Vehicle Question...probably been asked a million times!

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Joined: 03/20/12
Posts: 16
Vehicle Question...probably been asked a million times!

Hello,

I am 37.5 weeks with baby #5. I have a 6,5,3, and 1 year old. We have a toyota Sienna. We are desperately trying to get a safe combination of car seats accross the back of the van so that my two older children can buckle in safely and conveniently on their own. I realize that we could get a larger vehicle (however I don't want to pay for gas or pay for the vehicle itself, if we had to do this, we would consider and SUV). Any thoughts? Thanks so much for your time.

gardenbug's picture
Joined: 03/12/07
Posts: 2025
CamelNoodle's picture
Joined: 07/28/04
Posts: 908

The narrowest carseats on the market are made by Diono. (The name used to be Sunshine Kids, but they changed it). It is called the Radian. Car Seats | Convertible Car Seat | Diono.com The Radian 80 goes to (you guessed it) 80lbs.

We can get three across in our rear seat in our Honda Odyssey.

Joined: 12/01/05
Posts: 1000

I have a Sienna too. I would put two boosters on either side and a narrow-based carseat for the 3-year-old in the middle. Get the booster seats with the arms that raise (Evenflo, I think?). Even though they are slightly wider, it's much easier to get to the seatbelt latch when they can lift the armrest. Also, for the middle seat, I'd get a high back seat with a 5-point harness that is tall enough that it can be used until your oldest is 8 and can sit without a booster seat. Depending on how tall your kids are for their age, that could be a less expensive seat, like Cosco Scenera, which we used for Thomas/Cherish. It has a narrow enough base to fit with two boosters (barely) and was high enough that Cherish was able to use it until she was 5. It had good safety ratings, so it was definitely cost-effective.

sarahsunshine's picture
Joined: 11/29/06
Posts: 1462

I don't know if you have the same problem as we do, but as much as you could fit three narrow car seats across the back, there aren't the anchors to attach to. We can only put in 2 car seats attached properly in the very back, or one car seat and one booster with a narrow space between them for a small person to sit, attached using the seatbelt. I'm told that for a fee (the same or more than a car seat), the dealer will attach more anchors.

We're going to have to play musical seats in our van in the near future, and not necessarily the way we would prefer. Ideally, the littlest ones would be in the middle and the bigger ones who can do up their belts in the back. If booster seats only go in the middle, however, then that won't work, will it?

I hope you've come to a workable solution. We bought 2 diono seats to fit in the back of our Toyota Echo with the baby bucket seat. It works but it's tight, and they are expensive!

Here, our seatbelt laws say you have to be in a booster until 40lbs. Personally, a lot depends on age and maturity for us. DSS only got over 40lbs when he was around 7. It looks like Ivy may be 40 lbs by next year (4 years). I would like to keep Ivy in a booster seat longer, but that would mean that the littler ones would be in the back seat, and the booster in the middle. We'll just have to see how things work.

Joined: 12/01/05
Posts: 1000

"sarahsunshine" wrote:

I don't know if you have the same problem as we do, but as much as you could fit three narrow car seats across the back, there aren't the anchors to attach to. We can only put in 2 car seats attached properly in the very back, or one car seat and one booster with a narrow space between them for a small person to sit, attached using the seatbelt. I'm told that for a fee (the same or more than a car seat), the dealer will attach more anchors.

.

Are you talking about LATCH anchors? Like on the back of the car seat or on the roof? Or are you talking about the tether anchors on either side of the seat cushion? I believe that seat belts are actually supposed to be better than the ones in the seat cushions, if you use it along with the LATCH anchor. I'm not sure, but I think my Sienna may have anchors on the back of all the seats. I should go check that out.

sarahsunshine's picture
Joined: 11/29/06
Posts: 1462

I'm talking about both. As good as a seatbelt is to attach a booster seat, the seatbelt can't be used if the booster seat is already attached to the seatbelt. We also only have 1 latch anchor on the back of the back seat - not 3. You canbuy a boled on attachment (merely $150 I'm told) for another latch anchor. In Canada you have to have a latch anchor for all car seats.

Joined: 12/01/05
Posts: 1000

Okay, are you saying you want to anchor the seat down and still use the seat belt as a seat belt, like with a booster seat? I've never done that. I only use the anchor for a seat with a 5-point harness. If you are using a seat belt on the kid, that's what's going to hold them down, not the seat. Maybe I'm just misunderstanding.

boilermaker's picture
Joined: 08/21/02
Posts: 1984

We had our 5th this summer. We bought a Diono and then skinniest boosters we could find and still could NOT get 3 seats across the very back row (2005 Grand Caravan).

Just today we bought a new 12 passenger van (the Nissan NV passenger.....)

In the end, we just let our 9 year old ride in the middle seat of the very back row without a booster. Not ideal, but within the limits of the law (here you only have to be 8 years old to not ride in a booster....) We tried and tried and tried to get it to work, but couldn't (and bought the new carseat and new boosters.....still no dice.) So we just mostly drove our Tahoe which is a PITA to get in/out of bc our big kids had to climb over the 2nd row to get to the 3rd row. Sad

Now that we have the big van she will go back into a booster-- and we can take friends.

Good luck! I hope you can make it work.

gardenbug's picture
Joined: 03/12/07
Posts: 2025

Hi Audra! Congratulations on the new wheels! There's even room for groceries in the car now too I bet! We need an update and photos soon!

sarahsunshine's picture
Joined: 11/29/06
Posts: 1462

"2sonsplus1" wrote:

Okay, are you saying you want to anchor the seat down and still use the seat belt as a seat belt, like with a booster seat? I've never done that. I only use the anchor for a seat with a 5-point harness. If you are using a seat belt on the kid, that's what's going to hold them down, not the seat. Maybe I'm just misunderstanding.

Yes, that's exactly what I mean - by using a car seat as a booster seat without the 5-point harness. Why? Because DD (3.5yo) is already at the tallest fitting on the 5 point harness. Yes, she will slow down in growth, but she'll still surely outgrow the 5 point harness, and then won't be able to use the seat belt because the seat belt itself is holding the booster seat in. Further, the middle seat only has a lap belt. Oh well. I grew up with only a lap belt!

Joined: 12/01/05
Posts: 1000

"sarahsunshine" wrote:

Yes, that's exactly what I mean - by using a car seat as a booster seat without the 5-point harness. Why? Because DD (3.5yo) is already at the tallest fitting on the 5 point harness. Yes, she will slow down in growth, but she'll still surely outgrow the 5 point harness, and then won't be able to use the seat belt because the seat belt itself is holding the booster seat in. Further, the middle seat only has a lap belt. Oh well. I grew up with only a lap belt!

Okay. I was wondering why you wanted to strap down the seat instead of just using the seatbelt. I didn't realize you had no shoulder strap. We had the same problem in our 7-seat station wagon, because the one middle seat did not have a shoulder harness. You should not use a booster seat without a shoulder harness. We ended up getting a special needs booster seat because you can use it with a 5-point harness much longer than a traditional high back booster. The one we bought cost $700, but was far cheaper than buying a new vehicle. You can get a Snug Seat Pilot for a little over $500. It looks like the base is 16 inches wide, which is not bad at all. It can be used up to 120 lb. and 63 inches tall.

sarahsunshine's picture
Joined: 11/29/06
Posts: 1462

"2sonsplus1" wrote:

We ended up getting a special needs booster seat because you can use it with a 5-point harness much longer than a traditional high back booster. The one we bought cost $700, but was far cheaper than buying a new vehicle. You can get a Snug Seat Pilot for a little over $500.

I think we'll play musical seats with boosters in the middle seats with shoulder straps rather than pay $500-$700 for a seat...