Rear Facing Car Seat – Choose the Best One for Your Child

The following review is about rear facing car seats. We selected three of the top-selling models and reviewed their features, safety ratings, ease of use, dimensions and other facts and features most relevant to families looking to buy a rear facing car seat and desiring some direction and input toward that goal. Additionally, we have provided a number of tips for choosing the right car seat that may be used as a reference for selecting any brand of car seat.

Comparison Table

About Rear Facing Car Seats

There is no item you can transport in your vehicle more precious than your child. The prevailing wisdom of the day and the advice as issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics is that children should be in a rear facing car seat as long as possible. This is the safest possible position within your vehicle.

Facing the rear provides better protection for the head and neck while helping to prevent injuries to the legs as well. The incline provided by facing to the rear also reduces the forces of acceleration and deceleration, putting less strain and stress on the child. The manufacturers of rear facing car seats have different guidelines for each seat based on the height and weight of the child which determines when the child should transition to a forward facing car seat or convert their current seat.

 What to Look for in a Rear Facing Child Car Seat

baby on gray stroller

Image Source: unsplash.com

Different families have different needs, budgets, vehicles, and other considerations when it comes to shopping for car seats. The one constant though is safety. All of the reviewed car seats here meet or exceed federal standards, so the bigger questions then become price, convenience, and additional features.

As previously mentioned, the Academy of American Pediatrics recommends rear facing car seat configurations as long as possible. That cut-off for most car seats is at 40 pounds for most models and manufacturers. The examples we've chosen here, including the Safety 1st Grow and Go Air 3-in-1 and The Graco 4Ever 4-in-1, are no exception. The Britax B-Safe 35 Elite, which we reviewed, has a maximum capacity of 35 pounds, meaning you would eventually need to purchase another seat to take the child beyond that weight and size rating.

Some may opt for a single, all-in-one seat solution to follow the growth of the child from newborn until a car seat is no longer necessary, as with the Graco 4Ever and Safety 1st models. Others may wish for a dedicated rear facing model which also serves as a stroller seat, as with the Britax B-Safe 35 Elite model we reviewed.

After making that basic choice, deciding on ease of use, cup holders, or whether it fits well in your car may factor in. We also provided the dimensions of the rear facing car seat so you can measure to get a better idea of fit. We also included the weight as a factor.

​3 of the Best Rear Facing Car Seats

  • Graco 4Ever 4-In o​​​​ne Rear facing Convertible car Seat
  • Britax B-Safe 35 Elite I​nfant Car seat
  • Safety 1st Grow and Go air 3-In-1Rear Facing  Convertable Car Seat

Graco 4ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat, Basin
  • All-in-1 convertible car seat grows with your child, enjoy 10 years of use from 4 - 120 lb
  • Simply Safe Adjust Harness System adjusts the height of harness and headrest (10 positions) in one motion
  • The 4Ever convertible car seat has been side impact tested for occupant retention solely with the built-in 5-point...

The great thing about this seat is the flexibility you get because it is truly an all in one seat which will accommodate a child between 4 pounds and 120 pounds. This rear-facing car seat will convert to both forward facing and 2 booster seat modes. The upper limit for rear facing is 40 pounds with the 5-point harness in place. The forward facing range is from 20 pounds to 65 pounds. The high-back booster seat mode goes from 30 to 100 pounds and the backless booster seat mode ranges from 40 pounds to 120 pounds. The maximum child height is 32 inches for rear facing and 57 inches for the booster modes.

This seat has a harness system called Simply Safe which allows you to adjust the headrest and the harness in just one move and with only one hand. The recline has 6 positions and the head-rest has 10 positions. Extra padding in the inserts keeps your child comfortable, stabilized and safe. Rounding things out are two cup holders.

The seat's safety features include a steel reinforced frame with energy absorbing foam. In addition to meeting or exceeding crash testing to US standard FMVSS 213, side-impact testing for occupant retention is also done in order to add an extra measure of protection.

Removing the seat cover for cleaning is a breeze and the Graco design keeps aggravation to a minimum as you will not have to re-thread any of the harness straps. Graco has a special latch attachment called InRight which allows you to quickly secure the seat, and the audible feedback click assures you it is locked in place.

The dimensions are 20 x 21.5 x 24 inches with a weight of approximately 23 pounds.

Pros

  • Accomodates newborns and children of up to 120 pounds, making this the only car seat a child would ever need. 
  • Accomodates newborns and children of up to 120 pounds, making this the only car seat a child would ever need. 
  • Easy to Adjust
  • Side impact testing for occupant retention
  • Easy to use 
  • Easy to Adjust

Cons

  • Can be bulky and heavy 

Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat, Red
  • Check out our all new B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat! (B07BRB7FQ4)
  • Surrounded in safety: A layer of side impact protection, steel frame, and impact absorbing base
  • Easy installation: Use Safe Center LATCH or built-in seat belt lock-offs to secure the infant car seat

This rear facing car seat is a dedicated rear facing model only. It is fabricated from an energy absorbing steel base with side-impact protection from SafeCell technology that exceeds federal mandates. Additionally, there is a large canopy for sun protection. The seat is designed to accommodate babies from 4 pounds to 35 pounds.

The base is easy to install and there is a distinct audio click to let you know the seat is locked properly into the base while the integrated level assures you it is properly adjusted. A large handle on the rear part of the carrier is the release mechanism, so attaching and detaching the carrier is done without difficulty.

The exterior shell on the sides helps prevent excess movement while affording maximum protection as well. The seat cover is removable for cleaning, and the carrier handle, which is adjustable, makes toting the baby back and forth to the car easy.

This seat can use the Britax Click & Go system to fit on any Britax stroller. The B-Safe 35 Elite can be used with the Britax B-Ready, B-Agile, B-Agile Double and the B-Freestroller. Some other stroller brands may provide adapters to use with this and other Britax products.

This seat can be used with or without the base by using the seat belts to secure it. However, the use of the base provides a more stable and secure platform and helps facilitate the process of entering and exiting the vehicle in a much easier manner and with less frustration.

Seat area 13” D, 8.75” W; Dimensions 17.75” W x 25” H x 26.5” D and with an approximate weight of 11.5 pounds.

Pros

  • Fits Britax strollers
  • Easy attach/detach 
  • Easy to remove seat covers 
  • Extra side protection 

Cons

  • Rear facing only so limited to 35 pound child or smaller

Safety 1st Grow and Go Air 3-in-1 Car Seat, Evening Tide
  • BUILT TO GROW: The 3-in-1 car seat built to GROW for extended use through 3 stages: Rear-facing 5-40 pounds,...
  • SIDE IMPACT PROTECTION: The Grow and Go's side impact protection helps keep your child safe
  • EASY IN, EASY OUT: Harness holders keep the harness in an open position so it's easy to get your child in and out of the...

This rear facing car seat is convertible to both forward facing and booster seat configurations. It has a 5-position harness and an infant insert pad for extra head and neck support. There are 3 recline angles and a level to help make sure everything is properly aligned, fitted, and installed. The harness and headrest are easily adjustable and the booster mode can fit children up to 100 pounds depending on their height. 2 cup holders come standard.

The rear facing configuration will accommodate infants/children from 5 pounds to 40 pounds, between 19 to 40 inches in height. The forward facing mode will fit children from 22 pounds to 65 pounds, between 29 to 49 inches in height. The high-back booster phase will accept children from 40 pounds to 100 pounds, between 43 to 52 inches in height.
 
It should be noted that the "Air Protect" side impact feature of this product gives it a superior degree of safety in side impacts, adding extra protection for your precious cargo.

The dimensions are 24 inches (H) x 19 inches (W) x 23.5 inches (D) and the weight is approximately 20 pounds.

Pros

  • Handles children up to 100 pounds 
  • Good front leg room
  • Easy to remove seat cover 
  • Extensive crash testing 
  • Air Protect side impact safety feature

Cons

  • May not fit well in smaller cars

​Conclusion

All of the rear facing car seats reviewed here are exceptional products that have undergone extensive safety testing to meet or exceed federal safety mandates for this type of product. Both the Graco 4Ever and the Safety 1st have the marvelous capacity to grow with the needs of your child after you can no longer position them to face the rear. The Britax B-Safe 35 Elite, on the other hand, does have a certain appeal in being a dedicated rear facing car seat.

As far as sheer capacity, the Graco 4Ever at 120 pounds edges both the others out, but the Safety 1st with its additional safety in side impacts from the "Air Protect" feature and its lower price is the one we give our final nod to as the Best Rear Facing Car Seat. There are, of course, many different personal factors that could sway your decision to a different product but we hope this review helps guide you and illuminates some of the factors you should use to decide.