Best Booster Seats: Put Your Child’s Safety First
The best car seat boosters to keep your child safe and comfortable during family rides
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BY Norah Tarichia / LAST UPDATED ON April 16, 2019
Has your child outgrown his or her forward-facing car seat? Relying on your vehicle’s seat belts to protect your kid is not a safe option since the seat belt may not be in the correct position for protection from injury in an accident. The seat belt straps may lay against his or her neck or belly, which can be dangerous and uncomfortable. A car seat booster is the next best option for a child at that critical age. We can help you find some of the top booster seats that will keep your child safe and comfortable.
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Benefits of Booster Seats
- Safety. Booster seats reduce injury risks from improper seat belt positioning. A child’s lap and shoulders are too low to fit in a car’s seat belt. If the lap and shoulder belts are too high, they may cause abdominal and neck injury during a crash. A booster seat gives your child the height advantage to fit into the lap belt, and you can adjust the head support according to the height of the child to protect their head and shoulders.
- Convenience. Most booster seats come with cup holders and extra storage units for snacks and toys. If you have a set of twins, you will find this feature convenient since your children can easily reach out for the snacks and toys themselves.
- Comfort. Manufacturers make car booster seats with extra foam padding at the bottom, shoulder, and the back to offer extra comfort to the child when they are sitting. It’s not uncommon for children to fall asleep in their booster seats under such circumstances.
- Comply with the law. Most state laws and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) require parents with children under eight years to use booster car seats for their kids.
Types of Booster Seats
High-Back Booster Seats
High-back booster seats have both a back and head support, and the headrest is adjustable to accommodate the height of a growing child. Most feature seat belt guides that help you position the car seat belt on the shoulder and lap. They are designed to offer extra back and head support to children who fall asleep during long trips. Most manufacturers make these booster seats with a removable back, and some boosters can convert to forward- or rear-facing seats.
Backless Booster Seats
Backless booster seats are specialized seats that offer a height advantage to a child and don’t include a head and back support. They also have seat belt guides to help you with the correct positioning of the seat belt. They are typically lightweight, budget-friendly, and easy to carry around. They are ideal for children who are almost ready to ditch the booster seats due to their size.
Graco has over 70 years of experience in manufacturing baby products. The company was founded by Russel Gray and Robert Cone and has its headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It’s a multinational company that manufactures and designs high chairs, travel systems, baby swings, play yards, and it is known for making some of the safest booster car seats. The Graco Affix Youth Booster Seat is one such product that screams of comfort and safety.
Evenflo specializes in the research, design, and development of consumer products like safety gates, travel systems, high chairs, infant carriers, and vehicle seats. The company is owned by Goodbaby International Holdings Limited and has its headquarters in Miamisburg, Ohio. It also has state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Piqua, Tijuana, and Mexico. The best kids’ booster seat from Evenflo is the Evenflo Big Kid Amp High Back Booster.
With 60 years of experience in the retail world, Chicco has carved its niche as a top manufacturer of children’s clothing and toys. Its products are sold in over 120 countries worldwide, and the company sells some of the best-rated booster car seats. Its headquarters are in Como, Lombardy, Italy. Consider going for the Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Booster Seat if you would like to try out a top-notch Chicco product.
Britax is a renowned global manufacturer of childcare products such as high chairs, car seats, and strollers. It has roots dating back to 1938 and is known for making the best toddler booster seats. The company has its headquarters in Hillswood Business Park, United Kingdom. A popular Britax booster seat is the Britax USA Grow with You ClickTight Harness-2-Booster Car Seat.
Booster Seat Pricing
- Under $50: This price range is for budget-friendly booster seats that offer safety and comfort, minus all the extra features like storage compartments and extra padding that may come with higher-end options. They are no-frills boosters suitable for parents who don’t travel often with their children and anyone not looking to spend a fortune on a booster seat.
- $50-$100: Booster seats at this price range come with all the extra storage units, cup holders, and extra padding to promote the safety of your child when driving. They are ideal for long drives with little ones.
- Above $100: The majority of booster seats at this price range are from high-end manufacturers. They are made from premium materials and have a variety of convenience features for little ones. They are ideal for long distance travel and contribute to the utmost safety and comfort of the occupant.
You should go for a booster with an age-appropriate design. Younger children, below four years, should use a high-back booster seat for extra support to the neck and head. Since they are not tall enough to use the car seat belt and spend most of their time sleeping in the car, they need extra support. Get a backless design for older children who just need the extra boost to use the seat belt.
There are certain quality controls that should be followed when making booster seats. First off, the materials should not pose a health risk to the child. The materials should also be comfortable and have shock-absorbing properties. Foam should be included in various parts of the seat with more focus on the head and shoulder supports.
Always confirm that there is a belt-path guide in the booster seat. Your vehicle’s seat belt is what will hold down the booster. A belt-positioning guide shows the correct angle for placing the seat belt for proper protection. It may scuff your seat belt, but the extra safety feature is worth it.
- Car Compatibility: Most booster seats can fit in a modern car. However, you should ensure that the booster seat is not installed in the same place as the airbag. If the airbag is in the same place, you should deactivate it or consult with your car’s manual to see if it’s safe to put the booster seat there.
- Weight: The best boosters have a lightweight profile to make it easy to move from one vehicle to another. Boosters can carry snacks, toys, clothing, and other items so it’s convenient when the seat is light enough to carry around.
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- Measure your child throughout the year to check if they still fit within the height and weight requirements of the booster seat. If you are using a harness and notice that the child’s shoulders are taller than the adjusters, or if they start complaining of discomfort, it may be time to move on to the backless booster.
- Booster seats don’t work with cars that only have lap belts. Confirm that shoulder belts can be installed in your car, and if not, you can opt for a forward-facing seat with a harness and higher weight limit.
- It’s not safe to put your child in a bodysuit or a thick jacket when they are in the booster seat. The seat belt and straps may not fasten firmly around the child, and that can be risky.
Q: Is it safe to install a booster seat in the front seat?
A: Typically, no, since it’s not safe for your child to travel in the front seat. Middle and back seats are safer since they are further from the obvious points of impact in case of a head-on collision.
Q: Are second-hand booster seats safe?
A: Since you won’t know the history of the booster seat, whether it was in another accident or damaged from improper use, it is prudent to go for a brand new booster seat. If price is the issue, you can find quality booster seats that are under $40 and conform to all safety standards.
Q: Should I replace a booster seat that was in the car during an accident?
A: It is recommended that you replace a booster car seat after an accident as it may be weakened. The latch anchoring the booster to the car seat may be loose and, therefore, may not offer your child the same level of protection in case of another accident.
Our top pick for the best booster seat is the Graco Affix Youth Booster Seat. It’s made of high-quality materials, has a self-buckle option, is fully adjustable, and conforms to federal safety regulations.
Our budget pick is the Evenflo Big Kid Amp High Back Booster since it’s safe and affordable.