate amount of time to transfer your car seat or booster seat between vehicles. it always takes me longer than I think it will! I also often needed to change the orientation of each seat; in one car I had the car seat installed rear facing, but had it installed as a forward facing seat in the other. This is possible on some car seats, but you should check your seat’s user manual for details.
Can you use a booster seat in the front row of a car?
In most jurisdictions you can use a booster seat in the front row of the car if all possible second and subsequent rows are already being occupied by other children and their safety seats. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends however that children stay in the back until they at least 12 years of age.
How much does it cost to transfer a car seat between cars?
if you can do the installation yourself through referencing the owner’s manual of both your car and the car seat, the only additional cost will be either a second base for your convertible car seat, or additional straps or adapters that are required to use your chosen seat safely in your vehicle. Once you have all of those items, each transfer won’t cost you a thing.
if you are looking to install a booster seat, most of these simply require making sure the adult seat belt fits correctly at the base and buckle, and that when it is in use the seat belt sits appropriately on your child’s upper thighs and chest. Provided your child meets the appropriate weight or height limit, the initial purchase of the booster seat is likely to be your only cost.
If you are looking to get a professional to transfer your car seat from one car to another, you will need to factor in the cost of labor in addition to any other parts or accessories required. professional installation of forward or rear facing seats cost me around $40 – but many services offer discounts if you knew that you would need to be doing transfers relatively frequently. Some car seat installation services offer education and training about car seat safety and installation, so your best bet may be to invest in the education of how to move seats from one car to another and do this process yourself.
The National Highway traffic safety administration also provides a list of inspection stations where certified technicians can inspect your installation as well as provide education and training, all of which are available free of charge in most cases. You may also be able to access virtual inspections – Safe Kids Worldwide provides access to technicians as part of their child passenger safety certification.
How can you keep your child safe if there isn’t enough room for a car seat in the other vehicle?
if your child is under the height and weight limits described in local and federal safety standards, they must be in an appropriate child safety seat. There’s no getting around this – it’s the law and is that way to ensure child passenger safety.
Weight and height limits are often used in conjunction with your child’s age, and in many jurisdictions, your child is not legally required to use any kind of safety seat once they are eight years old. Not all eight-year-olds meet the weight limits prescribed, and some children will exceed weight or height limits at an earlier age.
Where possible, keep your child in a rear facing seat as long as possible, adjust the straps and harnesses as your child outgrows their previous configuration, use forward facing seats that have harnesses in preference to a simple shoulder belt or configured adult seatbelt, and only moved to a booster seat when it is your last resort.
In conclusion – weigh convenience with cost, but keep safety as the main priority!
It’s important to know the age and weight guidelines for your child at all stages of their life, as well as what type of car seat you need. Car seats are required by law in most jurisdictions, but regulations can differ by age, height or weight limits. Be sure to check with local authorities before purchasing another car seat to make sure your purchase will meet both safety and legal requirements.
If your child is over 8 years old, they may have outgrown the safety requirements that mandate children use some form of restraint while riding in a private vehicle such as family cars. This can be a relief – it can be difficult when there simply isn’t enough space for everyone! Not having enough room isn’t an excuse for appropriate child passenger safety, however.
The most important thing to remember when transferring your car seat from one vehicle to another is that it might not be as simple as you think. If you’re willing to put the time in, however, there are several ways get this done without spending too much money. And don’t forget – safety should always come first!