An extended rear facing child car seat, is a seat which allows a child to travel rear facing for longer, usually up to 4 years of age. These seats have been used in Sweden since the 1960's, and over the past few years, they have become increasingly popular in the UK due to their excellent safety offering.
ISOFIX, or seat belt fitted?
Extended rear facing car seats are available with ISOFIX, and there are also seat belt options available. ISOFIX extended rear facing car seats have an 18kg weight limit (i-Size seats may differ), and some belt fitted rear facing seats have an 18kg weight limit. There are also many seat belt fitted seats which have a 25kg weight limit.
The group stages available to rear face:
Group 0+1 – 0-18kg
Group 1 – 9-18kg
Group 1,2 – 9-25kg
Combination, or rear facing only?
Some extended rear facing seats will allow the option of putting your child rear or forward facing, where others can only be fitted rear facing.
Extended rear facing car seats are currently tested to R44.04. Many iSize child car seats which are approved to R129 will offer longer rear facing, up to approximately 4 years old (105cm). Some rear facing only car seats may also have passed the Swedish Plus Test.
One of the most common questions asked about keeping children rear facing is "Where will their legs go?" While children are very flexible and comfortable in a rear facing seat, it can look quite odd to adults. There are seats available which have extended leg room options, which is usually achieved by adjusting where the seat is fitted on the vehicle seat.
Three rear-facing children
If children feel the need to stretch out their legs, they can stretch them up the back of the vehicle seat.
What is the best extended rear facing seat to buy?
What is the best seat for you, will depend on your vehicle, your child and your family situation. Here are a few things to consider:
- Method of fitment – There is no safety difference between a properly fitted belted seat, and ISOFIX seat, however ISOFIX is considered safer as it reduces the risk of incorrect fitment. Belt fitted extended rear facing seats can be more difficult to fit.
With any method of fitment you choose, be sure to seek professional advice and fitting help, read the manual and practice fitting the seat so you are confident with it.
- Combination or rear facing only – Do you want to have the option of using the seat forward facing 'just in case', or are you 100% sure that your little one will be rear facing up until the limit of the seat? Take this into account when choosing your seat, if you aren't completely sure you will be rear facing until 4, you may want to opt for a combination seat. Similarly, if you know you definitely will be rear facing to the limit, you may want to consider a rear facing only seat, as these can often be cheaper!
- Additional fitment – Almost all extended rear facing car seats are classed as semi-universal, and they will have a vehicle compatibility list available online. Before you buy your seat, check that every car the seat will be used in is on the compatibility list.
- Is your child tall or heavy for their age? – Child seats with an 18kg limit will accommodate most children to around age 4. If your child is likely to reach 18kg long before their 4th birthday, a seat with a 25kg harness limit will give you better longevity. You may also want to consider a 25kg harness limit seat if you wish to rear face beyond 4 years of age.
- Where to buy – extended rear facing car seats are becoming increasingly available in major retail stores. However, you are more likely to find them in your local independent nursery retail shop. Phone up local stores to see what they have in stock, and if they are trained to show you how to safely fit the seat.