How We Arrange Carseats In Our Van

posted by Andrea | 06/28/2019

A few years ago, I shared a post about how we organized the inside of our van — all the various compartments, the massive trunk space, the space under the Stow ‘n Go seats, etc. etc.

I still basically use the same organizational methods today — with a few tweaks after adding another child and rearranging the carseats. 

And speaking of “rearranging the carseats”, I have gotten SO many questions over the years, asking how we rearrange the carseats in our van as we add more children and as our children get older…

So THAT’S what I’m sharing more about today! 

When we first got our van in January of 2016, Nora (age 4) and Simon (22 months) sat in 5-point harness carseats in the back, while James (7 months) was in an infant carseat in the passenger side bucket seat. 

I loved this set-up as it allowed us to “stow” the driver’s side bucket seat to allow for a HUGE amount of space inside the van — which was SO nice with 3 very young children that required us climbing into the back to buckle both Nora and Simon into their seats. 

Eventually, Nora switched to a booster seat and could buckle herself in… but the extra-large area to move around inside the van was one of the reason Stow ‘n’ Go seating was a must-have for us with this van purchase. 

We used that extra floor space to change many diapers on-the-go, to change into (or out of) swim suits at the pool or beach, to feed babies, and as a massive amount of extra storage space for road trips and vacations (or just when I buy a bunch of flowers!)

When we found out we were expecting Clara, we knew our days of extra space in the van were over.

We rearranged the carseats yet again, and moved Simon into a high-back booster so both he and Nora could buckle themselves in the back. Clara was in an infant carseat in the passenger-side bucket seat and James was still in the same carseat in the driver’s-side bucket seat. 

Clara eventually switched to a rear-facing carseat (still on the passenger side).

This arrangement has worked well for us over the past (almost) 2 years — but mainly because both Nora and Simon can buckle themselves into the back. 

It would be fairly tricky for an adult to get to the back to buckle them in… so I’m glad we don’t have to do that! 

Believe it or not, one of the (many) factors that played a part in Dave and my decision not to have any more children is the fact that we wouldn’t be able to fit another carseat in our van! I know that might sound crazy, but we really like our van and we didn’t want to buy a bigger vehicle to accommodate more children. 

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Eventually, once Nora turns 8 and no longer needs to be in a booster, we will switch her and James around (and transition James to a booster).

Then the 2 boys will be in boosters in the back, Clara still stay right where she is, and Nora can sit in the driver’s-side bucket seat with no booster –meaning we have the option to “stow” that seat again when Nora isn’t with us.

Nora could also squeeze between the boys’ booster seats in the back if we wanted to keep the one bucket seat permanently stowed — but that would only work for short drives as it’s definitely not super comfortable for longer trips. 

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It’s crazy to think that in less than 3 years, we’ll be FINISHED with carseats and only have 2 booster seats to work around!

Oh the freedom!

RELATED POSTS: 

Our New-To-Us Minivan

How We Buy and Sell Vehicles on Craigslist

How I Organize Our Van

How We Keep our Vehicles Neat and Clean

PRODUCTS WE LOVE: 

Britax Marathon Convertible Carseat (we have 2 and have used them for all 4 of our toddlers)

The cup holders that attach to the Britax carseat

Trunki Tavel Neck Pillows (these are AWESOME for ages 2-6. They are getting small for Nora though)

Over-the door shoe organizers for the trunk

Back Seat Organizer (it’s actually a “cooler” but it’s just the right size to organize Nora and Simon’s stuff they like to keep in the car — and it fits perfectly between their 2 booster seats)

I’m currently a huge advocate for minivans — something I never thought I’d admit to! 

If you’re in the market for a new-to-you vehicle to accommodate a growing family (or just something to easily cart a lot of gear around) I would highly recommend looking for a used minivan with lower miles! 

We have been very satisfied with our van and all the many different ways we have been able to arrange and rearrange carseats to best fit our needs. I have a feeling that as our children grow out of carseats, the van will continue to “grow” with our needs! 

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15 comments

  1. Jamie

    07/18/2019

    It is wonderful when they start being tall enough (my state is 4’9″ so my almost 9 yr old is still in a booster) to ride without a seat/booster. My 14 and 10 yr old are out of them and my 14 frequently sits in the passenger seat when my husband isn’t with us. So much more room!

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    Jamie Reply:

    I also said I would never drive a minivan. When my first 3 months old, we bought one. He is now 14 and we have had the same van the whole time. 🙂

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  2. Tonya

    07/09/2019

    I said I would NEVER drive a minivan. We have 1 child. When we went looking for an SUV, I was shocked at the prices. We got our Town & Country limited, 1 year old, loaded with all options available, except a sun roof & the Blu-ray player (we have a DVD player) for half the price of an older less options, higher mileage SUV.I love my van now that I drive it everyday and we have made many long road trips from WI to FL & AZ in it.

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — I always THOUGH I wanted an SUV too. However, then I had to ride in my cousin’s SUV all the way to Florida and it was SO uncomfortable unless you were sitting in the passenger seat. Our minivan is much more comfortable, easier to get around, smaller to drive, and (much) cheaper!

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  3. Alicia

    07/04/2019

    We bought our van with stow and go seats around the same time you did, and I honestly never thought of using the under stow and go area for storage! Duh!! I clearly majorly missed something . I had to go back to re read your van organization post to see how you did it, and oh my goodness what a difference that would have made! We have since sold our van to save money, and I miss it SO much! Especially with baby #5 on the way! We are looking into a suburban for our next purchase for more space, even though I loved my van!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Oh sad that you sold your van 🙁
    Seriously though, the storage under the seats is fantastic!

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  4. Rachel

    06/28/2019

    Even though it says your child can be out of a booster at the age of 8 it is better to actually wait for them to reach the height requirement of 4 ft 9 in. (This is for Michigan) My children were shorter and did not get out of boosters until before 5th grade. You always want to make sure the seat belt hits in the correct place.

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  5. Cath King

    06/28/2019

    What minivan do you have?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    it’s a Chrysler Town & Country

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  6. JJ

    06/28/2019

    Thank you for putting the links in!!! Love how you organize!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    no problem! You’re welcome!

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  7. Annaleah

    06/28/2019

    Just wanted to comment for anyone who DID want to be able to fit 5 car/booster seats in a minivan! 😉 There are lots of ways to make that work! We had a Mazda MPV (one if the smallest minivans!), and had five kids 6 & under, so they were all in something! We made it work by using two booster seats (the Bubble Bum, a super small booster), in the back for our two oldest, with a forward facing car seat in between. Then the youngest two, who were rear facing, were in the two middle seats. It was a bit tight at times, for sure, but we still managed to go camping, take road trips, etc., even with every seat full! It is definitely possible to make it work with a little creativity! We now have six children, so we did have to upgrade to a bigger van, but we have sooo many fond memories of our minivan days! 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    good to know! you are inspiration for big families with small vehicles!!
    Thanks for sharing!

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  8. Debby

    06/28/2019

    I love my minivan. I have had my Sienna for over 11 years. In fact my children are now 23 and 21. I am usually the only person in it these days but I love the options I have with hauling in it. If a group of friends want to head out to dinner then three couples can ride together. I still call it my swagger wagon and her name is the Grey Goddess. She is in fabulous shape and I don’t intend on getting rid of it any time soon. Have a beautiful summer.

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    Andrea Reply:

    my grandma still drives a minivan and she’s pushing 90!
    Growing up, my family had a grey raised-roof conversion van and all my friends called it the “grey whale”!

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