Our Subaru Outback was practically new when we found out I was pregnant again, this time with twins. One of my first reactions to my husband was "we are going to need a new car!" because two babies and a toddler didn't seem to be a possibility with our setup. My reaction was part of the denial I had about having three under 3, especially with twins. But also, as I said, our car was practically new, we didn't have the budget for a bigger car, and also, I hate minivans.
We made it through almost a year with our Subaru with two car seats—one forward-facing for our toddler and one bucket seat for a baby. If we needed to take the two babies somewhere, we switched the convertible seat for another bucket seat. And on the very rare occasion we needed to take everyone somewhere—we used a borrowed car which had a half third row. And I say half because it was really the trunk that converted into a tiny third row. We had our toddler all the way in the back, the twins on the middle seat and it required a lot of coordination to get them all in safely.
In some ways, the pandemic was an advantage because we honestly never really went anywhere, making a new car super low in our list of priorities. But when the twins finally outgrew their bucket seats, we were confronted with two options: either we could get a mini-van or we could have three car seats across one row. Investing in car seats was more within our budget and safety comfort, so that's the route we took.
Instead of getting three of the same car seats, I decided it would be a great opportunity to test three different brands. After all, having three across is becoming more of a thing, and I wanted to be able to give a more thorough review for parents of multiples + other kids.
Before even attempting to install the car seats I read all about three across from The Car Seat Lady and also started following Safe in the Seat on Instagram because she has a ton of tips when it comes to having three car seats across one row. I'm a visual learner, so seeing Safe in the Seat install three across and point out things I should be looking for (like car seats need to be installed independently, without touching or overlapping) was super helpful to me. Another key factor to keep in mind is that the setup you had in mind might not be the one that works best for your car. In our case, we have our toddler in the middle, which means he needs to sneak under one of his sister's seats and then climb onto his. Then, we then buckle him from the front.
These are the car seats I tested:
The Foonf convertible is "built like a tank" according to the Canadian brand. Made with patented energy-absorbing crumple technology, the car seat provides the utmost protection for your child. It's easy to install, with a forward-facing rigid-LATCH installation that's so secure, you'd swear the seat becomes one with your vehicle. In fact, this is the one I was most intimidated to install because it looked so different from all the car seats we've had, but I was proven wrong in a hot second by my husband who said it was incredibly easy to properly secure to our car. The lucky twin who got assigned to this car seat went from screaming her head off in the bucket seat every time we took a ride, to happily looking at the window and taking the occasional snooze in it, just for that I will forever recommend this seat.
Specs: 14-65lbs and 25-49in.
The Graco SlimFit3™ LX 3-in-1 Car Seat is the new launch by the brand loved by parents. We had the regular version of this car seat for our first and it was so easy to install and maneuver as he grew. He went from infant to toddler, to forward-facing in it. It has a Rapid Remove cover that can be completely removed in 60 seconds, without uninstalling the seat or removing the harness, so it's easy to clean even with 3 car seats installed. It also comes with the amazing Simply Safe Adjust™ Harness System, which makes adjusting harness and headrest so much easier than any of the other car seats we've tested.
Specs: 5-65 lb and then turns into to highback booster 40-100 lb.
The Diono Radian® 3RXT is the original 3 across All-in-One convertible car seat, and was the first one recommended to us when we started looking for which car seats would fit in our tiny car. It is lovingly engineered with the famous Diono Steel Core which makes it super safe, but also a bit heavier than the other two, so not ideal to lug around in an airport for example. We have our toddler sitting in this one, forward-facing, and he loves it. He calls it his race car seat.
Specs: 2.2 kg - 54 kg / 5 - 120 lb
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