Best Backless Booster Car Seats: Keep Kids Safe and Comfortable in the Car
A backless booster seat keeps your car safe for your child
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BY Katherine Rother / LAST UPDATED ON April 13, 2019
Booster seats are a must-have item for your young kids. Not only will they make a car ride a lot safer for your child, but they’ll also increase their comfort, which can come in handy on longer trips. Choosing the right one for your child's needs isn’t easy. Luckily, we’ve prepared everything you need to know to make a great decision. Read on to learn about the best backless booster car seats available.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Why Buy a Backless Booster Car Seat?
- Safety first. A booster car seat is a legal requirement in most states, as they’ve been proven to dramatically improve the safety of a child riding in a car and ensures proper belt-positioning. A good-quality booster seat will keep your kids safe for years to come.
- Comfortable rides. If you’re a fan of long road trips, booster car seats have an added advantage of making a car ride not only safe, but also very comfortable. A well-cushioned seat that provides the right support can make all the difference.
- Convenience. A lot of modern backless booster seats feature cup holders, trays, and pockets, giving your child ample access to everything they need for a comfortable trip in your car.
- Peace of mind. A properly installed booster car seat redirects the forces accompanying a car crash, helping to protect your child from injury. Knowing that your child is protected in the event of a side impact or other type of crash can ease your car- and driving-related worries.
Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Graco has been innovating practical solutions to parenting problems for over 60 years. Manufacturing high-quality car child seats, Graco is a name you can trust. Some of its most popular products include the Graco Affix Booster Seat and the Galaxy TurboBooster Seat.
Founded in 1958 by Pietro Catelli, Chicco has grown into a global brand, offering everything your child might need. From its Como, Italy headquarters, Chicco continues to innovate new products to add to its stellar lineup. Its best-sellers include the GoFit Backless Booster and the Iron GoFit Plus Booster Seat.
Cosco got its start 70 years ago in Columbus, Indiana, and is still headquartered there today. Its products are designed to be smart and simple, with a no-fuss attitude that parents and kids love. Some of its top products include the Topside Backless Booster and the Highrise Booster Seat.
- Under $20: Budget and value products are sold at this price range. Most of them are decent quality and will work as expected, they just won’t be as durable and comfortable. Safety is an issue as well, as many booster seats offered at this price point may have fewer safety features than the more expensive ones.
- $20 - $40: At this price point, you’ll find comfortable, well-designed, and safe booster seats for your children. They’re typically made from durable materials that are easy to clean and most are also very easy to install in your car.
- Over $50: In this range, you’ll find the best of the best. Much like the mid-range, you’re guaranteed comfort, safety, and durability. You are more likely to pay more just for a brand name though, so do your research before you buy.
Make sure the booster seat you’re considering meets current safety guidelines and hasn’t been previously used. Buying a second-hand car seat is never a good idea, as it’s often impossible to determine the integrity of the safety features by visual inspection. Another important factor to consider is the LATCH system. This is a standard feature in most vehicles built after 2002, and is the most common attachment system for car seats (and one of the safest).
The manufacturing quality of booster seats can vary greatly. Some are made from higher-quality materials than others, leading to better durability, greater safety, and improved comfort. When deciding which booster seat to buy for your child, check that the seat has been made well. You can do so by looking at any seams, the quality of fabric used, and if plastic or metal components look sturdy.
Ease of Use
Booster seats should be easy to use and easy to clean. The ease-of-use factor mostly applies to how easily you can carry the seat (the lighter the better) and how easy it is to install in your car. When it comes to cleaning, some materials are better suited to an easy wipe down than others. Felt fabrics are especially hard to clean, so opt for smooth materials like vinyl or even a dense fabric.
- Overall Comfort: Not all booster seats are created equal when it comes to comfort. The foam padding and other materials used vary greatly, as does the comfort provided. Plus, keep in mind that booster seats come in slightly different shapes, some of which might conform to your child’s needs more than others.
- Arms: The majority of booster seats come with armrests. These can be padded or unpadded, large or small, in the way or well-designed; it really depends on the model you buy. Although they can provide an extra element of comfort, seats with armrests are not always liked by some kids and parents.
- Extras: Booster seats can come with lots of extra features, such as pockets, cup holders, and extra straps. Depending on what you’re looking for, these might be convenient or just an added expense.
Best Backless Booster Car Seat Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- It may be a good idea to have more than one booster seat per child, as this will ensure your child always has this important safety tool at his or her disposal. This is especially critical if you tend to carpool.
- Cleaning a booster seat tends to be fairly easy. Most mid-range seats are made from high-quality materials that allow an easy wipe-down to take care of most dirt and stains. Some booster car seats even feature a removable and washable seat cover.
- If you’re worried about spills and stains, try using a crib sheet to cover up your car seat. You can also use a blanket or similar item to add a layer of protection on the booster seat itself. Just make sure that it’s not bulky and doesn’t interfere with the fit of the seat belt.
- The more lightweight your booster seat, the easier it is to take it along for traveling.
Q: How do I use a booster car seat?
A: Most backless booster seats are easy to install, simply requiring threading of the vehicle’s regular seat belt through the booster seat belt guides so that it is properly positioned. Make sure that the lap belt fits snugly across your child’s upper thighs and not their stomach. The shoulder belt should cross the middle of your child’s chest and should not be on their neck at any time. If your booster has a LATCH tether, you can install this as well.
Q: When should my child use a booster seat?
A: This depends on several factors, but most important are your child’s height and weight. In general, a child will outgrow a forward-facing safety seat when they reach a weight of between 40 and 65 pounds and are at least 35 inches tall. At that point, you can safely use a booster seat until they are old enough to use the regular car safety belts. Keep in mind that weight limits can and do vary by manufacturer.
Our top pick is the Graco Galaxy TurboBooster Car Seat. Its great design, comfort, and safety features make it one of the best booster seats on the market.
If you’re looking to save a little money, the Cosco Topside Booster Seat is your best bet. It offers the same safety features as more expensive models without breaking the bank.
What did you think of our picks? Do you have a favorite booster seat? Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below!