Best Narrow Car Seats - 2021
When it comes to squeezing three in a row into a vehicle's backseat, you want to make sure that the seats you've chosen and the manner of installation ensure comfort, safety, and versatility. Our reviews help you figure out which car seats will be perfect for your tight-fitting situation.
- Narrowest Infant Car Seats
- 1. Clek Liing Infant Car Seat (16.9" wide)
- 2. Nuna Pipa Infant Car Seat (17" wide)
- 3. Chicco Fit2 (17" wide)
- 4. Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 (17" wide)
- 5. Cybex Aton 2 (17.3" wide)
- 6. Chicco KeyFit 30 (17" wide)
- 7. Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 (17" wide)
- 8. UppaBaby Mesa (17" wide)
- 9. Baby Trend FlexLoc (16.5" wide)
- Narrowest Convertible Car Seats
- 1. Clek Foonf & Clek Fllo (16.9" wide)
- 2. Diono Radian 3R & 3RXT (17" wide)
- 3. Combi Coccoro (15.5" wide)
- 4. Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible (18.7" wide)
- 5. Graco SlimFit (19" wide)
- Narrowest Booster Seats
- 1. Chicco MyFit (17.5" wide)
- 2. Hifold Booster (16.7" wide)
- 3. Chicco KidFit (19" wide)
- 4. Evenflo Big Kid Booster (16" wide)
- 5. Graco TurboBooster (17" wide)
- 6. Maxi-Cosi Rodifix Booster (18.5" wide)
- Details & Conclusions
Below we detail the results of our hands-on research to find the best quality and narrowest infant car seats, convertible car seats, and booster car seats on the market. There are a few goals when you're trying to fit three car seats in a row.
- Find the narrowest car seat that fits your needs and budget. If you get all three car seats around 17" wide or under, you're off to a good start.
- Strategize about how you're going to organize the three seats in the back. Which seats will be outboard, and which in the center? What is most convenient for you and the children?
- Survey your backseat to see what is actually possible. Which seats have their own LATCH connectors? Which children can still use the LATCH, and which are too heavy for it?
- Try it out! Even the best-laid plans can go astray, and unless you know someone with the same vehicle and car seats, you won't truly know what will work until you try it out yourself.
Being cognizant of the fact that there is some guesswork involved in each vehicle, we tried to identify the seats that are not only the narrowest but also the most flexible in their installation options.
Here are the Narrowest Infant Car Seats of 2021!
Or jump to Narrowest Convertible Car Seats.
For rating the narrowest infant car seats, we combine the results from our typical car seat tests with the extent to which the car seat is not only narrow but also capable of flexibly achieving a secure installation. Here are the top 5 narrow infant car seats we found, followed by reviews of several options.
|Model and Link to Amazon||Our Rating|
|#1. Clek Liing|
|#2. Nuna Pipa|
|#3. Chicco Fit2|
|#4. Graco Snugride Snuglock|
|#5. Cybex Aton 2|
For more comprehensive reviews of these models, going beyond the ability to fit three car seats in a row, be sure to check out our reviews of this year's best infant car seats!
If you don't know Clek, you're about to meet your new best friend for fitting three car seats in a row! Based in Canada, Clek designs and manufactures all of their car seats in North America, including not only the Clek Liing but also the super popular Clek Foonf and Clek Fllo (convertible car seats), and Clek Oobr (booster car seat). All Clek car seats offer superior style, quality, safety, and versatility. The Clek Liing is one of the narrowest infant car seats on the market, coming in at a slim 16.9" wide with a 13.2" wide base. Not only is the carrier itself narrow, the base is super narrow to help with tricky buckle configurations, and the entire car seat sits up nice and high in the vehicle (27" from bottom of base to top of handle). That elevated seating position helps provide clearance for reaching your arms in to work with buckles. When installed using LATCH, the Liing uses rigid LATCH connectors that are limited to seating positions with the proper LATCH spacing (11" apart). Most vehicles do not have center LATCH positions, so if you're inclined to use LATCH installation, the Liing might be limited to the outboard (left or right) seats. Some newer SUVs and minivans come with center LATCH connectors, which can give you more flexibility with install - it's worth taking a few minutes to check. When installed using the vehicle's seat belts, the Clek Liing uses lockoffs on the base to help achieve a stable and secure fit; in the manual, they call this a belt tensioner, and it works amazingly well.
All of these features: the narrow base and seat, the belt lockoffs, and the high seating position, make this an excellent candidate for squeezing three car seats in a row. Note that without the base, the seat can be installed using the European belt path. For basics, the Liing supports infants and toddlers from 4 to 35 pounds (there is a two-stage infant support pillow included), or 32" tall (or when their head is less than 1" from the top of the headrest). Add that to the industry-leading 9-year warranty and the Liing has some serious longevity! Also industry-leading are the Liing's amazing crash test performance, load leg (that can extend far enough to reach the floor even in a high-center position), and amazing recline system. Not to mention the Liing also has excellent side-impact protection, energy-absorbing EPP foam, and premium C-Zero or Merino Wool fabrics without flame retardants. Clek figured out how to get all of those convenience and safety features into a car seat that weighs only 9 pounds! The only downfall with the Liing is that harness height requires manual re-threading from the rear of the seat. Outside of that, the Clek Liing is the perfect infant car seat for fitting into tight backseat scenarios, and we love it! Who else loves it? Our friends at Consumer Reports and CarSeatsfortheLittles (CSFTL). Interested? You can check out the Clek Liing here.
Up near the top of our best infant car seat list is the amazing Nuna Pipa with its beautiful styling and sophistication. Nuna makes two car seats that are super popular, the Nuna RAVA convertible car seat, and the Nuna Pipa infant car seat. Both are tremendously well-reviewed, not only by us but also our friends at Babylist, WhatToExpect, and The Bump. Like all of the car seats on this list, the Nuna Pipa is one of the narrowest infant car seats on the market, coming in at a slim 17" wide, with a 12.2" wide base. There are a few features that make the Pipa great for tight backseats, including not only the narrow shell but also its seat belt lockoff, and its relatively high stance when installed (about 26" tall from bottom of base to top of handle). When installed using LATCH, the Nuna Pipa uses rigid LATCH connectors. While these are awesome for getting a secure install, they are only compatible with seats that use the appropriate 11" spacing between LATCH anchors; because most vehicles do not have center anchors, you might be limited to installing the Pipa at outboard positions. Of course, in any position you can use the vehicle's seat belt, and with the integrated belt lock-offs it's easy to install this seat in any of the three backseat positions. In our experience, the Nuna Pipa has a surprisingly easy installation process, and the rigid LATCH and lock-offs inspire confidence. Without the base, the seat can be installed using the European belt path. For basics, the Pipa supports infants and toddlers from 4 to 32 pounds, or 32" tall. The seat itself only weighs 8 pounds, which is truly amazing! For safety, the base is equipped with a load leg (that can extend far enough to reach the floor even in a high-center position), crumple zones in the base and load leg, side-impact protection, and EPS energy-absorbing foam. The Nuna Pipa basically has the same safety and convenience features of the Clek Liing, but is a pound lighter and has relatively limited weight (but not height) support for your growing baby. The price is also about $50-100 higher than the Liing depending on fabric selections. The only other con is the same as with the Liing: you need to rethread the harness to adjust its height. Not a huge issue, but at this price point you might be expecting something different. Interested? You can check out the Nuna Pipa here.
The Chicco KeyFit and Fit2 infant car seats are two of the most popular infant car seats on the market, offering superior safety, comfort, and versatility at an extremely reasonable price. The Fit2 is Chicco's newest infant car seat, offering a 17" wide car seat positioned atop a 15" wide base, making for a super narrow combination. No, the bases aren't as narrow as with the Clek or Nuna, but the Fit2 is also about half the price, and 15" is still very impressive. There are a few things that make the Fit2 excellent for fitting three car seats in a row. First and foremost, it's only 17" wide, which is critical. Second, it uses an anti-rebound bar and seatbelt lock-off that help keep the base positioned at the right angle in the vehicle, which is expecially important when positioned near a door. Third, because it uses strap-based rather than rigid LATCH connectors, it might be easier to get an installation with limited movement options. Installation is always easy with Chicco car seats, and this one makes it a breeze! One of the things we love is the LATCH tightening system that lets you pull up on a single adjustment strap while pushing down on the base (we like to sit on the base while doing this, to get a nice tight fit!). Without the base, the car seat can be installed using the American or European belt routing. Another small point is that the Fit2 doesn't protrude as far forward as other seats, which helps it fit behind the seat of a taller driver or passenger. For basics, the Fit2 supports infants and toddlers from 4 to 35 pounds, or 35" tall. That maximum height is key, increasing the chances that your toddler can stay rear-facing until their second birthday. For safety, the Fit2 is equipped with an anti-rebound bar, EPS energy-absorbing foam, and side-impact protection. We prefer the anti-rebound bar to the load leg so that bigger kids can more easily step around the car seat when entering or exiting the back row. Another key feature that sets this car seat apart from others is that the headrest and harness height are adjustable without rethreading the harness straps. Of course, all those safety and convenience features mean a heavier car seat, coming in at 11 pounds. In comparison to the Liing or Pipa, the LATCH and safety belt installation processes are't quite as simple to perfect in tight quarters (due to the larger base and non-rigid LATCH), but at this price most parents might be willing to compromise a bit! Who else loves the Fit2 for fitting three car seats in a row? Our friends at CarSeatsfortheLittles (CSFTL) and TheCarSeatLady. Impressed? The Chicco Fit2 sells for about $200, and you can check it out here!
We all know the Graco Snugride has been around for decades, and is a flagship infant car seat for safety and versatility. What you might not have realized is that the Snugride Snuglock 35, particularly the DLX, Elite, and Platinum models, are also very narrow car seats. The Snugride itself comes in at 17" wide, and its base is a slim 13.5" wide, making it a great candidate for squeezing three car seats in a row. The Snuglock technology helps tremendously in the situation, offering a swing-arm on the base that both tensions and locks off the vehicle's seat belts, for a super secure fit. This helps the car seat from getting pushed around and ending up at a funny angle, especially when positioned near a door. Make sure that the Snugride Snuglock 35 you choose has a base that looks like the one pictured on the right, with the thick grey SnugLock arm. If you're installing with the LATCH, it's not quite as simple to get a tight install; if you don't mind crawling into the backseat and basically sitting on the base while tightening the straps, this can help quite a bit. Like the Fit2, the Snugride also doesn't protrude from the backseat as much as some competitors, making it a good option for a taller driver or front passenger. For safety, the Snugride doesn't offer the anti-rebound bar or load leg, which does affect the stability of an installation, but it does offer side-impact protection, EPS energy-absorbing foam, and the added convenience of a no-rethread harness and headrest height adjustment. Did we mention that the DLX, Elite, and Platinum Snugride models are usually only about $150-200? That's a great deal for this level of versatility. At 9 pounds, the Snugride is a bit heavier than the Pipa but much lighter than the Fit2. It's great, but we believe the others are a bit better for safety features and overall build quality. Interested? You can check out the Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 here!
This is an extremely lightweight, ultra-portable slim infant car seat with some excellent safety features, reputation for high quality, and European styling and comfort. The Aton 2 offers some great versatility for tight backseat configurations, coming in at a slim 17.3" wide. Not quite as narrow as some of the others due to a handle that sticks out a bit on each side, but that 0.3" difference (0.15" on each side) might not significantly affect your situation. Rather than an anti-rebound bar, the Aton 2 uses an adjustable load leg (that may not extend far enough to reach the floor in some high-center positions) that not only can help with safety but also help keep the base and car seat aligned properly when the seat is positioned near a door. The Cybex Aton 2 also uses a base with a built-in seat belt tensioner and lock-offs to help get a stable installation, and if you're installing with the LATCH system it uses traditional strap-based (non-rigid) LATCH connectors. As with most car seats, however, Clek strongly states that, even if they might reach, when installing in the center seating position you should never try to use the LATCH connectors from the outboard seats; in other words, only install in a center seat if it is equipped with LATCH anchors at the proper 11" spacing (otherwise use a seat belt installation). The narrow car seat and base, along with the tensioner and lock-offs, make for a great narrow car seat option. The Aton 2 is also lightweight, coming in at only 9 pounds, while offering some excellent safety features and superior crash test ratings. Safety features include the load leg, side impact protection, energy-absorbing foam, and the SensorSafe system that syncs with your phone to alert you of dangerous situations (like leaving your child in the car). For basic specifications, the Aton 2 supports babies and toddlers from 4 to 35 pounds, or 30" tall. Because your child is very likely to hit 30" tall long before they hit 35 pounds, you might find your child sizing out of this seat relatively early. The Aton 2 usually sells for about $250-300, including the base. For cons, the Aton 2 requires re-threading to adjust harness height, and to be completely honest the canopy is relatively small. Interested? You can check out the Cybex Aton 2 here!
Up near the top spot on our best overall infant car seat list, this is an awesome, highly functional, safe, well-built, and stylish narrow infant car seat. It is on the slimmer side coming in at 17" wide with a 15" wide base, and the KeyFit 30 only weighs 9.6 lbs. When you compare that weight to others on this list (other than the Fit2), that's only a bit heavier than most. The KeyFit 30 can be installed using the LATCH system or vehicle's seat belts. With the LATCH, it uses non-rigid strap-based LATCH connectors with a unique push-down and pull-up tensioning system similar to the Fit2. With the seat belt installation, there is a shoulder belt lock-off that is not as useful or secure as most others on this list. When you combine that with the fact that the base doesn't include an anti-rebound bar to help stabilize the seat's orientation, installation next to a door can get somewhat challenging. Thus, while it's definitely narrow and lightweight, and generally is an amazing infant car seat, it's not ideal for tight circumstances where you want to install in an outboard position. For basic specifications, the Chicco KeyFit 30 supports babies and toddlers from 4 to 30 pounds, and up to 30" tall. Just like the Aton 2, that's somewhat limited height range, and your child will likely reach that point well before their 2nd birthday. For safety features, the KeyFit boasts side-impact protection and EPS energy-absorbing foam. For convenience, the harness height doesn't require re-threading, which is great to see at this relatively low ($150-200) price point. A better option than the KeyFit 30 for fitting three in a row might be Chicco's new KeyFit 35, which is only 16.5" wide, and includes an anti-rebound bar on the base. The lock-offs are the same, so it's unclear whether it would be more appropriate for installation next to the door. When we test that possibility, we'll update this article and let you know! Interested in the KeyFit 30? You can check it out here!
This is an excellent overall infant car seat, holding a spot for several years on our best infant car seats list, and for some great reasons. More importantly for the purposes of this review, the Primo Viaggio 4-35 infant car seat measures a slim 17" wide at its widest point (where the handles connect to the sides of the seat), and the base is only 14.6" wide. In addition to its narrow profile, there are a ton of things to love about this top-rated infant car seat. It has a great weight range, starting at only 4 pounds with the included infant insert, and going up to 35 pounds (or up to 32" tall) rear-facing. And while your baby is using this car seat, you can rest assured that your baby will be safe and comfortable. Safety features include an anti-rebound bar to reduce the rotational force in the event of an accident, side impact protection, and good crash test ratings. The seat can be installed with the base using the included non-rigid strap-based LATCH connectors, or with the vehicle's seat belt using the built-in lock-off. It can be installed without the base using the European or a modified American belt routing. In this case, the modified American routing is only used if the vehicle's seat belt isn't long enough to use the European belt path. The biggest challenge we've faced with the Peg Perego in tight seating situations is that it protrudes pretty far from the rear seat, making it less ideal for behind a taller driver or front passenger. It's also difficult to get securely attached at an appropriate angle when next to a door, but this was less of a concern. If you plan on installing the infant car seat to the center position, the Primo Viaggio 4-35 infant car seat is ideal, especially if your vehicle is equipped with center lower anchors. For safety, the Primo Viaggio has good crash test ratings, side-impact protection, EPS energy-absorbing foam, and the anti-rebound bar integrated into the base. For convenience, harness height adjustments don't require re-threading. Made in Italy, the Peg Perego is not only stylish but also a bit on the expensive side, coming in at about $300. Interested? You can check out the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 infant car seat here!
This is another narrow infant car seat option, with a base coming in at 14.5" wide, and the car seat itself coming in at 17" wide. The UppaBaby Mesa is overall a truly fantastic car seat and is consistently positioned near the top of our annual list of the best infant car seats. It offers not only premium styling and features, but also a strong safety reputation and an NHTSA 5-star rating. You'll pay for all that style, safety, and convenience, with the Mesa coming in at about $300-350 depending on fabric choices. For tight installations, the Mesa offers some great features, including an innovative self-tightening LATCH system and seat belt lock-offs. Installation without the base can be done using the popular European belt path. Like the Peg Perego, the primary challenges we faced with the Mesa were related to installation near doors. The lack of the anti-rebound bar and lock-offs that were less than ideal, made it difficult to get a consistently appropriate orientation of the seat when installed near a door. If you weren't worried about fitting a seat next to it in the center seating position, this wouldn't be an issue at all. Another small point is that the Mesa's base is very low-profile, making the Mesa have a relatively low ride height. This isn't normally an issue, but it can make adjustments, buckles, and isofix connectors harder to access when the seat is so low down. Outside of that, the Mesa is truly amazing. We love the safety features that help you get an appropriate installation, the side-impact protection, and EPP energy-absorbing foam. We wish the Mesa would come equipped with an anti-rebound bar and a more robust belt tensioning system, which would complement its narrow stance and likely make it one of the best options for fitting three car seats in a row. Until then, it's a great option but not the best! Interested? You can check out the UppaBaby Mesa here!
Rounding out the list at this bottom position, the Baby Trend Flex Loc is the infant car seat we all want to love. Coming in at less than $100 and boasting a 16.5" wide shell with a 14.75" wide base, it is by far the cheapest narrow car seat on this list. For a price point like this, we're never expecting much from a car seat, but to be fair we were pleasantly surprised! Sticking with tight installations, the Flex Loc offers installation with either LATCH connectors or the vehicle's seat belt. The LATCH connectors are a very strange style unique to Baby Trend and a bit finicky to deal with, and the seat belt installation doesn't use a lock-off (just a belt guide that doesn't lock), making it very challenging to get a secure fit. There are a couple things we love about the seat, including the side-impact protection and EPS energy-absorbing foam, the great carry handle, and the fact that it's a sub-$100 car seat that doesn't require harness rethreading! Other little annoyances abound, which shouldn't be surprising at this price point. These include a finicky handlebar adjustment, flimsy and easily twisted harness straps, finicky recline adjustment, and the limited weight range of 5 to 30 pounds. If you're looking for a budget narrow car seat and are likely to use the LATCH rather than vehicle belts, this could definitely work for you. Don't expect much in the comfort, style, or features department, but definitely some good bang for the buck! Interested? You can check out the Baby Trend Flex Loc here!
Here are the Narrowest Convertible Car Seats of 2021!
Or jump to Narrowest Booster Seats.
A convertible car seat will support infants and toddlers in a rear-facing harnessed position, and then transition to a front-facing harnessed mode. Some of of them also transition to a belt-positioning booster and beyond. Here are the top 5 best narrow convertible car seats we found, followed by full reviews of several options.
|Model and Link to Amazon||Our Rating|
|#1 Clek Foonf and Fllo|
|#2 Diono Radian 3R, 3RX, & 3RXT|
|#3 Combi Coccoro|
|#4 Peg Perego Primo Viaggio.|
|#5 Graco SlimFit|
The narrowest convertible car seats tend to be about 17" wide, with some minimally versatile options being even narrower than that (see the Coccoro). Beyond assessing the width, we assessed whether the seat can achieve a very secure installation with both LATCH and the vehicle's seat belt, since you'll likely be transitioning away from LATCH around your child's third or fourth birthday (due to weight limits).
You may have seen our review of the amazing Clek Liing up above, where we praised Clek for their manufacturing and safety standards, style, and comfort. The Clek Foonf and Fllo are even more popular than the Liing, offering some of the best overall convertible car seats on the market. Even more importantly, they come in at only 16.9" wide, which is a really remarkably slim profile for a fully-featured convertible car seat! Both of these car seats can be installed rear-facing or forward-facing, using the vehicle's seat belt. They also both have an anti-rebound bar when used in forward-facing mode, which helps promote a laterally-stable installation when positioned near a door. The Foonf adds on a rigid LATCH system and is a little lower-profile than the Fllo, making it protrude less from the back seat (which is good for taller drivers and front passengers) when rear-facing. However, for tight seating situations, we prefer the Fllo for a few reasons. First, it can be installed using its strap-based (non-rigid) LATCH system for both front-facing and rear-facing configurations (the Foonf has rigid LATCH only for front-facing). According to the owner's manual, you will need to stop using a LATCH installation once your child hits 40 pounds, so we see no advantage to having a rigid LATCH capability in forward-facing mode. Second, because it sits a bit higher in the seat, it gives a little more room for messing with buckles, LATCH connectors, and other adjustments that are lower down to the seat. Third, the Fllo tends to be about $100 less expensive than the Foonf.
Both are fantastic, designed and manufactured in Canada, have side-impact protection and an anti-rebound bar for rear-facing. They are both the same width, and accommodate the same child weights (14-65 pounds, or from newborn to 65 pounds if you buy the separate infant insert "infant thingy") and same heights (25-49" tall). Rear-facing, they support children up to 50 pounds, which is a small miracle in itself! The Foonf is the higher-end seat overall, but we find the Fllo a bit more versatile for fitting three car seats in a row. Overall, we think this is the best narrow convertible car seat, offering superior safety, style, and comfort, and a secure install that is easy and confidence inspiring! Who else loves the Clek Foonf and Fllo? Our friends at Babylist, WhatToExpect, and Babygearlab. Impressed? You can check out the Clek Foonf and Fllo here.
The Diono Radian is world-renowned for quality, comfort, and safety, and this is the third (thus the 3 in the model name) version in the long-running series of Radian car seats. The Radian 3R, 3RX, and 3RXT differ in rear-facing weight limits and features. All of them can support babies as small as 5 pounds in rear-facing mode, but they have different rear-facing weight limits of 40 (3R), 45 (3RX), and 50 (3RXT) pounds. Once your child switches to front-facing, the weight limit for harness mode is 65 pounds across all three models, but in booster mode it's 100 pounds for the 3R and 120 pounds for the 3RX and 3RXT. We suggest splurging for the 3RXT for not only its higher weight capacity, but also the fact that it includes an infant insert, cupholders, more substantial side-impact protection, and a no-rethreading adjustable harness and headrest height. That being said, all three of them have the same capabilities for fitting three in a row. When rear-facing, the Radian can be installed using strap-based (non-riged) LATCH connectors or the vehicle's seat belt. Because the car seat is so darn heavy (28 pounds, by virtue of its steel-reinforced frame!), use of the LATCH is limited to 35 pounds, at which point you must transition to installation with the vehicle's seat belt. That's unfortunate because it's not as easy to achieve a secure installation with the seat belts on any convertible car seat, especially when rear-facing. Also, the Radian is quite large in height and in rear-facing mode it protrudes very aggressively from the back seat, which is not a great situation if you have a taller driver or front passenger who cares about leg room. Once you transition to forward-facing mode, your child will be too heavy for the LATCH. However, the good news is that a belt-based installation is much easier and more stable in the forward-facing mode. The bottom line is this: if you're planning on using a Radian as a forward-facing car seat only, in harness mode and then belt-positioning booster mode, the Radian is a fantastic choice for tight seating situations. We love the Radian, especially the 3RXT, and highly recommend it for everyone, but it might not be perfect for rear-facing in a smaller vehicle. Who else loves the Radian car seats? Our friends at Babylist and The Bump! Impressed? You can check out the Diono Radian 3RXT here.
It shouldn't be surprising that there are so many non-American companies on this list, such as Combi (Japan), Clek (Canada), and Cybex (Germany). The reason is that outside of the United States, people tend to drive smaller vehicles such as VWs, Fiats, Renaults, Skodas, Peugeots, and small Toyotas, so the market for narrow car seats is much larger than it is in the US. The Combi Coccoro Convertible is perfectly suited for fitting into even the tiniest vehicles. The smallest convertible car seat on our list, the Coccoro is only 15.5" wide, which is narrower than even our narrowest infant car seat! It uses a separate (unintegrated) rear-facing seat belt lock-off, or a traditional hook-based LATCH installation. The latter can give you a relatively secure installation near a door, but the former leaves something to be desired. In front-facing mode, you can continue using the LATCH all the way up to the seat's weight limit of 40 pounds, or install using the vehicle's seat belts and an integrated shoulder belt lock-off. We prefer the latch in this mode for stability. Overall, it's not a fantastic convertible car seat in general, and it's not fantastic for versatility in tight seating situations. But what it lacks in that department it makes up for with the fact that it's only 15.5" wide and for some parents is the only viable solution for very tight seating situations. This is not to say that the Combi Coccoro isn't super comfortable, stylish, high quality, or safe. It is! It has the Combi Tru-Safe side impact protection with very deep side walls, EPS energy absorbing foam, a 5-point harness with a visual indicator. Note that the 4 harness heights require manual re-threading. While this seat has a lot going for it, we only really foresee it being useful to you for two reasons: first, if you really need to squeeze another inch and a half out of your backseat, and you're willing to pay about $200 to achieve that goal for a limited period of time (only up to 40 pounds). Second, if you have a premature baby under 5 pounds and are constrained in rear seat space, this could be a great (if not the only) option for you. Outside of that, it's super narrow but also super limited in functionality for most families. Interested? You can check out the Combi Coccoro convertible car seat here!
Peg Perego makes excellent, high-quality car seats, and this narrow convertible car seat option is no exception. Coming in at 14" wide at its base and 18.66" wide at the torso, this is a versatile and reliable narrow car seat that will last you many years of comfortable riding. Not to mention the beautiful Italian style and high quality manufacturing! Yes, it is wider at the torso than other car seats on this list, but the super narrow 14" base makes sharing backseat space with a rear-facing infant car seat much easier. In rear-facing mode, it can be installed with the included flexible (non-rigid) LATCH connectors, or using the vehicle's seat belts. There is no integrated lock-off in rear-facing mode. In front-facing mode, it can be installed with the LATCH connectors or using the vehicle's seat belts with integrated lock-offs on the rear of the seat. Note that once your child reaches 40 pounds, you'll need to transition away from LATCH to the vehicle's seat belts. Because there are no integrated lock-offs in rear-facing mode, you will be best-served by installing with the LATCH until your child reaches 40 pounds. This will help you get a relatively stable install, which is challenging to achieve with the vehicle's seat belts in rear-facing mode. Once you transition to front-facing, you will need to use the vehicle's seat belts, but in this case there are convenient integrated lock-offs that will help you achieve a stable and secure fit. We had some challenges installing this car seat next to a door when another car seat was in the middle position, especially when using the vehicle's seat belts in rear-facing mode. It also protrudes very far from the back seat, limiting front seat leg room when placed anywhere other than the center position. For basic specifications, the Primo Viaggio convertible car seat can support babies and toddlers from 5 to 45 pounds (and top of head at least 1" below top of headrest) in rear-facing mode, which is extremely useful given the new recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics that children should be rear-facing for as long as possible (beyond their second birthday). This one of the reasons we love both the Radian (above) and this Primo Viaggio so much. Forward-facing, this narrow convertible car seat can be used from 22 up to 65 pounds. It does not additionally convert to a booster, so keep that in mind when choosing between this and the Radian. Regarding safety, Peg Perego uses energy-absorbing foam and side impact protection; the newest model also has an anti-rebound bar, but its narrow contact with the back seat doesn't help much with stability when installed close to a door. Overall, this is a great option for a narrow convertible car seat with some great features, and it's one of the best convertible car seats available in general. Interested? You can check out the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio convertible car seat here.
This is Graco's narrowest convertible car seat. Not nearly as narrow as its competitors, and perhaps not appropriately named, the Graco SlimFit is 19" wide at the shoulders and 17.5" wide at the base if you fold in the cup holders. In fact, that makes it the widest convertible car seat on this list! So why are we including it here? Two reasons. First, parents commonly ask us whether the SlimFit is a good option for fitting three car seats in a row. Second, because it's the slimmest option from Graco, and might be suitable for some limited situations. In general, the SlimFit can help you fit three in a row in a larger vehicle, like a full-sized car, SUV, minivan, or truck, but it might not help you fit three car seats in a row in a relatively normal-size vehicle. In rear-facing mode, it can be installed using the LATCH or the vehicle's seat belt. The LATCH can be used in rear-facing mode all the way up to the rear-facing weight limit of the seat, 40 pounds. If you choose to use the vehicle's seat belt, there are no lock-offs making it challenging to get a secure rear-facing installation without using the LATCH. In forward-facing mode, the car seat be installed using the LATCH if your child is below 45 pounds, or with the vehicle's seat belt. Again, there is no lock-off for the seat belt in forward-facing mode. As we were testing the seat in a three-across configuration, we were puzzled by how some sites recommend the SlimFit as a narrow convertible car seat. It's not very narrow at all, and achieving a stable installation with the vehicle's seat belt is very limited by the lack of lock-offs. We definitely do not recommend using this seat in tight three-across scenarios unless you can use the LATCH, or you're only going to install in the center seating position. Even then, you'll need to have a larger vehicle to make this fit. Overall, not great for fitting three in a row in most situations. Interested? You can check out the Graco SlimFit here.
Here are the Narrowest Booster Seats of 2021!
While some boosters have very low weight and height minimums, we don't recommend transitioning to a belt-positioning booster until your child is about 5 years of age. By that point, most children are at least 45 pounds and 40" tall. If your child is below that point, they would be much safer rear-facing in a convertible car seat. You might know this already, but try to keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible, but at least until they are 2 years old.
|Model and Link to Amazon||Our Rating|
|#1 Chicco MyFit Booster|
|#2 Hifold Fit-and-Fold Booster|
|#3 Chicco KidFit Booster|
|#4 Evenflo Bid Kid Booster|
|#5 Maxi-Cosi Rodifix AirProtect Booster|
One of the challenges with narrow harness-equipped boosters is that the LATCH system can usually only be used until your child is about 40-50 pounds depending on the weight of the seat itself (check the manual). For example, the Chicco MyFit harness booster weighs about 25 pounds. The LATCH weight limit is 65 pounds (combined weight of child and seat), so that means your child will not be able to use the LATCH once they hit 40 pounds. Keep that in mind when you're reading about all the great LATCH isofix technology the harness boosters use, since you likely will only be able to use them for a brief period of time. After that point, you will need to use the vehicle's seat belt to secure the booster, though you can continue using LATCH connectors to hold the seat in place when it's not occupied.
The Chicco MyFit is a 2-in-1 booster, combining a harness booster with a belt-positioning booster for maximum versatility. Coming in at a slim 17.5" wide, it's not the narrowest booster on the market (that's the Evenflo Big Kid at 16" wide, below), but it has a great balance of width and functionality. Let's start with installation options for narrow backseats. As a booster, all installations are forward-facing. As a harness booster (25-65 pounds, up to 54" tall), you can install using the included non-rigid LATCH straps (LATCH can be used up to 40 pounds) or the vehicle's seat belt. Once your child is ready to transition to a belt-positioning booster, you can remove the five-point harness and use it for children from 40-100 pounds (and 38-57" tall). Of course, in belt-positioning booster mode you can use the LATCH to keep the booster secured in the seat when not being used. Given our recommendation to not use a booster until your child is at least 40 pounds, the MyFit booster will likely only be installed using the vehicle's seat belt. When installed in this manner, the seat does include a shoulder belt lock-off to help get a secure installation.
The lock-off isn't ideal because it's more of a guide than a snap-down lock-off, which means that the seat might not maintain a perfect install for very long. This was the primary challenge with this booster seat when installing in tight spaces: using the LATCH would be ideal but it's only appropriate for a child under 40 pounds, and it can be challening to get a stable install with the vehicle's seat belt. Given that it can only be used in front-facing mode, this isn't a huge challenge for the orientation of the seat near a door, but you might find that the seat has a tendency to lean one direction or the other when installed with the seat belts. That's pretty common with belt installation, so it's not a deal breaker, but certainly worth pointing out for people trying to squeeze three seats into tight quarters. The Chicco MyFit has a lot of great safety features, including side-impact protection, a steel-reinforced frame, and EPS energy-absorbing foam. For convenience it has a no-rethread harness, adjustable recline, two cup holders, and arm rests. All that safety and convenience and you're looking at a 25 pound booster seat! Ready for a workout? The Chicco MyFit is rated a Best Bet by the IIHS, and is a top pick by Consumer Reports. Impressed? You can check out the Chicco MyFit here!
We are at a unique time in the car seat market because ride-sharing companies and drivers are seeking super compact, portable, and adjustable car seats to use in Uber and Lyft vehicles. This is the reason that the awesome Immi Go and mifold hifold booster seats were developed. Both seats offer superior versatility in weight and height range, and fold down into super compact footprints that can easily be thrown in the trunk or foot well of a car. The hifold is a great example of that. It adjusts itself to accommodate children as small as 33 pounds (as short as 36") and as big as 100 pounds (as tall as 59"). It does this through a series of adjustments, including seat width (3 settings), torso/shoulder width (3 settings), head width (3 settings), and height adjustment (9 settings). If you take all the possible combinations of width and height, you end up with 243 possible combinations to find the perfect fit for your child and vehicle! But let's get down to brass tacks: how wide is it, and how secure and easy is the install? The seating area can be adjusted as narrow as 13" wide, the torso area can be adjusted as narrow as 16.7" wide, and the head area can be adjusted as narrow as 12" wide. Will those settings fit all children? Of course not - as your child grows larger he or she will need to widen each adjustment correspondingly. But that 16.7" width at the torso makes it one of the narrowest booster seats on our list. In our testing, all of the adjustments were logical and easy to use, either by pulling the sides open, using a knob on the back, or using a hidden lever under the front padding. It's not the most comfortable booster seat on our list, but it's definitely the most portable, folding down to a footprint of only about 10" by 14" by 14", and a weight of only 10 pounds, meaning that it can easily be used as a carry-on or fit in a large backpack for travel. For safety, it uses energy-absorbing EVA and EPE foam and a rigid polypropylene shell, and the belt-positioners were smooth and highly functional. Installation is limited to using the vehicle's seat belt, there is no LATCH system included to secure the seat when it's not being used, and there is no harness booster functionality. It does two things really well: maintaining a very lightweight and slim profile from top to bottom, and folding up into a super portable package that can fit in a backpack. It's the perfect urban booster car seat, the master of ride-sharing, and perfect for a traveling family. Overall, we're very impressed with the ingenuity, versatility, and portability of this booster seat. We were able to fit three of these across in a RAV4, CR-V, and Jeep Compass, without any challenges. Interested? The mifold hifold Fit-and-Fold Booster Seat sells for about $140, and you can check it out here.
This is a great narrow booster seat option for backseat situations that demand a booster seat that's narrow at the base and through the arm rest area. The Chicco KidFit measures just a hair under 17" wide at the base (with cup holder collapsed), making it one of the narrowest highback boosters on the market. Up above, the shoulders do flare out considerably more, making it about 19" wide at its maximum width. That should be OK for situations where this booster seat is positioned next to a rear-facing car seat or a backless booster. In full-size vehicles, it should also be OK even positioned next to a narrow front-facing convertible car seat like the Diono Radian or Clek Fllo/Foonf. In addition to its narrow stance, this booster seat also has some nice features. It includes the LATCH system to hold it in the vehicle when unoccupied, and has an up-front LATCH adjustment that is very convenient. It supports kids from as low as 40 pounds and up to 110 pounds (or 38-57" tall). Note that any websites or old manuals suggesting the KidFit supports children as small as 30 pounds are incorrect, the booster minimum weight requirement recently changed to 40 pounds and those sites haven't been updated in years. In our experience, using the KidFit for three in a row is possible, but largely limited to situations where it will be adjacent to a rear-facing seat. But for parents who value those beefy upper side-impact wings, that's a compromise you might be willing to make. Also, the KidFit only weighs about 10 pounds, thanks to using lightweight energy-absorbing foam and omitting a steel-reinforced frame. In conjunction with the easy to use LATCH system with front-tightening, that makes it super easy to swap quickly between vehicles. In addition, the headrest heights have a great range (10-positions!), and it has built-in recline which is nice for fitting seat backs with variable slopes (like swapping between the upright seat backs of a Jeep to a relatively reclined sedan). One of the features that makes this more narrow than most other booster seats is the collapsable cup holders, which helps you make a bit more room for tighter situations. As a 2-in-1 booster, it converts easily to a backless booster. Cons? The belt-positioners don't always do a great job holding the seat belt in place, especially when your kid unbuckles and lets the seat belt go flying back. Under those extreme retraction conditions, sometimes the belt would pop out of the belt guide, which can get frustrating. Other than that we think it's great and its narrow stance makes it an awesome option for cramped backseats. Interested? You can check out the Chicco KidFit booster here!
The Evenflo Big Kid LX High Back booster has been around for over a decade and is a very popular inexpensive belt-positioning booster option. Add on the fact that it is only 16" wide and you've got a very versatile option for fitting three car seats in a row. A couple things help with the width; first being the non-rigid cup holders, and second being the relatively narrow torso and head side impact wings. The only major items missing from this booster are the LATCH system, adjustable recline, and adjustable headrest height. Yes, that's a lot to omit from a booster, but you are getting two cup holders in the lightest (7 pounds!) and narrowest booster seat on the market, for only about 45 bucks! That's a pretty great deal for parents looking to save some cash and fit three forward-facing car seats in a row. Speaking of fit, the Big Kid booster fits children from 40-110 pounds and 40-57" tall. That means if you begin using this belt-positioning booster around your child's 5th birthday, it could remain useful for its entire 6-year lifespan. For the last couple years of that span, it can be used as a bottom-only backless booster with the same weight and height specifications. Remember, we don't recommend using a belt-positioning booster until your child is at least 5 years old, even if the manufacturer says it can be used starting at the age of 4. The taller and heavier your child, the safer and more appropriate the booster will be. The Evenflo is really the flagship booster seat for fitting three in a row, though it's clearly very limited in features. Interested? You can check out the Evenflo Big Kid LX booster here!
Similar to the HiFold booster, the Maxi-Cosi Rodifix uses adjustable width, allowing you to widen the booster seat as your child grows. The advantage of this feature is that it also allows you to strategically narrow the seat by pushing the torso wings together. The narrowest setting is about 18.5" wide, and the widest is about 21" wide, and the widest part of the seat is in the torso area. While the Rodifix certainly isn't the narrowest booster on our list, adjustable width offers great convenience. Other convenience features abound, including rigid LATCH connectors to hold the seat in place while it's unoccupied, adjustable headrest height across 12 settings, adjustable recline, and easily removable cover that is both machine washable and dryer safe. For safety, it has the AirProtect side-impact protection and energy-absorbing foam. One of our favorite aspects of this booster is the belt-positioning system. The belt guides are extremely effective at keeping the shoulder belt securely in position, and it's basically impossible for them to pop out of the belt guide. I wish we could say the same for many other boosters on this list! While the Rodifix isn't super narrow, we love the rigid LATCH to help keep the seat itself securely in its position without reorienting or tilting itself like most other boosters tend to do. This is especially helpful when the booster is installed in outboard seating positions. If you have a larger vehicle and want to fit three in a row, this is a great booster option. Interested? You can check out the Maxi-Cosi Rodifix booster here!
We would be remiss if we didn't include the trusty Graco TurboBooster Backless booster seat in this list of the narrowest booster seats. And here's why: with the cup holders tucked in, this booster seat comes in at a super narrow 16.3" wide, making it the narrowest booster seat we tested (other than the tiny portable backless ones). Coming in at about $30, if your child is heavy enough (over 40 pounds) and tall enough (we suggest over 40" tall), you really can't go wrong with this backless booster seat. It has a removable and machine washable cover, two cup holders that can be slid into the side and out of the way, and two removable arm rests. You migh wonder why you'd need to remove the arm rests, but just try to stuff two of these into a suitcase without popping them off! Other than that, you get what you pay for here: a sturdy and reliable backless booster seat with some decent features for the price, and a long track record of quality and utility. Nothing special or fancy, but it's narrow enough to help you fit three car seats in a row, making this an awesome option for kids that are ready for a backless booster! Interested? You can check out the Graco TurboBooster here!
Cars that are probably OK
If you drive a minivan (like the Sienna, Odyssey, or Caravan), full-size car (like the Avalon, Taurus, Impala), midsize SUV (like the Grand Cherokee, Pilot, Highlander, Traverse, Flex, or Explorer), or full-sized SUV (like the Tahoe, Sequoia, Expedition, Land Cruiser or Armada), three seats should fit just fine into the backseat without much strategic planning. This is especially the case with more recent models that are more family-oriented, which are beginning to equip more vehicles with center LATCH and tether anchors.
Regardless of how large your vehicle is, or if you have center LATCH connectors, having narrower car seats with LATCH and/or belt tensioners and lock-offs will make the process much easier.
If you have the third-row seat, you're in even better shape, though you will need to confirm they are equipped with both LATCH connectors and tether anchors.
In our experience, the most challenging situations are when you would like to fit three of the same car seat styles in a row. For example, three rear-facing infant car seats, or three forward-facing convertible car seats. It's much easier to fit three in a row when you can have some variability in the riding modes.
Cars that are probably not OK
For most of us who happen to drive from compact to mid-size sedans, crossovers, and relatively compact SUVs (like the RAV4, CR-V, Escape, Outback, or CX-5), you might find yourself having some difficulty trying to squeeze three car seats into the back. For instance, we recently tried to squeeze 2 booster car seats (the Evenflo Big Kid boosters) into the backseat of a RAV4 along with a Britax Marathon front-facing convertible car seat. Together, they could fit if the convertible was in the middle (using the shoulder belt to secure it in place), and the two boosters were on the outside.
But needless to say it was a very tight fit, and parent assistance was needed during each booster buckle-up (even with a 6 and 8-year-old) because the seats were squeezed up so tightly to each other that fitting two hands down into the slots to buckle was basically impossible. The trick was to slide the boosters out toward the door a bit, buckle them, then slide them back in and close the door. This made for some frustrated kids and, as you can imagine, somewhat frazzled parents.
As you've probably figured by now, there are only a few ways around this situation. The first is to figure out whether you can get a third-row seat into your SUV or crossover. Plenty of them have third rows from the dealer, like the Highlander, Flex, CX-9, Pilot, and basically all full-size SUVs. You might also figure out a way to separately purchase a third-row seat to fit into a smaller SUV, like the RAV4 or CR-V, but that's not highly recommended for safety reasons.
A second option is to consider purchasing a different vehicle, either a larger one like a full-size sedan or SUV that will fit three wide, or a minivan that will fit up to 2 adults and 6 kids. Many minivans also have center LATCH anchors as an added bonus. The final option, and likely the cheapest and best, is to be strategic about which car seats to purchase, and how to arrange them in your existing vehicle.
The Secret Fit
The secret, as we've come to find out, is to figure out the right combination of the shoulder belt, LATCH, and 5-point harnesses that will make life easier for everyone. The ideal situation is to have every seat using the LATCH system to secure it in place, and then the kid only has to use the integrated 5-point harness. That can obviously happen with infant car seats and convertible car seats, but also with some harness-equipped boosters. The LATCH helps not only ensure a secure fit, it also keeps it stable in its place and prevents any reorienting or tilting of the seat.
With modern vehicles with side airbags, they often have minimum clearances between a car seat and a door, making this reorienting and tilting issue especially important when you're installing a set next to a door. Keeping kids in a harness-equipped car seat that is secured to the vehicle using the LATCH system is also a great way to avoid the agonizing daily ritual of helping kids buckle and unbuckle seat belts that are squeezed between adjacent car seats. Of course, in these scenarios you can only use the LATCH system without the vehicle's seat belt until your child reaches the LATCH weight limit (usually between 40-50 pounds, but confirm the vehicle uses the modern LATCH with the 65-pound capacity, and also check the car seat specifications).
Bigger Seats, More Safety?
One of the questions we receive a lot from parents is whether choosing a narrow car seat compromises toddler or infant safety. It is definitely true that the larger car seats tend to have more safety features, such as the more substantial torso and head side impact protection, more advanced installation systems (like the ClickTight or SnugLock systems), steel-reinforced frames, and load legs and anti-rebound bars. Yes, all of those systems can help reduce the risk of injury or death in an accident, mostly through enhanced energy absorption.
But does that mean a child's safety is being compromised with a narrow car seat? It's important to realize that all car seats sold in the United States pass rigorous government safety standards. These standards include dictating how the manufacturer conveys critical safety information to the customer (like in manuals and on labels), and how the car seat performs in crash tests. All of the safety requirments are detailed exhaustively in 49 CFR § 571.213 - Standard No. 213, Child restraint systems. It's a super lengthy and headache-inducing read, but it's worth skimming if you're curious about how car seats are tested and what criteria are important to evaluate.
That being said, many parents want the peace of mind that their child's car seat might provide an extra degree of protection in crash tests. We agree that's appealing, and ourselves have always been partial to car seats with extra safety features. To us, it's worth the extra peace of mind. So yes, even a narrow car seat will be safe for your child as long as it is approved under Federal Standard 213.