There is no official safety guideline— other then don’t put the car seat in the front (for obvious reasons and because deployed air bags can easily suffocate a small child). But as far as where to put the car seat in the back, people’s opinions seem to run all over the place.
Originally, I had heard that putting them behind the driver or passenger side was the safest but others argue that you want your child in the middle which puts them as far away from the door as possible, in case of a side collision. But I remember hearing that the middle is the most dangerous place to be in case of a front collision, so who knows …
When our daughter was an infant, we chose to put the car seat in back of the passenger side. The reason for this was because we live in New York City and don’t have a driveway. This means we often park curbside, so the passenger side will have direct access to the sidewalk. Otherwise, we’d have to walk her around into the street, making our transfer from the stroller much more difficult.
Because we live in the city, we mainly use the car on weekends for longer family trips. Neither my husband or I are ever in the car with Mazzy by ourselves. And when we go on these car trips, my husband is always the driver.
As time went on and Mazzy got older, I realized we were struggling during these road trips because as the perpetual passenger, I couldn’t see Mazzy and didn’t have easy access to her without fully contorting my body every other second. Or in extreme situations, taking my seat belt off and climbing into the backseat, which is not safe for anybody either.
Ultimately, we ended up switching the car seat to the driver side because it allows me to hand my daughter anything she needs without going through any major acrobatics. Unfortunately, it also means that she demands a lot more food/entertainment/clothing changes/etc. now that she can see me.
While I was researching this post, I did read one comment from someone who said in case of collision, drivers instinctually turn the car so that the passenger side is hit first, making behind the driver side the safest place to keep a child.
While that does make me feel confident in where we keep our car seat, it also makes me question my role as the passenger!
Where do you position the car seat and why?
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