Choosing the best seat for a young child to use in the car can be a huge challenge. There is so much choice on the market, with each seat having different features and specifications. Here, we attempt to answer some common questions parents have when looking for the ideal seat, followed by recommendations of some of the best rear-facing for longer seats for toddlers.
Why Extended Rear Facing?
Whilst babies can begin facing forwards in the car from when they weigh 22 pounds, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should be facing backwards in the car until at least 2 years of age. It’s even better if children can stay rearwards until they reach the maximum height or weight limit of their seat. This is because young children’s heads are much larger in proportion to the rest of their bodies than adult’s are. Therefore, if there is a collision, young children who are traveling forwards-facing are much more likely to suffer very severe head and neck injuries.
What is a Convertible Car Seat?
A convertible seat is one which can be used rearward facing from birth, then later turned to face forwards for older children. Many convertible seats allow for longer rear facing, in some cases until the child weighs 50 pounds. Some convertible seats can also be used as a booster for children who no longer need to use a 5 point harness. However, it is recommended that children use the 5 point harness of their seat rather than the car’s safety belt for as long as possible. Many of the seats here allow the harness to be used until the child weighs 65 pounds.
What Should I Look for When Choosing a Carseat?
It’s crucial to ensure that the seat has been extensively safety tested and meets current standards. You should also look for a seat which allows the child to rear-face for as long as possible. You might also wish to look for a seat which can be used as a booster, to ensure maximum value for money. Some parents look for features such as easy installation, which is particularly useful if the seat will be used in more than one car. You should ensure your child is within the height and weight limit of the seat. If they are too small, you’ll need to look at infant car seats instead.
The Reviews: Best Extended Rear Facing Toddler Car Seats
In this section, you will find reviews of some of the best seats on the market. We’ve included different styles, from those suitable for children up to the age of 2 years old, to fully convertible seats which can be used until your child no longer needs a booster seat. We’ve also chosen seats which are safety tested to the highest standards, and those which come with parent-friendly features, to give you peace of mind when traveling and make life a little bit easier.
Graco Contender 65
This Graco convertible car seat is suitable for children weighing up to 65 pounds, and can be used facing the back of the car from 5-40 pounds. It can be turned forward-facing from 22 pounds, or if your child gets too tall to comfortably sit facing the back of the car before reaching 40 pounds. The headrest has 8 different positions, making this the perfect seat to keep growing toddlers comfortable and safe. The harness automatically adjusted when the headrest is re-positioned, making it easy to ensure a perfect fit every time. The seat is easy to install, and is compatible with the LATCH system or can be fitted using the car safety belt too.
The rearward facing toddler seat features a conveniently-positioned cup holder, so kids can always have their drink within reach when traveling. The seat comes with a removable head and body support for newborns and young babies. The Graco 65 has been safety tested to meet or exceed current regulations. It has also been side-impact tested, and features energy-absorbing foam, so you can rest assured your child will be safe and comfortable when traveling in this seat.
- Facing rearwards: 5-40 pounds
- Front-facing: 22-65 pounds
- Maximum height: 49 inches
- Item weight: 15.2 pounds
- Item dimensions: 27 x 20.8 x 26 inches
Safety 1st 3-in-1 Convertible Seat
This safety seat can be used in three different ways, making it an excellent choice for parents looking for great value for money. It can be used facing rearwards until 40 pounds, forward facing with the 5-point harness until 65 pounds, and also used as a belt-positioning booster from 40-100 pounds. The seat offers 3 different recline positions, to keep toddlers comfortable whether they are napping or awake.
Parents will love the harness holders on this rearward facing car seat – they keep the straps out of the way when lifting the child into the seat, meaning they don’t get tangled or twisted. The harness adjusts at the same time as the headrest, meaning it will always be in the correct position. The seat also features two cup holders for convenience. This seat’s high upper weight limit means it could be the only one you will need from birth right until your child is old enough and tall enough not to need a booster anymore -it’s a great investment!
- Facing rear: 5-40 pounds
- Facing front: 22-100 pounds
- Item weight: 18.7 pounds
- Item dimensions: 24.5 x 19.2 x 24.2 inches
This adjustable safety seat makes it easy to stay rearward facing from birth to 2 years old, as recommended by the American Association of Pediatrics. It comes with a base, which adjusts to a different position as your child grows, providing them with more legroom. Changing the position of the base for older babies also allows them to safely sit more upright, enabling them to look out the window and see what’s going on! The safety seat is also compatible with selected Chicco strollers, making it perfect for forming a travel system. The seat comes with a canopy which is ideal for shading baby from the sun, either in the car or when using as a travel system.
The seat can be converted between the infant and toddler positions using one simple motion. The base features bubble levels, to ensure the seat is sitting at the correct angle in the car. The base is easily fitted using the LATCH system, and can be tightened and pulled with one hand. The seat pad is easy to remove and is also machine-washable, which is ideal for young babies who often like to snack in the car!
- Weight limit: 4-35 pounds
- Maximum height: 35 inches
- Item weight: 20.5 pounds
- Item dimensions: 28 x 17 x 16 inches
Rear and forward facing car seats like these are great for those who want their toddler to be rearward facing for longer. This one can be adjusted to provide an extra 5 inches of legroom – ideal for fast-growing kids! Children can ride backwards until they reach 50 pounds, which is one of the highest weight limits on a rear facing child seat. The seat comes with a handy harness holder, to make lifting the child into and out of the seat easier.
The reclining seat has 6 different positions, making it as comfortable for sleeping newborns as it is for preschoolers. The headrest can be raised or lowered into one of 10 different positions, meaning this seat is perfect for growing kids. The seat can be fitted using the LATCH system in a matter of seconds, and it features an easy to read level indicator, meaning parents can quickly check that the seat is in the right position.
- Rear weight limit: 4-50 pounds
- Front-facing: 22-65 pounds
- Maximum height: 49 inches (45 inches for facing rear)
- Item weight: 23.5 pounds
- Item dimensions: 22.1 x 19.2 x 25.2 inches
Graco Milestone All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
This rear and forward facing car seat is the only seat you will ever need from birth until your child no longer needs to use a booster seat. The seat is very easy to install – it features Graco’s InRight Latch system, which allows for one second installation, and provides an audible click so parents can easily tell if the seat is correctly installed. The seat features plush inserts to make it comfortable for young babies, which are easily removed as the child grows.
The 3 in 1 car seat has a removable, washable seat cover, which is perfect for messy babies and toddlers! When the Graco Milestone is used as a forward facing car seat, the harness can be used by children weighing up to 65 pounds to provide maximum safety. It can also be used without the harness from 30-100 pounds, as a belt-positioning booster.
- Rear weight limit: 5-40 pounds
- Front-facing: 20-100 pounds
- Maximum height: 57 inches
- Item weight: 20 pounds
- Item dimensions: 21 x 17.5 x 21 inches
Our Choice: Best Extended Rear Facing Toddler Car Seats
We have looked at many different seats which offer the possibility of longer rear facing for toddlers. The Graco Extend2Fit is one of our favorites, as it can be used in the rearwards position for much longer than many other seats – until your child weighs 50 pounds. The seat ensures even larger toddlers will remain comfortable, as there is the chance to extend the legroom by 5 inches, making it the perfect choice for growing children.