Best Narrow Car Seats 2024, Tested & Reviewed

These car seats help you fit three in a row while maintaining comfort & safety.

assortment of diono radian 3qxt car seats installed three in a row with front and rear facing configurations

tali ditye author mommyhood101  By: Tali Ditye, Ph.D., Co-founder
  Updated: April 9, 2024

Mommyhood101 independently tests and curates baby gear to help you make informed decisions. If you buy products through links on our site, we may earn a commission.

Whether you have 3 kids of your own or spend time hauling around more than two kids, you might be surprised the first time you try to fit three car seats in a row!

The good news is that several brands make very narrow car seat models, many of which make it possible to install three car seats in a row.

Rest assured that narrower car seats do not compromise safety. NHTSA research shows that narrow car seats can perform better than relatively wide car seats during side impact testing.

We don't always agree with robots, but in this case, we think they might be onto something! We have been reviewing narrow car seats for over 10 years; if we made our own narrow car seat, here is what it would look like:

✔️  About 17" wide or less.
✔️  Narrower at the bottom than the top.
✔️  Elevated seating position.
✔️  Flexible installation options.

✔️  Quick-release LATCH connectors.
✔️  Auto-tightening LATCH.

✔️  Seat belt lock-offs.
✔️  European belt path (infant).
✔️  Energy-absorbing EPP/EPS foam.
✔️  Torso & head side impact protection.
✔️  50-pound rear-facing limit.
✔️  40-pound LATCH limit.
✔️  Lightweight build (<10 pounds).

Of course, you'll also want the car seat to have all the basic features, versatility, and capabilities of any great car seat, fit your style preferences, and fall within your budget.

    1. Narrowest Infant Car Seats
    2.     1. Clek Liing Infant Car Seat (16.9" wide)
    3.     2. UppaBaby Mesa V2 (17" wide)
    4.     3. Nuna Pipa Infant Car Seat (17" wide)
    5.     4. Chicco Fit2 (17" wide)
    6.     5. Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 (17" wide)
    7.     6. Cybex Aton G (17" wide)
    8.     7. Chicco KeyFit 30 (17" wide)
    9.     8. Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 (17" wide)
    10.     10. Baby Trend FlexLoc (16.5" wide)
    11. Narrowest Convertible Car Seats
    12.     1. Clek Foonf & Clek Fllo (16.9" wide)
    13.     2. Diono Radian 3QX & 3QXT (17" wide)
    14.     3. Britax Poplar (17" wide)
    15.     4. Diono Radian 3R & 3RXT (17" wide)
    16.     5. Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible (18.7" wide)
    17.     6. Graco SlimFit (19" wide)
    18. Narrowest Booster Seats
    19.     1. Chicco MyFit (17.5" wide)
    20.     2. WayB Pico Booster (14.5" wide)
    21.     3. Chicco KidFit (19" wide)
    22.     4. Evenflo Big Kid Booster (16" wide)
    23.     5. Graco TurboBooster (17" wide)
    24.     6. Maxi-Cosi Rodifix Booster (18.5" wide)
    25. Details & Conclusions

Full disclosure: Some of these car seats, including the Mifold, Baby Trend, Diono, Maxi-Cosi, and Graco models, were sent to us as free test samples by the manufacturer.

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 things to keep in mind when trying to fit three car seats in a row.

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. 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.

There is always some guesswork involved in this process, so we tried to identify car seats that are not only narrow but also have very flexible installation.

Here are the Narrowest Infant Car Seats of 2024!

Or jump to Narrowest Convertible Car Seats.
Or jump to Narrowest Booster 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've tested, followed by reviews of several options.

#1. Clek Liing 5 star rating
#2. UPPAbaby Mesa V2 5 star rating
#3. Nuna Pipa 4.5 star rating
#4. Chicco Fit2 4.5 star rating
#5. Graco Snugride Snuglock 4.5 star rating

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!

1. Clek Liing Infant Car Seat (16.9" wide).

clek liing infant car seat

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 its 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, but the base is also super narrow to help with tricky buckle configurations, and the entire car seat sits up nice and high in the vehicle (27" from the bottom of the base to the top of the 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 installation - it's worth taking a few minutes to check. When installed using the vehicle's seat belts, the Clek Liing uses lock-offs 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.

nestig cloud crib

All of these features: the narrow base and seat, the belt lock-offs, 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.

2. UppaBaby Mesa V2 Infant Car Seat (17" wide).

uppababy mesa v2 infant car seat

The UPPAbaby Mesa V2 is the newest version of the venerable Mesa infant car seat, with some huge improvements. These include a larger canopy, more infant support, an anti-rebound bar integrated into the handlebar, and the option of using a European belt path for installation. Together with a fantastic set of specifications and features, the Mesa V2 is the obvious choice for most families, including those looking for a narrow infant car seat! The Mesa V2 comes in at only 17" wide (from each side of the carry handle), with a base measuring only 15.5" wide. At 9.9 pounds, the Mesa V2 is also lightweight and versatile. But don't let the slim and lightweight profile fool you, the Mesa V2 offers some serious capabilities and safety features. These include beefy side impact protection and an adjustable headrest with EPP energy-absorbing foam, a no-rethread harness, and one of the easiest and most intuitive installation processes we've ever seen in a car seat! The SMARTSecure installation system is second to none and makes it possible to get a secure installation in only about 30 seconds. This is by virtue of a four-position leveling foot, seatbelt lock-offs, and an automatically tightening LATCH system that makes installation a snap (literally). In our testing, we were able to fit three of the Vista V3 seats in a row in a RAV4, CR-V, MDX, and Forester. It was a tight fit, with the biggest challenge being the relatively low-profile base, which can make it difficult to squeeze hands between adjacent car seats. The trick was to get all three car seats loosely installed and then use the base lever to automatically tighten and secure all three in place. Note that the Mesa V2 can also use the popular European belt path if you choose to not use the base during installation (this is great for taxi rides and ride-sharing). We love the safety features, comfort, ease of use, and versatility of installation. The Mesa V2 is a no-brainer for most families, with the only drawback being the relatively steep price. Interested? You can check out the UppaBaby Mesa V2 here!

3. Nuna Pipa Infant Car Seat (17" wide).

nuna pipa infant car seat

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 by 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 lock-off, and its relatively high stance when installed (about 26" tall from the bottom of the base to the top of the 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 as 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.

4. Chicco Fit2 Infant Car Seat (17" wide).

chicco fit2 infant car seat

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 especially 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 adjustable 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 is 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 aren'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!

5. Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Infant Car Seat (17" wide).

snugride snuglock infant car seat

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!

6. Cybex Aton G Infant Car Seat (17.3" wide).

cybex aton G infant car seat

This is an extremely lightweight, ultra-portable slim infant car seat with some excellent safety features, a reputation for high quality, and European styling and comfort. The Aton G offers great versatility for tight backseat configurations, coming in at a slim 17.5" wide. Not quite as narrow as some of the others due to a handle that sticks out a bit on each side, but that 0.5" difference (0.25" on each side) might not significantly affect your situation. 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 that are positioned on the outboard seats; in other words, only install them 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 an option for fitting three car seats in a row. The Aton G is also very lightweight, coming in at only 9 pounds while offering some advanced safety features and superior crash test ratings. Safety features include linear side impact protection, easy and secure installation, and energy-absorbing foam. For basic specifications, the Aton G 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 G usually sells for about $250-300, including the base. For limitations, the Aton requires re-threading to adjust harness height, and the canopy is relatively small. Unlike its predecessor, the Aton 2, the Aton G no longer uses a load leg to reduce rotational forces in a front-end collision and is no longer equipped with the SensorSafe system. Interested? You can check out the Cybex Aton G here!

7. Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat (17" wide).

chicco keyfit 30 infant car seat

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 seat belts. If you choose to use the LATCH, it has 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 it 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 a 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!

8. Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4/35 Infant Car Seat (17" wide).

primo viaggio infant car seat

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 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 an 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!

9. Baby Trend Flex Loc Infant Car Seat (16.5" wide)

baby trend flex loc infant car seat

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 of 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 a 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 2024!

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 them also transition to a belt-positioning booster and beyond. Here are the top 5 narrow convertible car seats we've tested, followed by full reviews of several options.

#1 Clek Foonf and Fllo 5 star rating
#2 Diono Radian 3QX and 3QXT 5 star rating
#3 Britax Poplar 5 star rating
#3 Diono Radian 3R, 3RX, & 3RXT 4.5 star rating
#4 Peg Perego Primo Viaggio. 4.5 star rating

The narrowest convertible car seats tend to be about 17" wide. 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). For more options, check out our full list of the best convertible car seats.

1. Clek Foonf and Clek Fllo Convertible Car Seats (16.9" wide).

clek foonf and clek fllo convertible car seats

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 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 rear-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, which makes installation a bit less flexible). 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.

nestig cloud crib

Both are fantastic, designed and manufactured in Canada, and 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 Clek Foonf and Fllo? Our friends at Babylist, WhatToExpect, and Babygearlab. Impressed? You can check out the Clek Foonf and Fllo here.

2. Diono Radian 3QX and 3QXT Convertible Car Seats (17" wide).

diono radian 3QX and 3QXT convertible car seats

Diono has been making the best convertible car seats for over a decade, and the Radian series has become the brand's flagship model. Not only is the Radian series extremely high quality, safe, comfortable, and versatile, but it's also one of the best convertible car seats for fitting three in a row. The Radian 3Q series is relatively new, building upon the popular Radian 3R series (see below) and including some additional safety and comfort features without compromising on dimensions (keeping an awesome 17" width). The Radian 3QX can support infants as tiny as 4 pounds and up to 50 pounds while rear-facing, big kids front-facing with the harness up to 65 pounds, and as a belt-positioning booster up to 120 pounds. That range is fantastic! Relative to the Radian 3R series, the 3Q added a newly designed SAFE+ infant insert, a much larger headrest adjustment range (12 positions!), and some of the most comfortable seat padding we've ever experienced in a car seat! Safety features are numerous - including a steel reinforced frame and anti-rebound bar, side impact protection, Safe Stop harness technology, and tons of visual indicators to get the perfect installation. The Radian 3QX is tall and heavy, but also impressively narrow. It can be installed using the included LATCH connectors or the vehicle's seat belt, though the LATCH is limited to a 35-pound kiddo. The biggest challenge for a tight installation of the Radian is the extent to which it protrudes from the back seat when in the rear-facing position; if you don't have a larger car or SUV, the drivers will need to slide their seats forward to accommodate a rear-facing Radian. When you switch to front-facing, however, you'll be grateful to have such a tall car seat - one that can support big kids up to 57" tall in front-facing booster mode! That's some serious versatility that you'll be able to take advantage of a full 10 years of growth. Diono also offers a 3QXT that adds another infant protection insert and more side impact support and a 3QXT+ that adds a leg/calf rest for front-facing installations (how posh!). Personally, we think the 3QX will work well for most families. Impressed? You can check out the Diono Radian 3QX here and use the coupon code DIONOGIVE20 for 20% off your order!

3. Britax Poplar Convertible Car Seat (17" wide).

britax poplar convertible car seat

Britax is world-renowned for making some of the safest and highest-quality car seats in the world. However, because of all the safety, comfort, and convenience features, Britax car seats are typically relatively bulky and heavy. Enter the Britax Poplar, which combines everything Britax is famous for into a slim and relatively lightweight shell, coming in at 17" wide and about 27 pounds (note that it's about 2" wider with the cup holder attached). For safety, the Poplar includes a carbon steel-reinforced frame, side impact protection, easy ClickTight installation, a 50-pound rear-facing weight limit, and SafeCell crumple zones. For comfort, it uses super plush fabrics and cushioning, excellent infant positioning pillows, and comfortable buckle and harness pads. For convenience, it includes a removable cup holder, a 15-position headrest (with no-rethread harness height adjustments), a 6-position recline, and LATCH or seat belt installation. When positioned up against other car seats, the ClickTight system makes getting a secure installation very easy: simply lift the base of the seat, place the seat belt over the indicated path, and click the base back down. The result is a very secure installation without needing to squeeze your hand down between two adjacent car seats and mess around with the LATCH system. Of course, you can also install with the included quick-connect LATCH system if that's your preference. In rear-facing mode, the Poplar supports infants as small as 4 pounds and all the way up to 50 pounds (or 49" tall). In front-facing mode, it supports children from 22 pounds up to 65 pounds (or 49" tall). Made right here in the USA, we think the Poplar is an awesome new addition to our list and will work very well for most families who need to squeeze several car seats in a row. Impressed? You can check out the Britax Poplar here.

4. Diono Radian 3R, 3RX, and 3RXT Convertible Car Seats (17" wide).

diono radian 3r and 3rxt convertible car seat

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-rigid) 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 the 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.

5. Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible Car Seat (18.7" wide).

peg perego primo viaggio convertible car seat

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 LATCH connectors 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 conveniently 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 the head at least 1" below the top of the 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 is 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.

6. Graco SlimFit Convertible Car Seat (19" wide).

graco slimfit convertible car seat

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, 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 is 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 it 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 2024!

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.

Note: Some websites still recommend the Immi GO and Mifold Hifold car seats, but they were both discontinued. If you're looking for something similar, check out the WAYB Pico (below)!

Here are the top 5 narrow booster seats we've tested, followed by reviews of several additional options:

#1 Chicco MyFit Booster 5 star rating
#2 WAYB Pico Booster 4.5 star rating
#3 Chicco KidFit Booster 4.5 star rating
#4 Evenflo Big Kid Booster 4 star rating
#4 Maxi Cosi RodiFix 4 star rating

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. For additional options, be sure to check out our list of the best booster car seats.

1. Chicco MyFit Booster Car Seat (17.5" wide)

chicco myfit booster seat

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.

nestig cloud crib

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 installation for very long. This was the primary challenge with this booster seat when installing it in tight spaces: using the LATCH would be ideal but it's only appropriate for a child under 40 pounds, and it can be challenging 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 in 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 armrests. All that safety and convenience and you're looking at a 25-pound booster seat! Ready for a workout? The Chicco MyFit is rated the Best Bet by the IIHS, and is a top pick by Consumer Reports. Impressed? You can check out the Chicco MyFit here!

2. WAYB Pico Travel Booster Car Seat (14.5" wide).

wayb pico booster seat

Designed as a travel booster seat, the WAYB Pico provides a super compact folding car seat capability that comes in at only 14.5" wide! This 5-point booster car seat has some serious installation versatility: it can be installed in vehicles with only a lap belt (like airplanes, school buses, and vintage cars), lap and shoulder belt, or using the LATCH system. Not only is the Pico super skinny and versatile, it only weighs 8 pounds! Your back will thank you during travel, but it also adds a little bonus: your child can use the car seat with a LATCH install all the way up to the seat's weight limit (50 pounds)! Typically, modern car seats are so heavy that the LATCH cannot support the combined weight of the car seat and a child over 45 pounds (the combined LATCH weight limit is 65 pounds per the NHTSA). The Pico can support children from 22-50 pounds and 30-45" tall, which basically means from about 2 years old up to about 6 years old (for children at the 50th percentile for height and weight). All while using the LATCH, giving you one less transition to worry about.

In our testing, we absolutely loved how lightweight and compact this booster seat was! It folds up and fits easily into the WAYB travel backpack (included). When you're ready to use it, it unfolds (flip it, lock it!), adjusts, and installs very quickly, especially if you're using the included (push-button) LATCH connectors. It's the perfect size for children aged about 3-4 years old. The harness height isn't adjustable, so in our opinion, the shoulder harness height seems a little high for a small 2-year-old, and a little low for a tall 5-year-old. The crotch buckle isn't adjustable and we found that it sits a little low, especially for kids with thicker thighs, which can make buckling and unbuckling a little uncomfortable. Speaking of comfort, there are a few pros and cons. As a pro, the lightweight and high airflow fabrics make this a perfect car seat for warmer settings, offering excellent ventilation to keep your child's back nice and cool. But as a con, there basically is no padding on the bottom and minimal bolstering on the sides of the torso or head. This makes it less comfortable for longer drives or for napping than a typical booster car seat with thicker padding and side impact bolsters. Of course, we need to remind ourselves that this car seat weighs only 8 pounds and is the narrowest booster on our list (did we mention that it's only 14.5" wide!?). Perfect for the jet-setting family, but you'll pay for all the convenience - over $400 to be exact! It may be obvious, but it's FAA-approved (with a sticker) and meets all federal safety standards. Interested? You can check out the WAYB Pico here!

3. Chicco KidFit Booster Car Seat (19" wide)

chicco kidfit booster seat

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 armrest area. The Chicco KidFit measures just a hair under 17" wide at the base (with the 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 feature that makes narrower than most other booster seats is the collapsable cup holders, which help 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!

4. Evenflo Big Kid LX Booster Car Seat

evenflo big kid lx booster seat

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 of things help with the width: the non-rigid cup holders, and 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 of 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!

5. Maxi-Cosi Rodifix AirProtect Booster Car Seat

evenflo big kid lx booster seat

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, 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 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! We think the Rodifix is great overall, but it's simply not narrow enough to get a great position on this list. While it 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!

6. Graco TurboBooster Backless Booster Car Seat

graco turbobooster booster seat

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 armrests. You might wonder why you'd need to remove the armrests, 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, Pacifica, or Caravan), full-size car (like the Accord, Camry, Avalon, Taurus, Impala), midsize SUV (like the Grand Cherokee, Pilot, 4Runner, Highlander, Traverse, 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.

Some options

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, but also keeps it stable in its place and prevents any reorienting or tilting of the seat.

Modern vehicles with side airbags 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 requirements 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 we 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.

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