This is my 26 month old son, Jackson. I am not entirely sure what he weighs at the moment, but he is wearing 2T clothes and growing like a weed! He is in a Britax Marathon carseat, which has a rear-facing limit of 35lbs. and a forward-facing limit of 80lb. I didn't check height limits, because both of my kids are fairly short, so the weight limit will be an issue before the height limit will. (My love, Keelin, is shielding her eyes from the light in the background. Sweet girl!)
I do not have a LATCH system in my car, so the carseats are secured with seatbelts. We climb in the car, putting weight in the seat, in order to get the belts as tight as they should be. Those suckers are going nowhere!
When I turned him forward-facing, he liked being able to see where we were going and wasn't thrilled when I turned him back rear-facing. To make the transition back to rear-facing easier for him, we brought out some books, toy cars, stickers, etc. that are "for carseat use only!!" :) So we went on and on about how AWESOME Jackson's big boy carseat was and how GREAT it was that it faced backwards!!! Then we made a huge fuss about Jackson's fun car toys that he can only have if he's buckled into his seat. Now, he thinks that getting in the car is the best thing since sliced bread! I know that not everyone will have such an easy time with a rear-facing two year old, but I can only tell you what worked well for us.
My sweet love, Keelin, forward-facing at 41lbs and almost 5 years old. The straps are nice and tight, the chest clip is where it should be, and her seat was installed the same way Jackson's was. That sucker is going nowhere. Gotta love the mud on the side of her carseat. That's what happens when you hurl yourself into the van straight from the playground area of our backyard where you were communing with mud. She's also in a Britax Marathon.
We bought these two carseats in December of 2009, when we were in our accident two days before Christmas. I wouldn't put them back in the wrecked carseats, so I went to Target and got the only two Britax seats they had- hence the fact that they don't match (which does bother me a bit, lol). My back was so messed up from the accident, that I had to get the guys at the car rental place to install them for me when I picked up my loaner while my car was in the shop. You should have seen me asking these mechanics to climb up in the seats so that the belts would be tighter! ;) They looked at me like I was absolutely mad!
Here is a picture of the carseats with no munchkins in them. I keep the LATCH belts attached, because I get to use them when we put the carseats in someone's car that has the LATCH system. Looks a little goofy to have straps hanging everywhere, but I hope to one day have a LATCH system installed in my vehicle, so I'm hanging on to all of the pieces and parts :)
Addressing the issue that a lot of people have mentioned ("What about their legs?!")- Jackson, in the first picture, has one leg bent and the other hanging out on the back of the seat. He took a nap in the car this afternoon with both legs crossed, clearly comfortable enough to go to sleep! Sometimes I look back and see him poking a leg out towards Keelin, goofing off with his feet (he's a no shoe kinda guy if he can help it, so they're off the minute we get in the car- haha), kicking the seat, trying to put his toes on the window, etc. There hasn't been a time yet where he has seemed uncomfortable and I really paid attention to him at stop lights and in parking lots today, just to see if I noticed him acting like it bothered him. And he was fine, just like I imagined he would be.
I hope this post has been more positive than my last one. I was super frustrated last night with the negative reactions that people were giving to the newest recommendations on carseat safety, so my claws popped out. I find that people listen much better to reason and passion than they do to fussing and judging, but I am human and sometimes it shows. I hope that anyone considering extended rear-facing is encouraged by my photos. Let me know if you have any questions!