7 Extended Rear Facing Car Seats That Won’t Break The Bank [Seatbelt Install]

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There are a lot of misconceptions related to ‘ERF’ car seats being extremely expensive still and since Christmas is coming up I thought now was a perfect time to write a post introducing my readers to extended rear facing car seats that don’t break the bank.

Obviously what “breaks the bank” can be a very wide spectrum, but I decided to cap the cost at £200 & also give a couple of suggestions that are just above that limit. Some of you might have a small (or big) jaw drop right now thinking “OMG I DONT HAVE THAT KID OF MONEY  YOU CRAZY PERSON!” hehe, but have a little faith.

 

ERF doesn't break bank (1)

 

7 #ERF #cheap Extended Rear Facing Car Seats That Won’t Break The Bank

 

In car seats, it’s also a good idea to look at your child’s torso height which determines by height really when the car seat is going to be outgrown. You can have a “short” child, but the same child could have a very long torso, which would then mean they wouldn’t last as long in a car seat depending on that seats torso height. [ Note that iSize car seats are outgrown at 105cm standing height, so if that is the type of car seat you are after, it would be important to check your child’s red book and see at what age he/she is likely to reach 105cm. You want the child to be at least 4 years old before moving into a HBB]
To measure the torso of  your child is extremely simple:

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How to measure torso height. Note that you only measure up to the top of the shoulder, not up to the ear lobe in this case.

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Joie Tilt:

Group: 0+/1

Product Dimensions: 49.2 cm x w 42 cm x h 61.6 cm

Product Weight: 6.43kg

Rearward-facing from: Birth to 18kg

Forward-facing from: 9 to 18kg

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First off is the Tilt. It’s size I find deceptive, it looks quite small, but in reality, it is actually quite a nice size.
It’s rear facing from birth all the way up to 18kg and is outgrown when the eyes are level with the top of the seat shell in both RF and FF mode. But be aware that when the head has reached the top of the seat shell the car seat can not be touching the front seat – there needs to be a small gap!

Joie Tilt
Oliver (2) rocking the Joie Tilt in a Ford Focus Estate 2001.

Ringing in on an RRP of only £70 it’s the perfect car seat for someone on a tight budget. It lasts longer than for example a Kiddicare or Mothercare car seat in terms of rear facing which instantly gives it a far better buy. Cost wise you are looking at £2 a month or £1.50 if you use it from birth, which again highlights just how inexpensive this seat is.

Another plus I have found is that the top harness slot is quite nice and high, which I find to be a problem in a lot of Group 1 seats, where they are simply too low down.

It’s a perfect seat for small cars or cars with short seat belts (Ford is notorious for short seat belts as an example…).

It’s light weight (6.27 kg) and very easy to move between cars and installation takes seconds after you’ve had a go or two.

The Tilt has a “re-thread harness” which means that you will need to manually change harness position as the child grows, instead of just lifting a headrest up and down where the harness is connected and moves with it, otherwise called “integrated harness”. It’s not hard though and the instruction manual is very good and simple to understand.

Cabin Size Needed:

The Tilt needs 73cm of cabin space. It’s therefore quite nice and compact.

cabin size Joie Steadi
Source: joiebaby.com

Don’t know how to measure cabin space? Fear not, Securatot shows us how:

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Measuring cabin space in a vehicle. Source: securatot.co.uk

Harness Slots:

The Tilt has a lowest harness slot position of 20 cm. The top harness position is 35cm. You are looking at child torso heights here. As a comparison to another car seat, the Britax Dualfix, for example, has a top harness height of only 36cm.

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Source: joiebaby.com

When is it outgrown:

The Tilt is outgrown when the eyes are level with the top of the seat shell in both RF and FF mode. But be aware that when the head has reached the top of the seat shell the car seat can not be touching the front seat – there needs to be a small gap!

 

Joie Steadi:

Group: 0+/1

Product Dimensions:
Forward Facing – 49 x w 42.5 x h 72.5 cm (most reclined, highest position)
Rearward Facing – 75.5 x w 42.5 x h 56 cm (highest position)

Product Weight: 7.52 kg

Rearward-facing from: Birth to 18 kg

Forward-facing from: 9 to 18 kg

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Next up is the Steadi. The Steadi now has an RRP of £100 making it a very affordable seat. It also has a headrest and an integrated harness! Which the Tilt does not have, which makes this seat last a little longer. It’s rear facing from birth all the way up to 18 kg.

Cost wise you are looking at just over £2 a month, not bad right?

It’s a very nice and compact seat that fits well in small/medium vehicles. This seat has a headrest that moves up and down, and it also has an “integrated harness” which also moves up and down with the headrest, making it extremely simple to adjust, you can do this without taking the seat out of the car.

3yo & 1yo enjoying the Steadi in a VW Polo-55 plate.
3yo & 1yo enjoying the Steadi in a VW Polo-55 plate.

Cabin Size Needed:

The Steadi needs 70-77cm cabin space. The lowest being when the headrest is at the lowest position, and it uses more when the headrest is at the top position. If you need to know specifically how much space it takes up in your car, make sure you use the 77cm as you want to be able to use the car seat comfortably in your car with the headrest at the top position.

Joie Steadi cabin size
Source: joiebaby.com

Harness Slots:

The Steadi has the lowest harness slot position of 25cm and a highest harness slot position of 38cm. This actually makes it longer lasting than for example the Britax Dualfix.

Joie Steadi harness slots.
Source: joiebaby.com

When is it outgrown:

The Steadi is outgrown rear facing when the shoulders hit the headrest in the highest position. And forward facing when the harness dips below the shoulders on the highest setting. Ergo height wise it lasts longer rear facing than forward facing.

 

Joie Stages:

Group: 0+/1/2

Product Dimensions: L54.5 cm x W58 cm x H76 cm

Product Weight: 8.86 kg

Rearward-facing from: Birth to 18 kg

Forward-facing with harness from: 9 to 18 kg

Forward-facing as HBB: 18-25 kg

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Also known as the “big brother” of Joie car seats. The Stages is rear facing to 18kg BUT is also forward facing as a high back booster from 18-25 kg! This makes it one of the longest lasting car seats that Joie has.  At the decent RRP price of £150 and the fact that it lasts from birth to approximately six years old makes it very affordable at only £2 a month if used from birth and even if you started using it later like say after the infant car seat was outgrown, you are still looking at only £2.50 a month.

baby in Joie Stages
Henry (8m) enjoying the Joie Stages in a Citroen C5 2003. (Red seat next to it is a BeSafe izi Combi x3 isofix)

Cabin Size Needed:

The Stages is not the most compact seat, but it’s still not a seat that takes up a ton of space. As cabin space go it needs 77cm when the headrest is on the lowest position and when the headrest is extended to max it takes up 83cm. So when you measure if it will fit your car, you will need to make sure you will be able to get 83cm and still sit safely in the front seat.

Joie Stages cabin space
Source: joiebaby.com

Harness Slots:

The Stages lowest harness slot position is 25cm and the tallest setting puts it to an incredible 40cm. This makes it a very good seat for children with a long torso. This is the same max torso height as the Nuna Rebl.

Joie Stages torso hight
Source: joiebaby.com

High-Back Booster Mode:

After 18kg the Stages turns into a high back booster up to 25 kg. I personally find it a good high back booster with a good belt fit and a nice soft and comfortable feel. One of the things that I like the most about this seat is the Custom Harness Hideaway compartments where you are able to just hide the harness away inside the seat when it’s time to use it as a HBB (high back booster), instead of having to completely remove the harness all together like in so many other seats like this.

Stages HBB
Source: joiebaby.com

Joie Every Stage:

Release date: Early December 2015

Group: 0+/1/2/3

Product Dimensions: L54.5 cm x W58 cm x H76 cm

Product Weight: 8.86 kg

Rearward-facing from: Birth to 18 kg

Forward-facing with harness from: 9 kg to 18 kg

Forward-facing as HBB from: 18 to 36 kg

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The “biggest brother” of the Joie range. The Every Stage covers it all, it’s in the name. It’s arguably the only car seat you would actually need because it takes baby all the way from birth until approximately 12  years old. It covers all the car seat groups. It has a relatively low RRP of £200, which puts the cost as low as £1.40 a month if used from birth, and even if you didn’t use it from birth you are still looking at about £1.50 a month, which makes it extremely cost-effective.

Everystage RF
Source: joiebaby.com

Cabin Size Needed:

Incredibly enough the Every Stage takes up less seat belt than his “big (though smaller) brother” Stages, so you won’t come across a problem installing it in cars with short seat belts (hello Ford..).
As cabin space go it needs 77cm when the headrest is on the lowest position and when the headrest is extended to max it takes up 83cm, which is the same as the Stages. So when you measure if it will fit your car, you will need to make sure you will be able to get 83cm and still sit safely in the front seat.

Joie Every Stage cabin size
Source: joiebaby.com

Harness Slots:

I currently don’t have this confirmed, but I can imagine that it has the exact same as the Stages, which means the lowest harness slot position is 25cm and the tallest setting puts it to 40cm, but I need to get this confirmed.

High Back Booster Mode:

After 18kg the Every Stage turns into a high back booster up to 36 kg. I think it looks like a really good HBB, very similar to the Stages, but this one lasts longer, and also the side wings do Auto Adjust which means they expand outwards as the headrest goes upward. This is to accommodate wider shoulders which is def. needed in a car seat that is supposed to fit a 12-year-old.
Like the Stages, this seat also offers Custom Harness Hideaway compartments where you are able to just hide the harness away inside the seat when it’s time to use it as a HBB (high back booster), instead of having to completely remove the harness all together like in so many other seats like this.

Joie Every Stage in HBB mode
Source: joiebaby.com

Britax Max Way:

Group: 1/2

Product Dimensions: 64 cm x 45 cm x 64 cm

Product Weight: 7 kg

Rearward- facing from: 9 to 25 kg

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The Britax Max Way is a PLUS tested rear facing only car seat. It’s nice and compact so fits in a very wide range of cars. It is slightly over the budget of £200, but as I mentioned I wanted to also add a couple of seats that were very close to the £200 limit.
The Max Way’s RRP is £225 which puts the cost at an affordable price of  £3.75 a month if used for about 5 years. Considering that this seat is also PLUS tested and is therefore considered one of the safest car seats on the market, this is a very good price. An added bonus is that this is one of the few car seats that can also be installed using a two point seat belt (lap belt) only, which makes it ideal if you need it to go in any car that has a lap belt.

Britax Max Way in Golf

Cabin Size Needed:

It’s not the most compact seat, but it still fits almost any car, large or small. It’s well suited to parents with small cars (Ford Fiesta, Opel Corsa, VW Polo, Renault Clio, etc) or a need to move seat between cars frequently. On max recline, the seat takes up 80cm of cabin space. For an even better recline, there is a Styrofoam wedge you can purchase, and using this wedge the seat will take up a little bit more.

Measuring cabin space in a vehicle
Measuring cabin space in a vehicle. Source: securatot.co.uk

Harness Slots:

The top harness position of this seat is a good 38cm and the lowest harness position is 26cm. The seat will comfortably take most kids all the way up to age 5 some even up to age 6. To put it into perspective the Axkid Minikid has a 39 cm top harness slot and that seat is considered one of the longest lasting on the market.

 

Britax Two Way Elite:

Group: 1/2

Product Dimensions: 72 cm x 47 cm x 50 cm

Product Weight: 7.1 kg

Rearward- facing from: 9 to 25 kg

Forward- facing with harness from: 9 to 25 kg

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The TWE is one of the longest lasting ERF seats on the market. It is also one of only two car seats (currently) that also forward faces with a harness to 25 kg. With it’s RRP of £220 it is only slightly over the budget of £200, but as I mentioned I wanted to also add a couple of seats that were very close to the £200 limit. Though you might cringe at the price it’s important to remember that this seat will bring most children to age 6 and on average it lasts until the child is approx 125 cm tall and its monthly cost is only £3!
Like the Max Way, the TWE can also be installed with only a 2 point seat belt (lap belt).

TWE in Ford Mondeo -53 Plate
Henry 19m in TWE in a Ford Mondeo -53 Plate

Cabin Size Needed:

The TWE is a compact seat that fits pretty much any car. I have yet to ever hear of one it didn’t fit into because of size and its reputation strengthens that belief. It’s got two different cabin sizes though one for reclined position where the max recline is 40 degrees, and then as your child grows older and the top of the head has reached the top of the seat shell, the seat should be moved to the upright position giving it a 10-degree recline.
The TWE does need to lean on the front seat, though, whereas other seats have a load leg/leg prop and therefore does not need to. This means that the front seat isn’t freely movable. On a positive note, the fact that it doesn’t have a leg prop makes it a perfect seat for cars with underfloor storage compartments where a load leg is not allowed by car manufacturer (Citroen is one example).

Measuring cabin space
Measuring cabin space in a vehicle. Source: securatot.co.uk

Harness Slots:

The Two Way Elite has quite high harness slots. Even though it’s approved for use from 9 kg, the lowest harness slot is a whole 28cm. This makes the seat usually too large for a baby that has not yet fully outgrown its infant car seat, so that is something to take into account. The top harness slot position is a good 40 cm which is also one of the reasons it’s so long-lasting.

TWE harness slots
Henry 15m and just tall enough for the lowest harness slot. He is 50th percentile for hight.

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I have also got a list of all ERF seats on the market HERE .

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And there you have it! My list of seven ERF car seats installed using seatbelt that won’t break the bank. I hope you found this useful and that it helps you to continue rear facing your baby/child.

If you are American you might wish to check out this article on ‘The Best Lightweight Convertible Car Seat’ for your baby and toddler. :) 

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Life with Baby Kicks
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Therese has completed the ‘Advanced Child Car Seat Training Course’ at TRL (Transport Research Lab) and is a CPD accredited car seat expert. She blogs about in-car safety, car seats, tips, reviews, give-aways and advice. She’s a mum on a mission to change the law and raise awareness. She is also a breast feeding advocate and gentle parenting promoter who loves cloth nappies, baby-wearing, BLW and co-sleeping/bed-sharing.