10 Best Booster Seats
It’s a very big day when your child finally outgrows his toddler car seat, and the moment isn’t lost on parents: Your baby is really entering big kid territory. While your child may be 4 going on 14, and adulting in the cutest (and yes, sometimes exasperating) way, he still isn’t quite ready to wear just a seatbelt during car rides. When children typically reach age 4 and a height of 40 inches, it’s the right time to switch to a booster seat. You may wonder why you even need one. A booster seat does exactly what the name suggests: It gives your kid a “boost up” so they are better protected when buckled in, whereas a seatbelt is designed for adults. Read on to see the best booster seats to keep your growing child safe until he’s truly ready to graduate to a seatbelt.
Types Of Booster Seats
Booster seats come in two front-facing designs: high back and backless. Decide which one works best for your child before you shop.
• High-back booster seat. Boosters with backs resemble infant or toddler car seats, but don’t always have the five-point harness that’s required for younger children. It does, however, continue to provide extra protection to the head, neck and back. Parents also note that it keeps children from slumping down when they fall asleep in the car.
• Backless booster seat. A popular choice among parents, this can be installed and removed with ease, takes up less room in the backseat and often cost significantly less than their high-back counterpart.
Booster Seat Safety Tips
- Make sure the lap and shoulder belts fit correctly. The lap belt should be low across the hips and the shoulder belt needs to lie across the shoulder.
- Do not put the shoulder belt under the arm or behind the back.
- Make sure your child fits the weight and height requirements for the booster you buy, and measure your child throughout the year to ensure she still fits the recommended booster seat guidelines.
- If using a harness, the adjusters must be at or above your child’s shoulders; the top of the child’s ears must be below the vehicle’s seat back or headrest.
- If using a backless booster, the seat or headrest of the vehicle should be high enough to support your child’s head.
Best Booster Seats
Don’t let your kid’s grown-up size fool you: Children are safest riding in a booster seat until at least age 10—sometimes even 12. Here, we’ve rounded up 10 best booster seats for every budget and scenario.
Best High Back Booster Seat
This booster car seat has excellent side-impact cushioning and can accommodate tall children thanks to its high top belt guide. The closed shoulder belt guide also keeps the seatbelt in place—no wrestling with tangled belts here. What parents really love: The multi-height headrest and expanding side wing grow with your child. Plus, at 14.5 pounds, this high-back booster seat is one of the lightest on the market.
Weight range: 30 to 120 pounds
Height range: 34 to 57 inches tall
Buy It: Maxi-Cosi Rodifix, $250, Amazon.com
Best Backless Booster Seat
Graco Affix Backless Youth Booster Seat with Latch System
With just one hand, you can install the Latch system of this backless booster seat. It’s incredibly lightweight, which makes it easy to transport or swap between vehicles, and when it gets dirty (and it likely will), just remove the cover and toss it in the washing machine. What parents really love: Your kid will appreciate the cup holder and hideaway storage compartment for games and toys.
Weight range: 40 to 100 pounds
Height range: Up to 57 inches tall
Buy It: Graco Affix Backless Youth Booster, $35,