Mum 2 Mum: The ‘Do I Need It?’ and ‘But Who Do I Put Where?’ Edition

Today I have two questions that I hope you can help me with :)

Firstly, when Immy was a newborn we went straight with a carseat, no capsule carrier. I didn’t think it was necessary. I thought a combination of baby carrier and pram would do for most scenarios and it did. This time I am not so sure.  Wouldn’t a capsule be useful for the twice daily, two to three times weekly kindy drop off and pick ups? Times when I am unlikely to get the pram out and might want to minimally disturb a (hopefully) sleeping baby?  Any mamas of preschoolers and newborns able to shed light on how they managed this one???

Second question… Immy’s carseat has always been in the middle or too the left of the car (behind the passenger seat which, for non-Australian readers, is the footpath/non-traffic side in Australia). When the baby comes along who goes where??? Does the preschooler go on the traffic side of the car or the baby? Or is it best to have one in the middle and one to the left hand side? Who gets buckled in and out first? How do you manage?


What is Mum 2 Mum? Mum 2 Mum is a place where as online friends we can share a little of our own experiences, so why not pop in for a cuppa and join the conversation.

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  1. I had twins and a toddler but pretty much the same idea. I did use the seats you could carry with you (because well I had to lol) but if I had only had one and knew I would be doing pick up every day I would probably keep it around. Also invest in a good carrier for longer trips out of the car. Will be so much easier to chase toddler if you don’t have to push a pram! I would put the toddler on the other side, and baby towards the sidewalk. The toddler can always climb to your side!

  2. Kristal says:

    It is nice to have a carrier:). My daughter is almost 3 and was 27 months when I had her brother….so no school pickups but I’ll still put in my 2 cents on things:

    My routine with getting in and out of the car goes like this: I get the toddler into the car first and have her get herself into her seat while I put the baby in and buckle him or snap the carrier in. To get them out I usually undo the toddler’s buckles then close her door and go around to put her brother in the ergo(which I use most of the time) and then come back to let the toddler out. This seems to ensure everyone is safe and I feel in control;)

    As for where everyone sits, for the first 6 months or so, my toddler in her forward facing seat we had in the center and the baby was behind the passenger seat(right side here;). My toddler was having trouble in the car and we were hearing “I no like this part” every car ride:/. Moving her over has fixed the problem so now they’re both outboard. We liked having them next to each other as we had room for a passenger. You have to watch how the two seats fit or “puzzle” together to have them safely installed next to each other. We’re currently trying to pick a convertible seat for our now 8 month old who will soon outgrow his carrier and are finding that our daughter’s seat doesn’t like to play with other seats:/

    Good luck!!!!

  3. I was looking at the Britax ninja and that thing looks awesome!

    I liked my baby on the driver’s side of the car. When I had her on the other side it really ticked me off for some reason. She had to be on that side because my compact car would not fit the carseat properly unless the passenger seat was all the way up. So that’s my preference.

  4. Ahh the eternal question of car seats!!

    I would say go with a capsule pram combo (so the capsule clips into the pram frame) if you can afford one… We couldn’t justify it when Noey was born but wish we had because with kinder and school drop offs and pick ups the poor kid was forever being dragged in and out of his car seat!

    Both m boys also lived in a pouch sling as a tiny baby for quick trips like school… and then for longer trips my back pack (similar to an ergo) or a woven wrap on my front or back… nice to have hands free…

    As for where to put everyone in the car… we are limited by having to flip a seat forward to get access to the ‘back back’ of the bus so I have biggest boy on the road side (he can climb across and get himself in) and baby in the middle. Was fine when Noey was small but not so fun now that he is bigger and tries to take ever book or toy that Morgan has!

  5. AnecdotalAnna says:

    Ohhh bubba #2 must be so close now, excited for you. So to get to the nitty gritty of my experience with three kids who were all in various forms of car seats at once.
    I chose not to use a baby capsule at all, it did not appeal to me as the modern versions have the arm straps (as opposed to the older ones that had a velcro band around the waist) so there was no real difference there. The perceived benefit of not needing to disturb them when getting them out of the car wasn’t enough to tempt me. My kids just learnt to resettle themselves in the pram.
    When #2 was born the placement of car seats was the big question. Eventually I decided on rear-facing baby seat on the passenger side – easier to get bubba in and out being on the side, safer standing on the footpath side, my older child could enter the car first and walk over to her seat and wait whilst I strapped bubba in. I also found this position best as when travelling it was easier to touch, comfort, and see bubba whist stopped at traffic lights etc.
    When I had my third child the rear-facing seat went in the middle and the two older kids entertained the baby for me.
    Hope this helps a bit.

  6. Chrissy says:

    I have 16months between my boys so faced similar issues. With my first son he was rearward facing in the middle until 2 weeks before his brother arrived. When I had two, I had the eldest forward facing in a 5 point car seat behind the passenger and the newborn in the middle rearward facing in his car seat. Now that they are both forward facing, I have the eldest back in the middle and the youngest behind the passenger. My youngest son didn’t turn around forward facing until he was over 2 years old.

    My thoughts for the original allocation for 2 were:
    * the toddler needs to get off the road ASAP, so by putting them closest to the kerb, he can climb in himself and be safe.
    * the baby would either be in a sling or in the pram, not walking so can go in the seat last and I can reach over the toddler.
    * the passenger side and middle are the safest sides. When I had 2 forward facing seats and one wasn’t rated as safe as the other, I put the not as safely rated seat in the middle, as that is the safest position to be in the car.

    I hope that helps.

  7. I have a 4yr old at preschool and a 2yr old and a baby. I’ve used a baby bjorn for pick up and drop off. I also own an ergo but for a 10 min trip I prefer not to fuss around with all the buckles on the ergo.
    My preference is the carrier because it kept baby asleep when a newborn and I still had both hands free to manage the 2yr old and help the 4yr old with unpacking her bag/sunscreen etc. I’ve never like the capsule, it’s too heavy and I’d have to put it down once we were at preschool and with the all those kids around I don’t think I would have felt like the baby was safe.

    In terms of seating, we have baby behind driver. I get him in the bjorn and out first, then 4yr old in middle seat and 2yr old on passenger side then get out. Getting back in the car I get the older two to climb into their seats, then I shut the door walk around and put baby in and then I go back and buckle older kids in, get them drinks etc.

    This really works for me and I’ve found drop off/pick up surprisingly easy this year. Give yourself and extra 10-15mins so you don’t feel rushed.

    Good luck

  8. My eldest daughter started school when my 3rd child was only 4 weeks old (and there was a very busy 3 year old in between so for us the capsule was a godsend. I could “park” the sleeping baby in a corner of the classroom and settle my daughter or listen to reading. I also loved using a sling with baby number 3 because it gave me a hand to hold for each of the other two (wish I had discovered slings with the first 2 bubbas – I just love them!)
    We had eldest child in a booster on the less-safe/driver side, capsule in the middle (so they could both “share” the baby – and really handy if bubs was fussing) and toddler in car seat on the passenger side. We used child locks and I would open the sidewalk side door only and get them all out. I had a rule that the two bigger ones had to hold onto the car door until we were all ready (lucky to have quite compliant kids!) We did mix it up a bit when we changed cars because you kind of have to go with how the seats fit together and who can buckle/unbuckle themselves!

  9. DebbieH says:

    I found a travel system (capsule/stroller combo) to be absolutely FANTASTIC when Sarah was a newborn. I was able to get her in and out of the car with minimal disruption (remember, she was the baby who slept all through playgroup!) and it left me relatively free to deal with other things, to hold Rebekah’s hand etc. I did some research and found that I could buy the adapter for our existing stroller and then just hired the compatible capsule which was much cheaper than buying one.

    As far as seating arrangments go, we moved Rebekah to behind the driver’s seat and put Sarah behind the passenger seat. I always put Rebekah in the car first (often she climbs through from the passenger side) and she is usually able to get her seatbelt on while I am strapping Sarah into her seat. I then tighten Rebekah up before hopping in myself. I prefer to be standing out of the traffic while putting Sarah in, especially when she is having a “dummy spit” and arms are thrashing around!

    Not long to go now, so exciting!

  10. I, too, went without a capsule first time round but had the opportunity to use one the second time around. And it was awesome! I bought the matching pram which was fantastic. I didn’t need to worry about how heavy the capsule would be to carry on my own, nor did I have to worry about waking bubs up. My little girl slept so well in that thing, I would highly recommend for someone who’s on the go.

  11. Oh yes, and I always let my oldest (who is around Immy’s age) climb in the car through whatever door is easiest and she makes her way to her seat and gets ready for me to put the seatbelt in. In the meantime, I look after my youngest. I think it’s very important to at least get them in the car first, in a contained environment. That way I’m not worried about other cars in a car park, or where my other child is.
    And I’ve always sat my babies in the middle for safety and for ease of access :D

  12. I had a (rented) capsule for my second for that reason – drop offs and quick stops. I put him on the passenger side- so I was out of danger trying to wrangle (the older green/blue ones are very bulky) him out in the capsule. My daughter was behind the driver, and I would undo her buckle then shut the door – she would hop out the other side once the capsule was out and onto the safe side. they are still both in the same places and I almost always get her to climb across – especially when people park too close! I keep the middle seat spare (not much room anyway!) as they would fight and touch each other and for when I need to squeeze an extra seat in for cousins/friends. I rented the capsule – they grow so fast I couldn’t justify the cost of buying one – I already had a reversible seat for him to go straight into. If you can, go with the smaller and lighter capsules.
    All these little things to get organised !exciting !!

  13. Amanda Eastment says:

    All good questions Christie!! We are now questioning what to do with number 3 and spent last Saturday with a Hire For Baby person to try and fit (squish) three seats in our car.

    We also used the car seat that converted (no capsule for us) for the first two kids but this time to squeeze all three kids in, we’re going with a capsule. When Miss H(#2) arrived, it was the Baby Bjorn carrier that was a complete God-send. It changed my life! I plan to use it for the school runs each day with this bub. Your hands are free, the baby is easier to carry and like my friend mentioned today, they’re so much easier in the wet weather. You and the baby stay dry under the umbrella.

    As for where to place the baby in the car, I always like to be able to see the baby so they go behind the passenger seat. It’s also too tricky to fit the baby seat behind the driver’s seat cause we have to keep moving the seat forward and backwards, depending on who is driver.

    I am so happy that it’s nearly time for your baby to arrive. What a special time! Hope you are keeping well.
    Amanda xo

  14. I didn’t get a capsule for my second; I used to pop her straight into the baby sling (or baby bjorn when she was a bit older) and she used to resettle back to sleep straight away.

    As for car seat placement, I’ve tried all three combos and found baby on sidewalk side and child on road side the best. My older son had to climb across to his seat from his sister’s side if we were parked on the road and it gave me more time to get bub out of the sling and buckled up without worrying about cars zipping past.

    The child in the middle was fine (which is how we set up things up in hubby’s car) until Stephen grew out of the harness. Once he used the seatbelt and the booster (after 18kg for most seats), having a seat in the middle made it a nightmare to buckle the seat belt. We also found that he annoyed the baby more (giving her kisses and tickles etc!) compared with them being split up on either side.

  15. When my husband took our car to get carseat number 2 installed – our son was 2 then – the guy gave Dave some awesome advice !!

    He said – always put your toddler in first and get them out last – since they will be your unpredictable one. Then everyone should be safe!

    Best advice and now my baby is 17 months and son is nearly 4, we still follow that order. My son sits on the driver’s side and my toddler is on the passenger side.

  16. Lyndsey Martin says:

    I run a Hire for Baby branch and when customers come to me to get their seats and capsules installed I generally always recommend the bubba behind the passenger and the toddler in the middle only if not too touchy feely with babies or preferably behind the driver. When I had this configuration in my car I just let my toddler climb over the front passenger seat and he would sit in his seat until I buckled him in.
    Now that my bubba is the toddler and my then toddler is now at school I have switched so that my 5 yr old gets himself in on the footpath side and my toddler is carried around to the drivers side by me. Everyone’s safe and it’s easy for me this way.

    I used a capsule with baby number 3 firstly because I had easy access to one and secondly because I wanted an easier time with a kindy drop off and pick up 4 days per week. It was great because I didn’t have to disturb my newborn getting in and out of the car and when we did get to kindy I was able to be hands free and this allowed me to do more with my son.

  17. Jodie Van Der Zwan says:

    I didn’t have a capsule for my boy either, however if I have another bub I would definitely get a capsule. I think it will be especially handy for the school drop offs etc!!

    With the car seat positions – I would do baby in the middle and big girl on the left!!

  18. I’m 30 weeks pregnant with #2 and #1 will be 19 months old when her little sister arrives. I didn’t get the capsule the first time around for the same reasons you didn’t but I made sure I did this time! I have a Mountain Buggy pram (which I have an embarrassing amount of affection for) so I figured out which capsules were compatible with it and chose the Safe and Sound Unity (because you can buy a second base for it for the hubsters car and because its weight limit was bigger than the rest). The attachment for my pram to complete the travel system was only $50-60.

    I also highly recommend a baby carrier. The Hug-a-bub (or sleepy) were my favourites when my daughter was younger but I preferred the Baby Bjorn when she was older. Their weight is better distributed and you have 2 free hands! The Hug-a-bub can be a little time consuming to put on in the beginning but I would put it on me before I got in the car so I was ready to go as soon as we arrived at our destination.

    Hope this helps!

  19. I hired a baby capsule from my local council (in Melbourne) when my son was born. It was a pretty bare bones plastic kind of thing. I won’t do it again. He spent the first six months of his life screaming through every single car trip we took! It wasn’t until he outgrew it and we got a proper baby seat that he started to blissfully sleep in the car.

  20. Both great question and I guess there is no perfect answer. From my experience (2 boys 3 yrs and 1.5 yrs ) your second baby will adjust to family life whatever that is if they need to sleep thru getting in and our of the car they will. I used a sling for my second it was a mini monkey & it was great.
    As for who to get out first if you have a sling get that sorted first then free the toddler otherwise undo Immy them close her door and let her help you get baby out keeping her focused on you and then she can slip out the same door as bub.
    I did not put them together as I was worried about wandering hands so I kept them out of reach.
    So excited for you!!! Not long now……

  21. We used a capsule for all our bubs, it was so very helpful to not to have to wake baby every time we needed to get in and out of the car.

    When we had three car seats in a row, the capsule would go in the middle and the youngest child would sit behind me. That way I could usher them into the car, get baby sorted and I would know they were safely in the car.

    So exciting Christie!

  22. Lucy Moore says:

    I hired a capsule for first 8 mths, and the having big kids they were able move straight into a car seat that converts to a booster so my 5 yr old is tall and still using the same car seat she had at 7 months. I loved the capsule for newborn stage although babies hated it and both screamed themselves blue every car trip until they could sit forward facing. Once my youngest was 4 months I tended to always transfer from car straight to hug-a-bub or ergo carrier as the capsule is heavy to carry and you have to be confident older child stays close to you. Always had youngest on passenger side and older child behind driver, as I felt this was safer. Older child would climb in while you can stand on footpath and settle baby into car seat and you can also get baby settled in pram/sling prior to opening seatbelt to let older child climb across to passenger side to get out. Much safer in my opinion.
    Good luck with your decision and the change of pace to the crazy world of 2 children.

  23. Adriana says:

    I placed my infant in the carrier behind the drivers seat, we live in CA. My 6 six year old son was put on the opposite side…this was new for me because we lived in NYC till july of last year. It has worked out well so far….my only concern is getting the baby out on the traffic side on some busy streets…but i just wait till the road is clear….good luck…and you will do just fine….and if ya don’t don’t like your first arrangement…u can always change it….
    and by the way…thanks for all your posts…love ‘em!!!!!

  24. I also had two in car seats, here’s what worked for me: I used a detachable infant car seat (I believe that is what you are calling a capsule??) where the base stayed strapped in, but I could carry the baby in with me. It made it much easier to hold his hand, and I didn’t have to worry about dropping the baby if she wiggled or shifted. I found the capsule/car seat quite sturdy and safe. Yes, it was heavier than holding my daughter (at first) but I felt like she was more secure. It also left my arms open for a big hug when I left big brother at school.

    As far as what to put where and when, I put big brother’s seat on the traffic side – but let him in first on the baby’s side. That way I could fasten baby in and big brother wasn’t running loose anywhere. I also thought it was pretty dangerous to spend any amount of time on the street side, so I could either reach over baby to fasten brother in, or go to the street side very quickly just for a quick buckle up. I found this method very useful when he was throwing a tantrum or it was raining. Open one door, put an arm around brother hoisting him to stand on the floor while I quickly clicked the baby’s car seat into place – of course I got wet, because I didn’t have enough hands for the umbrella too!! When he was really upset and wanting to run, I was able to use my body to block him from getting back out of the car. Of course, the center of the car is always the safest spot, so try it first if you can.

    The bottom line is to try it one way, if it works, great, if not, try something else! The one thing I found whenever a new baby came is that sometimes things worked as planned and sometimes they didn’t. It’s just life with children!! As an ECE grad student I have just found your column and love it! Keep up the great work!! (and enjoy your babies – the time passes more quickly than you can ever, ever, ever realize)

  25. We used a capsule with each of our 3 kids. I loved that I didn’t have to disturb the sleeping baby every trip. Since number 2 we have had school drop off and pick ups and day care drop off and pick up and the capsule eas so handy. I could walk into school leaving baby in the capsule and undisturbed as well as protected from well meaning little friends! I could also put the baby down beside the car in the capsule while I made sure that the other children were safe in the car.

    The ambulance service in Queensland installed our car seats and capsules and suggested that the baby goes behind the passenger. When we only had 2 car seats we had them separated to ensure the toddler didn’t annoy the baby but with 3 in the car they are all beside each other.

  26. Just wanted to add my experience. My children are 5, 2 and 3 months. I did not have a capsule / carrier for # 1 & 2 but for number three I have hired a capsule from kidsafe. Best move ever as my five year old started kindergarten (which here is the first year of school – 5 days a week). I like the fact that the baby can and does stay asleep while I do school drop off / pick up. If she is awake I usually pop her into the sling. As for seating when I had two if I was at home I would let the big one hop into his seat while I put the little one into her seat then go round and clip him in. I had the baby behind the passenger seat and the older one Behind the drivers that way on the weekends dadda could drive ( the passenger seat had to be foward)

  27. I always put the toddler on the ‘footpath’ side…. they could run, whereas the baby couldn’t :)

    I did have an infant carry seat, and so would get out, get baby in seat, walk around, place seat on curb & get toddler out. To get back in, did it all in reverse… that way the mbile one was last out / first in.

    Once baby moved to the ‘fixed’ seat, I found that I couldn’t manouver baby in arms & get toddler (now preschooler) out, so it was preschooler out, then baby out, and again in revrse. My preschooler was 3.5 by then, so younger than Immy, and it was just a matter of teaching him that the cars would ‘squish’ him so he better stay close :)

  28. I have used capsule for both of my kids so that they could stay sleeping while putting them in and out of the car. I really found it useful and felt justified in buying a capsule, never regretted it. If I had no. 3 now with school pick up and drop offs, I’d say it was a necessity. Sleep is so important!!

    When no. 2 came along I put my toddler behind the passenger seat so he was getting out on the footpath side and the baby in the middle at first and then behind me. It was controversial amoungst my friends but I felt it was safest, as I got the capsule out as I got out and the toddler was on the footpath.

    Also, pretty irrelevant with both sides of the car being in use by my children, but the passenger side is most likely to be hit in a side on accident as we naturally turn away from an accident protecting the drivers side.

  29. Oh and I didn’t say, but having the capsule in the middle was not difficult, in fact it was nice to be able to use the spare seat and be inside the car while settling the capsule and tightening the seatbelt etc. Also my toddler could help out with popping in dummy etc because he was next to bub and he loved having his brother there to look at. Easy to bend over for a kiss too!

  30. I only have one child but I had the best carseat/stroller system when he was a baby. We had a Peg Perego bucket car seat (capsule) with a base in each car, and a Peg stroller with a removable seat and a standing platform for an older child. With the seat off, the frame folded up as small as an umbrella stroller, and the car seat clipped on incredibly easily. In a cold climate this was brilliant because I could get my baby into the seat indoors and Put warm layers over the harness (bulky clothing is not safe) and then move the whole kit and kaboodle, so babe was never exposed to the weather. I see lots of parents using similar systems with toddlers riding on the standing platform… It looks very convenient.

  31. When Ed was born Lil was 3 1/4. We used a capsule seat but got one that went up to 12kg (the Hipod Delta, same as Safe ‘n’ Sound Unity, I believe) so that we’d get our monies worth! He was in it until about 10 months and was still under the 12kg, just getting a bit long for it. I got it for the daycare pick-up drop-off reason you mention but to be honest I only carried him into daycare in it a few times. It was heavy to lug in so often easier to just put him in a carrier and once he was bigger I just carried him in my arms. It was only the first couple of months that he was asleep anyway and after that I timed pick-up around naps and he was awake. By the time he was ready to graduate to a normal car seat Lil was 4 and tall enough for a booster seat so Ed went into her old seat.

    As for where they sit: When it was just Lil she was on the passenger side of the car and we kept it that way and put the baby behind the driver. I thought it would be safer to have the walker getting in and out of the car on the footpath side. When he outgrew the capsule we swapped sides so now Lil is behind the driver in the booster. She can climb across into her seat easy enough without walking on the road.

    I remember agonising over these exact same questions when I was pregnant. You’ll work it out!

  32. We borrowed a capsule seat for our second baby and have been extremely happy with it. At kinder drop off it meant that I could give the eldest a big hug at leaving time without his sister interfering. The kids at kinder all wanted to see his ‘baby’ and would crowd around the capsule, I never had a problem with the other kids being too rough – they were just curious
    As for seat locations we left the choice up to the eldest – that way there was no jealousy problems. He is always in first but buckled up last

  33. Hi – we have a new baby (now 3 months) and and a younger toddler (was 18 months when bub was born – now 21 months). I bought a capsule because I didnt want to disturb bub when we were going to all of the toddlers activities. It was great to begin with then bub decided she hated car trips so all of our activities were reduced to local within walking distance to escape the screams!! However, when you have a young child who cant get in and out of the car without your help and is too young to trust standing next to the road without running off, its brilliant. Our toddler was behind the passenger seat and bub was behind the driver. I get the capsule out first and place it down on the footpath while i get my toddler out which is the safest way for now. I think the older one should be by the footpath because you wont be placing the baby down to walk independently for a while. Good luck!

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