Looking to keep a big kid rear-facing as long as possible?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids remain rear-facing until reaching the rear-facing height or weight limit for their convertible seat. Kids usually outgrow rear-facing in height – which, for most seats, is when the child’s head is 1 inch below the top of the seat. Leg length doesn’t typically affect how long a child can stay rear-facing. However, we know that the more scrunched a child’s legs look, the more likely a parent is to turn the child forward-facing, even though this leg position is not unsafe or uncomfortable! Therefore, seats that offer more rear-facing leg room often let kids ride rear-facing longer. Picking a car seat with both a high height AND weight limit for rear-facing, as well as generous room for the legs, will help ensure your child stays rear-facing for as long as possible.

Listed alphabetically below are seats for keeping “off-the-charts” kids rear-facing as long as possible (all with 45+ pound rear-facing weight limits and tall seated heights). Note that all of these are also great for keeping smaller kids rear-facing as long as possible too!

Manufacturer Models allowing extended rear-facing
Clek Fllo Foonf
Cybex Eternis S
Diono Rainier 2AXT Radian 3RXT
Evenflo Everystage DLX
Graco Extend2Fit Extend2Fit 3-in-1
Nuna Exec Rava
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Kinetic
Safety 1st Grow and Go EX Air 3 in 1

Which seat do we recommend?

If a Clek is in your budget, we’d suggest splurging – and if it isn’t, the Graco Extend2Fit (or Extend2Fit 3-in-1) is a fabulous option that won’t break the bank and will keep your little one safely rear-facing until kindergarten.

Seat Why We Love It MSRP
Clek Foonf Best safety features for rear AND forward-facing. Optimized for side seat installations. $449 and up
Clek Fllo Best safety features for rear-facing. Optimized for center seat installation. $379 and up
Graco Extend2Fit Budget friendly seat (sale price $150) that's very roomy for child yet takes up little room into front seat. Optimized for side seat installations. $199 and up

How do big kids fit in these seats?

The top 3 sets of pictures below are of 2 big kids – a 6y10m girl and 4y1m boy – in a few of these seats (Clek Foonf, Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1, Nuna Rava). Both kids are within the rear-facing height and weight limits for the seats EXCEPT the 6y/o girl is too tall for rear-facing in the Clek seats as she is more than 43 inches tall. The 4y/o boy is 38 pounds and 43 inches tall.

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Big Kids in Diono Radians

 

Installation issues with bigger kids

Lower Anchors vs Seat Belt

Remember that there are lower anchor weight limits – so when using any of these seats you will eventually need to install them with a seat belt in order to use them to their maximum rear-facing capacity.

Separate from these weight limits, some of these seats will be more likely to install securely with LATCH, while others prefer a seat belt installation when rear-facing. We’ve noted this in the chart and included a selection of installation videos below.

Car seat model Lower anchor weight limit Preferred installation method
Clek Fllo 35 lbs Seat belt. Well designed seat belt locking device allows a secure installation in almost any vehicle.
Clek Foonf 25 lbs Seat belt. Well designed seat belt locking device allows a secure installation in almost any vehicle.
Diono Radians, Olympia, Pacifica, Rainier 35 lbs LATCH, with effort. 35 lb limits the seats usefulness, as a rear-facing seat belt installation is very difficult.
Evenflo Everystage DLX 40 lbs LATCH. Excellent for effortless LATCH installation, no force needed.
Graco Extend2Fit and Extend2Fit 3-in-1 45 lbs LATCH. Excellent for using LATCH as long as possible.
Nuna Rava 35 lbs Seat belt. Well designed seat belt locking device allows a secure installation in almost any vehicle with a locking seat belt.
Safety 1st Grow and Go EX 3 in 1 40 lbs LATCH

Installation videos for selected seats:

Exterior width

Which ones are the narrowest? The Clek Foonf & Fllo and the Diono Radians are the narrowest on the outside – but are very roomy on the inside. The Nuna Rava is also pretty slim on the outside, but less roomy on the inside.

Leg room

Most leg room: The Clek seats, and the Graco Extend2Fit when the foot rest is pulled out, offer the most amount of rear-facing leg room.

Medium leg room: The Diono seats – by virtue of having very low sides offer a generous amount of leg room, particularly to children wishing to sit frog-legged, cross-legged or with one or both legs over the edge of the seat.

Least leg room: The Nuna Rava is the most cramped in the leg room of these extended rear-facing seats.

Space hogs?

Surprisingly, the Clek Foonf, Diono (with angle adjuster), Graco Extend2Fit’s and Nuna Rava all stand a good chance at fitting behind a taller driver (especially when the driver sits fairly upright). All of these seats can be installed more upright for kids who can sit upright unsupported, and the more upright the car seat, the less room it will take up into the front seat. 

Notes for specific seats:

Diono: Use an angle adjuster (sold separately by Diono for $10) to sit the Diono more upright.

Clek Fllo: Removing the anti-rebound bar will typically sit the car seat more upright (although you are removing a safety feature).

Clek Foonf: Will take up 1.5 inches less room into the front seat than a Fllo (using the anti-rebound bar) so we’d suggest Foonf (not Fllo) if you are tight on space.

Graco, Nuna & Safety 1st: Multiple recline positions are allowed for rear-facing. Choose the most upright position permitted to make more room in front.

If you have very little room in back AND want your baby to be more reclined:  Nuna Rava or the Graco Extend2Fit without the foot rest pulled out are your best bets.

Forward-facing longevity

Longest lasting: The Diono, by a tiny margin, has the highest top shoulder strap slot on all of these seats, and will last a tiny bit longer forward-facing.

Almost as long-lasting: The Graco Extend2Fit & Clek Foonf/Fllo will fit most kids until they are ready to transition to a booster. The average kid will get until about their 6th birthday (forward-facing) in a Clek.

Outgrown soonest: The Nuna Rava will be outgrown the soonest forward-facing as it has the lowest top shoulder strap slot of all of these seats. 

Booster mode usability

A note about longevity and these seats’ booster modes 

Diono: The booster mode on the Diono seats is outgrown at the same time the child outgrows the forward-facing harness mode – so you’ll need to buy the child a booster when they outgrow the Diono forward-facing.

Graco & Safety 1st: These turn into boosters but they will not fit a child in booster mode long enough, and you’ll still end up buying a high back booster that can accommodate a taller child eventually.

User friendly straps

If you are buckling your child in snugly in these seats, it’s necessary to loosen the straps each time you take your child out, and tighten them each time you buckle your child in.

User friendly straps are therefore really important–because you must use them every single time you use the seat! 

Winner: Clek seats, hands-down, have the most user-friendly straps – they pull the smoothest of any seat we’ve found and the straps simply don’t twist.

Runner Up: Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 model (ONLY this model). The straps on this seat pull very smoothly due to a roller system on the back of the seat. This model lost top place because its straps tend to twist more than do the straps on the Cleks.

Third place: Other Graco Extend2Fit models, since their straps can be a little stiff to tighten on smaller kids. Straps pull smoothly for rear-facing bigger kids.

Fourth place: Safety 1st straps require some muscle to pull tight.

Last place: Diono. These straps are the most difficult amongst this bunch of seats. Specifically, tightening them on a rear-facing child is much harder than it is on other seats. You’ll have to use your bicep to pull these tight enough.

Motion limiting features (Anti-rebound bars, load legs, Swedish and Australian tethers)

Anti-rebound bars: These prevent a rear-facing car seat from rebounding towards the back of the vehicle during a frontal crash, avoiding a forward motion for the child. Mandatory on Clek Foonf and optional on Clek Fllo. 

Load legs: See this page for all you could ever want to know about load legs. Currently not offered on any convertible car seats sold in the US.

Tethering for rear-facing: See here for a discussion of the Australian tether system, currently offered by Clek

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FTC Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this page. No monetary compensation was provided, however, a few of the reviewed products were supplied by the manufacturer or distributor to help facilitate the review. All opinions are those of The Car Seat Lady, LLC.