If you have been doing any research for a baby seat for your kid, you must have run into research asserting that rear facing is the best position for your child when traveling. According to the AAP car seat safety guidelines, you need to keep your child in the rear facing convertible car seat until they are aged at least two years. BMJ (British Medical Journal) even went as far as advocating the use of extended rear facing car seats until the child was four years old.
In fact most states in the US, the UK, and Canada have rear facing car seat laws on the same.
While nobody plans to get into a car accident, accidents fo happen even if you are the most careful of drivers.
The most common yet most dangerous car crash you could get involved in are frontal crashes. What makes these collisions so dangerous is the fact that they usually take place at higher speeds.
If you are involved in a frontal collision, physics dictates that all passengers and objects in the vehicle will continue moving forward at the same speed until they are held back by either the harness or seat belt. If they are not wearing a seat belt or harness, they will be stopped by hitting the front of the car or the object in front of them.
While seat belts and harnesses are always recommended for safety, they cause a lot of strain on the parts of the body such as limbs and heads that are held back when the vehicle comes to a sudden stop.
Given that babies bodies are still developing such stress may result in severe or even fatal injuries to internal organs, spine and neck particularly if they are strapped in the front facing position. That is why you need to use a rear facing baby seat as it ensures that there is minimal strain on the baby's body given that the child will not be thrown forward in the instance of a crash.
Our Favorite Rear Facing Car Seats
Why Rear Facing Car Seats are Safer
- Ensure the safety of the child by reducing the movement of the head, which significantly reduces the risk of spine and neck injuries
- Prevent the child from banging into objects and surfaces in the car such as the windows and car doors
- Prevent the child from being hit by collision debris such as glass and other parts of the vehicle, as they are encased in a protective shell
- Distribute the pressure exerted by the car seat and its restraints during collision to the back which is the strongest part of the baby's body.
Rear Facing Car Seat Laws Regulations and Recommendations
In the recent past, car seat safety and issues to do with regulations have been hitting the headlines. According to recommendations by government bodies such as the NHTSA, children need to use a convertible car seat or booster until they are age 12 or until they are 4ft 5 inches.
One of the most important things to check for when buying a car seat for your kid is to make sure that the child seat is appropriate to their age group. One of the best ways if ensuring this is buying an all-in-one car seat. You then have to make certain that the car seat is a good fit for your car model or type since some models may be a bad fit, either not installing snugly, leaving very little legroom or only allowing one seat in the car.
You also have to decide what safety systems to go for whether it be Familfix or Isofix. These standards are what are known by different names such as LATCH in the US or CanFix in Canada. The advantage of such systems is that they make for quick and secure installation of the car seat. All you have to do is plug the car seat base into the car and then click and you are done. I always recommend that you go for car seats that have LATCH as these are usually safer.
Do your homework particularly with regard to crash test results and safety features of the car seat before you buy. If you are going to be making long journeys, it would be important to look at the comfort levels and aspects such as safety in side, frontal and back impact.
Rear Facing Convertible Car Seat Installation
Extended Rear Facing Convertible Car Seat Reviews
One of the top car seats if you just want to buy just one car seat and forget all about convertible car seats.
It has all the features of an infant car seat, a convertible car seat and booster seat meaning you can use it from infancy until the child is up to 12 years old without any issues making it one of the best extended rear facing options available.
Also comes at an affordable price as compared to the other car seats of similar quality and utility.
- Wide weight at height limit means it can take children from infancy to early childhood
- A top rated extended rear facing car seat that can be used in both rear facing as a toddler and infant car seat and forward facing as a booster
- One of the best convertible car seats for rear facing as it has a 6 position adjustable headrest offers better comfort and safety for your kid
- Comes with premium push on LATCH connectors for ease of installation
- It does not take up a lot of space when installed in the rear facing mode
- The Graco rear facing car seat is a good fit for average sized newborns
- May not be a good fit for preemies or tiny sized infants
- Not very well padded as compared to other seats in its class
- May be quite bulky and heavy particularly if you are a parent of small build
Britax convertible car seats are consistently among the top rated convertible car seats.
These new brand of advocate clicktight car seats are so tall there is no way I would see a child outgrowing it in either the rear or front facing positions
While the Britax Boulevard clicktight is quite pricey, apart from the Graco there is nothing that could beat it in terms of safety and quality
- The Britax car seat comes with an energy absorbing versa tether that reduces risk of injury to child's head in frontal collisions
- Secureguard safety feature ensures the overactive toddler does not slip out of position
- Has a connector that you can clip onto the door for better side impact protection
- This Britax rear facing car seat fits even the tiniest or biggest of newborns incredibly well
- Is not too wide and hence does not take up too much time, making ti suitable for even small cars
- A bit clunky and may be problematic especially if you frequently change the seat from car to car
- Designed mostly for seat belt installations and hence if you like LATCH this may not be the car seat for you
Similar to the Clek Fllo, the Clek Foonf 2016 is one of the safest rear facing convertible car seats you can buy.
They have some of the most advanced safety features in addition to having wide weight limits in the rear facing modes
While, they are not as tall as the Graco or the Britax meaning your child will likely outgrow it fast, they are not a bad extended rear facing option
- Comes with advanced side impact protection and adjustable headrests and energy absorbent layers for utmost safety and comfort
- Has industry standard steel anti rebound for enhanced protection during collisions
- The easy LATCH system makes installation a breeze for any parent that frequently changes over car seats
- Eco-friendly Greenguard technology protects the seat and your child from moisture, stains and bacteria.
- Weigh limits for the clek are too low at only 25 pounds meaning the child will have to go forward facing sooner
- Not so comfortable for very young infants or small babies unless you buy the child insert
- Quite pricey as compared to similar seats
While the Maxi cosi recommends that in rear facing you do not go above 40 inches, I have found that it is quite tall and can take a child taller than that.
The kicker with the Maxi cosi and Pria cosi models though is that they have some of the best padding of any car seat you could ever buy
They also come in premium fabrics and a beautiful design and colors to choose from
- Very easy to install and uninstall the car seat as it has very low sides
- A lot of padding and the premium fabrics make for utmost comfort for your baby
- Advanced air cushion system means your child is well protected in the instance of a side impact collision
- Small size means you can use it in small cars as it will leave a lot of legroom for you and your passengers
- This rear facing toddler car seat comes at a modest price given its features
- You can only use it with your newborn if you purchase the Tinyfit insert
- At only 40 inches the rear facing limit can be quite limiting, though in practical terms the seat is tall enough to go past that recommendation
One of the cheapest rear facing convertible car seats you could find on the market.
For the price, it has some very good features and capabilities, making it a very good option if you are short on cash
Nonetheless there is a reason why its other name is sure-ride Titan. The car seat has a very good safety record and is one of the most comfortable of seats for your kid to ride in.
- Its SureLATCH system is one of the easiest to install making it very convenient if you tend to move seats a lot
- The padding on the car seat is easily removable and also machine washable keeping the seat clean for your kid
- Very high weight and height limits and will have your kids in rear facing to up to 3-4 years
- You can use LATCH for kids up to 50 pounds in the front facing mode
- It is lightweight and fits infants really well without requiring a child insert
- With such deep sides, getting the child in and out of the seat is a bit cumbersome
- Takes up quite a lot of room particularly if you have a small car
- It may be cumbersome to lug around particularly in airports due to its huge size
Of the five convertible car seats above, the Graco Smartseat all-in-one car seat gets my nod as the best rear facing convertible car seat. It provides utmost safety and comfort for your child and can be used by your kid from infancy until their early teen years making it one of the premier extended rear facing car seats you could ever buy.
It offers ease of installation, can be used as a forward and rear facing car seat and does not take up too much space in your car.
For all of its features, the price is also quite affordable.
Frequently Asked Questions About Rear Facing Car Seats
I thought I should turn my kid to rear facing at a year 20 months?
That recommendation was made in 2002, since 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you keep your child in a rear facing child seat until they are at least two years old or until they attain the maximum weight and height limits of their car seat.
When is my child too big for rear facing mode?
The best indicator of when a child is too big for a convertible car seat is to look at the car seat manual for the height and weight limits for the given car seat. With most convertible car seats, you can have the child in rear facing mode for up to 40 or even 50 pounds. With regard to height, as long as the child's head is more than an inch below the top of the car seat, you can keep them in the seat.
My kids legs are touching the back of the car seat?
It is perfectly safe for the child's kid to be pulled up or to touch the back of the car seat. Children at this age have very flexible joints and will not find it uncomfortable to have to bend their legs at the knees when riding in rear facing mode. I am certain you have found your child sleeping in an uncomfortable position on the couch or with their head on their chest with no problem at all, the same applies with their legs.
What if I have a small car?
If you have a small car it should be no problem at all. Rear facing has been shown to work even with small luxury cars such as Porsches. Nonetheless if you have a small car such as a coupe or sedan check out car seats for small cars here that will fit perfectly in your car.
Arent rear facing car seats too expensive?
Rear facing car seats do not have to be expensive, there are many car seats that will be perfect in rear facing such as the Evebflo Tribute LX, the Graco My Ride 65 LX, and the Cosco Scenera that you can find online at pocket friendly prices yet keep your child safe in rear facing mode.
My child is already two years old but has not attained the height and weight limits of their car seat, should I keep them in rear facing?
It is always advisable to keep the child i the rear facing car seat as long as possible. If the child is to years old and has not attained the maximum height and weight limits of their car seat, you need to keep them in the rear facing mode until they attain the height and weight limits as set out in the car seat manual.
What do I do if my child has exceeded the height and weight limits of the car seat and they are not yet two?
If the child has exceeded the height and weight limits of their current car seats, you need to move them to a convertible car seat with a higher weight and height limit. However, if you can, you should buy an all in one or 3 in 1 car seat such as the safety 1st Grow and Go, the Evenflo Symphony DLX, or the Graco 4 Ever All in One which you can use in rear and forward facing up to until the child is a toddler.
What if my child hates to ride in rear facing?
Children hate a lot of things and will throw a tantrum for even the most mundane things such as the color of their cereal bowl. Just because they make a scene does not mean that they hate rear facing, maybe they just hate being restrained and just have to get used to it. However, you can make it easier for the kid by talking to them from time to time to assure them of your presence. For toddlers that may find it boring ensure that you install their car seat such that they can look outside the car window and you should have no problems.