When driving around with your baby, you want to make sure they are as safe as possible. While you work hard to drive carefully and not hit anyone, you can’t always control the other drivers on the road.
Being prepared and choosing the safest place for a car seat in your vehicle will make a difference in case an accident does happen.
The safest place for car seat is usually in the back seat, right in the middle. This keeps your child as far away from any potential impact locations in case of an accident. If there is more than one car seat, or there isn’t a middle seat available, then any seat in the back of the vehicle is safe too.
Knowing where to place an infant car seat to keep your child safe will depend on the type of car seat and the type of vehicle you drive. To choose the safest location, consider the following:
By Car Seat Type
Choosing the safest place for a car seat does depend a little on the type of car seat you use. It may also depend on how many children you have and their ages. For example, when choosing between an infant car seat and a booster seat, the infant car seat should be in the middle and the booster car seat on the side.
Some other things to consider for the safest location to place your car seat, based on car seat type, includes:
Safest Place for Infant Car Seat
The safest place for a car seat in the back seat of the vehicle. All spots in the back seat of any vehicle are safer than putting an infant seat in the front. This adds extra protection for your baby while driving.
However, if you are looking for the absolute safest spot for an infant car seat, the middle back seat is the safest.
According to a study published in Pediatrics, children newborn to 3 years old were 43% safer when they sat in the center rear seat compared to sitting on either side.
This is different from what most parents choose. It is estimated that 41% of parents put the infant car seat on the rear passenger side of the vehicle. This makes it easier to see the baby and get them in and out of the vehicle.
The center seat is the safest option for your child. At least until they are three years old, keep their infant seat is the best choice.
Safest Place for Booster Car Seat
The safest place for a booster seat is also the center rear seat. Even though your child is bigger at this stage, there is more danger from collisions and airbags in the front compared to the back seat according to the CDC.
If you have a child in a booster seat and one in the infant seat, then put the booster seat on one of the sides. Any back seat is safer than putting your child in the front seat.
Make sure that your child is properly restrained in a seat belt. This must fit snuggly across the lap of your child and not their stomach, with the shoulder belt going across the chest without going under the arm.
Safest Place for Convertible Car Seat
The safest place for your convertible car seat is in the back seat. Your child should remain in the back seat until the age of 13 if at all possible, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
A convertible car seat is similar to your infant car seat. Children as young as a newborn up to age five or six can use a convertible seat depending on the manufacturer of the seat. The center rear seat is still the safest place if possible. This will protect your child from any side-on collisions that may happen. Any seat in the back is safe for your child though.
By Car Type
The safest place for an infant car seat will depend on the type of vehicle you drive. Some examples you can use include:
Safest Place for Car Seat in a Minivan
The safest place for an infant car seat in a minivan is in the second row. If you can, place your child in the center seat, that is best, but the two outer seats will work as well if the center row doesn’t have a center seat.
Do not put your child in the third row, even if it does have a center seat in your minivan. This puts your child at risk for rear-end collisions and puts them too close to the liftgate. The middle seat, whether they can sit in the middle or on the sides based on the design of the minivan, is the safest place.
Safest Place for a Car Seat in an SUV
In general, the safest place for an infant seat is the second row in the middle. By placing the car seat in the middle you protect against side collision and back collision.
However, the best location for the car seat in an SUV will depend on the size of the vehicle. Some of the newer SUVs are a little smaller and the third row is close to the back of the vehicle. This doesn’t provide a lot of protection and you should not keep your child there.
If you have an SUV that is lower to the ground and doesn’t leave a lot of room between the third row and the back of the vehicle, the safest place is in the second row. This is where you should keep your baby.
For larger SUVs, the safest spot may be in the third row. These SUVs are often larger, making it harder for an impact in the back of the vehicle to do much damage. This also puts the child further from the front, which is where most accidents happen.
Safest Place for Car Seat in a Jeep Grand Cherokee
The safest place for a car seat in a Jeep Grand Cherokee is in the middle seat of the second row. Most older Grand Cherokees only have two rows so keeping your infant seat in the middle of that row is safest.
Some newer models of the Jeep Grand Cherokee do provide a third row. These are often close to the back of the vehicle and can increase the risk of your child being harmed in an accident.
For most Grand Cherokees, there is only one back row to worry about. In this situation, keep your child in the middle seat in the back. Even if there is a third row, keep your child in the second row.
Safest Place for Car Seat in a Ford Explorer
The safest place for an infant seat in a Ford Explorer is in the second row. Even though this type of vehicle has a third row of seats, there is no center seat there. And this third row is too close to the back of the vehicle to provide safety for your child.
Putting your child in the center seat is often the safest place for them. This will keep them as far away from head-on crashes, which are the most common, and rear-end crashes, which are the second most common. If possible, keep them in the middle seat position as long as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some things to consider when picking a car seat position for your child include:
Is It Safe to Put an Infant Seat Behind the Driver’s Seat?
It is safe to put an infant seat behind the driver’s seat. The safest spot is to have the child in the center seat in the back. However, if there is no center seat, then either seat, as long as it is in the back, is safe.
Many parents choose to place the infant seat on the passenger side. This allows them more room to move their seat on the driver’s side and helps them see their baby better while driving. Any seat in the second row is seen as safe for your baby.
Can I Have the Car Seat on the Front?
The safest place for an infant car seat is always in the back. If all the seats in the back are taken, or the vehicle does not have a back seat, you may place an infant seat in the front of the vehicle.
Keep in mind that pediatric experts agree this is not the safest place for your child. Head-on collisions are the most common type of accident. And putting your child here can put them in danger.
If you do place your child in the front seat, put them in the middle seat if possible. Turn off all airbags to add extra protection.
The safest place for your child is always the back seat. This helps keep them away from a rear-end or head-on collision if you are in an accident.
Placing them in the middle seat also adds more protection in case of a side-on collision. In some vehicles, it is safer to keep your child in the third row, though the second row is a good choice as well.
When picking a location for a car seat, always consider how far away from danger your child will be if an accident occurs. This is where you should place your child. You may be interested in our guide on best car seat for jeep wrangler.