3 Across: The Magic Number
One of the biggest challenges for a growing family is when that third baby comes along - fitting three child restraints across a back seat can be a hugely stressful ordeal, but it doesn't have to be! There are some tips, tricks and products that can make your life a whole lot easier, and we've compiled 7 of the best right here!
Start with the middle restraint.
You want to install the middle restraint first, as it will determine how much space you have on the sides, and it's easier to install the side restraints last.
Use a rear facing restraint in the middle position.
While it's nice to be able to have the rear facing restraint on the side for your convenience and comfort, often times you'll find having two forward facing restraints next to each other will sit awkwardly, or not fit at all. We were lucky enough to fit our rearward facing restraint on the side, but if we had to choose between having it in the middle or a new vehicle, we'd have picked the middle!
It's ok if your tether straps aren't quite straight.
If you have to push your restraints over a little to get that last one in, and you find your top tether strap is now at a slight diagonal angle, that's ok. In fact, the ADR for motor vehicles allows car manufacturers to place anchor points up to 20 degrees either side, offset from the centre of the seating position, so in some vehicles you could potentially see this behaviour with only one or two restraints.
It's ok if your restraints touch the doors.
If your child restraints contact the doors, that's ok. Being hard up against the door can actually have some benefits in relation to the reduction of momentum in a side impact accident, and...
Don't worry about rear side curtain air bags.
If your restraint is against the door, and your vehicle is equipped with rear side curtain air bags, it's easy to feel like there could be an issue there - however, while the restraint could potentially interfere with the operation of the rear side curtain air bags, all child restraints sold in Australia must demonstrate side impact protection by themselves. The Australian Standard's side impact protection requirements are the most stringent in the world, so you can rest assured that your child is protected, side curtain air bag or not.
Measure your back seat.
You want to measure across from the top of the windows (to match against the top of the restraints, often the widest part), from the door arm rests (to match against the restraint armrests) and the actual back seat (to ensure you can physically sit three restraints across it).
Choose the right restraints.
We feature all of our child restraint dimensions on their product pages within this website, so you can make informed decisions before you buy. We offer a number of narrow child restraints that can make the three across problem easier for you to solve.
Fitting 3 across the back seat can be a real challenge. Sometimes, nothing will work and the only option will be to look at buying a new, larger vehicle. But with a little homework, some child restraint juggling and the right restraints, you might be able to avoid that particular path (at least until number four comes along!).