The 7 best rear-facing toddler car seats

Keep your toddler facing backwards for longer.

rear-facing toddler car seats

by Emily Gilbert |
Updated on

If finding the best rear-facing toddler car seat is confusing you, you're not alone! Choosing the right one for your toddler can be daunting – after all, your baby's car seat is arguably one of the most important bits of baby gear you'll ever buy. But the options are simpler than they first appear.

Rear-facing is the safest position for a child to travel in the car. In the event of a head-on collision, the most dangerous and common type of crash, it can substantially reduce the pressure on your child's head and neck. Remember, it's always safer to keep your child in the lowest group seat for their height and weight.

The current car seat laws in the UK state that all children must be in a car seat when travelling until they're 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, whichever comes first. Height-based seats, also known as i-Size (but officially called R129), all keep children facing rearwards in vehicles until they're 15 months old. There's also various car seat groups based on weight. Be sure to check your baby's height and weight is suitable for your chosen seat before purchasing.

The best rear-facing toddler car seats at a glance:

To help you find the best rear-facing toddler car seat for you, your child, and your car, our real parent testers have put some of the leading rear-facing car seats to the test, reviewing their safety, comfort, value for money and design to make your life easier.

The best rear-facing toddler car seats

Best overall rear-facing car seat

Spinning in every direction at just the touch of a button and locking securely in place, this Joie Baby Spin i-Size safety seat has safety features like auto-engaging side impact protection panels, rearward-facing longer usage, new test dummy technology, ISOFIX-only installation, and a better-fit formula for peace of mind.

Our mum tester Rebecca said: "This product is AMAZING! As a mum, I personally think everyone needs one of these. I suffer from back pain and using this to turn my child and get them out of the car with ease was a lifesaver. It's 100 per cent made my life easier and I don't actually know if I will ever be able to go back to a normal car seat now I may have to purchase one for my other car too."

Read our full Joie Baby i-Spin 360 review


  • 360 swivel
  • ISOFIX compatible


  • Fiddly buckle

Best rear-facing car seat for one-hand operation

This Cybex Sirona is a sleek, stylish seat which, as well as rotating 360 degrees for easy access, has in-built technology to stop it being positioned facing forwards until your child has reached a minimum height of 76cm. It's an ISOFIX seat that's easy to install. We particularly like the fabric quality and the comprehensive seat-recline options.

One parent reviewer says: "This is a game changer car seat!! I love the turning feature as it makes it so much easier to get baby/child into the car seat and it's so simple to use as it glides and turns effortlessly. The seat itself is sturdy and safe as well as looks nice and comfortable for little ones. Iv found no downside to this seat I wish I found it sooner!"


  • Easily rotates
  • Easy to install


  • Heavy in weight

Best rear-facing toddler car seat for reclining positions

This i-Size seat is installed using ISOFIX anchor points and has 360° rotating functionality, which our testers love. It has passed Britax's additional safety testing standards and is suitable from birth, offering a flatter lie flat car seat positionfor newborns but also extra legroom for older or taller children. We found it a little on the bulky side, but our tester's babies loved travelling in this one.

Our parent tester said: "This isn't especially modern or funky, but it looks and feels really solid – exactly what I want in a car seat. The covers are easy to clip off to pop in the wash. And this seat has the best recline settings I've seen. My daughter looks very comfortable, especially when she falls asleep, and has plenty of legroom when she's rear-facing. I love that it rotates so easily, too."

Read our full Britax Dualfix i-Size review


  • 360 degrees rotation
  • Multiple recline positions


  • Quite heavy

Best luxury rear-facing toddler car seat

CabrioFix i-Size seat from Maxi Cosi makes installation a breeze thanks to the ISOFIX base, which it simply clicks into. It's lovely and padded and has a headrest to hold them in place, as well as a newborn inlay for the very first couple of months.

One reviewer said: "Our MaxiCosi was delivered quickly and packed securely. And now to the product. Due to its light weight, the MaxiCosi is easy and comfortable to carry, especially when you have to go up and down the stairs. The upholstery of the baby seat is nice and soft and also has a newborn insert with a separate headrest pillow. What I also like very much is the sun protection, which can be folded separately and does not hang on the handle and also goes very far forward. We bought the baby seat together with the Isofix base because it is very comfortable and safe. It offers optimal protection for long car journeys."


  • Lightweight design
  • Newborn inlay


  • Some say that it rattles slightly

Best designed rear-facing toddler car seat

This Come and Go seat has an integrated ISOFIX base and is available in three different eye-catching patterns. It comes with Cosatto's clever 'anti-escape' system, which can be added to the seat to stop your little one slipping an arm out of the straps mid-journey. Some reviewers found this car seat a little tricky to install, but many also thought it represented impressive value for money.

Our mum tester Katie said: "I would recommend this car seat. It is nice and comfortable with lots of padding. It's nice to know your child is safe whilst being comfortable at the same time. It is easy and simple to install into your car and doesn't take ages to do so. The swivel seat is good and it is simple to change the seat position and angle."

Read our full Cosatto Come and Go review


  • Great design
  • Comes with Cosatto's 'anti-escape' system


  • Tricky to install

Best affordable rear-facing car seat

This rearwards-facing BeSafe iZi Modular RF i-Size seat is installed in your vehicle using a modular base, which can also be used with the infant seat. Its front brace allows more legroom for your growing child, and the straps are helpfully held out of the way by magnets. Reviewers found it easy to install in two pieces but would have been more impressed with deeper recline positions.

One mum tester said: "This comes as a seat and a separate base, which makes installation easier but adds to the overall expense. It looks really well made and the fabric is good quality. Getting my wriggly little girl in and out of the car is more of a challenge in this, as it doesn't rotate, but I was very happy that Charis seemed safe and secure, and the recline options are good."


  • ISOFIX compatible
  • Good for legroom


  • Doesn't rotate

Best rear-facing seat for toddlers

This seat from Joie comes with built-in ISOFIX installation when forward-facing for group one, as well as ISOSAFE connection to keep the seat securely in place when in group 2/3 booster mode. The AutoAdjust™ side wings and Grow Together™ multi-height headrest and harness enable easy adjustment of the seat as your child grows, with no rethreading of harnesses required.

Our mum reviewer Jane said: "It's great to have a car seat that goes right the way through from newborn to a much older child as usually, you end up with the infant carrier and then moving onto a rearward-facing and then moving on again to a forward faced chair, which just isn't cost-effective, or eco friendly. I love this idea."

Read our full Joie Every Stage FX review


  • Suitable from birth to 12 years
  • Good for smaller cars


  • Fiddly straps

Choosing a rear-facing toddler car seat

Top tether: This is a strap attached to the back of an ISOFIX car seat. It hooks onto a fixed point in the back of the car to prevent the seat from moving in a collision. With an ISOFIX seat, it's essential to use this or a support leg in addition to the anchor points.

Safety features

Look for a deep headrest, energy-absorbing fabric, and side-impact protection.

Adjustable headrest

The headrest must be correctly positioned to adequately support your baby's head and spine – check that it's easy to adjust.


Machine-washable fabrics are a mum's best friend. Toddlers sometimes leak, after all! Ideally, you want to be able to whip the cover off and pop it in the wash.

Support leg

This is a bar that extends from the bottom of an ISOFIX car seat down into the footwell to prevent it from moving in a collision, but it may not be suitable for use if your vehicle has under-floor storage.


Some car seats have a separate base unit. It plugs straight into the ISOFIX anchor points in your vehicle, and the car seat clicks in place on top of the base. Check whether you need a separate base and if it's an additional expense.


Some of the car seats we have included have 360° swivel functionality, so you can spin the seat to face you when you're lifting your child in and out. Our testers all found this a useful feature, but some parents feel it's a gimmick they're not keen to pay a premium for.

Seat recline

Babies under six months should lie flat when sleeping so their spine and lungs develop healthily, and no child should sit in a car seat for more than two hours at a time. But quick naps are unavoidable in the car, so choose a seat with a deep recline for comfy snoozing.

Buckle and harness

The harness should be easy to adjust for the perfect fit over your baby's body, especially if they have an overnight growth spurt. 5-point harness car seats are ideal for car seats and keeping baby safe and snug. Can you fasten and release the buckle easily without breaking a nail?


Do you need an extended rear-facing car seat?

If your child has almost outgrown their Group 0+ car seat and you're shopping around for a toddler seat (Group 1), an extended rear-facing car seat is worth considering, as it offers better protection than a forward-facing one. If you're buying a baby car seat for use from birth, it's a good option, too, as it enables you to keep your baby in the safest possible position for longer, making it a better-value buy as well.

Do you want a forward-facing option?

Some of the car seats we have included allow you to switch your baby from rearward-facing to forward-facing once she reaches the appropriate height or weight. The advantage of this is flexibility – it can be useful to have the option of switching, for example, if your child is fractious. However, it's a common misconception that children don't like facing backwards as they get older – if your tot only knows a rear-facing seat, they're unlikely to complain! Extended rear-facing seats can appear cramped for toddlers, but they're much more comfortable than they look.

Will you keep it in the car?

If you're shopping for your baby's first car seat and want the option to attach it to your pushchair frame, then an extended rear-facing seat isn't suitable. They're designed to stay put in your vehicle and can be bulky and heavy.

Is it compatible with your vehicle?

Not all car seats are approved for use in all vehicles, so check it's compatible with your car – the car-seat retailer will be able to tell you. Most of the seats we tested are ISOFIX seats, which means connector points in the base of the seat plug into metal anchor points built into the car's chassis, with a support leg or top tether to prevent it from tipping up in a collision. Check whether you can try the car seat in your vehicle before you buy it.

How easy is it to install?

Some car seats are easier to install than others, but it's vital you know how to fit them correctly in order to offer full protection. Many retailers will install the seat for you, and some of the seats included in this round-up have installation features that indicate when they're correctly in place.

Do you need a car seat base?

An extended rear-facing car seat usually has to be installed with a compatible base. You might need to purchase this separately, which bumps up the cost, so check before you buy.

Emily Gilbertis the Features & Reviews Editor for Mother&Baby and has written for the website and previously the magazine for six years. Specialising in product reviews, Emily is the first to know about all the exciting new releases in the parenting industry.

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