For parents excited to meet their little one, a long list of baby-related products awaits. Expecting multiples is an entirely different story. Having twins means purchasing two of almost everything, from high chairs to baby carriers to cribs to car seats. That is no easy task!
More and more parents are encountering this challenge; in the last 30 years, the birth rate of twins spiked, accounting for 33 out of 1000 live births, especially prevalent among women with assisted preproduction techniques like in vitro fertilization (IVF). So dust off those notepads, and let’s embark on the journey of having not just one but two newborns in a few months.
Features To Look For
Checking car seat reviews and researching car safety is a must. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends avoiding secondhand car seats, as it poses higher risk for the integrity of the seat, even if the product was used by your closest friend or relative. It is best to take into account the height and weight limits of the infant car seat. Measuring the car’s back seat width also helps determine the correct dimensions your car seats should have before purchasing. If your car does not have individual captain chairs for each car seat, measure the bench middle row or back seat from door to door. Also be sure to measure the depth (from the back of the rear seat to the back of the front seat).
When choosing your child’s first seat, the best option is going convertible. Convertible car seats can be used not only when your child is born, but after he or she is no longer an infant. Many such seats have rear-facing weight limits of up to 45 lbs, after which they can turn around and face the front for children weighing up to 60, 70, or even 100 lbs. This is highly practical, given the expectation the two little ones will use their seat from birth to toddler years. No one wants to buy a new car seat every year or two; instead, be on the lookout for some of those “from birth to 100 lbs” car seats for twins that are bulky and more expensive. Choose an infant car seat that will both meet your babies’ needs and keep them safe and comfortable as they grow.
When it comes to tiny twins, it’s not only the upper weight limit we have to think about: the lower weight limit is important too. Most infant car seats today start at 4 lbs for their minimum weight rating. Although twins are often smaller than singletons, most hospitals require your baby to be at least 4 lbs before you can go home. You also need to be sure that your car seat harness is small enough for your baby. The baby’s shoulders need to be level with or above the harness slot that is in use. So for very little babies, you need a car seat with harness slots set low in the seat.
If you plan on using the twins’ car seats in conjunction with a double stroller, pay special attention to stroller compatibility or a car seat travel system when shopping. These options may be easier for both you and your two newborns.
Car Seat Test For Preemies
Premature babies, or those who have spent time in the NICU, have to pass a car seat test before they are allowed to travel home. This is to make sure that their bodies can cope in the car seat position for the length of the journey home.
When the time comes to do this test, the doctors and nurses will ask you to bring your car seat to the hospital. They will place your baby in the seat and monitor their heart rate, breathing, and other vital signs while they sit in the seat. The test usually takes 1-2 hours, or longer if your journey home will be longer.
If your baby passes the test, it means they are safe to sit in the car seat for the journey home. If the doctor is worried that your baby is not ready to sit in the car seat for that long, they may recommend your baby stay in the hospital longer, or that you transport them home using a car bed.
Installing two separate car seats inside your vehicle can be troublesome. Here are a few tips to help you get settled in no time:
- Install the car seats in the “outboard” positions, near the windows. When both seats are installed in a rear-facing position, the widest points will touch if they are installed too close to each other. Very few cars can accommodate rear-facing seats next to each other in the window seat and middle seat positions, so save yourself the trial-and-error!
- If you need to accommodate an older child alongside your twins, it is usually easiest for the forward-facing seat or booster seat to be allocated the middle space, between the twins.
Best Car Seats for Twins Today
Evenflo LiteMax 35
The Evenflo LiteMax car seat can be used for babies weighing from 4-35 lbs and 17-32 inches tall. It is a lightweight car seat option for your preemies. A great feature is its easy-to-carry handle, especially since parents and caregivers will be transporting two of these most of the time. The integrated lock-off system helps ensure the infants are secured properly in the installed car seat. The Evenflo seats also come with removable car seat pillows for the twins’ head and body so there is no need to worry about their snug fit and comfort. It has a full coverage canopy for added convenience when spending time outdoors, and 4 harness-position options for accommodating the growing twins. At just under 100 dollars, this seat is a low-budget option without compromising the safety of your little ones.
Graco SnugRide SnugLock Elite 35
The SnugLock feature for Graco car seats for twins allows easy installation with a self-tightening, 3-step system. When installing, you can use either the seatbelt or the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system. Although the Snugride is a bit bulkier than most seats for twins, we like the Simply Safe Adjust Harness System which securely adjusts the headrest and harness together.
The Simply Safe system is also side-impact tested for occupant retention. An exceptional detail is the Graco SnugRide one-hand handle adjustment, which is really helpful when dealing with twins during travel. The Rapid Remove feature also lets parents and caregivers enjoy cleanup with quick and easy machine washable covers. The rotating canopy provides plenty of shade and sun protection, and the reclining base offers a more cozy rest—both additional plus points for these great car seats.
Uppababy MESA Infant Car Seat
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave a five-star rating to this infant car seat. One of the most luxurious infant car seats on the market, its sleek design, extendable canopy, and high-quality, machine washable Merino fabric make cleanup easy. It is easy to get this car seat safely and comfortably adjusted for your babies, no matter how small. The harness is adjusted without fiddly rethreading, and there are 5 harness height positions and two buckle options to choose from. The MESA’s adjustable base makes installation as smooth as possible, making use of LATCH connectors and featuring a tension indicator for peace of mind. One of the best car seats for smaller vehicles, the Uppababy MESA also boasts naturally flame-resistant car seats that pass federal flammability standards without the use of retardants.
Britax B-Safe 35
This car seat is compatible with other excellent Britax products, especially Britax’s travel system, which is a great choice for parents who need to buy baby products in multiples. It is easy to install and has a recliner indication that lets parents and caregivers determine the best car seat position in the vehicle. The SafeCell Impact Protection feature with its impact-absorbing base and high-quality steel frame assures parents and caregivers of the Britax seat’s unparalleled protection. Another fantastic component is the ClickTight securing system. Simply lift the panel under the seat, buckle the vehicle belt along the seat belt path, and click the panel back down for a secure fit along with the option of using the latch belts. Its sturdiness and durability coupled with the easy-to-clean car seat covers and padding make the Britax B-Safe an excellent option for parents of twins.
Chicco KeyFit 30
The Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat is recommended by medical professionals because it fits small babies very well, which is perfect for growing families. Often, twin babies weigh slightly less than average newborns and are born before their due dates. In light of this, a car seat designed for smaller and lighter babies is an ideal fit for parents who are still deciding which car seats to purchase. An added bonus is the reasonable price, which accommodates a lower budget without sacrificing car seat safety—a practical plus given you will need to buy two of these car seats. It is highly rated for meeting and even exceeding crash protocols by Consumer Reports. The Chicco Keyfit is also one of the easiest seats to install because of its LATCH feature and is compatible with almost every twin stroller on the market. Additionally, this rear-facing car seat is helpful for families with smaller vehicles due to its compact and narrow shape.
Our Final Thoughts
There really is a lot to note when selecting the perfect car seat for you and your twin babies. It’s even harder to figure out how you might fit two car seats into one vehicle, or how parents and caregivers will manage carrying two car seats at once. However, the most important aspect is that the car seat will help keep your twins safe without your needing to struggle with certain features before, during, and after travel.
It is also critical that you and your partner make your big decision by the time you are 30 weeks pregnant at the latest. Twins don’t always wait for full-term before making an appearance, so the last thing you need is the hassle of buying or installing car seats while you’re going into labor.
Doing your research before purchasing your car seat is a crucial step. After careful consideration, then you can decide what would work best for you, your other children, and your car, as well as your two new bundles of joy!