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After moving car seats around to travel this weekend, Nate ALMOST convinced me to turn our three-year-old around so that she’s forward facing. Can you believe it? She’s three and still rear-facing! Yes, it’ll probably be more convenient for me when she’s forward facing. However, she’s happy enough in her rear-facing seat, so I imagine we’ll keep her there until she hits the 40lb mark.
After mentioning this on the Nothing if Not Intentional facebook page (you can see the entire conversation and weigh in with your thoughts here), it occurred to me that it might be helpful if I shared what seats we use for extended rear-facing and why.Car seat safety is a hot-button issue. Here’s my official disclaimer: I’m not qualified to tell you if your car seat is installed and used correctly. I haven’t been paid to write this. (But I will include Amazon affiliate links since I love our seats!) Most people I know move their children to forward-facing car seats much earlier than me. I’m cool with that. This is simply a post about what works for us and why.
For starters, it’s worth spending a minute to watch this video about car accidents with rear-facing seats. It’s one of many that convinced me that there’s no need to rush to turn my kiddos around.
A lot of people assume that rear-facing seats are only best in head-on crashes, but here’s an article that illustrates why rear-facing seats can also be best when you’re in a rear-end collision.
If you don’t do extended rear-facing, you’re probably wondering if my daughter (who is slightly above average in terms of height and weight for a three-year-old) is comfortable with her legs all scrunched up? Yes. She doesn’t mind at all! She just bends her legs ever-so-slightly as you can see in this picture.
The bigger issue (for me) is that she gets her muddy, wet, snowy shoes all over my seats. You could remove your child’s shoes or buy an after-market backseat kick mat (if you’re okay with after-market products). Our seats are leather, so I just wipe them down periodically. And by “periodically” I mean “not often enough.” Who wants to volunteer to detail my car?
Extended Rear-Facing Car Seats
So the next question becomes, which seats do we use for extended rear-facing and why?
We started with the Graco MyRide 65.
It’s an awesome seat with two cup holders. Our three-year-old could still be in this, but we recently passed it on to the baby when she outgrew her infant bucket seat. Families with taller kids might consider the MySize 70 as a slimmer, longer (but more expensive) alternative. The MyRide is pretty huge and heavy, so for travel we use the Cosco Scenera.
The Cosco Scenera is a great budget option! We got ours for around $40, so I don’t mind flying with it (knowing that it might get more wear and tear on the plane). It also gets fantastic safety reviews and is a smaller, lighter option. Many people use this for their primary car seat (there are lots of color/style options). Ours in only rear-facing until 35 lbs, but there is also a 40 lb rear-facing option. One downside is that it has a shorter shell, so most kids will outgrow it in terms of height before weight. We used this seat rear-facing until 2 1/2. Here’s a forum thread on car-seat.org that discusses how to know when your child has outgrown their RF seat.
When we moved our baby from her infant seat to the MyRide, our three-year-old got the Diono Radian. We chose the Diono because it’s skinny and folds up for travel. It has a tall shell and is generally regarded as a great option for extended rear facing. There’s an option that allows you to rear face until 45 lbs; however, we went for the 40 lb option to save money since we probably won’t rear face past 40 lbs.
How did I decide which car seat to buy? I think everyone comparing car seats should refer to this handy list. It was compiled by members at Car-Seat.org, and it’s my favorite car seat comparison tool. It’s a comprehensive chart that tells expiration dates, height/weight limitations, weight of the seat, width of the seat and so, so much more. (There are also charts for other types of seats–such as infant and booster.)
And in case you’re considering car seats I haven’t tried, check out this extensive comparison of convertible car seat options on Babble.
I’d love for you to share why and when you went with forward-facing car seats and ask questions on this conversation on facebook! It’s a supportive, non-judgmental group, so feel free to be (respectfully) honest!