Best Booster Seats of 2018 – Reviews and Rating

(updated: May 31, 2018)

The boy is sitting on a Booster

The best booster car seats you can buy are the types that provide ample head and neck support and provide safety for your child. These seats also need to give them a feeling of being free to move around and have some autonomy so that you can drive them for longer distances without stopping.

As your child gets older, – infant and toddler car seats tend to block off their vision to the outside world. High back or backless booster seats keep them safe while allowing them the freedom to look around and be an active participant in life. It also helps them to feel more mature without skimping on safety.

Child boosters take away the siding of a car seat and instead provide height and width without bulk. They still attach to your car for safety. However, their purpose is to lift the child so that the seat belt fits a smaller body properly.

If you are in an accident, the booster makes it so that your child will have the maximum level of support and safety without harming his or her neck or chest. Putting your child in a booster seat too early can cause damage as can an ill-fitting booster seat.

When do you need a booster seat? Age and weight requirements

Girl weighs herself

Your child needs a booster seat when he or she has reached the maximum height and weight for the forward facing car seat. Each seat will require a different weight and height requirement, so it is best to consult your own manual. You can also go by our reviews, but know that there are different models.

You cannot only go by age because while children tend to stay around the same height and weight, there are discrepancies. For the most part, booster seats start at about 40 pounds or 4 years old. The weight requirement is the greater of the two.


Types of Booster Car Seats
High-back Booster SeatsBackless Booster Seats
Britax High-back Booster Seats

High-back booster seats support your child’s head and neck while providing room to move around the arms and legs.

This is the best next step for children who have outgrown a traditional seat. You may also want the higher sides for children who still fall asleep in the car, or if you take longer road trips.

Some models come with harnesses or accessories to personalize the fit, while others do not. You must look for a high back booster that has clips on the side so that you can adjust it as your child grows.

Disney Backless Booster Seats

Backless booster seats are the step right before when children are ready to ride in a car without any assistance.

Backless boosters help to align your child with the seatbelt system so that they can stay safe in the case of an accident. Make sure your child’s legs bend with the seat for the safest ride.

The booster seat should go along with your car’s seat belt system, clipping in at the appropriate place. Just like traditional seats, you want this one to latch onto your car’s seat as well.


Of course, even the best booster seat won’t work unless you install them correctly!

  • Make sure you refer to the guide provided by the manufacturer to see just how your seat works.
  • You should also ensure that your automobile works well with the intended seat – some will be too small to get the most out of it.

Our 2018 Rating of Booster Car Seats

Britax Frontier G1.1 ClickTight Britax Pinnacle G1.1 ClickTight Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Booster Graco Atlas 65 2-in-1 Clek Oobr High Back Booster Graco Affix Youth Booster Disney KidsEmbrace Cinderella WB KidsEmbrace Batman Superhero Graco Highback TurboBooster Britax Parkway SGL G1.1 Graco Nautilus 65 3-in-1 Evenflo Maestro Booster Safety 1st Store-N-Go Evenflo Big Kid AMP Booster Evenflo Securekid Lx
Britax Frontier G1.1 ClickTight
Price: High
Our Rating:
9.8
Britax Pinnacle G1.1 ClickTight
Price: High
Our Rating:
9.7
Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Booster
Price: Average
Our Rating:
9.2
Graco Atlas 65 2-in-1
Price: Average
Our Rating:
9
Clek Oobr High Back Booster
Price: High
Our Rating:
8.9
Graco Affix Youth Booster
Price: Low
Our Rating:
8.8
Disney KidsEmbrace Cinderella
Price: Average
Our Rating:
8.6
WB KidsEmbrace Batman Superhero
Price: Average
Our Rating:
8.6
Graco Highback TurboBooster
Price: Low
Our Rating:
8.5
Britax Parkway SGL G1.1
Price: Average
Our Rating:
8.2
Graco Nautilus 65 3-in-1
Price: Average
Our Rating:
8.1
Evenflo Maestro Booster
Price: Low
Our Rating:
8
Safety 1st Store-N-Go
Price: Low
Our Rating:
7.9
Evenflo Big Kid AMP Booster
Price: Low
Our Rating:
7.5
Evenflo Securekid Lx
Price: Average
Our Rating:
7.2

Britax Frontier G1.1 ClickTight​

Britax Frontier G1.1 ClickTight
Check Britax Frontier G1.1 ClickTight price
Price: High Our rating:
9.8

Overall, the Britax Frontier G1.1 Clicktight is a fantastic seat for parents who want to walk the line between safety and beauty - there is no denying that this is one of the best looking booster seats on the market today.

Go to ReviewRead Our Full Review of the Britax G1.1 Frontier

Advantages

We found that the Britax Frontier was one of the easiest booster seats to install overall. Even more, it was extremely easy to clean if it got messy. The weight limits and height limits are quite high, so you'll get a lot of use out of this - which is a good thing because the heavy padding and quality construction mean it will last a long time.

Most importantly, this is by far one of the safest booster seat models for your child.

Disadvantages

One problem is that this booster does tend to be a bit heavier than other models. Another issue is that adults need to step in to adjust the harness - which may be a good thing, but it can be hard for them as well.

Some found the seat to be a bit narrow, but that hasn't been a universal complaint.

Compilation of customer opinions

Overall, customers have been very happy with the purchase of this car seat. A few did say that the padding was a bit extensive, and their children fell asleep in the car too easily - but we don't think that will be a problem for many parents!

Britax Pinnacle G1.1 ClickTight​

Britax Pinnacle G1.1 ClickTight
Check Britax Pinnacle G1.1 ClickTight price
Price: High Our rating:
9.7
Our Choice

This belt positioning booster seat comes as part of a system, or you can buy it individually on it’s own - though you will have a harder time finding some of the other pieces.

Your child must be at least 40 pounds, but not over 120 pounds and be 45-62” in height. It will move your child to be at or just below the shoulder belt positioner. Note that this system comes with different clips so that you can move it to customize to not only your child, but also the car.

The seat comes in three different styles that fit almost all tastes. The seat itself has SafeCell technology in the base so that your child will have a comfortable ride. The cover is easy to remove, perfect for spills and the fabric resists staining as well.

Overall, the Britax Pinnacle G1.1 Harness-2-Booster is one of the best booster seats available on the market today. It has some of the best reviews not only from industry professionals but from parents who have actually used it. Note that many parents who have children who don’t fit into traditional seats, especially those with physical problems, have been able to use this seat. You will still want to talk to your doctor, but it is a trend we’ve noticed.

Advantages

Unlike many booster seats, the conversion here is seamless. You are easy to move this seat as you need. This one can even be installed with the LATCH system so that you know you have a great fit every time.​

Another advantage is the lifting quality of this seat - it tends to lift a little more than others, so if you have a child that just reaches the height requirements, you will get another half inch or so out of this one, which can be make or break. It also has plenty of room width-wise for children who need a little more room to stretch out.

Disadvantages

It is a little on the taller side, so if you have a child that is going to be tall, you might want to look elsewhere. Some have also complained that the amount of padding is a little bit low, so the seat doesn’t sit well for longer trips. Still, it does position the seatbelt perfectly.​

Compilation of customer opinions

Many customers thought that this seat was great for parents who are always on the go and need to move the seat from car to car thanks to its awesome installation system.​ Once again, it is a favorite for many different types of children, so it is something to think about when you are looking for a seat for a child who has additional needs.

Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Booster​

Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Booster
Check Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Booster price
Price: Average Our rating:
9.2

Going up to thirty pounds, the Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Booster is one of the booster seats that you can use for the longest amount of time.

It is a great investment into the safety of your child, especially if you have a child who is a little smaller than average. It goes up to 110 pounds in the backless version and 100 pounds in the backed version.

Since there are two different configurations, you can use this for short distances as a backless and longer distances as a back so that your child is always comfortable.

Go to ReviewRead our Detailed Review of the Chicco KidFit Belt Positioning Booster

Advantages

One of the biggest advantages is the fact that your child can use this as a backed and a backless version. It is easy for parents to install and adjust. Then, your child can adjust it by himself, especially as he gets older. Another huge advantage is that this model doesn’t need the headrest from your car, so that you will see less damage overall - the same goes for the bottom, it is smooth so that it won’t cut into the upholstery.

Finally, the seat is comfortable overall with a TON of padding and great room for your child to move and grow, but still stay safe.

Disadvantages

One big disadvantage of this model is that it isn’t quite as tall as some of the other models on the market today. It also requires a bit of assembly on your part at the very beginning, so it isn’t ready right out of the box. Finally, it is made in China, so some parts of it feel a little flimsy.

Compilation of customer opinions

Very few parents have any complaints about this system. Some did have trouble with the instruction manual because it is large and in-depth, so you have to do some search for the right answers. However, once you have worked with the seat for some time, it is less likely that you will need it.

Graco Atlas 65 2-in-1​

Graco Atlas 65 2-in-1
Check Graco Atlas 65 2-in-1 price
Price: Average Our rating:
9

For children who are over three years old and weigh more than 30 pounds (but under 100 pounds), the Graco Atlas 65 2-in-1 is a fantastic choice. A booster seat with a harness up to 65 pounds, you can ease your child into using this seat, or you can keep your child safe when you are driving in harsh weather - you have a ton of possibilities.

It is important to note that this is a forward facing seat that transfers into a backed booster seat - it isn’t a convertible booster. With two cupholders and extra padding, it will have your child riding in comfort.

Advantages

The biggest advantage for this seat is that it fits a wide range of children because it uses a harness and a booster together. When you aren’t using the harness, there is a place to store it so that you can use it - like if plans change or you want to use it for a longer road trip but don’t want to use it when you are riding around where you go. Of course, you get all of this for a cheaper price than usual as well, which many parents like.

By far the most parent-friendly advantage is that this seat is extremely light when compared to other seats - it comes in at about 12 pounds, some 40% less than some of the top selling seats on the market.

Disadvantages

One of the biggest disadvantages is that this does not turn into a backless booster, which many parents expect when they get it. Instead, you get a backed booster with a harness. There is a lot at work here, so this system takes some time to figure out - you will have to do some assembly on your own. Some complained that there could be more padding on the seat itself rather than all on the headboard.

Compilation of customer opinions

Overall, most parents view this booster seat/forward facing seat combination as a serviceable seat - you won’t find too many overjoyed parents who feel like this seat changed their lives, but you also won’t see any parent that dislike the seat either.

Clek Oobr High Back Booster​

Clek Oobr High Back Booster
Check Clek Oobr High Back Booster price
Price: High Our rating:
8.9

If you're in the market for a premium booster seat, this high back booster from Clek Oobr is worth considering. While not cheap, it's not the most expensive on the market either. It has a few really nice features to improve safety and comfort.

Advantages

This seat uses a rigid latch to lock the booster in place with your car's LATCH anchor to make it more stable in a collision. A lot of boosters don't have this feature. When using the rigid latch, you can also take advantage of the seat's recline feature, which gives your child a good 12 degrees of recline so they can rest better on long trips.

Moms love that the fabric doesn't contain harsh chemicals, and the seat is not made in China, which can often result in questionable quality. Most parents reported that their kids were very comfortable in the seat and slept well on long trips. They also liked the removable back for those who'd rather have a backless booster.

Disadvantages

Several parents reported that the seat did not fit well in their specific vehicles. The seat was too wide in most of these cases, so it blocked the belt buckle. We recommend you call the manufacturer first to see if your vehicle is compatible with the seat before buying.

One parent noted a gap between the vehicle seat back and the booster while in backless mode, which was uncomfortable for her child. Others were disappointed that it didn't come with a cupholder. Some thought the seat wasn't padded enough and a few felt the seat depth was too shallow.

Compilation of customer opinions

If the price of this seat would be a serious investment for you, it might be less risky to go for a cheaper option in case it doesn't fit your vehicle. For those who can spend a bit more, this seat is worth a try. Just be sure you find out if your vehicle is compatible with it before buying.

Graco Affix Youth Booster​

Graco Affix Youth Booster
Check Graco Affix Youth Booster price
Price: Low Our rating:
8.8

The Graco Affix Youth Booster is a true booster seat that many parents have loved over the years, in a few different forms. This can be used as a backless booster seat (for between 40-100 pounds and over 40”) or a backed booster seat (for between 30-100 pounds and over 38”). This seat is a little bit wider than other models, making it perfect for longer rides.

Advantages

The LATCH system is a secure one so that you will feel safe with your child in the car in all types of driving environments. Your child will be well secured and safe if you use this system correctly. Even better, you can set it so that your child can “self buckle” and you can start to teach him or her independence. Your child will have to use the open-loop belt guides, which you will have to set up.

Children are extremely comfortable in this seat - especially around the head, which can take quite a beating when your child is learning how to secure themselves in a car seat. As a parent, you will like that the extra padding allows for more safety.

Disadvantages

Some parents have trouble with the installation process, especially setting up that self-buckle option. However, the instruction manual does help; it is just that most people don’t use it.

Compilation of customer opinions

Some parents have reported that they feel like the seat loosens more frequently than other seats, but that has only been reported by parents who have children that moved quite a bit while in the seat. Even if your child doesn’t move, it might be a smart idea to check the seat for looseness regularly. Still, even parents who reported that problem have said that they like the seat quite a bit.

Disney KidsEmbrace Cinderella​

Disney KidsEmbrace Cinderella
Check Disney KidsEmbrace Cinderella price
Price: Average Our rating:
8.6

For parents who have a child who loves Disney, sometimes one of the easiest ways to get your son or daughter to get into the car is to put their favorite character on the seat itself. While you are giving up some of the flair for the Disney character, you will at least have a happier child.

Advantages

Other than the typical Disney quality and attention to detail - which is here - you also get one handed harness adjustments, 2-position crotch strapping, a wraparound headrest, and many other comfort items that will keep your child happy in the car. The fabric itself is quite easy to clean, and many parents have commented on the user-friendliness of the owner’s manual.

Disadvantages

One of the biggest problems is that the straps can be quite twisty at times, especially if they are allowed to sit for some time.

Compilation of customer opinions

Many parents have said that the backed version is far better than the backless version, so you may want to consider that when making your purchase.

WB KidsEmbrace Batman Superhero​

WB KidsEmbrace Batman Superhero
Check WB KidsEmbrace Batman Superhero price
Price: Average Our rating:
8.6

For the little superhero in your life, the WB KidsEmbrace Combination is a fantastically fun booster. It looks like one of your favorite superheroes while providing some support and safety features.​ If you are having trouble getting your child into a car seat, this might be a great place to start.

The WB KidsEmbrace Combination is a harness and a seat positioning booster seat that, once you get it installed, will be worth it. However, you have to take a long time to get there.​

Advantages

Of course, the design makes it so that your child wants to get into the booster seat, something that parents have to argue with their children over. Once you get this installed, it does have a nice feel to it and children will be able to sit for quite some time. It is also incredibly safe.​

The seat is made out of high quality materials, and many parents have said that this is able to go through quite a bit. Another interesting point is that some parents have said that children with sensory issues have found this seat to be more comfortable than others. While your child may be different, it is an interesting this to test out if you can.

Finally, people in all car sizes (mini vans, compacts, SUVs, etc.) have said this is a good fit.​

Disadvantages

These seats, though cute, are incredibly different to install for many parents. Tightening the straps and getting that personalized fit is hard because of all the padding used to make these seats as neat as they are.​ Parents have also said that the seats are a little more difficult to clean than some other models of seats.

Compilation of customer opinions

Many parents complained about just how difficult this one is to install and adjust. It can be quite a pain. Parents also lamented the price of the seat, saying they could get something easier for the price.​ Still, for parents who have children who have sensory issues, this has been seen as a miracle seat - parents can keep their children safe and comfortable at the same time.

Graco Highback TurboBooster​

Graco Highback TurboBooster
Check Graco Highback TurboBooster price
Price: Low Our rating:
8.5

The Graco Highback booster is a convertible booster that moves from a highback mode to a backless mode with just a few simple steps that are outlined in your manual. The highback version holds up to 30-100 pounds, and between 38 and 57″ in height.​​

Your child should be at least four years old. In the backless mode, your child should be 40-100 pounds, and the height limits are between 40″ and 57″ and above, depending on where you live.​ The user manual specifically says that you want to check regularly with this seat because it is so narrow.

Overall, this is a fantastic booster for people who have to move it around a lot and need to install and uninstall regularly. It is also great for people with small cars.​

Advantages

This seat is one of the lightest and narrowest boosters on the market today. It is extremely easy to adjust and move around as well. Your child will get a really customized fit that they won’t always be able to get with other seats.​ The seat is extremely easy to adjust by you, but children will be able to do it by themselves as well. One thing to look for is the fabric - you will be able to clean it after spills.

Disadvantages

It is recommended that you get the seat that offers side impact protection even though it does cost a bit more. You don’t get as much protection from this option as maybe you should because there is a lack of padding throughout the seat, especially on the side of the legs where the thighs rest.

Compilation of customer opinions

Parents absolutely adore this seat. They wish that it had been around longer and that they had one because of how comfortable it is. For parents who use this booster seat, it doesn’t get much better.​

Britax Parkway SGL G1.1​

Britax Parkway SGL G1.1
Check Britax Parkway SGL G1.1 price
Price: Average Our rating:
8.2

The weight for the Britax Parkway SGL G1.1 is 40-120 pounds, like with most seats. The height, however, gives you more of a spread, coming in at 38-63”. You’ll get even more if you use it in backless mode.​

You can use this seat as part of an all-in-one system, as a booster seat, and as a backless booster.​

Overall, this is one of the best safety seats for kids of any and all sizes because of the widened back and the weight limits. It also has a lot of the safety features that parents are looking for in a booster seat.​

Advantages

This seat, if used in backed mode, has a nice amount of shoulder space, great for kids who are little on the thicker side. The SecureGuard clip is put into place so that there isn’t any submarining of the seats and the wide side wings help prevent the head from moving around if you need it.​

Most importantly, this seat can be used in almost any type of car, regardless of the type of seats that you have.

Disadvantages

Once again, the price here, especially for something made in China, is a bit of a sticking point. The LATCH release button is also extremely touchy.​ Some parents complained that the seat is a bit heavier than other Britax seats, which was disappointing.

Some parents have said that the seat is a bit expensive for what you get, though it does seem to be in line with other seats in the price range.

Compilation of customer opinions

Parents generally give this booster seat a good review, especially in comparison to the older models. Still, it is a bit on the “cheap” side construction wise and parents have noticed that it doesn’t always hold up.​

Graco Nautilus 65 3-in-1​

Graco Nautilus 65 3-in-1
Check Graco Nautilus 65 3-in-1 price
Price: Average Our rating:
8.1

One of the safest seats on the market, the Graco Nautilus 65 3-in-1 is for parents who are serious about safety. It is made out of steel and uses the highest quality materials. Note that the steel does make this a bit heavier, but it isn’t too heavy - you’ll be surprised. Still, this is probably not the seat to move from car to car.

Advantages

You truly won’t have to question this seat - you will know that it is extremely durable and really, really comfortable for your child - it is hard to find a seat that is truly both. There are also some great extras for your kids and for you - it is easy to use, no rethreading harness straps, and machine washable pads.

Most importantly, this is one of the most thoroughly tested car seats and booster seats on the market today - they even run tests that aren’t required.

Disadvantages

There are a few things to pay attention to - especially if you live somewhere where the heat gets high. Some parents have reported that the buckles can warp when in extreme heat. The heat also tends to impact the harness, so you should be careful.

Some parents have mentioned that at least at first, the reclining feature is stiff and doesn’t really work well, though that comes through in the end.

Compilation of customer opinions

Overall, parents have been VERY happy with this purchase. They use it throughout the formative years of their child, so it is something that you have to love.

Evenflo Maestro Booster​

Evenflo Maestro Booster
Check Evenflo Maestro Booster price
Price: Low Our rating:
8

The Evenflo Maestro Booster is a very popular seat because of its low price, but many parents have questions about whether or not it is worth it. If you go into the purchase aware of a few things, it is certainly worth it.

Advantages

Of course, this is a very budget-friendly seat that many parents take advantage of - and it isn’t only lightweight in price. The seat itself is rather small and lightweight. It is narrow and a great option for people with compact cars or more people to fit into your car. It is made in the US, so you know that the materials are all extremely high quality. It is also approved for aircraft use by the FAA.

One thing to note is that you can use LATCH systems with this seat, but only up to 50 pounds.

Disadvantages

It is important to note that the disadvantages of this seat come from extreme nitpicking - there isn’t much to see in terms of disadvantages. Some people complained about how short the seat is in booster mode. This means the back is short - your child will likely need another seat before he or she can use the regular seat belt system.

Compilation of customer opinions

Overall, parents are very happy with their purchases of the seat. However, you must go into it knowing that you will have to purchase another one, especially if you have a headrest that doesn’t adjust at all.

Safety 1st Store-N-Go​

Safety 1st Store-N-Go
Check Safety 1st Store-N-Go price
Price: Low Our rating:
7.9

With the Safety 1st Store-N-Go, you have to be aware that the low price means that you are making some concessions when it comes to the seat itself. While of course, the safety is still there, you have to be careful about the accessories that you might need to make the seat just a bit more comfortable for you.

Note that this seat tends to work better with a younger child (about four years) than it does an older one.

Advantages

While the lower price is an advantage and we did warn you about fewer features, there is certainly a great feature here that you should know about - an under seat storage drawer. This makes it just a bit easier to store toys, snacks, or gear under the seat. The adjustable headrest makes the seat more comfortable, as does the soft foam padding that doesn’t have that “transition” period that many others do.

Finally, the seat only weighs in at about 10 pounds, so it is rather light.

Disadvantages

There is no sidearm protection with this seat, so you might want to consider that. You may also have to add more padding if your child is tall but thin - but you can easily add this. Some parents have reported that they had a problem with the headrest as well, so you may want to watch that for some time to see if you need to adjust it so that it stays.

Compilation of customer opinions

Overall, parents really do like this, though there seem to be a few problems here and there. Mostly, you can find some fixes for these problems online.

Evenflo Big Kid AMP Booster​

Evenflo Big Kid AMP Booster
Check Evenflo Big Kid AMP Booster price
Price: Low Our rating:
7.5

The Evenflo Big Kid AMP is a booster seat that fits a wide range of children, from 30-110 pounds and from 38” all the way up to 57”. It has a 6-year expiration and is both backless and a high back booster.​ Many parents love this seat and it is one of the highest rated for the price point.

Overall, this seat isn’t going to blow your mind in terms of usage. Many booster seat reviews will tell you that it is passable and that it will help to keep your child safe, but it won’t really go above and beyond.​

Advantages

The biggest advantage of this seat is obviously the price – it is a great deal for a booster seat. It is also convertible, which you don’t typically find in this price point. Finally, it doesn’t require vehicle head support, so it works with a wider variety of cars.​

The materials used in this seat are cheaper, but that makes the seat itself lighter. If you have to move the seat from car to car on a regular basis, you may want to purchase this one as the mover. It is also fairly easy to clean because it doesn’t have the nooks and crannies that other seats have.

Disadvantages

Still, there isn’t an overwhelming amount of head and torso support, so you are losing some of the comfort and a little safety. There are also no lower anchors which means you have to be extremely careful.​ Of course, you don’t have some of the nice accessories that you have with other seats either. Instead, you have some basic additions that you could probably live without.

Compilation of customer opinions

Overall, if your child is mature enough to fit into the seat, this should be a good one for them. However, if your child likes to be an escape artist, you might want to look elsewhere, according to parents.​

Evenflo Securekid Lx​

Evenflo Securekid Lx
Check Evenflo Securekid Lx price
Price: Average Our rating:
7.2

“Average” is probably the best way to describe this seat. It is of average price, average luxury, and average safety. That doesn’t mean that the Evenflo SecureKid Lx is a bad seat - just that it isn’t anything to write home about. You will get the best you can, but it won’t blow your mind.

With four sets of harness slots, there are some nice things to look forward to as well. Note that it has an upper weight limit of 65 pounds but can go extremely tall.

Advantages

The seat, as mentioned, is extremely lightweight and can be easily moved. In fact, there are a lot of easy things about this - including using the harness straps, setting up the seat, and moving it. The deep headwings make the seat comfortable and help your child keep great posture. With the 5-point harness, you will be able to use this for aircraft travel.

Everything is easy to take care of and machine washable on the cold cycle. Finally, it was made in the United States, so you know that it is very high quality.

Disadvantages

There is no recline setting nor a lock-off device with this one, so you may have a harder time getting a comfortable fit. The seat needs to be completely uninstalled for it to be adjusted, which is a bit of a bother. One more thing to note is that the belt guides are difficult to spot at first, so don’t hesitate in checking the manual.

Compilation of customer opinions

Many parents do like this seat, though they aren’t overwhelmed by it. It is just a seat that they use frequently and like. If you want something that inspires a reaction, you may want to look elsewhere. If you just want a seat that works, this one will be fine for you.


All You Need to Know About Booster Seats

booster car seat in car

While many people may think that they are done with car seats when their child outgrows them, that isn’t the truth. There is a growing importance of having a transition seat for your child – also known as the booster seat. They are so important that most states require a booster seat for children under a specific age, height, and/or weight.

Today, people are always on the go, and they don’t allow their children to stop them from doing that. Kids spend more time in cars than they ever have, so it is reasonable that we need to adopt new safety measures to keep our children safe. Most of the rules for booster seats come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), though there is some wiggle room to personalize the booster seat to your child.

Booster seats aim to adjust your child so that they can fit properly into your car – after all, cars and seat belt systems were designed for adults, not children. Children who don’t sit properly in a car are 55 percent more likely to be injured in a car accident than one who was using a booster seat. A booster seat will adjust your child so that he or she sits appropriately with the lap belt in the right place and the shoulder restraints hit where they need to hit.

If you are ever in an accident – or even just stop extremely quickly, an improperly fitting seat belt can injure your child more than the injury they would have prevented. If your child hits his or her neck on the shoulder belt, it could cause major damage to her respiratory system or ribs. If the lap belt doesn’t fit safely, it can cause damage to all of the internal organs in the stomach, including the spleen, liver, and stomach. This isn’t a risk you want to take – children often don’t have much padding in the way to protect them.

NHTSA

In general, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has two recommendations when it comes to who should use a booster seat:

  • Children who are at least eight (8) years old and 4’9”
  • Children who have outgrown the manufacturer recommendations for the existing car seat
  • Your child can keep himself up and when sitting on the booster seat, and naturally bend his or her legs with feet on the floor of the car.

It is important to remember that each stay has its own set of rules for booster seats and you can check that out at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website – or at your local police station.

Is My Child Ready For a Booster?

The most important thing you need to do is determine whether or not your child is ready for the booster seat. Many parents put their child into a booster set before he or she is truly big enough and old enough to use it. As mentioned above, your child wants to meet all of the requirements for the seat, including weighing enough, being tall enough, and reaching all the crucial parts of the car. It is essential to reach all of these because each one serves a purpose.

Some booster seats come with a harness (more on that later), so you may want to use that if your child doesn’t quite meet all of the requirements. Harnesses come in handy if your child might not be mature enough to sit in a booster seat without moving too much. If you find that your child wiggles too much – especially on long car rides – you can always reattach a harness if you bought one that offers that.

Make sure to adjust the harness if you do decide to use it, and always check your child to make sure the booster is doing what it needs to do. The lap belt must cross over the hips, not the belly, and touch the thighs. The shoulder belt should land on the shoulder, not the neck.

Types of Booster Seats

Types of Boosters

There are a few things that you need to know about booster seats before looking at the different kinds of booster seats available:

  • Your car needs to have both a lap belt and a shoulder belt in order to use any current booster seat.
  • Your child must be at least 40 pounds to use the booster seat – even if he is tall, he needs to weigh this much to hold down the seat when the car is in motion.
  • Ensure that you buy a booster seat with a headrest if he cannot use the headrest in the car.

There are three types of booster seats that you should even consider when you do decide to buy one. There are a few other models out there that you can buy, but you should not even think about buying them – they are often not that great. The only thing you really need to pay attention to is the weight limit, as they will vary from seat to seat.

No-back Booster Seat

A no-back booster seat absolutely has to be used with a lap and a shoulder belt. These work together to keep your child safe. These are considered the most efficient booster seats because they are easy to move from car to car. However, there are a few fit requirements: your car needs to have a headrest, and your child’s ears must be on the headrests when he or she is sitting down.

High Back Booster Seat

Once again, a high back booster seat must be used with a lap and a shoulder belt. This is good for a car that doesn’t have headrests, but it can be used in a vehicle that does have them as well. The high back booster is mostly used for children that still like to nap in the car or for families that drive in a lot of stop and go traffic, as it prevents whiplash.

Forward-Facing Seat with Harness or Combination Seat

Another popular option is a forward-facing seat with a harness or a combination seat. This is becoming more and more popular. It will allow you to keep the same seat or seat system so that you don’t have to relearn over time. It also makes it easier for you to switch back if you find that maybe your child wasn’t ready.

How the seat works and fits your car will be largely dependent on the seat itself.

If You Need Seats for Children Living With Special Needs

It is important to note that some children require seats that fit their physical needs. Make sure to do some research about which seats have worked best for other children that have the same physical requirements as your child does, but do not overlook the best advice from your doctor. He or she will likely either know of the best option for you or have a contact that can help you find the best option.

Buying a Booster Seat

Buying a booster seat isn’t something that you should do without thinking it through first. More importantly, you want to do tons of research so that you can find your best bet. Every booster seat that you can buy from a reputable source will meet with the standards set forward by the US government and from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. You cannot guarantee this with seats you buy in other countries, from other countries online or secondhand seats. Still, the seat is only effective if you use it correctly, so make sure that the seat is installed properly and ALWAYS check the seat for any problems before installing it in your car.

First, look at the different types of car seats to see which one fits your needs: backless, backed, or combination booster seat. Each one has various pros and cons, so you will need to weigh those for yourself. Look at your car, your child, and the amount of time that you drive. One of the things you might want to consider is whether or not you want a harness. It is always a good idea to have a harness – just in case.

As for what features to look for, you have to decide that for yourself. There are a few different accessories that you might want to choose, depending on how much time you spend in the car. Still, as your child will have a little bit more access to the car, you want to focus mostly on how the seat works to adjust your child in your car – that is the most critical part.

Installation Tips for Booster Seats

When you are using a booster seat, always read the owner’s manual of both the car and the booster seat before using it with your child in it. You will get great tips and tricks that will make installation much easier and more efficient. Most booster seats come with a plastic clip or guide that will help you to correctly position the vehicle lap and shoulder belts. Even more, your car may come with moveable pieces that you can use to adjust the clips and keep everything aligned. This is mostly true in newer cars. Another thing to be aware of is whether or not your car has lower anchors or attachments – this information should be readily available in the car booklet.

Your child must be present when you are installing the booster seat.

Booster seats always have to be used with a lap and shoulder belt, unless you have a holster that takes the place of the belt. There are two things to ensure when you install a booster seat in your car:

  • The lap belt falls snug and across your child’s upper thighs – not the stomach, which is a widespread mistake.
  • The shoulder belt crosses the middle of your child’s chest and shoulder – not over the neck or down across the upper arm.

Use Clips

One of the essential tips for installing a booster seat is always to use belt-positioning clips if they came with the booster seat. They are most likely to be found on the sides of a high back booster or attached to a strap on the bottom or back of a backless model. Sometimes, you won’t need to use the clips if the seat belt lands correctly on your child – but this is extremely rare. Each child is built differently, so it is unlikely that you will be able to follow anyone else’s guidelines. You have to do this for yourself, and you have to do it regularly – children grow like weeds.

Anchor Systems Help Too

The anchor systems work to keep the booster seat attached to your car. They are also there to keep it in place when you move around. The weight of your child will also help, which is why you have to adhere to the weight requirements.

How do I know if I’ve installed my child’s booster seat correctly?

One of the best ways to know if you installed the booster correctly is to ensure that the booster is in the right spot. Ideally, this is the center back of the car so that in the case that your car is hit in the sides, your child will be protected. However, you do have to adjust for the seat belts that you have in your vehicle. Never use only a lap belt, which is what is, unfortunately, the only option in the middle of many different vehicles.

If you can’t put your child in the middle, put them into the seat behind the passenger side of the car, if they will be in with a parent who is driving and no one else. You will be able to look at your child and check on him or her throughout the entire ride. Even more importantly, you will be able to get your child out of the car when you park on a busy street.

If you have more than one child and have more than one booster seat in the car, you want to spread them out if possible (like in a van with multiple rows) or put them together for maximum protection. Always put the younger child on the side that you see more often, so behind the passenger side seat.

Booster Seat Not to Consider

There are a few different booster seats out there that you shouldn’t even consider when you are shopping. These seats are not safe, most of the time, and will not make you happy.

The first type is the shield booster seat. This type of seat is no longer recommended by any professional because it can actually cause more damage during an accident. The shield can come off and hurt your child, or it can cause hidden bacteria to form in places. If you have one of these seats, try to take the shield off if you can.

If the shield doesn’t come off, buy a new seat for the most safety.

Another thing you want to avoid is a recalled seat. Recalled seats have problems that you might be able to see, or you might not be able to see. Make sure to consistently check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration listing of recalled seats.

Another thing to avoid is a second hand seat. These come from garage sales, yard sales, thrift markets, or friends. These seats may have been in crashes or used so hard that they are no longer useful. You can’t always see this damage, but it is likely to be there. Do not use a booster seat unless you are sure that it is still up to date, hasn’t been involved in an accident, and wasn’t used all that hard.

When Can We Eliminate the Booster Seat?

Eventually, your child will grow big enough that you will be able to eliminate the booster seat and use nothing at all. Parents who want to remove the booster seat should check these five things before doing so:

  1. Check if the child can sit with his or her back against the back of the seat and have his or her knees bent;
  2. The belt crosses across the shoulder, not on the neck or arm, without any help;
  3. The lap belt goes across the top of the thigh, not on the stomach or hang loosely;
  4. Your child remains safely seated throughout an entire trip – you may be able to go without for shorter trips and then add it back for longer trips;
  5. You have tested this in all of the cars that the child rides in.

Comments

  1. April says:

    Hi there, I’m having a hard time finding safety reviews on the Chicco MyFit LE harness car seat. It was released early this year with a new latch system, which is different from the Chicco Myfit harness car seat. Do you know anything abt the seat? Any safety ratings or insight you could provide would be helpful. I posted my question on the Chicco website and then it was mysteriously deleted. Then I emailed the company directly without response. Thank you.

    1. Emma Lachey says:

      Hi April, thanks for your question. Here are some differences we found:

      Chicco MyFit LE Harness + Booster Seat

      • Price- ~$250
      • 3 colors
      • Super Cinch Tightener – it’s a one-pull strap on the side of the car seat that lets you tighten the LATCH connection easier
      • 2 cup holders + 1 “Kid Console” – a container with a flip top lid that fits into one of the cup holders

      Chicco MyFit Harness + Booster Seat

      • Price- ~$200
      • 6 colors
      • No Super Cinch Tightener for the LATCH connection
      • 2 cup holders

      Other than this, there’s not a lot of differences between the two. The MyFit LE may have better seat cover and armrest fabrics, as well as more padding on the waist belt.

      As far as safety ratings, since it is so new, they haven’t been rated on reliable sites like the IIHS (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety) yet. However, 4 of Chicco’s similar models have made their Best Bet Boosters: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/child-boosters/search-by-brand?brand=Chicco

      Generally, parent reviews have been positive for both models. We found a few video reviews:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEkr0rzxFD8
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1Ph4bseA2s

      We hope that helps answer your question, and we’re sorry to hear that Chicco has not been responsive to your inquiries.

  2. Pau says:

    Did you consider the Britax HighPoint and Essentials by Britaz – Skyline? Both of them are relatively new and I would like to know how to compare them to the Frontier and Pinnacle. Please let me know!

    1. Emma Lachey says:

      Hi, Pau!
      Thanks for your question. Here is a quick summary of differences we found:

      Britax Pinnacle
      Price: ~ $300
      Colors: All black with 4 different patterns options on the seat covers
      Size limits: 25 – 90 lbs forward-facing harness mode, 40 – 120 pounds booster mode
      Features: 9-position harness/headrest, multiple recline positions, 2 removable cup holders
      Seat Dimensions: 21 x 22.5 x 28 inches
      Seat Weight: 26.5 lbs

      Britax Frontier
      Price: ~$280
      Colors: Mostly black with 7 different colors/patterns on main panel of seat cover
      Size limits: 25 – 90 lbs forward-facing harness mode, 40 – 120 pounds booster mode
      Features: 9-position harness/headrest, multiple recline positions, 2 removable cup holders
      Seat Dimensions: 21 x 19 x 28 inches
      Seat Weight: 24.9 lbs

      Britax High Point
      Price: ~ $150
      Colors: 3 color options – blue, gray, purple
      Size limits: 40 – 120 lbs belt-positioning booster only (no harness mode)
      Features: 10-position headrest, 2 removable cup holders, color-coded belt guides
      Seat Dimensions: 16 x 21.5 x 27.5 inches
      Seat Weight: 12 lbs

      Britax Skyline
      Price: ~ $100
      Colors: 2 color options – black, blue
      Size limits: 40 – 120 lbs belt-positioning booster only (no harness mode)
      Features: 10-position headrest, 2 removable cup holders, color-coded belt guides
      Seat Dimensions: 16 x 19.8 x 27.5 inches
      Seat Weight: 11 lbs

      As you can see, the High Point and Skyline are only belt-positioning boosters, so they can’t be used for children under 40 pounds. They are also considerably lighter and more affordable than the Pinnacle and Frontier. If you’re looking for a seat for a younger toddler who may not sit still or be able to buckle themselves in well, the Frontier and Pinnacle in forward-facing harness mode would be the safest bet.

  3. Thomas M. says:

    Those Disney KidEmbrace seats look super cute, but the cape seems like it could get in the way. Is it removable?

    1. Emma Lachey says:

      Yes, it is both removable and washable. For best cleaning results, wash it separately from the cover so the velcro on the cover doesn’t snag it.

  4. Zoey C says:

    Hello! I don’t see any reason not to use a second-hand booster seat if it’s in good condition. I have my sister’s that she used for her kids.

    1. Emma Lachey says:

      Hello! While chances are, it could be fine, we don’t recommend using a second-hand seat from any source. There may be wear or damage that you can’t see, especially in the high-backed ones. There’s also a greater chance it’s been recalled or has expired. We recommend at least double-checking that the seat is not expired, that it’s not been in an accident or is not on a recall list before you use a second-hand seat.

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