Babies: 0 - 3 Months

Car seat placement, can't find answer!

Can anyone help me with this? I can't seem to find an answer regarding the safest spot for an infant car seat in a SUV with side air bags. Is it best to place seat in 2nd row center position or behind the driver's seat?

I've check the auto manual, my local highway patrol office, countless websites, even the car seat manufacturer and have not found a definite answer. We have a Honda Pilot and would appreciate any help. Thanks!

Re: Car seat placement, can't find answer!

  • It's always been my understanding that the center position is always the safest, but I'm not 100% sure if side airbags would affect that or not. 
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  • I would put it in the second row in the middle
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  • Q61: Is it safe to install my carseat near an airbag?

    First, you MUST check the carseat and vehicle owner's manuals to see if they specifically mention installing the carseat in a seating position with an airbag.  Some carseat manufacturers do state that their carseats should not be installed in a spot with an active airbag.  In addition, rear-facing carseats should NEVER be placed in a front seat with an active frontal airbag.  Forward-facing carseats and boosters may sometimes be placed in the front with an active airbag, but only if absolutely necessary and not prohibited by the owner's manuals.  In these cases, the vehicle seat should be moved all the way back. Also see:
    NHTSA Tips on Children and Airbags

    Currently, side airbags are generally not considered a risk to children in correctly used child restraints.  In fact, children in properly installed and used child restraints should gain a safety benefit from side impact airbags unless otherwise indicated in an owner's manual.  A possible risk is to child passengers seated out of position; leaning on the door, face on the window, head sleeping on a pillar, etc.  This would be most relevant to children in boosters who are not seated properly, and to children not using any type of seatbelt or restraint.  Side curtain airbags should be even less risk, as they are higher and inflate with somewhat less force.  In general, it should be OK to place a child in a harnessed carseat (front or rear facing) in a rear seat position with an active side airbag, as long as the owner's manuals for the carseat and vehicle do not prohibit such placement.  Automakers have agreed to a rigorous set of testing procedures based on voluntary compliance to standards established in a working group chaired by the IIHS  These standards include tests of all types of side airbags with 3yr, 6yr, and 5th percentile female dummies in a variety of normal and extreme seating positions.  While these voluntary standards will apply to some model year 2002 and many model year 2003 vehicles, they may not apply to earlier models.  Also see:




     Q40: What is the safest position for my carseat?

    The center of the rear seat is usually safest since it is farthest from a possible side impact, but only if your carseat fits well in that position.  Any position in the rear seat is acceptable unless prohibited by the vehicle or child seat owner's manual.  The seat behind the passenger may be slightly safer than the seat behind the driver, since it allows you to unload the child on the curb side, allows you to see your child more easily from the driver's seat and is very slightly less likely to be hit on that side in a side impact.  There is also a small risk that a front seat-back could collapse in a severe rear-end crash, and the passenger seat is less likely to be occupied by a heavy adult who could crush a carseat in this situation.  The front seat is generally not advised for children 12 and under, especially if an active airbag is present.



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  • Does your car have LATCH?  If so, check under the LATCH section in the owners manual.  We could not put our base in the center because the LATCH connections were too far apart so it is on the passenger side.
  • We have a Honda CR-V and the car seat is behind the passenger seat. We use the latch to secure it, not the shoulder strap. The instructions with the car seat said that either the latch on the passenger side or the center is fine, neither is better.
  • I found the answer in my SUVs owners manual.  My middle seat didnt have the LATCH connections for rearfacing carseats.  My owners manual recommended rear facing car seats to go behind the front passenger seat or drivers seat.  I chose the passenger seat as it is easier to reach DD if she needs something without having to get out of the car.
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  • Thanks everyone, your post were helpful. We ended up installing the seat in the center position using the LATCH connections. I don't think you could ever over-do safety so we used the shoulder belt too! LOL (can't you tell we're first timers)

    We found the center position to be best because both my husband and I are tall and our Chicco infant seat would not fit into its base with our seats back. Now that the car seat is in place, we're just waiting on our baby girl to arrive.

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