Which booster seats are best?
You want your child to be safe, secure and comfortable when traveling in your car, truck or SUV. Child safety seats are required by law in many states until your child is old enough to properly wear a seat belt. Your child grows quickly and is soon too big for a forward-facing car seat but still needs a booster seat.
Booster seats give little kids the extra height they need so seat belts fit them safely and securely. They can also protect your child’s head, neck and shoulders. If you are looking for a premium booster seat and harness from the standard setter in safety seats, take a look at the Britax Grow With You ClickTight Car Seat.
What to know before you buy a booster seat
Booster seat types
High-back booster seats
High-back seats without harnesses are typically wider and taller than forward-facing car seats. Some convertible car seats transition seamlessly from a forward-facing car seat to a high-back booster seat. Check to see if you need a high-back booster seat that is designed for use with only a seat belt or with a three-point or five-point harness. High-back booster seats are better for younger and smaller children.
Backless booster seats
Backless booster seats are simple designs that boost your child up high enough for the car’s seat belt to fit properly. They do not provide the back support and side support high-back booster seats provide. Backless booster seats are better for bigger, older kids.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The NHTSA recommends that adults keep their children in rear-facing car seats until they have reached the top height or weight limit set by the manufacturer. Convertible and all-in-one car seats usually have higher limits for the rear-facing position so you can keep them in this position longer. The NHTSA also says children should be in booster seats until they are 12 years old.
What to look for in a quality booster seat
It is not practical to buy three different car-safety seats for the three stages your children go through until they are big enough to safely wear a seat belt without an additional safety device. The best solution is to buy one car-safety seat that adjusts to fit your child’s age, weight and height changes.
All reputable manufacturers sell only booster seats that have passed stringent safety tests administered by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. For peace of mind, check the packaging to see if the booster seat is rated “Best Bet,” “Good Bet” or “Not Recommended.”
Put kids and cars together with food and drink, and you will have messes. Look for a booster seat with a machine-washable cover that is easy to put on and take off.
To provide your child with extra safety, look for booster seats with a 3-point or 5-point safety harness.
How much you can expect to spend on a booster seat
Backless booster seats cost from $20 to $40. High-back booster seats without harnesses run from $50 to $80. Add harnesses and expect to pay between $150 and $300.
Booster seat FAQ
Where should the lap part of the seat belt be when my child is using a booster seat?
A. Make sure the lap part of the seat belt sits flat over the top of your child’s thighs and not around their waist.
A friend gave me a secondhand booster seat — is it safe to use?
A. Most booster seats have design lives of six or seven years, so check the expiration date on the seat. If there is none, do not use it.
What are the best booster seats to buy?
Top booster seat
What you need to know: This is a premium 2-in-1 booster seat and harness from Britax, the standard setter in safety seats.
What you’ll love: The adjustable design grows with your child from a forward-facing harness seat to an adjustable belt-positioning booster seat. The construction of this booster seat is safe and solid, with a heavy-duty frame and two layers of side protection. The ClickTight system makes installation quick, secure and easy. The cushioning and padding are excellent and the soft fabric provides even more comfort.
What you should consider: This pricey choice is heavy and wide. It’s a better choice for larger vehicles than small ones.
Top booster seat for the money
What you need to know: This booster seat is for kids 4 to 10 years old, 40 to 100 pounds and 43 to 57 inches tall.
What you’ll love: This is designed to be the kind of comfortable and stylish booster seat your child will be happy to ride in. The armrests are padded and height-adjustable for comfort. The cup holders pivot to hide away when not in use. The seat is contoured and has cushioning that is both supportive and soft. The deluxe cushion is removable and machine washable.
What you should consider: The seat can be a bit narrow for larger children.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This booster seat has 10 height positions that adjust to fit small children as they grow.
What you’ll love: The contoured seat design of this product has ErgoBoost double foam padding and is comfortable for your child to sit in even on long rides. The SuperCinch one-pull tightening system makes this booster seat easy to install. The DuoZone head, shoulder and side-impact protection system has 10 positions for growing children.
What you should consider: Some kids need adult help to properly position the belt.
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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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