Fitting three car seats across in a backseat is a complicated task for parents. Most backseats aren’t designed to fit three car seats, but who wants to buy a new vehicle because they’re having a new baby? Babies are expensive enough without needing a new car, so the answer is to find the best narrow car seats for your vehicle.
At times, finding a narrow car seat can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. It’s certainly a challenge to find car seats that fit together. It’s not impossible, but it does require researching and looking through some possible options.
Are Narrow Car Seats Not as Safe?
Something you might consider is whether or not a narrow car seat is as safe as the standard seats. No parent wants to compromise the safety of their baby.
Larger car seats do tend to have more safety features, such as the more substantial torso and head-side impact protection. They also might have more advanced installation systems, load legs, and anti-rebound bars.
While bigger car seats might have more features, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are safer than narrow seats. Parents have to remember that all car seats sold in the US must pass rigorous government safety standards, even the cheap $30 car seats. You cannot purchase an unsafe car seat on the market today, no matter if it’s super wide or the narrowest on the market.
So, while you might like the additional features, if you need a narrow car seat instead of purchasing a new vehicle because you’re having another baby, you aren’t going to compromise the safety of your child.
The Types of Narrow Car Seats
The type of car seat that you need depends on your child’s age and your needs. Here are the most common car seat options that we will cover in the reviews below.
Infant Car Seats
Chances are you’ve seen this seat a million times. They look like little bucket seats that you can take out of your car so that you can take your sleeping baby into the store easily. Infant car seats are designed specifically for young children. You can expect them to have a gentle recline and additional cushioning to keep your child comfortable.
Infant car seats come with a base that attaches to your vehicle car seat. The basket has a carrying handle and a sunshade. You can lift the basket out of the bottom and makes removing it from the car a breeze.
Typically, infant car seats have a low weight limit because they’re designed to be used for no more than the first year of life. Also, they are heavy and can be hard to carry as your child grows.
Convertible Car Seats
After an infant car seat, most babies move up to a convertible car seat. These car seats can be used for an extended period in either rear or forward-facing. Because of its versatility, you can use it for your growing child for longer times. Your child can transition through the stages.
Convertible car seats all have different weight restrictions, so be sure to pay attention. Many have extra features that older kids enjoy, such as cup holders, footrests, and adjustable headrests.
3-in-1 Car Seats
3-in-1 car seats are a different type of convertible car seats that can be used rear-facing, forward-facing, and as a booster seat. The harness is removed so you can use it with the vehicle’s car seat. So, you get versatility and several modes with this single seat.
This style of car seats tends to be heavy and take up a lot of space. Even though they are versatile, some find that they don’t work well for the extremes of the size range. It’s easy to appreciate this style because they save you money and offer customization for your child.
Booster Car Seats
If you have older kids who don’t need a harness anymore, you can switch to booster seats. The purpose of a booster car seat is to lift your child, allowing the vehicle seat belt to fit across their body correctly. That ensures your child is protected during an accident.
Many of these seats have a high-back, which adds extra protection for your child’s neck, head, and body. High-back boosters offer additional side-impact protection, and they’re often considered the safer option, rather than a backless booster.
How to Pick the Best Narrow Car Seat
When looking for a narrow car seat, you need to keep things in mind. These features help you determine which model and type of narrow car seat are best for your family.
How Long Will You Use The Car Seat
The first thing that you want to consider is how long you will use the seat. It helps you figure out what type of car seat will be best for you. If your child is younger, then a 3-in-1- or a convertible car seat might be the better choice. For older children, you might need a 3-in-1 car seat or a booster seat.
Ideally, whatever you buy needs to have longevity. You don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a car seat that will only last a year or so.
The Width Measurement
Since we are looking for narrow car seats, the width measurement is one of the essential factors. Look at the measurement of each car seat. If you want to fit three car seats across your vehicle, first measure your back seat and determine how much space you can allocate for each child. That can give you a good idea about the width measurement you need to have.
The Features You Need
Think about your daily life! Do you travel a lot? If so, you need something that is approved by the FAA for air travel. If you like to go on long road trips, you want something comfortable with cup holders!
Installing a car seat can be a complicated task. Look for one that is easy to install, especially if you need to move it from car to car often. You don’t want a car seat that is time-consuming or frustrating.
Easy to Clean
Kids love to make a mess. Whether they spill their drink, puke, or have an exploding diaper, you need a car seat that is easy to clean. It’s just a fact of life that they’re going to get messy. Look at materials and colors, as well. Some materials are stain-resistant.
The last thing to consider isn’t the least important; your budget should always matter. Your budget should play an important role. Look at what car seats are available in your price range and don’t look outside the price you feel comfortable spending.
The Best Narrow Car Seats
Narrow Infant Car Seats
One of the most popular infant car seats, in general, is the Chicco KeyFit 30, and it’s exciting that it’s also one of the narrowest infant car seats on the market. The Chicco KeyFit30 is a well-built, functional, safe car seat that measures 16.75 inches wide (15” wide at the base). Now, this isn’t our narrowest option, but it’s at the top of the list options.
Now, it’s width measurement isn’t the only reason why the Chicco KeyFit is so beloved. It’s comfortable, reliable, and affordable. It comes with the base that attaches into your car with either the LATCH system or a vehicle seat belt.
A few other features of the Chicco KeyFit 30 include:
- It only weighs 15 pounds!
- You can use it for babies starting at 4 pounds (with the included infant insert) up to 30 pounds.
- It has multiple shoulder strap positions, but it only has one crotch buckle position. You can adjust the shoulder straps without rethreading!
- Chicco sells it in adorable patterns and colors.
|16.75” Inches Wide|
|Comes with Base|
|Only Weighs 15 Pounds|
|One Crotch Buckle Position|
UPPAbaby is known as a luxury car seat brand, and its Mesa Infant Car Seat is one of the narrowest infant car seats on the market. With a base, it measures 15” wide at the bottom, which is where it matters the most. Then, the entire seat with the handlebar levers sticking out only measures 17” wide.
The measurement makes it quite easy to fit three in a row in your back seat. However, the levers do stick out a bit more, so that can make it a bit harder to fit in the backseat if it’s a tight squeeze. Here are some other features of the UPPAbaby Mesa:
- It fits babies from 4-35 pounds and up to 32” height with the included infant insert for the smaller babies.
- Parents note that the seat is very plush, comfortable, and made with high-quality materials.
- It clicks in and out of the base easily, and the harness straps are wide.
- You can adjust the harness and headrest height without rethreading.
- It includes LATCH connectors.
- The seat only weighs less than 10 pounds – seriously!
|15” Wide at the Bottom|
|Lightweight – Only 10 Pounds|
|Easy to Adjust|
|Handle and Sunshade Interfere|
Baby Trend is known for creating affordable, nice quality infant car seats. It’s quite narrow, measuring only 16.5” wide, and it’s less than $100. With all of the features that Baby Trend included, it’s easy to see why it’s such a winner.
First, we love that the carry handling allows you to carry the seat in different positions. You can hold it in different ways to find a comfortable position. Also, you don’t need to rethread the harness at all for adjustments. That’s not common in cheaper car seats.
A few other features that you might love include:
- The fabric is soft and breathable on the back and sides.
- It’s easy to clean the fabric.
- Baby Trend uses an up-front shoulder strap adjuster to loosen or tighten them.
- The weight range goes from 5 to 30 pounds.
|5-30 Pound Weight Limits|
|Soft and Easy to Clean Fabric|
|Shoulder Straps Feel Flimsy|
|The Handlebar is Hard to Attach|
Narrow Convertible Car Seat
Diono creates some of the narrowest convertible car seats on the market. While they aren’t the cheapest options on the market, if you want narrow, Diono is often the way to go. The Radian is often considered the best convertible car seat for small cars because you can fit three of these across in most mid-size vehicles, such as the Accord, Camry, CRV, and Passat.
The Diono Radian measures only 17” wide with the cupholder removed. For a convertible car seat, this is incredibly narrow. The difference between the Radian and other car seats is that it continues to be narrow toward the middle and top. Many other car seats get excessively wide in the middle, making it difficult to fit three across.
Other features that you might love about the Diono Radian include:
- You can use either the LATCH or vehicle’s seat belts.
- There is a durable, integrated 5-point harness.
- It can be used as a convertible car seat rear-facing from 5-45 pounds. Then, use it front-facing from 20-80 pounds with the 5-point harness. Finally, use it up to 120 pounds as a booster seat with the car’s shoulder belt.
- Diono added plenty of side impact protection and a top ether.
- It folds flat for easy transportation and travel.
|Well-Built and Reliable|
|Side Impact Protection|
|3 Modes of Use|
If you have a higher budget range, the Peg Perego Primo might be the narrow car seat for you. The Primo is a high-quality car seat that is only 14” wide at its base and 18” wide at the torso. So, it’s the narrowest convertible car seat at its bottom on our list. Now, its more full at the torso than the Radian, but if your issue is installing them in your back seat, the Peg Perego Primo could be the best choice.
Here are some other reasons why the Peg Perego Primo might be great for you.
- You can use it with babies as small as 5 pounds with the included infant insert and goes up to 45 pounds.
- You can use it front-facing from 22-65 pounds.
- The contours of the seat are ideal for infants and toddlers.
- Peg Perego uses shock-absorbing foam for side impact protection
- It’s incredibly easy to install, and the buckles are easy to remove and use as needed.
- The fabric is breathable and easy to clean.
|5-65 Pound Weight Range|
|Shock Absorbing Foam|
|Easy to Install|
|Doesn’t Convert into a Booster|
|Heavy and Big|
Meet Graco’s narrowest convertible car seat on the market right now – the Graco SlimFit. Now, it’s not as thin as Peg Perego or Diono car seats, but the SlimFit is 18” wide. For most vehicles, that is wide enough that you can fit three across in a row in a larger vehicle such as an SUV or minivan.
Let’s look at some of the great features of the Graco SlimFit.
- Graco added safety features such as crash and side-impact testing with double-layered side impact protection, 5-point harness, EPS energy-absorbing foam.
- It has an adjustable harness and headrest with several positions.
- You can use it with the infant insert to support babies as light as 5 pounds.
- The two cup holders can swing in for the narrow 18” fit.
- There are four reclining positions.
- You can use from 5-40 pounds rear-facing, forward-facing with a harness from 20-65 pounds, and as a belt-positioning booster from 30-100 pounds.
|3 Modes of Use|
|4 Reclining Positions|
|Not as Narrow as Other Options|
You might not recognize the name Combi Coccoro, but they’re another European car seat company. It’s no wonder that many of the modern European car seats end up on the list for narrow car seats. Have you seen cars in Europe? They’re much smaller than the cars in American, so the market for narrow car seats is much larger.
Combi Coccoro is a great pick for small vehicles because it is only 15.5” wide, which makes it one of the narrowest car seats on the market. We love that this convertible car seat offers style, high-quality, and safety all in a smaller size.
Here are some other features of the Combi Coccoro that you should know.
- It uses Combi Tru-Safe side impact protection with deep side walls and EPS energy-absorbing foam.
- A visual indicator on the 5-point harness lets you know that it’s buckled.
- There is a tether connection for rear-facing tethering, which isn’t a standard feature, as well as built-in lock-offs for a proper vehicle seat belt installation.
- When used in the rear-facing position, this seat works for babies as tiny as 3 pounds up to 33 pounds. Then, it can be used forward-facing from 20-40 pounds. It has some of the lowest weight limits on the market.
|Great for Premature Babies|
|Easy to Install|
|Low Weight Restrictions|
Narrow Booster Car Seat
Parents love the Chicco KidFit Booster Car Seat! It’s a fantastic choice for a narrow booster seat for back seats. It’s small at the base and through the armrest area. It measures just under 17” wide at the base, so it’s one of the narrowest high-back boosters on or list.
At the shoulders, this booster seat does flare out to about 19” wide at its maximum width. If you have a rear-facing car seat or a backless booster seat, the KidFit would fit perfectly beside it or if you have a narrow forward-facing convertible car seat.
Here are some other excellent features of the Chicco KidFit.
- It includes the LATCH system and an upfront LATCH adjustment that is convenient.
- This booster seat supports kids from 30-110 pounds.
- The headrest heights have ten positions available, perfect for a growing child!
- The fabric is comfortable and plush that feels like excellent quality.
- This seat can recline to fit into different vehicles.
- It has a collapsible cup holder that makes it great for tight situations.
- You can convert it into a backless booster seat.
|Lightweight – 10lbs|
|10 Headrest Positions|
|Collapsible Cup Holders|
|Converts to a Backless Booster|
|Doesn’t Do A Great Job Holding the Seat Belt in Place|
No booster seat reviews are complete without adding the Graco TurboBooster. It’s one of the top picks by parents and most commonly reviewed. If you have the cup holders tucked into the seat, this booster seat measures 16.3” wide, so it is the narrowest high-back booster seat on this list. That means chances are you can fit this next to other car seats without any problem.
A few other features of the Graco TurboBooster include:
- It’s affordable, costing less than $40 typically.
- Graco added a removable and machine washable cover that makes it easy to keep this booster seat clean.
- The two cup holders can slide in and out to make more space, and the two armrests are removable as well. Removable armrests are great for traveling!
- You can use this for your kids from ages 4-10 years old, 40-100 pounds and up to 57” tall.
- Graco rigorously crashes tested this car seat to meet or exceed US safety standards.
|Sliding Cup Holders|
|Removable Washable Cover|
|No LATCH Components|
|Armrest Pads and Covers Aren’t Securely Attached|
You might not be familiar with Clek, but this is another European company that is known to making narrow car seats. When you receive the booster seat, it doesn’t look as thin as it is, but the Clek Oobr measures only 15.5” wide at its base. This width is perfect when you want to fit two car seats in a row.
Above the base, the armrests do stick out a bit more, so it measures 18″ wide total. If you do have three forward-facing car seats in the back, the measurement of the armrests might not be ideal. If you have a child in a backless booster or a rear-facing car seat, it should fit fine!
The Clek Oobr offers many features, so here are some to consider.
- It includes the LATCH system for holding the seat in place when unoccupied.
- Later, it converts from a high-back booster seat to a backless booster seat.
- When in high-back booster mode, it works from 33-100 pounds and up to 57” tall. In the backless booster mode, it supports children from 40-100 pounds and up to 57” tall.
- Clek added a reinforced frame, energy-absorbing foam, and a structural headrest with side impact protection.
- It has an adjustable recline that is easy to use.
- The seat fabric has the GreenGuard Certification, so it’s safe for your kids.
|Sturdy and Durable|
|Headrest Moves Independently, Leaving Gaps|