There are typically three key reasons why you want the best rear facing toddler car seats:
- You live or plan to travel in a state that requires 2 years old toddler or younger to stay in rear-facing
- Your toddler grows a bit faster than their peer to outgrow their infant car seats
- You just want a toddler car seat that can be positioned rear-facing for a longer time
There are so many different toddler car seats to choose from so to make it as simple as possible We have categorized the best rear-facing toddler car seats into two type brackets:
Actually, only these two types of car seats can be positioned rear-facing to ride toddlers from 1 year old to even 4 years old, based on your child’s weight and height. Rear-facing only infant car seats are not good for big toddlers heavier than 35 pounds and higher than 32-inch tall.
If you plan to get one throughout the whole ‘car seat day’, then your best option is to check the reviews of all-in-one car seats.
Toddler car seats included in this category are capable of rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster. They offer a very long-lasting until your kid is ready to wear a seat belt.
Best Rear Facing Toddler Car Seats for 2 Years or Older
If you plan on buying a car seat with a higher rear-facing weight limit then your best option is to read my reviews of the convertible and all-in-one car seats. Those in the other categories are better suited to small infants with a low weight limit with no exception in the infant car seats and the travel system.
If you want to dive straight in you can see my top choices for two year old in car seat category below:
Convertible Car Seat
Chicco NextFit Zip
All-in-one Car Seat
Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1
Convertible Car Seats for Longer Rear-Facing
1. Chicco NextFit Zip
Chicco NextFit Zip
The Chicco NextFit Zip is the first of the best rear-facing toddler car seats because it has a very high rear-facing height limit, up to 43-inches tall. Along with the 40-lb weight limit in the rear-facing, we think it’s the best combination for growing toddlers.
It’s very common that the height limit comes first before the weight limit, especially in the kid’s early toddler age. The 43-inch maximum rear-facing height and 40-pound maximum rear-facing weight make the Chicco NextFit Zip the No.1 toddler car seat.
More than that. It’s also very suitable for busy parents. The zip-off design might be the easiest way to take the seat pad off for washing. Luckily, this car seat is made of machine-washable material, which is nice for saving your time and energy – both are very important to raise a child.
Another appealing point to make Chicco NextFit Zip the best rear-facing car seat is the included removable newborn positioner, which offers a proper fit for newborns and small infants between 5-11 pounds. It can be removed after your infant can fit properly in the car seat by themselves when they’re big enough.
As a convertible car seat to grow with your little one, the Chicco NextFit Zip comes with a few wonderful features to ensure your child’s safety and comfort. The steel-reinforced frame offers strength for a safe and stable ride.
DuoGuard provides two layers of head and torso protection with a deep rigid shell and EPS-absorbing foam to give your child the best protection in case of any crash. The 9-position headrest and 9-position ReclineSure leveling system always help find a perfect fit with comfort and safety.
Installing a car seat properly can be a big thing related to your toddler’s safety. The Chicco NextFit Zip features the company’s unique SuperCinch LATCH tightener, along with the LockSure belt-locking system, for a tight and secure fit with LATCH or with the vehicle seat belt.
This car seat includes one CupFolder on the right, which is dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning. The rounded design provides a better grip to hold the drinks or snacks than the square cup holders in the Graco Extend2Fit.
It’s a great car seat for travel, both in a vehicle or on an airplane. It’s FAA certified for aircraft use. However, it’s a bit heavy for carrying to the airport, weighing about 25 pounds. A car seat travel bag is available for sale and user-friendly if you want to take it for family air travel.
2. Graco Extend2Fit
The high weight limit and extendable length make the Graco Extend2Fit one of the best rear-facing car seats for toddlers over 1 year or even 2 years old. It is capable of fitting a toddler between up to 50 pounds with the rear-facing harness. That’s the average weight of most kids aged between 4-6 years, perfect for big toddlers.
But the height limit does not allow the Extend2Fit to ride an infant rear-facing to that age. It supports infants only 32-inch tall or below to stay in the rear-facing mode, from the data provided by the manufacturer.
Luckily, it features a unique extension panel, which is a 4-position adjustable to provide 5-inch of extra rear-facing legroom. In this way, your little one can stay rear-facing for a longer period of time.
However, using the extension panel needs more room and results in less room for the drive or front passenger seat, especially in small cars. That’s a problem a few customers on Amazon complain about.
If your family has a compact vehicle, you should consider twice to use this car seat if you prefer to ride your toddler rear-facing.
More than a long-time rear-facing ride, the Graco Extend2Fit comes with a few amazing features.
This car seat is Graco ProtectPlus Engineered to help protect in frontal, side, rear, and rollover crashes, with passing all the most rigorous test standards required by the US and European governments and manufacturers.
Actually, all the car seats sold on the US market are required to meet or exceed the child restraint criteria for a frontal crash test under the US FMVSS 213. But it seems the Graco’s car seats do more to ensure your toddler has the safest ride.
It also features the company’s special InRight LATCH system for a one-second easy installation. To ensure the parents install the car seat correctly, the car seat has a level indicator on the top right side to reduce installation guesswork.
The 6-position recline -with three positions for rear-facing and three positions for forward-facing– also helps for accurate installation and comfortable fit.
This child restraint is certified for use in aircraft. It’s only used on forward-facing aircraft seats, but can be installed in both rear- and forward-facing, just follow the instructions for vehicle installation in the user manual.
Remember to contact the airline for their specific policies before onboarding.
3. Britax Marathon ClickTight
Britax Marathon ClickTight
The height limit in the rear-facing is exactly the same as the forward-facing height limit of up to 49-inches tall, making the Britax Marathon one of the best rear-facing toddler car seats.
The ability to keep a toddler rear-facing as long as possible is the most important factor to be ranked in this list.
The Marathon accommodates infants and growing toddlers between 5-40 pounds in a rear-facing position then transition smoothly to a forward-facing position for bigger kids between 20-65 pounds, with the same height limit of 49-inches tall.
That means big toddlers as 3 years old can stay in this car seat for facing the rear. The 14-position headrest with a 2-position buckle and 7 recline position comfortably fit the littles’ growth.
The SafeCell impact protection system, which consists of a V-shaped tether, a steel-reinforced frame, and an energy-absorbing base, delivers the safest protection by minimizing seat rotation and staged release stitches, and reducing forward movement in the event of a crash.
This unique protection system takes the car seat’s safety protections to a high level, just like Graco’s ProtectPlus. This rear-facing toddler car seat features one layer of side impact protection but is still good enough to protect the littles in case of any crash.
The Marathon is designed to deliver the confidence of a secure install with a remarkable patented Click Tight design which allows installing with confidence 3 easy steps: open, thread & buckle, click it closed.
The level indicators help you find the correct recline angle for your vehicle and more importantly, for fitting the toddlers.
This car seat is certified for aircraft use, but it’s not our best recommendation for air travel with a toddler. It has a heavy body, weighing up to 28.5 pounds, not easy to carry from home to the airport, even with a car seat bag with wheels. So it’s better to use in the vehicle for riding trips.
Safety 1st Jive
Safety 1st Jive
The Safety 1st Jive is engineered to accommodate newborns and small toddlers between 5-40 pounds with a maximum height of up to 40 inches in rear-facing mode, then transition seamlessly to forward-facing for big toddlers and kids between 22-65 pounds, even for 5 years old preschoolers.
The 40-pound weight limit and 40-inch height limit allow the toddler to ride in rear-facing as long as possible, at least until 2 years old, making it one of the best rear-facing toddler car seats on the list.
We also like the car seat’s slim design to take up less than one-third space in the back seat. It’s one of the best rear-facing toddler car seats that fit 3-across for a perfect fit in small cars or to provide more room in large vehicles for the passengers or drivers.
The Diono Radian 3R is also designed with a 3-across fitting. This also makes the Safety 1st Jive an appealing choice for big families with two or more children.
The Jive is the best budget rear-facing toddler car seat. It works rear-facing for a long time but just costs under $100, a cheap price among the convertible car seats.
This low price is at the expense of functionality.
Unlike other rear-facing car seats with a few adjustable headrest positions for a perfect fit for growing toddlers, the Safety 1st Jive only supports 5-position for adjustment.
That means, the gap between the two positions will be bigger and it’s very probable that there is no perfect fit for a certain height that the littles grow to.
No recline is available for adjusting to a right fit angle but it requires your experience and feeling to find the right angle. The car seat includes a removable body pillow for fitting newborn babies.
The Safety 1st Jive is a lightweight car seat, but it does not mean this car seat is friendly for switching between vehicles. A few parents complain about its difficult installation.
If you don’t mind this much, you may also consider carrying it for air travel. This car seat is FAA approved for aircraft use and it’s light to take.
All-in-one Car Seats to Face Back Longer
1. Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1
Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1
Award: Best All-in-one Car Seat with 4 Modes
The Graco 4Ever DLX is a great money saver. It’s not just able to ride the littles through the first three stages, but also capable of riding them rear-facing for a long time.
The 40-pound rear-facing weight limit is not as high as those car seats with 50-pounds, but still good enough to ride your little one around 2-3 years old, making it one of the best rear-facing toddler car seats.
The company boasts that it’s a 4-in-1 car seat, this does not mean it will last for the four stages, but just show off its four modes to ride a child from birth to youth.
(Pro tip: four stages vs four modes.) It’s an all-rounder that you’ll need to ride a child during the car seat time, thanks to its long lifespan of 10-year of use and the ability to last for 3 stages.
Actually, only the first three stages need a car seat, the fourth stage is the last one and big kids in this stage commonly use the vehicle’s seat belt for safety.
Installing a car seat can be a hard task for parents, especially for moms. LATCH connectors are essential things for an easy installation.
In Addition to Graco’s special InRight LATCH system, the 4Ever DLX features an upgraded belt lock-off, allowing you to install the car seat easily and properly with the vehicle’s seat belt.
The other two improved features include the harness storage and RapidRemove cover. The former helps to store the harness in the built-in compartment when your child outgrows the forward-facing harness weight or height limits and transitions to the booster mode.
Moms would surely love the latter improvement because pulling the cover or pad off the seat is really a challenge every time you want to wash it. The RapidRemove design snaps the cover onto the seat for easy detaching in seconds.
The Graco 4Ever DLX is ProtectPlus Engineered for protecting the little riders from frontal, rear, side, and rollover in the event of crashes. It passed a few crash tests under the US and European standards.
This car seat is certified for aircraft use, but you won’t take it on board because of its bulky and heavy body. That’s the common problem all all-in-one car seats have. They take up more space, are not friendly installed small cars, and are not easy to switch between cars.
Another point that several parents complained about is the cupholder design. Two cup holders are square and can’t hold circular cups or drinks well. It’s not a big problem but just an experience that still needs the company’s attention for improvement in future models.
We accept its imperfect factors, but this does not affect the Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 to be a top-rated rear-facing toddler car seat. It includes plush head and body inserts to help keep your infant feeling cradled and comfortable.
It comes with a 10-position headrest adjustment and 6-position reclines to ensure the littles stay comfortable with safety.
2. Diono 2020 Radian 3R
Diono 2020 Radian 3R
The Diono Radian 3R was designed to accommodate a child from 5 pounds to 50 pounds in rear-facing, making it one of the best rear-facing toddler car seats.
Even toddlers at 4 years old can stay rear-facing in this car seat. It’s very useful to follow the guidelines of riding rear-facing as long as possible.
To install the car seat rear-facing, the Radian 3R features ashore to adjust the reclines. But this is not as convenient as those rear-facing toddler car seats with a base for recline adjustment, for example, the Graco 4Ever DLX.
But this does not affect it to be a safe car seat for toddlers, no matter rear-facing or front-facing. Featuring a strong reinforced steel core and frame, along with thick energy-absorbing foam, the Diono Radian 3R performs well in crash tests and provides ultimate protection to the little one.
The car seat boasts of its SuperLATCH for easy and secure installation. Most car seats that come with a LATCH system can achieve this, but you may love the audible click reminder that helps confirm the connectors are locked tightly and safely.
Featuring a slim design, the Diono Radian 3R is able to fit 3 across in the back seat and takes less space, making it a good choice for families with small cars or having at least two kids.
As an all-in-one convertible, the Radian 3R fits a child from birth to youth, from 5 pounds to 120 pounds. The car seat has a one-piece design without headrest adjustment. This means the height of the car seat is not adjustable. But this will result in a problem when riding in rear-facing – taking up the space from the frontal driver or passenger. You may need to pay attention to this point.
3. Evenflo EveryFit
Evenflo EveryFit 4-in-1 Car Seat
The Evenflo EveryFit 4-in-1 is suitable for children from newborn to the day when they’re ready to wear the vehicle’s seat belt.
It’s an all-in-one car seat that goes through three of four car seat stages – rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster (including high-back and backless modes).
It ranks a top position in the best rear-facing toddler car seats for its wide weight range, from 4 lbs to 40 lbs. The 4-pound minimum weight limit makes it friendly for preemies with removable inserts for extra support.
While the 40-pound maximum weight limit allows your little one to stay in this car seat rear-facing for a longer time of period. Even big toddlers around 2-3 years old could fit well until they outgrow the car seat.
That’s good for families living in the states that require a child to ride rear-facing until the second birthday.
A smooth transition from rear-facing to front-facing is available as long as your child outgrows the 40-lbs weight limit.
It requires the little passenger to be at least 2 years old in the forward-facing harness that supports 22-65 pounds. The next stage is the booster.
The Evenflo EveryFit 4-in-1 is able to ride a child up to 120 pounds in the booster stage, in both high-back and backless modes.
To go with the long-term use for growing children, this car seat is made of high-strength reinforced steel for the frame to offer longevity. It also features a long lifespan of 10 years (since the day of the manufacturer).
Safety is always a prior feature for choosing a car seat. The Evenflo EveryFit performs well in the crash tests.
The manufacturer boasts that its advanced side impact protection can reduce crash forces up to 30% while the structural integrity at the energy level improves approximately 2X in the federal crash test standard, thanks to its two layers of side impact protection.
Proper installation adds points to its safety performance. The EveryFit comes with the company’s unique SureSafe installation system.
More than the connectors, the manufacturer boasts of its LATCH installation guides to help to improve the installation accuracy by 2X. But we know that most car seats with LATCH connectors are easy to install.
But you should pay attention to the LATCH weight limit. Some car seats tell this in the user manual like the Diono Radian 3R features a 35-lb LATCH rear-facing weight limit and a 40-lb LATCH forward-facing weight limit.
Comfort is also very important for your child, after all, it’s the only place where your child needs to stay for a long time, especially if you’re planning to take them for long trips between cities.
The manufacturer took it into consideration. They manufactured the EveryFit 4-in-1 car seat with cooling and breathable mesh fabric.
The included two cup holders are great to hold the little passenger’s drinks and snacks for easy touch. More appealing, they’re circularly designed and better than the square cup holders from Graco 4Ever DLX.
Designed to grow with toddlers to big kids, the Evenflo EveryFit features a 12-position headrest and four-position reclines. This allows you to find a comfortable and perfect fit for growing children.
It seems the EveryFit 4-in-1 car seat emphasizes keeping small toddlers with three positions of reclines designed for adjusting in rear-facing.
It’s not expensive, but even a cheap model, more budget than the Graco 4Ever DLX to be the best money saver of rear-facing toddler car seats.
4. Chicco Fit4 4-in-1
Chicco Fit4 4-in-1 Car Seat
Chicco Fits4 was designed to accommodate a premier child as light as 4 pounds until they reach the top 40-pounds weight limit in rear-facing. It’s common that infants and small kids grow in height faster than in weight.
This car seat features a 43-inch rear-facing height limit, allowing toddlers around 3-4 years old to stay rear-facing as long as possible. This earns itself a spot in the best rear-facing toddler car seats.
High weight and height limits or ranges are one factor to rank in this top-rated rear-facing car seat for toddlers. It comes with a few excellent features to ensure security and comfort.
The DuoGuard consists of two layers of side protection with a steel-reinforced frame and EPS energy-absorbing foam that protects the little passenger’s head and torso.
Proper installation ensures a better safety performance, while the Fit4 features Chicco’s unique SuperCinch LATCH tightener for easy LATCH installation and a LockSure seat belt locking system for simple and secure installation with the vehicle’s seat belt.
RideRight bubble levels ensure you find an accurate angle to install the car seat horizontally and balance on the flat ground.
Additional accessories like the infant positioner and toddler pad are included to let your little one stay in the car seat with comfort.
The 10-position headrest and 9-position ReclineSure leveling system make it possible to get a perfect fit for growing children from infants to toddlers, and even to big kids when they outgrow this car seat at their 10 years old.
The Chicco Fits4 is also a great money saver to ride your child in the whole ‘car seat days’ with optimal fit and comfort.
More than a rear-facing toddler car seat, it is also able to ride a child in a forward-facing 5-point harness from 25 to 65 pounds with a height limit of 54-inches tall and a booster seat from 40-100 pounds at a maximum of 57 inches tall.
The Chicco boasts of its slim design to achieve a 3 across fit for three children. This is probably for its collapsible CupFolders, which are made of silicone and removable if needed.
But it’s not that convenient for the littles to get their snacks and drinks if you install three Fit4 4-in-1 car seats in the back seat.
This car seat is certificated for aircraft use in the rear-facing harness and forward-facing harness and you can install it on the airplane the same way as in the vehicle. But it’s better to contact the airline prior to travel to discuss their Child Restraint policy.
Or you may want to have another lighter car seat for air travel, the Fit4 weighs up to 25 pounds, a bit heavy to take it on board.
The bonus part is the company’s after-sale customer service for this Chicco Fit4 4-in-1 car seat. You’ll find a QR code that is available for scanning to get more advanced tips in using this toddler car seat in rear-facing and transition to forward-facing.
5. Britax One4Life 4-in-1
Britax One4Life 4-in-1 Car Seat
The Britax One4Life is an all-in-one car seat that holds up the whole car seat journey for your child from day 1 to ten years old. It is capable of fitting a child from 5 lbs to 50 lbs in rear-facing, with a height limit up to 49 inches that is the same as the forward-facing harness.
The high weight and height limit makes it one of the best rear-facing toddler car seats to allow your child to stay rear-facing for a longer time of period.
We always love a car seat with a better height and weight performance in the rear-facing, which is the best mode that is suggested for infants and small toddlers under 2 years old.
In a lot of US states, the local laws on child restraint safety seats require that toddlers should be put rear-facing until their second birthday.
And it’s recommended to ride your littles in rear-facing as long as possible before they outgrow their car seats’ requirements, whichever – weight or height, comes first.
Safety is always the priority for a car seat. The One4Life inherits the excellent features that you can find on other Britax car seats for security and comfort.
It comes with 2 layers of side impact protection with a steel-reinforced shell and energy-absorbing foam surrounding the head, neck, and torso that provide the best level of protection all-sided.
It also features the manufacturer’s unique SafeCell technology that delivers a crumple zone to absorb crash energy. The ClickTight technique makes the installation easy in three steps for adding extra safety points to the Britax One4Life.
Plus, the company’s exclusive patented V-shaped tether performs better than the one-line tether in slowing and reducing forward and backward movement in case of crashes.
Moving to the comfort part, this car seat allows for a 15-position headrest and harness adjustments. Along with the 9-position reclines, the One4Life all-in-one car seat empowers the best-fit position to your little one’s growth.
Made of cooling air mesh fabrics, it’s comfortable for children in heated cities to stay in the thick pad and foam, which is made of machine-washable materials for easy cleaning. You don’t need to worry much about the messed kids.
The high-strength steel frame not only ensures steady and stable rides but also offers great durability. The Britax One4Life was designed with a long lifespan of up to 10 years. You can make full use of it for riding a child from day 1 until they are ready to use the vehicle’s seat belt.
Your Attention Please: the 10-year usage started from the date of manufacture, not the day you purchased the car seat. You can find the label on the car seat and should not use it for riding a child after its expiration.
After your child exceeds its weight limit of 50 pounds or height limit of 49-inches, whichever comes first, you should change this toddler car seat from rear-facing to front-facing into the next stage – a forward-facing 5-point harness.
Then transition from harness to booster at the time your child outgrows the harness height or weight limit.
This car seat is also FAA certified for aircraft use in the rear-facing harness and forward-facing harness. But it’s even heavier than the Chicco Fit4 4-in-1 car seat, up to 30 pounds, making it a bit difficult to carry it to the airport.
You should always follow the user manual and the airline’s support to install the car seat correctly on the airplane if you insist on taking it for air travel.
Top-Rated Car Seats to Face the Rear for Longer
Graco 4Ever DLX – Fear facing, forward facing, high back booster, backless booster
Graco Extend2Fit – Up to 50-lbs for 3-4 preschoolers
Chicco NextFit Zip – up to 43-inch for rear-facing riding for a longer time.
Diono Radian 3R – Narrow 17-inch width to do 3 accross fit for big families
Evenflo EveryFit – All-in-one with a very budget price of $199.99.
FAQs on Rear Facing Toddler Car Seats
Only convertible car seats can be installed rear facing for toddlers between 2-4 years old. Infant car seats don’t have a high weight limit, while combination and booster car seats face only front for big kids.
That depends on local laws. Some US states required children to stay rear-facing until they’re 2 years old, while others may allow smaller toddlers of 1 year old to rear face and turn forward-facing after the 1st birthday.
Each state has its own law for rear-facing car seat. You need to check local laws before purchasing a car seat to ride your littles on the roads. Some states have strict laws on rear-facing, some not.
If the car seat laws in your state don’t say much about rear facing, you’d better follow the NHTSA and AAP’s suggestions, which provide more details on car seat stages, ages, and types.
That depends. Infant car seats have a lifespan between 6-8 years, while convertible and all-in-one car seats will last longer for up to 10 years.