Car Seat Logic Puzzle

Can I do this in a suburban?

The advent of my third trimester has me contemplating logistics, especially those pertaining to car seats.

I need 5 seats in our suburban come April, 4 full forward facing seats and an infant seat. Our 50 pound 6 year old has frequent meltdowns in the car due to sensory and other challenges, so I must keep him in a five point harness. I can’t move the 5 year old into a booster without inciting more meltdowns since the 6 year old would remain in a car seat. The 6 year old cannot sit next to the infant. I would like the 3 and 6 year old in back with our carpool seat (not always in use) in between them and our infant and 5 year old in the middle.

I can get three in the middle easily, but then two kids have to climb over the back seat through the rear of the car, which is awkward and painful and not a very practical long term solution. I would like to keep one third of our middle bench row folded down so kids can get in and out of the car and I can help them buckle.

I have scoured and other car seat forums and my head hurts. There is anecdotal evidence of 3 Radians in a third row of a suburban, but no one has posted an actual picture of this set up in a Suburban. I cannot ascertain if a minivan third row is wider than that of a suburban since the wheel wells take up so much room, though I will try to measure a neighbor’s minivan and compare this weekend. As much as I would rather not swallow a fortune worth of new car seats, I do have two forward facing ones that are about to expire anyway.

The Radians are 17″ wide and the Chevy website says there is only 49.4″ of hip room in the 3rd row, which would make it an inch and a half too narrow. Does anyone have any experience with 3 forward car seats in the back of a suburban?


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  • Mary Alice

    We had this problem when our fifth was due. In a way, the 5 pt harnesses are a help bc it is a major pain to install them but after that you don’t need to be able to reach the buckles. With three boosters across the back of a minivan, it is too difficult to buckle. We found Britax seats had smaller bases than any other at the time, and the baby store let us try them, in the parking lot, while test driving the car. nnIn a Chevy town and country you can do three in the back and two in the front, but it is intense.

  • Mandabravo

    If I am following along correctly, you already have two Radians?u00a0 If so like Mary Alice said the BabysRUs here lets you try out seats in your car, so you could put the seats you have in the back and use one of theirs to see if they will fit.u00a0 I think I would have to see it for myself anyways and this would make me feel the best.u00a0 From what I’ve heard and read the Radians are supposed to be one of the best for fitting three across.

  • Anonymous

    From my car seat forum perusal, it appears that the only narrow Britax made anymore is a booster w/o harness, so the narrowest one on the market is the Radian…but I would be happy if someone knows of anything else!u00a0nnI’ll have to go to the baby store and see if they will let me try to put 3 in.u00a0

  • Anonymous

    No, sorry that wasn’t clear. I have 2 of the wide style Britax that are 6 years old, so at the exp. date. I would need to try all 3 in my car. Which is hard to do gracefully when you are in the third trimester :-)n

  • Hi, I’m not sure which forums you visited so you may already have been to this one (btw isn’t it funny that carseats are so complicated they need forums?!)… under Parenting has a carseat board and they helped me a lot in trying to find a seating solution for my special needs son.u00a0 Almost everyone posts pictures of their actual vehicles.u00a0 They also have various boards for special family circumstances such as 4+ kids, triplets etc. so it may be a good resource.u00a0 Also (and you probably have done this too but just in case) the Radian carseats on the Amazon website come with a lot of customer photos.u00a0 I do know of one mom who has a Honda CR-V and can fit three Radians across so I would think it would work in a Suburban but that is just a guess.u00a0 But yeah, Radian is the narrowest seat I know of.u00a0 nnAs an aside…my dad is one of six and they only ever had one station wagon.u00a0 I remember asking him once, how did they all fit together in the same car at once?u00a0 “Well, the youngest always sat in your grandmom’s lap in front, and the back had a fold down bench so we all just sort of…tumbled in.”u00a0 Oh, the good old days.u00a0

  • B-mama

    Lol Kyra about your dad. u00a0Wouldn’t it be nice it this were an easier fix? u00a0nJust wanted to comment that the CR-V seems to be the widest of all the crossover vehicles I’ve ever seen. u00a0My friend’s easily fit three 5-pt harness carseats across and it amazed me! u00a0I never knew it was so wide. u00a0I would hope the Suburban would be comparable.Overall, Tex, we are facing a similar issue with our minivan, though it is a 1998 Pontiac Transport. u00a014-years-old. u00a0lol. u00a0The seat configuration is opposite of most minivans, in having 3 seats in the middle row and 2 in the back. u00a0nnI think the configuration you’re considering looks doable. u00a0I would just call ahead to a local baby store and ask them to work with you as you try out carseats.

  • Anonymous

    The main difference is that the 3rd row of a suburban is a lot narrower than the middle row b/c of the wheel wells since it is so high up. The seat doesn’t go over them like on a miniwan or other crossover. I am thinking it is really narrower in the third row seat than a minivan. I do not recommend a Suburban over a minivan.u00a0

  • Right Said Red

    Sounds like a job for Mr. Texas Mommy.u00a0 I don’t deal with car seats when pregnant.

  • Right Said Red

    We are having a similar problem with our minivan in that we can’t gracefully fit 2 boosters and a 5 point harness across the back row.u00a0 Neither the kids nor I can actually make the booster seats buckle b/c they are too wide.u00a0 I was debating purchasing narrower seats, but it seems silly to spend all that money when my oldest will be 8 in 2 months and no longer required to ride in any sort of booster seat.u00a0 NJ law says you must ride until age 8 or 80 pounds, whatever comes first.u00a0u00a0 Is that crazy that we are going to skirt the law for 2 months?u00a0 I realize this doesn’t help you much Tex, b/c your oldest is much younger than mine and has special needs, so you will be dealing with the car seat dilemma for a much longer period of time.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Kyra. I’ll look on that forum for pics!

  • Kathy

    Unfortunately, I can not offer the help the builders can. I really don’t mean to joke about is a very real dilemma for you – but the initial reading of your post reminded of the logic section on the GREs. :-)nnGood luck with it all. It sound like you have some excellent advice from the other posts. nnStay well during your 3rd trimester.

  • Anonymous

    I told my husband the same thing :-)u00a0

  • B-mama

    Red, you are touching on a subject that concerns me regarding a future minivan purchase for our family. u00a0Thank goodness our old dinosaur is configured the way it is because I think it is going to offer us greater flexibility! u00a0When Big Blue goes down I’m praying we can figure something out… u00a0Perhaps J will be large enough for a booster??nnI’d say if Kyra’s dad and siblings sat on laps, etc., Gianna will be fine with just a seatbelt for 2 mos!

  • JMB

    I’ve had a Suburban for 9 years now.u00a0 The hardest part (I think) was loading the baby into the car seat.u00a0 I had constant back problems with my youngest, and I believe it was the height of the seat and lifting that did it to me.u00a0 The minivan, although smaller, was lower to the ground and much easier to get the kids in and out of the car.u00a0 nnI think your configuration works.u00a0 Do the 3 and 6 year olds know how to strap themselves into the seats by themselves?u00a0 If they do, then they can easily get in and out of the car.u00a0 The added carpool seat is a huge bonus.u00a0 I was able to continue in some carpools because we had the room and that was a huge help in those years.nnI always kept a few of those little booster seats in the back of the suburban in case I needed an extra.u00a0 In NJ, it was 8 or 80 pounds, and that only became a law when my oldest was 7 I think.u00a0 So he was already out of a booster, and close to 80 lbs so I kind of blew it off. The girls stayed in the boosters until they hit 8.u00a0 I figure the Suburban is like a tank and I never worried too much about the safety aspect because it seems so arbitrary.

  • Donna

    And would MC go in the “seat down” place when you put it back up after loading?u00a0 I really like the three in the middle vans- I think the Honda Odyssey has three- we had a Venture once that had huge wide seats for 8.u00a0 The fancy newer ones don’t seem as wide.