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ERF - Liam with phone and csb logoIf you’re in the market for a convertible carseat that will allow you to keep your child rear-facing for “as long as possible” – you’re in the right place! This guide will help you navigate many of the most popular options currently available in the U.S. market and help you to identify which seat(s) may in fact allow your child to stay rear-facing for as long as possible.

First, let’s define the term “Extended Rear-Facing” because that term is often thrown around loosely and to my knowledge there isn’t a general consensus in the Child Passenger Safety field of what that term means exactly. In its most basic sense, Extended Rear-Facing can be defined as use of a carseat in the rear-facing position beyond the bare minimums generally established and accepted by carseat manufacturers for forward-facing usage. Since many (but not all) convertible and combination carseats still allow toddlers as little as 12 months and 22 lbs. to use the seat forward-facing – you could define Extended Rear-Facing as anything beyond 12 months and 22 lbs.

ERF-foonf-side-viewHowever, that’s not what most parents and advocates think of when they hear the term. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends waiting until at least age 2 to turn a child forward while NHTSA and the CPS Technician Certification Curriculum define “Best Practice” as rear-facing to the limits of the carseat.

For the purposes of this guide, we will focus our attention on the convertible seats that have proven themselves to last longer than most of the seats on the market today, specifically in the rear-facing position. For the record, this isn’t meant to be an all-inclusive list so there are probably a few good ERF seats that weren’t included simply because I didn’t have access to them during the project period.

Convertible seat recommendations have been sorted into two groups. The first group is a list of seats that are most likely to be outgrown by weight (at 40 lbs.) rather than by height. The second group is a list of seats with very high weight limits, and most of those seats are more likely to be outgrown by height. It’s up to you to try to figure out which of those two categories will accommodate your child in the rear-facing position for as long as possible.

CDC growth chart boysIf you already have your child’s stats from a recent visit to the doctor – great. If not, use the links below to the CDC Growth Charts and plot your child’s height and weight on the graph.

Boys under 2 years oldBoys over 2 years old
Girls under 2 years oldGirls over 2 years old

Keep in mind that just because a baby might be 20 lbs. at 5 months old doesn’t mean he or she will be 40 lbs. by age 2. A baby’s weight gain almost always slows down – usually by 9-12 months old as they become more mobile. However, if mom is 5’9″ and dad is 6’3″ and built like a linebacker then it’s reasonable to assume that this child’s growth pattern may continue to be way above average.

  • If your child is above the 75th percentile for height but average in weight then you may want to look at convertible seats in the first group because these seats aren’t likely to be outgrown by height before your child reaches the maximum rear-facing weight limit of 40 lbs. The seats in this group are also a good choice for children who have a very long torso (for example: wear pants in 12 months size but need onesies that are 18 or 24 month size).
  • If your child is above the 75th percentile for weight then you might want to focus on the seats in the second group that are rated beyond 40 lbs. in the rear-facing position.  
  • If your child’s weight and height are average, slightly above or below average, and your child doesn’t have a very long torso, then ANY of the seats on this list will last your child a very long time in the rear-facing position and you should make your decision based on all the other factors (price, features, ease of use, etc.).

In most of the pictures below, my beautiful, gracious and very accommodating model is 40″ tall and 34 lbs. at 4 years old. She is average (around 50th percentile) in both height and weight for a 4-year-old.

*Please note: most of the pictures purposely depict misuse because I was attempting to show how much growing room she still had height-wise. In cases where the carseat had an adjustable head rest, I raised it to its maximum height to show how much growing room there could be for a taller child. The proper placement of harness straps on a rear-facing carseat is to have the straps coming from a point that is “at” or “slightly below” the child’s shoulder level.

Convertible seats that your child won’t outgrow by height before reaching the 40 lbs. RF weight limit:

Britax ClickTight Convertibles (Marathon CT, Boulevard CT & Advocate CT)

These new CT convertibles from Britax are so tall that there is no way any child could ever outgrow them by height before reaching the 40 lbs. RF weight maximum! The Marathon CT doesn’t adjust as tall as the Boulevard CT (pictured) and Advocate CT models but is still tall enough to be a true extended rear-facing seat. We have a complete review of the Boulevard CT here. And a complete review of the Marathon CT here.

ERF - Britax Boulevard CT ERF - Britax Boulevard CT ERF - Britax Boulevard CT

  • Specs: Rear-facing 5-40 lbs.; Forward-facing 20-65 lbs., up to 49″ tall
  • Features: ClickTight installation system, no-rethread harness with 14 height positions, base with 7 recline positions, allows RF tethering, optional anti-rebound bar is available for purchase separately
  • Pros: Easiest convertibles to install with seatbelt using CT system; CT system acts as a lockoff device; rebound management features via RF tether or ARB; various energy-absorbing features built in; doesn’t take up a lot of room front-to-back when installed RF; well padded; fits newborns well; Made in USA
  • Cons: Heavy; designed for seatbelt installations so it’s not especially LATCH-friendly; Marathon model not as tall as Boulevard and Advocate models but still tall enough to be a true ERF seat.

Chicco NextFit & NextFit Zip

Even tall, skinny kids will be able to rear-face in the NextFit until they reach the 40 lbs. weight limit. We have a complete review of the Chicco NextFit here.

ERF - Chicco NextFit ERF - Chicco NextFit ERF - Chicco NextFit

  • Specs: Rear-facing 5-40 lbs.; Forward-facing 20-65 lbs., up to 49″ tall
  • Features: SuperCinch LATCH system; no-rethread harness with 6 height positions; base with 9 recline positions; 2 position chest clip; lockoffs for seatbelt installation
  • Pros: Easiest seat to install with LATCH (up to 40 lbs.); easy seatbelt installation using lockoff; doesn’t take up a lot of room front-to-back when installed RF; can use LATCH rear-facing to the limit of 40 lbs.; extremely well padded; fits newborns very well
  • Cons: Heavy and bulky; Can’t use SuperCinch to install with LATCH once child weighs more than 40 lbs. and is forward-facing

Evenflo SureRide (aka Titan 65)

This is the rare extended rear-facing seat available for less than $100! The model pictured is the Titan 65 model with SureSafe (has premium push-on lower anchor connectors) that is available exclusively at Walmart. Evenflo does limit the child’s height to 40″ tall which is very conservative because as you can see this 40″ tall child has a mile of growing room left above her head. Still, it’s a nice seat at a great price that will get most kids to age 3-4 rear-facing.

ERF - Evenflo SureRide/Titan 65 ERF - Evenflo SureRide/Titan 65 ERF - Evenflo SureRide/Titan 65

  • Specs: Rear-facing 5-40 lbs., 19-40″; Forward-facing 22-65 lbs., 28-54″
  • Features: 6 sets of harness slots; SureSafe model has premium push-on lower LATCH connectors (all other models have basic hook-style connectors)
  • Pros: Fits newborns well; lightweight; budget-friendly; can use LATCH up to 50 lbs. (forward-facing), made in USA
  • Cons: Large gap between harness slots 3 and 4; deep sides make loading and unloading RF child cumbersome; continuous harness; no lockoffs for seatbelt installation; 40″ standing height limit for rear-facing is limiting

Graco Size4Me

The Size4Me and its “clones” (MySize, Headwise and Fit4Me) are popular mid-price-point convertible seats that are impossible to outgrow by height before reaching the 40 lbs. weight limit. We have a complete review of the Graco Size4Me here.

ERF - Graco Size4Me ERF - Graco Size4Me ERF - Graco Size4Me

  • Specs: Rear-facing 4-40 lbs.; Forward-facing 22-65 lbs., 49″ or less
  • Features: No-rethread harness with 8 height positions, separate lower LATCH anchor connector straps for both RF & FF belt paths, premium push-on LATCH connectors
  • Pros: Fits average-sized newborns well; no need to switch the LATCH connector strap from RF to FF belt paths because they give you a separate strap for each; can use LATCH rear-facing to the limit of 40 lbs.; doesn’t take up a lot of room front-to-back when installed RF
  • Cons: No lockoffs for seatbelt installation; sparsely padded; rated down to 4 lbs. but may not be a good fit for smaller newborns or preemies

Graco 4Ever All-in-One & Graco Milestone All-in-One

The Graco 4Ever All-in-One and Graco Milestone All-in-One are rear-facing/forward-facing/booster seats that work well in all modes. Both the 4Ever (pictured) and the Milestone are seats that just can’t be outgrown by height in the rear-facing position. Look how tall they are! We have a complete review of the Graco 4Ever here and a complete review of the Graco Milestone here.

ERF - Graco 4Ever  ERF - Graco 4Ever ERF - Graco 4Ever

  • Specs: Rear-facing 4-40 lbs., (Milestone starts at 5 lbs.); Forward-facing 22-65 lbs., 49″ or less
  • Features: No-rethread harness with 10 height positions, 4Ever base has 6 recline positions (3 for rear-facing), Milestone base has 4 recline positions (2 can be used for rear-facing), both models can be used as a booster when harness is outgrown, premium push-on LATCH connectors
  • Pros: All-in-One (RF/FF/Booster) features grow with your child; can use LATCH rear-facing to the limit of 40 lbs.; doesn’t take up a lot of room front-to-back when installed RF
  • Cons: Heavy and bulky; No lockoffs for seatbelt installation

Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 & Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 

Maxi-Cosi does limit the rear-facing child’s height to 40″ tall which is conservative because as you can see this 40″ tall child still has plenty of growing room left above her head. Still, both the Pria 70 and Pria 85 models are very nice seats with a ridiculous amount of padding that will get most kids to age 3-4 rear-facing. We have a full review of the Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 with TinyFit here.

ERF - Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 ERF - Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 ERF - Maxi-Cosi Pria 70

  • Specs: Rear-facing 9-40 lbs. (Pria 85 starts at 14 lbs.), 40″ or less; Forward-facing 20-65 lbs., up to 52″
  • Features:  No-rethread harness with 9 height positions, deep head wings with Air Protect technology, premium push-on LATCH connectors
  • Pros: Low sides make it convenient to load and unload child from seat; narrow; very well padded; doesn’t take up a lot of room front-to-back when installed RF; can use LATCH rear-facing to the limit of 40 lbs.; Made in USA
  • Cons: No lockoffs for seatbelt installation; only models that come with TinyFit insert are suitable for use with newborns; 40″ standing height limit for rear-facing is limiting

Safety 1st Advance 65 Air +

Safety 1st does limit the rear-facing child’s height to 40″ tall which is very conservative because as you can see this 40″ tall child has a lot of growing room left above her head. Still, it’s a nice seat with a deep protective shell that will get most kids to age 3-4 rear-facing. 

*Update: There is now a Safety 1st Advance EX model sold at Babies R Us with a rear-facing weight limit of 50 lbs., and a rear-facing height limit of 49″ tall or head even with top of shell. Everything else is identical to the original Advance model shown below.

ERF - Safety 1st Advance SE 65 Air+ ERF - Safety 1st Advance SE 65 Air+ ERF - Safety 1st Advance SE 65 Air+

  • Specs: Rear-facing 5-40 lbs., 19-40″; Forward-facing 20-65 lbs., 34-49″
  • Features: No-rethread harness with 10 height positions, 4 position base (2 positions for RF), Air Protect + technology
  • Pros: tons of RF legroom; can use LATCH to the RF weight limit of 40 lbs.; Made in USA
  • Cons: Very wide, deep sides make loading and unloading RF child cumbersome, takes up a lot of room front-to-back when installed RF; no lockoffs for seatbelt installation, 40″ standing height limit for rear-facing on LX & SE models limiting

 

Convertible seats with RF weight limits beyond 40 lbs.

Clek Foonf & Clek Fllo

The Foonf and similar Clek Fllo convertibles are highly regarded for their advanced safety features and high rear-facing weight limits. They aren’t as tall as many of the models listed above so they will likely be outgrown by height before the weight limit is reached. However, since they are rated to 50 lbs. in the rear-facing position they are a great ERF option, especially for kids who are more heavy than tall. We have a complete review of the Clek Foonf here. And a complete review of the Clek Fllo here.

ERF - Clek Foonf ERF - Clek Foonf ERF - Clek Foonf

  • Specs: Rear-facing 14-50 lbs., 25-43”, able to sit upright alone, head is at least 1” below top of headrest; Forward-facing 22-65 lbs., 30-49” tall
  • Features: 5 sets of harness slots, structural headrest, anti-rebound bar (ARB), REACT safety system, lockoffs for seatbelt installation
  • Pros: Advanced safety features, rebound management using ARB, narrow, Crypton super fabrics
  • Cons: Very heavy, pricey, Foonf LATCH limit for rear-facing is 25 lbs., not suitable for young babies unless you purchase the additional “Infant Thingy” insert.

Diono Radian RXT/R120/Olympia

These seats all have a rear-facing weight limit of 45 lbs. but they aren’t as tall as many of the models listed in the first group. They will likely be outgrown by height before the weight limit is reached. They are still very popular ERF seats but are especially well-suited for kids who are more heavy than tall. Olympia is part of the new Diono convertible line up but it has a 45 lbs. rear-facing weight limit like the Radian R120 (pictured) and Radian RXT. We have a complete review of the Radian RXT here.

ERF - Diono Radian R120 ERF - Diono Radian R120 ERF - Diono Radian R120

  • Specs: Rear-facing 5-45 lbs., up to 44″ tall and requires at least 1.5″ of shell above head; Forward-facing 20-80 lbs., less than 57″ tall
  • Features: 5 sets of harness slots, aluminum reinforced 12 position adjustable headrest, full steel frame, allows RF tethering, folds flat for travel or storage
  • Pros: Optional angle adjuster (not pictured, sold separately) allows the seat to be installed more upright for older kids who have complete head and neck control; rebound management features using RF tether; low sides make it convenient to load and unload child from seat; narrow
  • Cons: Heavy; takes up a lot of room front-to-back without optional Angle Adjuster; LATCH limit for rear-facing is 35 lbs.; lacks lockoff for seatbelt installation; finicky install in some vehicles, may not fit newborns well

Diono Rainier & Pacifica

These convertible models from Diono add depth for increased side-impact protect and are rated to 50 lbs. rear-facing. However, they aren’t any taller than the previous Radian models. Like Radian, the Rainier and Pacifica models are great options for ERF but will likely be outgrown by height before the weight limit is reached. These seats are best suited for kids who are more heavy than tall. We have a complete review of the Diono Rainier here.

ERF - Diono Rainier ERF - Diono Rainier ERF - Diono Rainier

  • Specs: Rear-facing 5-50 lbs., up to 44″ tall and requires at least 1.5″ of shell above head; Forward-facing 20-90 lbs., less than 57″ tall
  • Features: 5 sets of harness slots, aluminum reinforced 12 position adjustable headrest, full steel frame, allows RF tethering, folds flat for travel or storage
  • Pros: Optional angle adjuster (not pictured, sold separately) allows the seat to be installed more upright for older kids who have complete head and neck control; rebound management features using RF tether; low sides make it convenient to load and unload child from seat; narrow
  • Cons: Heavy; takes up a lot of room front-to-back without optional Angle Adjuster; LATCH limit for rear-facing is 35 lbs.; lacks lockoff for seatbelt installation; finicky install in some vehicles, may not fit newborns well

Graco Extend2Fit

Extend2Fit is a new convertible seat from Graco with a unique legrest extension feature which can provide additional legroom for an older rear-facing child if you have enough space in your backseat to accommodate that (it does take up more room when legrest is extended). Extend2Fit is very tall and rated to 50 lbs. in the rear-facing position, making it one of the best choices currently for kids who are both tall and heavy. The child outgrows this seat rear-facing when the top of their head is 1″ from the plastic adjuster on the top of the headrest or when they reach 50 lbs. The same child modeled this seat but these photos were taken a year and a half after the others so she is obviously taller and a little heavier. She is 5 years old, 37 lbs. and 43″ tall in these pics. As you can see, she still has plenty of growing room left in the rear-facing position. 

Graco Extend2Fit with full legrest extension Graco Extend2Fit - height room RF Graco Extend2Fit - height at max setting

  • Specs: Rear-facing 4-50 lbs.; Forward-facing 22-65 lbs., 49″ or less
  • Features: No-rethread harness with 10 height positions, 6 recline positions on base (4 for RF; 3 for FF; position #4 can be used RF or FF) , 4-position legrest extension (for RF use only), premium push-on LATCH connectors
  • Pros: Best-in-class legroom for older kids when legrest is extended; can use LATCH rear-facing to 45 lbs.; doesn’t take up a lot of room front-to-back when installed RF without extending the legrest, fits average-sized newborns well.
  • Cons: No lockoffs for seatbelt installation; takes up more room front-to-back when installed RF with legrest extended.

Looking for info on which convertible seats take up the least amount of room when installed rear-facing? Check out our popular Ultimate Rear-Facing Convertible Carseat Space Comparison.

rear-facing in prius

Special thanks to my lovely little assistant and her mom, who is a fellow CPST-I. I couldn’t have completed this project without their help. If you’re wondering how one bribes a 4-year-old to sit and smile in carseat after carseat….

Will work for sushi - clara

Updated: May 21, 2016