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In preparation for our first child in December my wife and I purchased a latch equipped car seat and after reading the various threads here I decided to install it in the middle position of the 2nd row using the 2 inboard latch anchors ( as discussed in many posts ).
The set up seems perfect. We have a new Evenflo Portabout 5 (I think). It has a handle that pivots and locks towards the front seats at about a 45 degree angle for it's car position. This works fine in the middle but in either door side position it is nearly impossible to fit as it hits the front seats. That in addition to the added safety of having it in the middle seemed like a no brainer.

Well the wife wasn't totally confident that I knew what I was doing (shocking I know) and she'd heard the reports that most people don't have their car seats installed properly, so she made an appointment for us to take the car to a local dealer that was doing free car seat inspections.

They said everything was fine with how I had installed it EXCEPT for how I had it in the middle seat. The expert said the latest recommendations pretty much regardless of vehicle and seat manufacturers are that you should not try to use the inboard anchors of the outer seats. The span is such that it might not hold as well as it's designed too.

So they had us move it to the right side which required the passenger seat be moved up almost fully forward and upright where my wife's knees now touch the glove compartment!

All this being said.... we have decided that their recommendation is ridiculous and we're moving the seat back to the middle position like I had it originally. It seems quite secure and I think the pros far outway the cons.

Has anyone else heard that you should not use the middle seat set up?

Just thought I'd pass this along and would be curious if anyone has had any similar experience or thoughts!
 

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Then use the seat belt for the middle seat. There is always someone saying something is wrong with something we are doing, be it eating , driving, working out, etc,etc. If you feel confident, I mean really confident do it.

I have my child in 2nd row behind me, with a latch belt and as well as the latch behind the seat. very secure. I feel it still offers safety as well as leaving room for my wife to sit back there with our daughter when she is cranky.
 

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As discussed in another thread, whether or not you can use the inner LATCH points to secure a seat in the middle varies with the car seat, and the manufacturer.

Did the "expert" point to specific recommendations from specific sources? It sounds rather generic to apply to all manufacturers or vehicles!

I would start first by calling Evenflo and asking. I know that someone had called Britax asking about a particular seat (not an infant seat, though), and was told that so long as the span between the inner anchors wasn't more than 21" it was okay.

Please also note that Evenflo often recommends against the middle seating position for some/all of their rear-facing car seats. I think they are afraid of the center armrest coming down, which doesn't seem to make sense to me in some vehicles (e.g. often the infant seat on its base is so high that its lip will secure the center armrest). The middle position is otherwise obviously the safest for a single child in the second row.

At some point, it's a parent's call. However, as mentioned in the post above, securing it carefully with a belt can be as secure as a LATCH installation.
 

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infant carseat -placement

OK - we have our new 2003 MDX.
I placed our infant seat in the 2nd row - behind the drive side. Why? - maybe same or different with 01 or 02 models - don't know.

my thoughts & reasonings: placement = 2nd row behind driver

1) => 2003 model has the LATCH system placed on the 2 end seats @ 2nd row.
- can't use the one on the passenger side because if we need to use 3rd row then access is hindered.
- No LATCH in middle seat = reason: I think because in case of an accident the infant carseat can be thrushed forward between the driver & passenger - if the belt(s) and/or LATCH system fails.

2) => easier access to the child - getting "pop-out" seat to carry to place inside stroller = all-in one system like the one we have Peg-Perego.

3) => BAD reasons to place next to window
- shattered glass
- projection outward
- current MDX models do not have full curtain protection for back rows

certainly, we'll do all & what we can to protect our children...Best of all is drive safely.
 

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FWIW, here are my own, personal views based on what I've read, discussed on boards like parentsplace.com, have picked up from a couple of car seat classes taught by CPS techs, and a couple of installation events.

Usual disclaimers apply. It is amazing how various certified techs can disagree on car seats and installation. Firemen and policemen often have differing views as well. Ultimately it's up to the parent / guardian to decide what is best. Please always check your car seat instructions and those that come with the vehicle.

Best position for a single car seat -- center of the middle row.

Pros:

- Position best protected from side impacts. Intrusion simply is much less likely that far into the vehicle.

- Often permits a proper recline angle (some rear-facing car seats won't go behind the driver's or passenger's seat without pushing them too far forward for the front occupants, thus compromising front comfort, or, even worse, proper recline position for the baby).

- Should the front seatback(s) collapse in a severe accident, they won't hit the car seat head-on (though there will be some impact, but hopefully just on the sides of the seat.

Cons:

- May impede access to the third row.

- More difficult loading/unloading of the car seat.

- In some vehicles, the center armrest may pose a hazard in a collision. (Consult your car seat and vehicle manufacturers. The high lips of most base-installed car seats prevents this from being a problem.)

- May not be able to use LATCH anchors.

Second best position for a single car seat -- passenger outboard side of the middle row.

Pros:

- Easier loading/unloading of the car seat.

- Easiest to see/access while driving.

- Loading/unloading is usually safer because it's done more times on the curb side.

- If the vehicle often doesn't have a front passenger, the front passenger seat can be moved forward to permit more room for the infant seat.

- If the front seatback(s) collapse in an accident, the chance of the front passenger side seat collapsing is still lower since it's often unoccupied and thus there is less weight there.

- Some statistics show a slightly lower incidence of side impacts on the right.

- Can use LATCH anchors.

Cons:

- Totally impedes access to the third row.

- Seat is still more vulnerable to side impacts on the passenger side.

- The front passenger seatback can still collapse on the car seat in an accident.

- May need to move front seat uncomfortably forward, or worse yet, compromise the recline angle of the seat.

Third best position for a single car seat -- behind the driver's seat in the middle row.

Pros:

- Permits access to the third row.

- Easy loading and unloading of the child.

- Can use LATCH anchors.

Cons:

- Seat is vulnerable to side impacts on the driver's side.

- Hardest middle-row position to observe and access the child while driving (e.g. sometimes you do need to check when you're safely stopped).

- If the front seatback(s) collapse in an accident, it'll likely be the driver's seat directly onto the child seat.

- Depending on the car seat and the stature of the driver, the front driver's seat may need to be pushed uncomfortably forward, or, worse, the recline angle of the car seat compromised.

Other comments ...

Frankly, the reason that there isn't LATCH in the middle isn't to protect against a seat going between the driver's and passenger's seat. In fact, it might be better for the seat to recoil back slightly in that gap (with some bumping, the opening is not that wide). Better than slamming the back of the seat (with the baby's head) to the back of the driver's or front passenger's seat. I've seen some pretty detailed high-speed photography of crash tests with car seats, and it's scary how much recoil there is even with the seat very tightly secured.

One less practical way to get additional safety is to strap the infant seat itself in, not just the base that stays in the vehicle. It lowers the amount of recoil, and Consumer Reports has demonstrated that seats directly buckled in are safer than seats attached to the base. However, it's often too difficult for parents to insert and remove an infant so few people do this. We certainly did not.

Also, there have been some incidents where the seat wasn't properly attached to the base. Sometimes due to improper attachment by the parent/guardian, but worse yet, sometimes because of a seat system defect. E.g. Peg Perego suffered a recall in some of its 2001 car seats because a manufacturing error made it possible for the seat and the base to separate. I think that Graco has suffered a similar recall, but am not sure.

Peg Perego recall:

http://www.dot.gov/affairs/nhtsa4001.htm

Ah, here's the Graco recall. It affected almost a million infant seats!

http://www.safetyalerts.com/recall/a/02/v00108.htm
 

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Your pros and cons have the ring of common sense - which I like. We are expecting our first baby in May and have already started buying stuff. Has anyone here successfully installed a Graco SnugRide into the middle of the 2nd row using the outboard LATCH? If so did the person doing the install (policeman, fireman, shop's installation personnel etc) think it was a good idea?
 

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Just another thought here.... I'm in the process of purchasing a new booster seat for my son, since he's 2 and outgrowing his regular car seat. I'm interested in a LATCH seat, since I thought they were much safer. Actually, LATCH seats aren't any safer than car seats correctly installed with seat belts. All the LATCH system does is help people in correctly installing their car seats and getting a tight fit. If you really want to put the car seat in the middle seat, you can and safely with the belt, it just needs to be properly installed. Most car seats aren't properly installed and secured with the seat belt, which is where most problems arrise, the LATCH system makes the installation process very simple. Here is a quote from the NHTSA on the reason for the LATCH system, mainly simplification.

The NHTSA believes that the full effectiveness of child restraint systems is not being realized due to different car seat designs and features that affect the compatibility of child restraints with vehicle seating and seat belt systems. In order to simplify the installation process, an innovative anchorage and tether system known as Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, or LATCH, has been developed. Beginning September 1, 2002, all new car seats and vehicles will be equipped with this new system, and that means big changes for both car seat and automobile manufacturers. This article will help you get up to speed on this important new development in car seat safety.
 

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I'll probably be buying a Graco Snugride LX5 before we have our new baby in April, but since my 2001 MDX does not have LATCH we'll just go with a belt install. Our other car has LATCH so we'll buy an extra base for it.

I agree that a properly-installed seat using belts is as safe as a properly-installed system using LATCH. LATCH is simply there to help improve the odds of a proper installation. It also provides greater convenience as there is no ratcheting of the belt, no threading through the seat, etc. But it is not fundamentally safer than using belts.

Since I feel the middle position is the safest, and I trust my installation skills (and have gotten them checked by CPS techs), I would rather put a child seat in the middle with belts than use a child seat outboard with LATCH.

In my own case, this will be our second child so we'll have to do one seat outboard. There is enough room in the MDX to keep one seat in the middle, but I'm worried about the two-year-old chucking his sippy cup or toys onto the baby!

pelucidor, congratulations on the upcoming first! There is no other experience close to it!

Here are some additional articles.

http://www.parentsplace.com/babies/safety/articles/0,10335,166400_532822,00.html

It is important to note that child safety seats without LATCH continue to offer children excellent protection provided that they are properly used and installed. These child safety seats can continue to be installed using the vehicle's seat belt system, even in LATCH- equipped vehicles.
List of installation experts that have elected to be listed on the NHTSA's database:

http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/childps/Contacts/index.cfm

The National Safe Kids foundation often holds car seat checkup events; you can look here for ones in your state:

http://www.safekids.org/

Good FAQ:

http://pages.ivillage.com/carseatfaq/

Here is an excellent resource for finding out what seats people have installed in Xyz vehicle and the result. It's non-profit and I encourage folks to contribute their experiences with their MDX's and other vehicles.

http://www.carseatdata.org/
 

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jelbnl said:
Just another thought here.... I'm in the process of purchasing a new booster seat for my son, since he's 2 and outgrowing his regular car seat.
Lots of good choices for you in both belt-positioning boosters and 5-point seats.

My son is getting near the limit of his Britax Roundabout in the MDX. I'm being conservative and will try to keep him in a five-point harness (though there is controversy about whether that provides any additional benefits than a belt-positioning booster).

I've purchased a Britax Marathon, which goes up to 65 lbs -- but most kids will outgrow it in height well before they outgrow it in weight. I have it in our other car and haven't tried it on the MDX yet, but it's a terrific seat with excellent design. I'm amazed at the improvements over our 2-year-old Roundabout.

I have also purchased a Britax Husky, which is just a mammoth seat that will go to a whopping 80 lbs. Haven't tried that in the MDX -- yet, because for now the Roundabout still fits and the other car has the Marathon. He'll use the Husky when he outgrows the Roundabout. Eventually I may buy a second Husky when the new baby outgrows the infant seat and we need to put the Roundabout and Marathon rear-facing in both cars.

As far as infant seats go, I would really, really like to get the Britax Companion. But Britax has this terrible habit of announcing a seat for the U.S. market but then not actually shipping it for years. So that won't be an option. Too bad as that seat would be awesome for those with infants:

http://www.childseat.org/products.cfm?action=ShowProduct&pro_id=442A55A9-762C-4FF7-B91712D6207CB09D
 

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wmquan - thanks for your reply, DS is also outgrowing his Roundabout and I was looking at the Marathon. I discounted the Husky, since it's not approved for aircraft use, and we fly usually twice a year for vacations. I actually bought the Cosco Eddie Bauer Booster seat, and it really wasn't as good of quality as I've gotten used to with the Britax seats. Oh well, I guess I'll look closely at the Marathon now!!!
 

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jelbnl -- While I think the Marathon has a great seat and has a lot of the features the Roundabout is famous for, it does have a few negatives.

Pros:

1) EPS foam (same as bicycle helmets) behind the child's head, like in the Roundabout (Husky does not have any EPS foam, just comfort foam).

2) Has the new HUGS harness thingies that Britax claims reduces neck and shoulder injuries in accidents.

3) Harness tightening is done through the front (and my old Roundabout had the push-the-button, pull-the-strap simultaneously approach; my new Marathon has the pull-the-strap-upwards, then push down on the "flipper" to lock it tight, much easier!).

4) Goes up to 65 lbs and a somewhat taller child than a Roundabout, but can still be used rear-facing.

5) Locking clips are very effective for belted installation.

6) LATCH design is very good for both rear and forward-facing installations.

7) Britax has a strong history of providing high levels of safety. The shell seems very well-constructed.

Cons:

1) Because it's taller than a Roundabout, it may be a tougher fit rear-facing in some vehicles.

2) While the seat is bigger, most kids will outgrow it in height before they outgrow it in weight. The top shoulder slot is not way higher than the Roundabout.

3) The crotch strap depth (distance between the seatback and where the crotch strap comes out of on the bottom) is actually an inch less than on the Roundabout. This could be a comfort issue for husky male toddlers.

4) Adjusting the harness height still requires rethreading. The upcoming Britax Wizard (one of these centuries!) will add an infinite height adjustment knob, like the Advantage did for the Roundabout.

Other differences from my two-year-old Roundabout, that may be in newer Roundabouts --

- No more awkward puzzle buckle.

- Belt locking clip is much beefier, no more simple lengthwise lever. Rather, it uses a big clip at the end to snap the yawing clip closed.
 

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Yes, that's a very interesting feature the XC90 has. Volvo's parent has duplicated it in the Ford Expedition.

Volvo, Saab, and some minivan makers have gone further by offering integrated booster seats. Flip down an inner cushion and it's a booster. Supposedly these are safer than any third-party booster because it's well-integrated. Unfortunately they sometimes compromise seat comfort for those not using boosters, because of the inner seat cushion design.
 

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Honda's comment on middle LATCH

The front seat belts are equipped with pretensioners and load limiters. The rear doors include child-safety locks, and all passenger belts employ switchable-locking retractors for installing child-safety seats. There are LATCH universal anchors in the second row’s outboard seats, and Honda’s Paluch said a LATCH-compatible seat with tethered as opposed to rigid attachments may be usable between the inner anchors in the center position. There are top-tether anchors for each second- and third-row position — at the base of the second-row backrests and along the lip just in front of the liftgate for third-row use.

I found this assuring:

Link to discussion of LATCH carseat in middle seat of Honda Pilot.
 

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Yes, for the Pilot the manufacturer says it's okay; someone can confirm with Acura that the same goes for the MDX but it's highly likely.

That all said, one should also consult the manufacturer of their seat. E.g. on the Honda Pilot forum on Edmunds, a woman contacted Britax and was told that it was okay to use the inner anchors of the pair so long as the distance between them was no more than a certain number of inches. Unfortunately, an owner measured the distance and found it to be an inch to an inch and a half too much. Either meaning that the LATCH "belts" wouldn't go far enough for that model, or Britax didn't think it was safe.

That's why I think one should contact both the seat manufacturer as well as the vehicle manufacturer.
 

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Not sure if this helps but, I checked out the Graco website and found the following:
Can I use LATCH in the center position of my vehicle seat?

LATCH is defined as anchorages 280mm (11.02 inches) on center. As a manufacturer, we do not recommend using the LATCH system in the center position if it exceeds this length. If you have further questions regarding LATCH usage, please contact NHTSA at 1-888-327-4236 or www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
We currently have a Graco infant seat (w/LATCH) behind the passenger's seat with a booster for the 5-year-old behind the driver. I've considered putting the infant seat in the middle position but, not sure that I trust the 5-year-old to keep his hands off the baby. :)
 
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