So, with a new baby coming along, it was time to rearrange the seating in our van. I’d done some switching around of car seats several times this summer to see what worked and what didn’t as far as spacing, good “rock solid” installation between the car seat and the vehicle seat, and who doesn’t do well next to someone else.
In the end, it didn’t help me much because it all came down to what would fit where. You see, the rear seat in our wonderful Toyota Sienna LE van will take three car seats across, but one of the rear seats doesn’t have a rear tether spot or LATCH (I’m 50/50 on LATCH vs. seat belt install – whichever gives me the better install). So, I’d have to put either the new (Chicco Key Fit 30) rear facing infant seat in that spot (driver’s side, 3rd row) or one of the booster seats there. The problem with putting a booster seat in the rear row is that the child will then have to buckle herself in each time and it is an awful tight fit with two other car seats to do that.
In the end, here is how it turned out for my five children (one of which hasn’t arrived yet, but the seat (base) is installed and ready to receive):
Second row will have the driver’s side seat empty in order to allow access to the third row using the tumble seat. (In winter, we’ll remove this seat completely so there aren’t snowy feet going across it all the time.) In the middle of the second row will be a Graco High Back Turbo Booster with Child #2 (age 6, ~ 45 lbs, ~ 48″). Behind the passenger seat in the second row will be Child #4 (age 2, ~ 36+”, 28 lbs) who was just turned front facing in his Britax Marathon – installed with LATCH.
In the third row, Child #3 (age 3 1/2, 38 lbs, ~ 40+”) will be harnessed in her Graco Nautilus on the passenger side installed with LATCH.
Child #1 (almost age 8, ~ 70+ lbs, ~ 53″) will be going car-seatless for the first time. With her buns all the way back in the third row seat, her feet have full contact with the floor and her knees bend nicely over the edge of the seat. I had her in a Graco No-Back TurboBooster seat. We can fit the booster seat in the middle spot, but it does not allow for a good buckle in without lots of wiggling and I’m afraid of an accidental unbuckle because of the angle of the buckle against the infant seat or an unsolid “click” because of the tight fit.
Child #5 will be behind the driver in the third row in our brand new Chicco Key Fit 30 infant seat installed using the seat belt (no LATCH in this spot).
All LATCH installs were tight (although they would have been tighter if I wasn’t super pregnant). I had to check the book for the KeyFit install because I had never used a car-seat-integrated “seat belt lockoff” before. I was a bit disturbed to see that I was not supposed to lock the vehicle seat, but when I followed their directions, the seat was MUCH tighter than I’d ever had an infant seat base installed previously and had much less wiggle than when I’d done a quick “just to see how it fits” install a couple hours earlier.
I just did the car seat rearrangement today, so I still have to see how it goes long term.
I have put Child #1 in charge of releasing Child #3 from her harness and ensuring she is strapped in well. Child #2 is in charge of letting Child #4 out of his car seat, but cannot get him fully strapped in securely at this time. I’ll be in charge of getting his crotch straps clicked each trip and can double check Child #3’s harness at the same time. Child #5 will be easy for now because of the infant seat’s portability. He or she will be strapped in before loading the car seat into the vehicle.
None of the car seats expire soon, so the next major car seat change will be when Child #5 out grows the Chicco KeyFit. I assume that will be when the child reaches 8-9 months old and outgrows the maximum length (height) requirement. Until then, I hope everyone is happy with their seating arrangement.
As a bonus, my biggest offenders in the “rolling down the window” category have been denied immediate access to the windows. This will bum them out as they loved to roll their windows down while we were speeding along the highway at 60 MPH to get a blast of air in their (or someone behind them’s) face. I wish Toyota would have allowed the front row passenger to not have their window control locked out along with the second row windows on the driver’s side override button. It is annoying when trying to get a bug out of one’s (passenger side) window only to find the window control locked due to keeping the children from rolling down their windows in the back.