Remember when we used to turn babies around in their car seats once they hit their first birthdays? It was a milestone, much like their first bite of sugary cake. Now, the American Association of Pediatrics suggests we
keep our toddlers rear-facing for as long as possible, until they reach the maximum weight and height limit outlined by their car seat manufacturer.
This position is actually
the safest way to drive with your baby. “The rear-facing position provides the best protection for toddlers and infants for their spine, neck, and head during a collision,” Dr. Preeti Parikh, M.D., a board-certified pediatrician and executive medical director at GoodRx, tells Romper. That means a lot of us are on the lookout for the perfect seat our kid will tolerate.
“The good news is manufacturers have come out with more options for rear-facing car seats,” notes Parikh. “There are three main options: rear-facing only,
convertible, and all-in-one. The key is to read the manufacturers’ guidelines, follow their instructions, and do your research on what would be best for you,” she explains. If you have specific questions or need help with installation, Parikh says there are certified child passenger safety technicians who can help when you visit cert.safekids.org or call 877-366-8154. The expert Dr. Preeti Parikh, M.D., is a board-certified pediatrician in New York City, the executive medical director at GoodRx, an assistant clinical professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and an American Academy of Pediatrics spokesperson. What to consider before buying
Now that children are expected to stay rear-facing for as long as possible, convertible rear-facing car seats for toddlers that will
grow with your child are essential. Convertible car seats typically allow your baby to sit in the same seat from birth until they hit booster-seat age. Some seats are 3-in-1, meaning they are for infants, rear-facing toddlers, and forward-facing toddlers. Others are all-in-one seats, meaning the seat strips down to a booster to accommodate a child until they're between 8 and 12 years old, or tall enough to use an adult seat belt without the added inches.
Amazon is one of the easiest places to compare car seats and check out reviews from a whole lot of parents who have tried and tested the seat with their own kids. These are some of the highest reviewed rear-facing toddler car seats on Amazon, to help narrow down your choice.
We only include products that have been independently selected by Romper's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article. 1 Best for versatility
The Graco SlimFit convertible car seat will grow with your child from five pounds up to 100 pounds! Take the seat from rear-facing harness when your child is five to 40 pounds, to forward-facing harness when they're 22 to 65 pounds, then to a high-back booster when they're 40 to 100 pounds. The cupholders on both sides make it a very kid- and parent-friendly option, saving you reaching around to hand a drink to your little one mid-road trip.
“I love that there are options as to reclining it, so I don't have to worry about my daughters head falling forward when asleep. Haven't compared it to the other convertible car seat that I have, but I'm sure it might recline a little more while forward facing to help prevent the same issue when my daughter gets older. The head rest moves up and down so easily, which also automatically adjusts the shoulder straps! As in, I don't have to take the whole thing out to thread shoulder straps through layers of material. Genius!”
2 Best for long-term use
This Graco number is a four-in-one wonder that allows for 10 years of car seat use. Adjustability is the name of this convertible car seat's game. It transforms from rear-facing, to forward-facing, to high-back booster, to backless booster, and has 10 headrest positions and six reclining positions.
“I am a licensed social worker with a specialty in Child Welfare, so I've used SEVERAL carseats in my lifetime and professional career. This was, by far, one of the easiest ones I've installed and I found it to be easier to maneuver than her infant carseat was. I have "mother's wrists" as a result of my pregnancy which makes lifting heavy items very difficult for me at times. This was rather easy to lift and while it is VERY solid, it did not cause any strain.”
3 Best for easy installation
Many parents choose this seat in part because it has so many positive Amazon reviews. Britax seats also take the first five slots on the
Safety.com list of safest car seats, so that helps! It's a cinch to install, includes a multiple-position harness and buckle to accommodate growth, and you can keep your 2-year-old rear-facing in it successfully. Review
“It’s been 3 years since I bought my Britex Marathon click-tight for my granddaughter. I read articles about it being great for grandparents and it was true! It is SO easy to install, making it very easy to take out and put back into your car. The click-tight feature quickly makes the car seat very stable. I rated leg room a 4, because before I turned the seat facing forward, those long legs were folded up at the back of the seat. But that’s also the new regulations requiring toddlers to face backward for a longer period of time.”
4 Best for baby’s comfort
This 360-degree swiveling car seat is the peak of baby luxury. Not only does the spinning nature make it incredibly easy to pop baby in and out of the car, but the seat actually reclines on the go for ultimate infant comfort and ease. The Evenflo GOLD grows with your child from four pounds to 120, with the brand claiming 10 years of use.
“He seems so comfortable.
Its super easy. Once you set up the straps and buckle in the appropriate tightness for your baby, adjusting the height automatically adjusts the straps so you don't have to deal with them every time your kid grows. There are also levels to let you know how far back or forward you can safely recline the baby based on their weight.
VERY easy install (I would recommend watching the quick install video they have on youtube. When installing, you have to press down pretty hard to lock the seatbelt in place and I thought i was doing it wrong but when I used both hand and pushed down from above, it worked.
I like that the body pillow and head pillow are separate (I want him to have the extra padding around his head but his body is too chunky to have additional padding below so its nice that I can remove one and not the other).”
5 Best color options
This all-in-one convertible car seat covers all the bases and all the stages. There's a rear-facing set up for four to 40 pounds, forward-facing for up to 65 pounds, then a booster mode for up to 100 pounds. Plus, there's an array of color options to choose from so your little one can ride in style.
“Ok, I love this car seat, as does my son! He was getting too big for his infant seat even though the weight limit said he could remain in that one for another 10lbs or so, he was just pretty cramped. The Maxi Cosi is like a luxury seat for my little guy. So plush and comfy, lots of leg room and head room but also supportive.”
6 Best for reliability
Another Graco that parents love for their kids — that will last through 10 years of your kid's car seat and booster seat years! Plus, there are two booster seat options once your child outgrows the back- and front-facing seats: High-back belt positioning and backless belt positioning — the latter being good for up to 120 pounds. This one is a little more plush than the Graco SlimFit, making it more comfy for your newborn to your 10-year-old, and it costs a little more as well.
“I love this carseat! My girls and I were in a car accident recently and this carseat literally saved my 2 year old's life. I totally have faith in it. I just purchased the same one! My daughter seems very comfortable in it!”
7 Best to keep kid rear-facing for longer
While this car seat looks like it's designed for a 12-year-old, it's an all-in-one that can work for your newborn from five pounds. And if keeping your baby rear-facing for as long as possible is a deciding factor for you, this one was specifically engineered to keep children rear-facing for even longer — up to 50 pounds! Travel with your child in four ways as they grow from birth to 10 years old.
“We drive a Subaru Forester and a Kia Niro and have a 5 year old, a 3 year old, and an 8 month old. These seats are perfect for all the kids though we did have to wait for the baby to get a bit chubbier to fit in his (it seems like he was about 3 months old when he was big enough to fit properly). We got seat organizers for the back of the driver's seat for sunglasses and kids toys. Since there are no cup or snack holders the back of the car is so much cleaner with these seats too! All three of the kids can nap just fine in these for family road trips.”
8 Best budget-friendly option
Another popular option by Evenflo, the EveryFit 4-in-1 car seat is a bit more budget-friendly. The seat is adjustable to several positions and allows children to ride rear-facing far beyond two years old. Thanks to advanced side impact protection, your child will be safer, with a reduced crash force of up to 30%.
“We bought this car seat at $189.99 up front and because it adapts to the different stages of safety we need as our kids grow over ten years this carseat will cost breakdown to $19 a year. That seems like a deal to me. For reference we still have our oldest daughter rear-facing at 38 lbs and she'll be four in 5 months. We've loved our Evenflo products.”
9 Another budget-friendly pick
Another bargain convertible car seat that will grow with your kid from five pounds up to 80 pounds. Many parents love it for a budget-friendly option for their second car, and the fun color options certainly don't hurt either.
“My daughter is 17 pounds and about 27 inches tall and I combed through hundreds and hundreds of safety and consumer reviews to find one that fit my budget. She's comfortable and secure in this car seat. Parenting win!”
10 Best high-tech fabric
A bit on the spendier side, yes, but this Britax convertible car seat is worth it if you're looking for something that will last. The cushy seat will sit your baby from five to 120 pounds — delivering maximum comfort all the while thanks to four-way stretch athleisure fabric. Plus, your child is in good hands, safety-wise, with Britax's sturdy steel frame and crumple zone that helps absorb crash energy.
“This car seat is everything I have been looking for and it came out just in time! I wanted an extended rear facing car seat up to 50 pounds, as I’ve read that rear facing as long as possible is best for little ones’ spines (in Sweden I think their kids rear face until 4!). I also wanted the seat to be convertible to a front facing and booster seat as well so i wouldn’t have to create lots of waste with multiple car seats over the years. And of course I wanted it to be safe.”
11 Best for quick adjustments
Easily and quickly adjust the height of the harness and headrest in a single go with Graco's Simply Safe Adjust Harness System. Go from rear-facing to front-facing positions to accommodate kids from four to 100 pounds. With a four-position adjustable extension panel allowing five extra inches of legroom, your kid can ride rear-facing for even longer.
“I gave this to my daughter for her 18 mo. old baby boy. I took her old one since I'll only use it rarely. She is so excited because this one is so much easier to adjust the straps and fasten him in. Plus, as he grows, the shoulder strap height is so easy to change by squeezing the top lever and pull to proper height. The old one's straps have to be removed and put into higher strap holes. Also, this one is so much more sturdy and has the safety side supports.”
12 Best sturdy frame option
A two-in-one convertible car seat, the Chicco NextFlip can be used as a rear-facing seat for five to 40 pounds, then flipped to front-facing for 22 to 65 pounds. While it doesn't have a booster seat transformation, it gets mega points for safety. The rigid shell and steel-reinforced frame make this a sturdy option you can feel good about. Plus, you can easily clean the fabric with the zip-up cover feature.
“We have had a few different car seats through out kids but this one is by far our favorite! The frame is SOLID and steel reinforced which is a must for me! My husband and I are both paramedics and have seen so many car seats in accidents and this one stood out to me as one of the safest with holding up really well in some of the more serious crashes. It has the most cushion then other seats so my kids always preferred this seat over the others.”
Expert: Dr. Preeti Parikh, M.D., a board-certified pediatrician and executive medical director at GoodRx
This article was originally published on
May 5, 2018