Keep Your Child Safe with The Best Extended Rear Facing Car Seat

Extended rear facing seems like a new trend that parents are jumping onto, but it’s more than just a fad. Keeping your child rear facing for as long as possible is one of the most important things you can do as a parent to keep your child safe. That means you have to buy one of the best extended rear-facing car seats to keep your baby as safe as possible.

Each year, thousands of children are injured or killed in car accidents. Practicing proper use of car seats significantly lowers your child’s risk of injury. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants and toddlers ride in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat manufacturer.

Brand Item Weight Dimensions(inches) Rear-facing MAX Load Price
Britax Boulevard ClickTight 24 Pounds 23 x 18.5 x 23.5 40 Pounds $$
Graco Extend2Fit 23.8 Pounds 22.1 x 19.2 x 25.2 50 Pounds $
Chicco NextFit 25.1 Pounds 20.5 x 19 x 26 40 Pounds $$
Diono Radian 27.7 Pounds 16 x 17 x 28.5 45 Pounds $$$
Diono Rainier 29.8 Pounds 16 x 18 x 28.5 50 Pounds $$$
Graco Size4Me 65 19.3 Pounds 18.5 x 22 x 23.4 40 Pounds $
Clek Foonf 38 Pounds 17.5 x 16.9 x 28 50 Pounds $$$
Graco 4Ever All-in-One 23 Pounds 20 x 21.5 x 24 40 Pounds $$
Evenflo Sureride 13.65 Pounds 19.5 x 19.5 x 30 N/A $
Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 21 Pounds 22.8 x 21.2 x 29.5 40 Pounds $$

The Newest Recommendations by the Experts

Before we dive into rear-facing car seats, let’s take a look at what the experts state. Before, the AAP said to rear face until your child is 2 years old. That’s an improvement because most states legally allow parents to forward face their child when they turn one year old, which is a dangerous choice.

Now, the AAP has updated their policies. Now, there is no age milestone.

Fortunately, car seat manufacturers have created seats that allow children to remain rear-facing until they weight 40 pounds or more, which means most children can remain rear-facing past their second birthday… It’s best to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. This is still the safest way for children to ride.” – Benjamin Hoffman, MD, FAAP

Before, the AAP recommended to rear face until age 2 based on a study that found lower risks of injury among children ages 1 to 2 years who were rear-facing. However, the AAP decided to update its recommendation because car seats are great at protecting children. Car seats are the main reason why the injuries and deaths in children have decreased, but data has yet to show the safest age to forward face.

What are the Benefits of Extended Rear Facing?

Did you know that children up to 23 months are 75 percent less likely to die or suffer serious injuries in a rear-facing car seat than a forward facing one?

That’s a scary, yet true, statistic that should make parents stop and consider their choice to rear face their baby.

When your child rides in a rear-facing seat, it spreads the crash force evenly across the back of the seat and your child’s body. It helps to limit the movement of his head, reducing the risk of neck injury and keeps the child contained in the car seat.

Two Types of Car Seats for Extended Rear Facing

In order to keep your child rear facing for as long as possible, you need one of two seats: a convertible car seat and a 3-in-1 seat that can be used rear-facing. Parents can’t use the infant seats, sometimes called bucket seats, for extended rear facing. They only rear face, but their weight limits are lower than the other two types.

Convertible Car Seats – Used Rear Facing

This type of car seat can be used rear and forward facing, which is why it’s called a convertible car seat. Most babies upgrade from an infant seat to a convertible seat. You can rear face your child until he outgrows either the weight limit or length limit. You can use this seat for years with your child.

Some other things to know about convertible car seats include:

  • They’re bulkier than infant seats and don’t have carrying handles. You keep the seat in the car.
  • Many have higher rear-facing weight limits, around 40 to 50 pounds, as well as taller height limits. They’re meant for bigger babies and toddlers.
  • The seats have a five-point harness that attaches at the shoulders, hips, and between the legs.

3-in-1 Car Seats – Used Rear Facing

These seats are versatile because you can use them rear facing, but also forward facing and as a booster. Most have longer expiration dates so you only need this one seat for your baby’s entire childhood. That makes it a great bargain.

  • You can use these seats rear facing, forward facing, and as a belt-positioning booster. It can be used the longest as your child grows.
  • They are larger in size, so you have to make sure it’ll fit in your car.

The Best Extended Rear Facing Car Seats

1

Best Overall – Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat for Rear Facing

Britax Boulevard ClickTight Car SeatWe love Britax Boulevard because of its super high height limit. There is no way a child will outgrow the car seat by height before reaching 40 lbs for the rear-facing weight maximum. The seat has a 5 to 40 lb rear-facing weight limit and a forward-facing weight limit of 20 to 65lbs. The height limit is 49” tall.

The ClickTight installation system helps parents ensure their car seat is installed correctly. It takes three steps to install the car seat. It can’t get easier than that! Plus, the SafeCell Impact Protection includes a steel frame, an energy-absorbing base, and impact-absorbing tethers with staged-release stitches to reduce forward motion. Wow!

We love the no-rethread harness system – no one actually likes to rethread harnesses! The Click & Safe Snug Harness Indicator lets you know if your child’s harness is within the range of proper tightness. It offers 14 height positions and a base with seven reclining positions. Parents can opt to purchase the anti-rebound bar. The Britax ClickTight is a great choice for parents and babies!

PROS:
  • Very easy to install using the seatbelt
  • Energy-absorbing features built-in
  • Not too bulky
  • Fits a newborn baby well
  • Made in the USA
CONS:
  • Heavy
  • Not very LATCH-friendly
  • Crotch strap seems to small.

2

Most Leg Room –  Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat

Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car SeatGraco’s new addition to their line is the Extend2Fit which features a unique leg rest extension that gives your child extra legroom for an older rear-facing child. Parents no longer have to worry about their child lacking leg room or hurting their legs in the event of a car crash.

The Extend2Fit is tall and has a 50 lb weight limit for rear-facing positions. It makes wanting to ERF much easier! The height limit is 1” below the plastic adjuster at the top of the headrest. You don’t have to rethread the harness, which features 10 height positions. It has six reclining positions on the base and the leg rest extension has four positions as well.

We don’t expect anything less than awesome from Graco. Whether it’s the plush, machine washable seat pad or the Safe Adjust Harness System, Graco added all of the features that parents want to see in a car seat for their babies. Parents also love the one-second LATCH system with its easy-to-read level indicator that makes installation so easy. The Extend2Fit is a great option!

PROS:
  • Best legroom for older kids
  • LATCH can be used rear-facing up to 45 lbs
  • Doesn’t take up much space
  • Not too heavy to carry
CONS:
  • No lock offs for seat belt installation
  • Takes up space when leg rest is extended
  • Hard to tighten

3

Super Comfortable – Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat

Chicco NextFit Convertible Car SeatWe love that the Chicco NextFit is a well-padded seat that’s comfortable for your baby. It offers a 5 to 40 lb rear-facing weight limit and a forward-facing weight limit of 20 to 65 lbs, with a 49” tall height limit.

The SuperCinch LATCH system makes installation quite easy, as well as lock offs for seat belt installation. It also has a no-rethread harness with nine height positions, and the base has nine reclining positions. The chest clip has two positions.

Chicco added even more awesome features to the NextFit. We love the Dual RideRight that has a bubble level-indicator and that the harness strap position widens with the headrest adjustments to grow with your child. When you do finally turn your child forward-facing, the integrated LATCH strap slide path makes converting from rear to forward facing so easy.

PROS:
  • Easy to install with LATCH
  • Lock Offs for seat belt installation.
  • Well-padded
  • Great for newborns
CONS:
  • Bulky and heavy
  • Can’t use SuperCinch with LATCH once child is more than 35 lbs.

4

Great for Tall Kids – Diono Radian RXT Convertible Car Seat

Diono Radian RXT All-in-One Convertible Car SeatThe Diono Radian RXT and R120 have rear-facing weight limits of 45 lbs. Their height limit is 44” tall, so chances are your child will outgrow it by height before weight. Diono is one of the most popular brands of car seats for extended rear-facing, especially for families with three or more kids. The Radian is one of the few car seats that can fit three across in a row!

The Radian has five sets of harness slots and a 12-position, adjustable headrest. Diono uses a steel frame for extra protection and durability. One unique feature is that the Diono folds flat for travel or storage, which is so handy! Parents can purchase an optional angle adjuster that allows the seat to be installed more upright for older kids who have proper neck and head control.

The SuperLATCH system makes installation easy and secure. You’ll hear a click and see the visual indicator that lets you know the connectors are locked together. Overall, we feel confident that the Radian will keep your child safe for years!

PROS:
  • Rebound management using RF tethers
  • Low sides for easy loading in and out.
  • 12-positions for head support
  • Made with a steel alloy frame
CONS:
  • Heavy
  • Takes up a lot of room front to back
  • LATCH rear-facing limit is 35 lbs

5

Higher Weight Limit: Diono Rainier All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

Diono Rainier Convertible Car SeatAnother choice by Diono is the Rainier. It’s a convertible model that adds depth for increased side-impact protection. Best of all, the Rainier has a 50 lb rear-facing weight limit, but it doesn’t change the height limit, which is 44” tall. We had to include the Rainier because it’s one of the car seats with a 50 lb rear-facing limit. This seat is great for kids who are heavier rather than tall.

Just like the Radian, the Rainier has five sets of harness slots, 12-position adjustable headrest, and a steel frame for protection and durability. It allows RF tethering, and it also folds flat for travel or storage.You can also purchase the optional angle adjuster to install the seat more upright.

We love the Diono SuperLatch system that makes installation easy and secure because you hear a click and see a visual indicator that lets you know the connectors are locked. Overall, we love that the Rainier has all of the features we love from Diono with a higher weight limit.

PROS:
  • Rebound management features
  • Low sides for easy loading
  • Higher rear-facing weight limit
  • Easy to install with LATCH
CONS:
  • Heavy
  • LATCH limit is 35 lbs
  • No lockoff for seat belt installation
  • Hard to install in some cars

6

Easy to Install and Use – Graco Size4Me 65 Rear Facing Car Seat

Graco Size4Me 65 Convertible Car SeatThe Size4Me 65 is one of the most popular convertible car seats on the market with a 40lb rear-facing weight limit and 49” height limit. This Graco seat isn’t too expensive either, so it’s a contender for those who don’t want to spend a fortune.

Parents love the no-rethread harness with eight height positions, and the RapidRemove Cover. Let’s talk about that! You don’t have to worry about spills anymore. For easy cleaning, Graco added a quick remove, machine-washable seat cover that comes off without uninstalling the seat. How awesome is that!

Graco used the Simply Safe Adjust Harness System that lets you adjust the height of the harness and headrest in one motion. Easy peasy. It has three reclining positions and eight height positions altogether. Also, the InRight LATCH system makes attachment super simple.

Graco made ERF even easier and on a budget with the Size4Me. It has all of the nice features that you want to see without breaking the bank.

PROS:
  • Can uses LATCH to rear face up to 40 lbs
  • Doesn’t take up too much space
  • Easy to remove the cover for cleaning
  • Easy to install with LATCH
CONS:
  • No lock offs for seat belt installation
  • The buckles tend to get twisted easily.

7

Luxury Car Seat Clek Foonf Convertible Car Seat

Clek Foonf Rigid Latch Car SeatClek makes high-quality car seats that are known for their safety features and high rear-facing weight limits. It has a 50 lb weight limit for rear-facing and a 43” height limit. Chances are your child will outgrow it by height before he reaches that weight. It’s a great choice for parents who want to ERF, especially if your child is more heavy than tall.

Clek Foonf has five sets of harness slots and a structural headrest. It also has an anti-rebound bar. Clek added lock offs for seat belt installation. One unique feature of the Foonf – besides its name – is their patented REACT safety system. It stands for Rigid-LATCH Energy-Absorbing Crumple Technology. It reduces the forces transmitted to the child during an accident.

The Foonf is like a tank – seriously. It has a complete metal substructure, dual layers of energy-absorbing foam and even more safety features than other car seats

PROS:
  • Extra safety features
  • Rebound management using ARB
  • High rear-facing weight limit
CONS:
  • Super heavy
  • Expensive
  • LATCH rear-facing limit is 25 lbs

8

Best 3-in-1 Car Seat – Graco 4Ever All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

Graco 4Ever Convertible Car SeatThe Graco 4Ever and the Graco Milestone are both 3-in-1 style of car seats. It offers rear-facing, forward facing, and booster seat modes. You can use it to rear face from 4 to 40 lbs with a height limit of 49” or less.

The 4Ever will last you for years. We love the no-rethread harness with 10 height positions. The 4Ever base offers six recline positions. It can be used as a booster seat when the harness is outgrown. The Simply Safe Adjust Harness System adjusts the height of the harness and headrest in one motion, so you know that your child is always safely secured.

Graco added the exclusive InRight LATCH attachment that makes it easy to attach with an audible click that lets you know it was installed correctly. It makes installation super easy. The 4Ever will keep your baby safe. Its side impact tested with EPS, energy-absorbing foam for energy management, as well as a steel-reinforced frame that provides strength and durability for years to come.

PROS:
  • Lasts until your child doesn’t need a car seat
  • LATCH rear-facing limit is 40 lbs
  • Doesn’t take much room behind the seat
CONS:
  • Heavy and bulky
  • No lock offs for seat belt installation

9

Budget-Friendly Choice – Evenflo Sureride Convertible Car Seat

Evenflo SureRide Car SeatFor parents on a budget, Evenflo Sureride offers an extended rear-facing car seat for less than $150. The only major qualm we have with it is that it has a rear-facing height limit of 40”, which is quite conservative because there are still several inches above that. However, for the price point, it has a rear-facing weight limit of 40 lbs, so it’ll get most kids to their third birthday, at least.

There are six harness slots and energy-absorbing EPS foam. We love that Evenflo is dedicated to our children’s safety. Their car seats are tested 2X the Federal Crash Test Standard! We like the buckle pockets that put those annoying buckle tongues away. The car seat features an easily adjusted 5-point harness, so your child can easily get in and out. The seat cover and body pillows are machine-washable!

 

PROS:
  • Lightweight
  • Budget-friendly
  • Can use LATCH up to 50 lbs
  • Made in the USA
CONS:
  • No lock offs for seat belt installation
  • 40” height limit for rear-facing
  • The large gap between harness slots 3 and 4

10

Extra Crash Protection – Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 Convertible Car Seat

Maxi-Cosi Pria Car SeatThe Maxi-Cosi has a 40 lb rear-facing weight limit and a 40” height limit, which is quite conservative in our minds. There is plenty of growing room above the child’s head, so it seems as if they could’ve made it higher. However, the Pria 70, as well as the Pria 85, offer nice seats with a lot of padding to keep your child safe. Even with a lower height limit, it should work until your child is three to four years old.

The Pria 70 has a no-rethread harness with nine height positions and deep head wings with Air Protect technology. Air Protect helps to absorb energy in the event of a car crash. The FlexTech uses multi-directional crash energy management to provide as much safety as possible, along with some awesome seat padding!

We can’t help but love the self-wicking fabric that deodorizes and draws liquids away from the skin. That keeps your baby dry and comfortable all the time! Plus, the Perfect Fit one-hand harness and headrest adjustment creates a customized, secure fit super easily!

PROS:
  • Low sides for convenient loading and unloading
  • Nice padding
  • LATCH can be used up to 40 lbs while rear-facing
CONS:
  • No lock offs for seat belt installation
  • Not suitable for most newborns
  • 40” standing height limit for rear-facing

How to Pick the Best Extended Rear Facing Car Seat

So, now that you’ve seen our top picks for the car seats that will rear face the longest, you have to make a choice yourself. Here are the features that you should look for in a car seat.

  • Weight Limits for LATCH: You can install with either lower anchors or a seat belt. Remember that there are lower anchor weight limits, so at some point, you will need to install the car seat with a seatbelt in order to continue using the car seat to its maximum rear-facing capacity.

Ultimately, LATCH and seat belts are both safe. It’s all about getting the best install. However, some parents do prefer LATCH, especially if it gets the safest install in their vehicle. So, if that’s you, look for a car seat that offers higher LATCH weight limits.

  • Seat Belt Lock Offs: If you prefer to use a seatbelt installation, seat belt lock offs are important. Nicely designed seats have these locks that keep the belt from moving or loosening. They offer the best installation in your vehicle.
  • Leg Room: We know that your child won’t be uncomfortable if they lack leg room, but it is a concern for some parents. Consider the leg room each car seat offers.
  • Weight Limit: All of these car seats offer weight limits between 40 and 50 lbs, which should last for three to four years for most kids. There are always exceptions! Each child is different, so pick a car seat that has a weight limit that matches your child’s growth pattern. The same goes for height limit! If your child is super tall, you may want to pick a car seat based on its height limit rather than weight limit.
  • User-Friendly: Do you want a car seat that takes hours of reading to understand how to install? Probably not! Look for car seats that have easy installation. We also love car seats that are no-rethreading because rethreading harnesses is a huge pain in the butt that you should want to avoid at all costs. It’s never fun.

Tips for Proper Car Seat Installation

Always read the vehicle owner’s manual AND the car seat manual. To make sure you install the car seat properly, follow these tips!

  • The harness must be in the slots that are at or below your child’s shoulders. Always make sure the harness is snug, and you shouldn’t be able to pinch any slack when testing the straps. Make sure the harness clip is placed at the center of your child’s chest, even with his armpits.
  • Install the seat tightly with either the LATCH system or a locked seat belt. Remember that neither the LATCH or seat belt is safer. The safest method to install a car seat is however you get the best, snuggest fit. The seat shouldn’t move more than an inch side to side or front to back. If it does, it’s not tight enough.
  • Do NOT place a rear-facing seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has an active front passenger airbag. In the event of an accident, the airbag will deploy, hitting the back of the car seat, potentially causing major injury.
  • Make sure that car seat is at the correct angle to avoid your child’s head flopping forward. The instructions will tell you that right angle and how to adjust if necessary. All rear-facing seats come with angle-indicators that are built-in the seat.

My Baby’s Feet Touch the Back of the Vehicle Seat - Is That Safe?

One common misconception is that, if your baby’s feet touch the back of the vehicle seat, your child isn’t safe. Some people think that means your baby’s legs will break in an accident.

This misconception is false. It may be a common concern, but it shouldn’t cause any worries. Children can bend their legs easily, and sitting rear-facing is quite comfortable. Injuries to legs are rare in rear-facing children. However, a broken leg is much better than the alternative.

Children are more flexible than adults – you probably know that as a parent! Their bones and joints aren’t fully developed yet, so, while a position may seem uncomfortable to us, it’s fine for kids. Have you ever watched a baby suck his toes? You probably can’t do that either comfortably!

Can My Child Wear a Winter Jacket in the Car Seat?

The short answer is NO. Bulky clothing, such as snowsuits and winter coats, can compress during a vehicle crash and cause the straps to be too loose to restrain your child. It increases the risk of injury.

Instead, it’s best to dress your child in thin layers and then wrap a coat or blanket around your baby over the harnessed straps.

The Bottom Line

We know that rear-facing significantly decreases the risk of injury or death during car accidents, so parents must purchase car seats that allow them to rear face for three to four years. These 9 car seats will do so, which keeps your baby safe. Nothing is more important than that!

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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