Switching to a booster is such an exciting prospect. You’ve got an official big kid on your hands! But that doesn’t mean you want to downgrade on safety just because their car seat gets smaller. There are a ton of amazingly safe and still user-friendly booster car seats on the market. Below, you’ll find reviews of the best booster seats for keeping your son or daughter safe (and comfortable) in the car.
Best Booster Seats of 2022
When it comes to safety, the Peg Perego Viaggio Shuttle offers an integrated rigid latch system that gives stability to the seat as well as the blind lock system and a clip lock to offer even more safety. The Graco Nautilus 65 LX is a high back booster with side technology and a steel frame for extra protection. Finally, the mifold Grab & Go does not have harnesses, yet it has gone through crash testing, has a quick clip system as well as lap belt guides for extra safety.
Peg Perego Viaggio Shuttle
Just because you want a backless booster doesn’t mean you have to settle for something that’s cheap and flimsy. You can still get the safety and durability of a high back booster in the Peg Perego Viaggio Shuttle booster seat. This Italian-made seat has a rigid latch hook system, performance fabrics, and extras like a cup holder and spot to store the manual. It’s a higher-end car seat with a higher-end price and higher-end safety and performance.
The installation of the Peg Perego Viaggio is what makes it a safe choice. It has a rigid latch system. This means that the latch hooks are fixed into a horizontal position, so there’s no give. This also means that the seat won’t wiggle when your child climbs in and out. It also gives it stability in an accident.
The cool thing about these latch straps is that they can retract back into the booster seat. Taking this booster from one car to another is easy because you can get the latch straps when you need them.
Another cool thing about the latch straps is that your child can’t undo them. The Blind Lock System is a safety feature that keeps the latch straps from coming undone inadvertently. The latch release lever is located under the seat on the front, where the child can’t easily get to it.
This backless booster seat comes with a seat belt clip to help the shoulder belt go into the correct position. This is stored in the back of the seat when not in use. It’s a bright red color and it’s attached to the seat with a black strap, so your child can’t lose it.
Parents absolutely love that this backless booster seat goes up to 120 pounds. A lot of boosters on the market stop at 100 pounds, so the few extra pounds equal a few more years of life than other seats. This is especially nice if your children grow fast like mine!
The microfiber material is soft and it can be machine washed if there’s a bad spill. Underneath that material is two layers of foam- one EPS energy-absorbing layer, and one softer polyurethane foam for comfort. The two armrests will keep your kid comfy, too. And don’t forget about the included drink holder!
Want just one more reason to love this seat? There’s a spot on the bottom for the owner’s manual to be stored! And it has a carrying handle for taking it on the go.
- 120 pound and 63-inch weight/height limit
- Rigid latch system keeps the booster in place
- Latch hooks retract and have the Blind Lock safety feature
- Attached seat belt clip
- Includes soft, washable fabrics and cup holder
- Wide seat may not fit in captain’s chairs or 3 across
- Same price point as others on this list, but with only 1 mode of use
- Some parents complained that the padding was insufficient
Graco Nautilus 65 LX
The Graco Nautilus 65 LX is a forward-facing car seat that works as a harness booster, then transitions to a harness that can be used with kids up to 120 pounds, before working as a traditional booster seat. It has features like a steel-reinforced frame and no re-thread harness. The Graco Nautilus 65 LX is also comfortable, being roomy and having an adjustable headrest and recline function.
If you have a kid that is too big for their seat, but still not at the age requirement to make the switch, this best toddler booster seat will give them the support they need to stay safe. The Nautilus from Graco has a steel frame that absorbs impact following a car accident. Additionally, there is a lock for the seat belt strap, which stops the car seat from tipping over or coming loose in the car. Another great benefit is that that high-back booster works up to 120 pounds, which is higher than most models and means your little one will have the extra safety longer.
Something to note, however, is that while the manufacturer states that this can be used for children who are 1 year old and at least 22 pounds and 27-inches tall, general safety guidelines do not recommend harness seats until after your child has grown out of their rear-facing car seat. Additionally, the seat should not be reclined once your child reaches the recommended 65-pound weight limit.
Have you ever been frustrated by needing to re-thread your child’s harness when they grow a size? Instead, this model has a single lever that moves up and down to quickly secure your child in their booster seat. The headrest is also incredibly easy to adjust for maximum comfort. The headrest and harness adjust together, so seating your child and adjusting their seat is a breeze.
Another great feature of the Nautilus 65 LX is its machine washable cover. Body support is also included, as a heavily passed cushion that works with the car seat until your child doesn’t need it (and then it is easily removable). It is a little bulky, even as a backless booster, but there is plenty of room for your son or daughter to grow.
- 3-in-1 seat works as car seat, high back booster, and backless booster
- No re-thread harness makes adjusting for your child’s size simple
- Great for larger kids, who can now stay safe longer
- Works from 22 pounds to 120 pounds, and has 10-years of safe use
- Steel-reinforced frame for increased protection
- Can only be reclined up to 65 pounds
- Bulkier and heavier than some other models
- Difficult to install
MiFold Booster Seat
While most car seats work by lifting your child to the seat belt, the MiFold booster works by bringing the seat belt down, holding the strap down to position it across your child’s lap and chest, rather than their stomach. This allows it to be used by kids from 4-12. The unique design of the MiFold Booster Seat makes it significantly smaller than the average booster seat and makes it excel as a grab-and-go option.
MiFold is crafted using tough plastic polymers and aircraft-grade aluminum, which means you don’t have to worry about the handles breaking off or the materials breaking down with exposure to heat or over time. Like any certified booster, this model has been crash-tested for safety and proven effective in reducing the amount of impact your child feels in a car accident.
It uses lap belt guides (with three adjustable sizes) and has a QuickClip that clips securely onto the shoulder belt of your vehicle. These are used to position the belt in key points, ensuring your little one stays safe in the event of an accident. Extender arms also work to ensure the seat belt sits where your child needs it most.
Even though it looks like it doesn’t have much padding, the backless MiFold makes use of DenseFoam that is made of the same materials found in tennis shoes and boxing gloves. The foam provides support where it is needed most, cushioning your child’s pressure points. While it will be an adjustment from an especially plush seat, it is more comfortable than some more rigid models.
The MiFold also is easy enough to install and buckle that many kids can do it themselves. You slide the lap belt into the guides, clip the QuickClip on the shoulder belt, and allow the seat belt to tighten. Additionally, if your little one does fall asleep on a long car ride, the security of the shoulder belt keeps them sitting more upright than they would with the average backless booster seat.
- Narrow design lets you sit three kids across a backseat without squishing them
- Lightweight, narrow, backless design can be thrown into your kids’ bookbag or stored almost anywhere
- Easy to thread the belt, encourages independence
- Does not allow excess movement because it sits against the seat
- No harness, so cannot use for kids under 4-5
- Not machine washable, but does wipe clean
You can learn more in our MiFold Booster Seat review.
Best Chicco Booster Seat
Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Booster Car Seat
Chicco has all the Fill-in-the-blankFits, from the baby KeyFit car seats to the MyFit Harness+Booster Car Seat, to this KidFit booster. For parents who don’t want to worry about buying a second booster for their child, this 2-in-1 model transitions from a backed to a backless booster. It works as your child grows out of their forward-facing car seat, usually between 3-4 years of age, and can accommodate children 30-110 pounds. The Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Booster Car Seat is easy to adjust and install and is packed full of features for safety and comfort.
Simple installation and an easy-to-adjust tightener make this an incredibly safe booster seat. When in the backed booster seat position, this features DuoZone impact protection that works on the sides and protects your child’s head. This is created using a shock-absorbing foam that adds padding to your seat and improves comfort.
A SuperCinch latching system allows an easy install, which is great if you may send the kids to their grandparent’s house or another relative’s. Additionally, the single-hand latch lets you adjust the headrest so it’s the perfect height for safety and comfort.
While most booster seats will not fit your child until they are around 4, meaning you may need another seat between their forward-facing car seat and a booster, this model works for children as young as three. It can be used as a backless or backed car seat, depending on your child’s age and size.
For snacking, the Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 booster has two removable cup holders that fold away when not in use and a 10-position headrest that lets your little one nap on the road, making this the ideal booster car seat for travel. Additionally, the armrests and seat covers are easy to wash and the colorful mesh designs do not make stains obvious.
- Backless and backed option to grow with your little one
- One-hand latch to adjust the headrest makes the booster seat comfortable
- Simple enough that toddlers can safely latch themselves
- The manufacturer recommends eight years of use, worth the investment
- Compact design, headrest does not go as high
- Easy to install, but can be difficult to assemble
- Does not recline forward/backward
You can find out more in our Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Booster Car Seat review.
Best High Back Booster Seats
The Chase Jameson and the Evenflo Maestro Sport are both reasonably priced high backed booster seats with 4.7 ratings on Amazon specifically for ease of installation; whereas the Britax Highpoint is a more expensive choice but it has a 4.8 rating with customers raving about the safety issues, durability, and ease of installation.
Britax Highpoint 2-Stage Booster Car Seat
This harness booster seat stands out for its ability to let your child to have the freedom to buckle him (or her) self, without sacrificing safety. Its durability allows it to last for ten years, which is great since it’s designed to accommodate kids from 40-120 pounds. This makes the Britax Highpoint Booster Car Seat perfect for growing with your little one.
With features like a 10-position adjustable head restraint, a well-placed seat belt harness, and the Secure Guard Belt-Positioning Clip, you can be sure that your little one is safe and secure in the backseat. The head restraint allows the car seat to grow with your child, while the positioning clip ensures the seat belt sits at just the right spot to offer protection.
In addition to the safety belt features and head restraint, this booster car seat comes with an ISOFLEX Latch connection system to tether the seat to the car and 2 layers of side impact protection. This comes in the form of side-impact EPP foam, which absorbs shock on impact and keeps your little one safe.
While safety features are a necessity for booster seats, this one has plenty of other things to love. First, this ranks as the best toddler booster seat for eating in the car. Two convenient cup holders let your little one enjoy a snack and a drink, without having to balance anything in their lap. If they do spill, however, the cup holders are dishwasher safe and easy to remove. Additionally, the cover of this car seat is machine washable and made of moisture-wicking, breathable fabrics.
This booster seat is also comfortable for your little one to sit in. When they are done eating, the cup holders can be used to hold everything from rocks and toys to Kleenex. Additionally, this comes with two armrests so your little one sits comfortably. This comes without sacrificing space and this model is designed to work with 3-across seating if the cup holders are removed.
- Adjustable headrest and a wide weight limit range is perfect for growing with your toddler
- Manufacturer recommended use for ten years, so worth your money
- Dual armrests and cup holders
- Accommodates 3-across seating
- Anchors are at bottom of the car seat, so might be wobbly in some vehicles
- Britax is generally a pricey brand
Britax G1.1 Frontier Clicktight Seat
The major advantage of this seat is its ability to add security to your child’s ride by using this as a harness seat and then transition with your child into a booster seat until they are over 120 pounds and 62 inches. The Clicktight system is patented by Britax. It is designed to make installation incredibly easy. Though the Britax G1.1 Frontier Clicktight Seat is a little heavy and it does not have a backless design, but it is slim enough so these features shouldn’t be an issue.
You will also want to take a look at the Britax Grow With You ClickTight seats as they will eventually replace the Pioneer, Frontier, and Pinnacle.
For people who switch their child’s booster seat between cars, this is a good option because it is easy to install. You don’t have to worry about your partner, parents, or anyone who watches your child struggling to secure them safely. It also features nine different harness positions and a front-adjust recline lever, which keeps your child safe and comfortable as they grow.
This Britax booster seat also has a 5-point harness that is easy to adjust. If you have ever been frustrated trying to loosen or tighten the straps when your little one gets in and out the car, this is a feature you may appreciate. To keep your child safe in case of a car accident, this model also has a steel frame and is constructed of materials to absorb impact.
The easy-to-adjust recline function makes it easy for your little one to recline and relax in the car, while it also ensures the harness seat will sit properly in the backseat of your vehicle. Additionally, its slim design lets it sit comfortably whether you have two children to fit in your seating row or three.
Though this is heavier than many booster seats, this comes from the steel frame that adds stability in a car accident. It is designed to last for 9 years of safe vehicle use, so it’s the perfect choice to grow with your child.
Overall, it’s way more user friendly than more expensive options, like the Diono Rainier Car Seat.
- Wide height and weight limit; lasts for nine years of use
- Steel frame adds stability in a car accident
- Easy to install
- Easily reclines and adjusts for proper booster fit in vehicle
- Steel frame is heavy
- ClickTight is optional for extra cost (worth the price)
- Doesn’t convert to a backless mode
You can learn more about this best harness booster seat in our more thorough Britax G1.1 Frontier Clicktight Seat review. Be sure to measure the Frontier up against 2 of the best-selling Britax boosters in our Britax Frontier vs Pioneer article and the Britax Frontier vs Pinnacle article. You can also see how it compares to another popular booster in the Britax Frontier vs Graco Nautilus review article.
Evenflo Chase Harnessed Booster Seat
This booster adapts as your child grows, making it a good investment. It can be used forward-facing for children from 22 to 110 pounds. Up until your child is over 40 pounds and 50 tall, they can use the five-point harness. The seat is also durable, comfortable, and lightweight. The Evenflo Advanced Chase LX Booster Seat is also on the lower end of the price range, comparatively, which makes it a great budget toddler booster seat.
This seat does not just meet minimum requirements for safety; its structural integrity has been tested at twice the federal crash test standard. The side-impact testing also meets all federal standards. With a five-point harness, this seat also keeps your little one protected with the added safety of a harness until they are ready to transition to the next stage. While the seat expires after six years, which is less than several others on the list, six years is still plenty of time to get use out of the seat.
As a backed booster, this seat excels. It is easy to assemble and install, and the innovative headrest positions the safety belt perfectly once your child outgrows the harness. Some other nice features include dual removable cup holders and their lightweight (but durable) design. The cover is also washable, which is a huge plus when you have a messy toddler!
Another great feature of this seat is ComfortTech, which is made of three separate layers. As your child grows and needs more room, you can remove the layers. The Chase LX also excels at comfort because the base can be adjusted depending on your child’s height, a removable pillow is included, and four separate buckle positions give the best possible fit.
- Very adjustable, fits your toddler perfectly
- Can be used as a five-point harness or as a booster seat
- Doubles the standard for impact testing
- Cup holders are a little flimsy, child may be able to kick them off
- Back is a little rigid, may not be as comfortable as some other seats
- Doesn’t have a backless booster mode
- Does not recline
You can learn more in our review of the Evenflo Advanced Chase LX Booster Seat.
Graco TurboBooster TakeAlong
The last thing that parents on the go want to do is spend precious minutes wrestling with their child’s car seat every time they need to go somewhere. The Graco TurboBooster TakeAlong is designed for safe (and fast) transitions between cars. It is perfect for parents who take turns dropping the kids off at school, carpooling, traveling, and more. It works for children between 40 and 100 pounds and is perfect for boys and girls who like to get their own seats ready.
This booster works with the seat belts of your vehicle, with guides that help position the belt exactly where your child needs it. As it is not a harnessed model, it is not a good choice for children who have not yet outgrown their booster seat. However, it does meet or exceed all US crash-test standards.
Even without a harness, the design of the seat provides side-impact protection in the event of an accident. Additionally, energy-absorbing foam can be found through the booster seat, helping shock be absorbed.
Whether you use this model in the backed or backless version, you can easily fold it up and take it on the go. It is simple enough to use that your kid can set it up themselvesbut keep in mind that you want to hear an audible click to ensure the back of the seat is locked into the right place if you let them do this. It also comes with a storage bag for easy transportation and cup holders that fold inward, to save even more space.
Be sure to check out our look at the non-foldable version, the Graco TurboBooster, here on EM. The Graco TurboBooster Grow comes with another cool feature- a seat belt trainer, which we discuss in our review. You can also check out the Graco Affix vs the Graco TurboBooster to see a booster that has even better installation than the TurboBooster.
While this is perfect for parents on the go, it may not be the best option for long trips in the car. However, its foldable design also makes it convenient for carpool moms who might bring along a friend or two with their child to daycare or school in the morning. Its narrow design is also good when you seat more than one child in your back seat. The cover of the Graco TurboBooster is also washable.
- Very easy to set up
- Adjustable back height, locks into place with an audible click
- Compact design is easy to transport and carry
- Foldable cup holders
- Narrow design is not good for children who are growing especially quickly
- Not a lot of padding
- Might not be good for long trips
You can find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of this model in our Graco TurboBooster TakeAlong review.
Essentials by Britax Skyline Booster Car Seat
This seat is one of the latest in the Britax line. It is one of the more affordable models available, and it’s certainly cheaper than the good-old Britax Pioneer booster seat (which admittedly has more features). This works as a high-back booster by positioning your vehicle’s seat belt, so it holds your child more safely and securely in an accident. Unlike some other boosters on the market, the Essentials by Britax Skyline Booster Car Seat has a LATCH system to anchor the seat in place and provide extra protection for your little one. It accommodates kids from 40 to 120 pounds.
As a backed booster, the Skyline features a deep well that allows it to provide side impact protection if you are in an accident. It is not as safe once it is transitioned to a backless booster, however, this is common with booster seats. In addition to side impact protection, it works with your vehicle’s seat to keep your child from flying forward in an accident.
The positioning of the belt allows it to sit across your child’s lap, as well as across their chest. An internal clip and threading system let the belt fit securely, while the adjustable headrest positions the shoulder strap.
If you frequently take long car trips with your child, this seat has a plushy, soft fabric that they will enjoy sitting on. The wings of the back allow your little one to rest their head and the seamless design adds to the comfort. Two dishwasher safe cup holders are easy to remove and clean, while an adjustable headrest ensures your child has comfort on the go.
The colored guides of the belt adjuster also ensure the seat belt is in the right place, while the headrest easily adjusts the shoulder strap. Finally, a 10-year lifetime of use allows you to keep the booster around for years to come, provided you are not in a collision.
- Removable, dishwasher safe cup holders
- Incredible side impact protection for the head, neck, and pelvis
- Soft, seamless fabric is comfortable
- One-button latch makes installation easy
- The headrest will not fit in all vehicles
- Might not be a good match for especially tall kids
You can learn more in our Essentials by Britax Skyline Booster Car Seat review.
Clek Oobr Booster
Some booster seats just look like, well, bright-colored car seats. The Clek Oobr Booster looks like a real vehicle seat, not like a car seat. But that’s not the best part. This booster seat marries style with safety. It’s been an IIHS Best Bet Booster for 9 years running. Although the price tag is a bit high, this sleek seat has features that justify each and every penny.
One of the things that matter in booster seat safety is how secure the seat is. Some boosters just sit in the vehicle and don’t add a lot of stability. The Clek Oobr actually latches to your vehicle for a booster that’s more secure in the case of an accident. It’s also easier for your child to climb in and out of without tipping over.
The other safety feature that sets this booster apart is the construction. It’s not made from flimsy plastic like some other options. Instead, this is built like a real vehicle seat. The base is magnesium metal for maximum durability. The car seat is then wrapped in foam to absorb energy in case of an impact. Plus, the whole shape of this booster seat is made to structurally mimic a real seat, with a wide headrest and head and shoulder wings.
This booster has a 9-year life span! That means that it will work from the time your child can fit in it, which when they are at least age 4 and weigh 33 pounds until they outgrow it at 100 pounds and 57 inches tall. This does convert to a backless booster for a child who is at least 40 pounds.
During that time, your child can adjust the seat to fit them just right. The seat has 12 degrees of recline that are purely for comfort purposes. The seat must be latched in to use the recline feature. Your child can also adjust the padded headrest to the correct height for protection and comfort.
The rigid latch system is also really nice. The latch hooks are easy to use and have an easy release button, which makes installing the seat in different vehicles not so hard.
And if you are eco-conscious, this seat has GREENGUARD Gold-certified fabrics. That means no nasty chemicals like flame retardants. The Crypton fabrics are also breathable and protect against stains and moisture.
- Amazing safety ratings
- Large size and shape are comfortable for your child
- 9 year life span
- Unique recline feature
- Easy to install in vehicle
- Not a lot of features (have to buy Clek Drink Thingy separately)
- On the pricey side
Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat
This budget-friendly booster seat comes with a sleek design, high safety ratings, and the option to be used as a harnessed or non-harnessed booster seat. While it may not be the best choice if you are always in the car, the lightweight and slim design of the Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat is perfect for traveling to and from daycare or school, or when you pass the car seat between more than one vehicle. As an added benefit, this works as a forward-facing car seat for children 22-50 pounds and can be used until they are 110 pounds and 57 inches tall.
This car seat starts offering safety around 22 pounds when most children are ready to turn their car seat around for the first time. After age 2, a five-point harness keeps your kiddo safe until they weigh 50 pounds. The harness increases safety, so it’s better for them to be in this position as long as possible.
Once your child grows out of that position, they are held secure by a belt path for the bottom and top of your vehicle’s belt. This keeps it securely in place, so your little one is held fast in a car accident. It also meets or exceeds safety standards from the FAA, has a Best Bet rating from the IIHS, and meets side impact standards. Additionally, it has a safe temperature rating which means the materials will not break down in extreme heat or cold.
Though this seat has plenty of safety features, it is also incredibly lightweight. It is also easy to adjust the harness using a button located on the front of the car seat, which is very accessible. You pull the strap through to tighten the harness and push on the lever to make it release.
The Evenflo Maestro also has a machine-washable seat pad, 2 elastic cup holders that stretch to hold even wide cups, and a storage area for when your child outgrows the harness. It also has a small design. While that may not be good for larger kids, it can be optimal if you have more than one child sitting in your back seat and need the space.
- Washable seat pad
- Easy to adjust the harness straps
- Belt guide works well to position the belt securely in booster mode
- Cup holders have elastic bands for wider cups
- Very difficult to get the latch system unhooked, not a good choice for moving between cars
- Not a lot of padding
- No backless booster mode
- Have to re-thread harness as your child grows
You can learn more in our Evenflo Maestro Car Booster Seat review.
Diono Monterey XT Latch High Back Booster Seat
The Diono Monterey XT Latch High Back Booster Seatcomes in several colors and many other features parents will love. Kids will love how comfortable the seat is and even napping in the booster thanks to the comfortable headrest. Diono makes quality car seats with comfort and space in mind and this booster seat is no exception.
Don’t worry about your child’s safety with the roomy and comfortable booster seat. Moreover, it’s built for long journeys with integrated LATCH connectors and front adjusters for safe and secure installation in seconds. Also, it has extra safety built-in in the event of a side-impact collision.
The Diono Monterey XT can support a child from 40 to 120 pounds and expands up to 11 settings to grow with your child. . Once your child outgrows the 11 headrest positions, you can remove the back and let them sit up higher safely. Furthermore, the booster is lightweight and portable meaning you can move it around as need all with a buckle-friendly fit.
Also, you can wash the cover in the machine although, you will want to air dry after. What’s really great is the seat is roomy and comfortable even for kids who often fall asleep in the car. Kid’s also have two cup holders on the sides for easy storage and access.
- Multiple Colors
- Us with or Without the Back
- Padded armrests
- Buckle Friendly Fit
- Light Weight
- 11 Headrest Positions
- Comfortable for Sleeping
- 2 Cupholders that Retract
- Energy-Absorbing Foam
- Lower Quality than More Expensive Options
How These Booster Seats Compare
The table below compares only the recommended products on this page. A low or high Price means it is low or high compared to the other products listed.
The Popularity Score reflects how often readers click on and buy the product. The Quality Score is our assessment of the overall performance and satisfaction with
the product compared to others in the table.
Graco Nautilus 65 LX $$$$ 9.6 Britax Highpoint 2-Stage Booster Car Seat $$$$ 9.8 Peg Perego Viaggio Shuttle $$$$ 8.5 9.6 Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Booster Car Seat $$ 9.9 9.6 Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat $$ 9.7 9.4 MiFold Booster Seat $$ 9.6 8.6 Britax G1.1 Frontier Clicktight Seat 7.2 9.4 Evenflo Chase Harnessed Booster Seat 9.9 9.4 Essentials by Britax Skyline Booster Car Seat 3.9 9.2 Graco TurboBooster TakeAlong 5.2 9.4 Diono Monterey XT Latch High Back Booster Seat 9.3 9.4 Clek Oobr Booster 4.2 9.4
The table below compares only the recommended products on this page. A low or high Price means it is low or high compared to the other products listed. The Popularity Score reflects how often readers click on and buy the product. The Quality Score is our assessment of the overall performance and satisfaction with the product compared to others in the table.
Guide to Selecting a Safe Booster Seat
Safety is the top priority. We here at Experienced Mommy want to encourage you to be educated about car seat safety, which includes safe booster seat use.
The Statistics and Facts
According to data collected by the National Survey of the Use of Booster Seats, only 46% of children between the ages of 4 and 7 were properly restrained in a booster seat. This is surprising since vehicular-related injury is the leading cause of death in children under 12. It is also quite a decline since parents restrain 98% of infants and 96% of children from age 1-3.
The average vehicle safety belt is designed for use by the average 165-pound male. However, the average toddler is far from this standard. To make seat belts adapt, children should sit in a booster seat up to age 8. This gives them the best chance of safety during a car accident. However, it is not enough to just choose a high-quality booster seat. You must choose a seat that your child can be properly restrained in.
As we reviewed the car seats listed above, things like the safety features were heavily considered. The types of booster seats were also reviewed in several other categories, which will be discussed below. You should consider each of these things as you decide which booster seat is best for a toddler.
Harness Booster Seat vs. Backless Booster Seat
Generally speaking, there are two types of booster seats.
Harness booster seats are designed for children around 4-6, who may be transitioning from their forward-facing car seat into a booster seat. They are a good choice for children who no longer meet the height and weight requirements of their forward-facing car seats, as well as those who might be uncomfortable.
Then there’s the backless booster. It’s a simple booster seat with a bottom that gets your child to the proper level so that the seat belt can do its job. A backless booster usually has no harness, but it will guide the seat belt and it usually has armrests and a drink holder or two.
Booster Seat Readiness
Many parents find themselves questioning when their child is ready for a backed booster seat. Even when you graduate from a forward-facing car seat to a harnessed booster, you are downgrading the amount of protection for your child. This isn’t as much of a problem if your child is big enough to use a booster seat.
Signs that your toddler is ready for a booster seat may include:
- They have outgrown the height limitations and/or internal harness of a forward-facing car seat
- They weigh between 40 and 80 pounds and are 35-57 tall
- They do not fit into a vehicle belt system properly
- They cannot sit against the seat of the vehicle and have their knees bend over the edge, without leaning backward or slouching
Features to Consider
Once you are sure your little one is ready to transition to the next size up, there are several factors to consider before buying a booster seat.
It does not matter how many extra features your toddler’s booster seat is if it cannot protect them in a car accident. Backed seats usually have a stabilizer like a ridged or steel frame that absorbs impact in an accident. Others have side-impact protection or shock-absorbing materials inside the seat.
Once you move your child to a backless booster, what matters most is that it lifts your child enough that it allows the vehicle’s seat belt to secure them to the seat. Some seats also have a clip that attaches to the vehicle’s seat belt to ensure it is positioned correctly across your child’s chest.
While it may not matter if you only drive one vehicle, most parents do not want to struggle every time their child gets into another car. You should always refer to the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Also, be sure that the booster aligns properly with the seat.
If you have a new vehicle, it should have an anchor in the backseat that the booster can attach to. This anchor adds security if you are in a car accident by securing the booster seat to the vehicle.
Something else to consider is the height of the booster seat if you have headrests on the vehicle seat. If the booster seat is too tall, a seat with a headrest might cause it to sit unevenly on the seat, which is not safe. If that’s the case, opt for a backless booster option.
Most children move to a backed booster with a harness before transitioning to a booster seat, as it is not uncommon for them to grow out of their forward-facing seat before they meet the height and weight requirements for a simpler booster. As you consider the harness, think about how it is designed. Will you need to rethread it each time that your child moves up a size? How easy or difficult is it to rethread?
Something else to consider regarding the harness is how easy will it be for your child to buckle themselves. With the toddler years comes increased independence as your child learns to do more for themselves. You should encourage this growth. For some toddlers, it’s a good idea to choose a seat that lets them buckle themselves in. However, you should also check each time to be sure your toddler is secured properly before driving.
Toddlers are messy. Even when you say that your child is not allowed to eat in the car, it only takes bad timing or a long car trip for you to give in to your child. Additionally, accidents might become a problem before your child is fully potty trained. As you consider which is the best booster seat for eating, the washability is a major factor. While most booster seat covers can be washed, others are spot-wash only. If you are worried about your little one making a mess in the car, then those that cannot be washed might not be the best option. As you consider washability, you should also consider how easy (or difficult) it is to take the cover on and off.
Something else to consider regarding washability is the fabric used. Even when your child’s booster has a machine washable cover, you might not have time to clean it as often as you would like. To avoid the hassle, be sure to choose a seat cover that wipes clean easily. You might also want to go with a darker color or mesh material, which will not show stains as easily.
Weight and Size
If you are going to be moving your child’s booster seat between cars, you do not want it to be excessively bulky or heavy. While being heavy is a sign of stability, it is not always convenient to use. You can find a few booster options on our Best Car Seats for Small Cars review.
Additionally, bulky car seats are a problem in some vehicles, and if you have 2 or 3 other kids because they do not leave room for other car seats or for your child’s siblings to sit comfortably. Check out our Best Narrow Car Seats and Booster Seats article for more info.
While all car seats have the same basic function of keeping your little one safe when you’re on the road, some have extra features that make them more convenient to use. For example, some have easy-install options or the ability to buy more than one base. Others have storage pockets or cup holders. If the room is an issue, you could also choose a model that has a cup holder that folds away when it is not in use.
Also compare the number of modes a booster car seat has. Some might only have 1, while others have more. Many will have 3, like the Graco Nautilus line up. Some, like a few of the Britax, only have 2. Compare these two big brands in our Britax Pioneer vs Graco Nautilus 65 article.
A car seat is often one of the first things parents buy when they learn they are expecting, as it is a necessary item. However, they often have to upgrade by the time their child is ready to move out of a front-facing car seat. The size range determines the smallest and largest that your child can be to safely use the seat. However, this is not always a guarantee of the life of the booster seat, which varies depending on the materials used. You should also keep in mind that it is recommended most car seats be replaced following a collision, even if they do not appear damaged.
Booster Car Seat Comparison Table
|Booster Seat||Min. Height||Max. Height||Min. Weight||Max. Weight|
|Diono Monterey||38″||63″||40 pounds||120 pounds|
|Chicco KidFit 2-in-1||38″||57″||30 pounds||110 pounds|
|Britax Highpoint||38″||63″||40 pounds||120 pounds|
|Peg Perego Viaggio Shuttle||39″||63″||40 pounds||120 pounds|
|Graco Nautilus 65 LX||27″||57″||22 pounds||120 pounds|
|Mifold Booster||40″||57″||40 pounds||100 pounds|
|Britax G1.1 Frontier Clicktight||30″||62″||25 pounds||120 pounds|
|Evenflo Chase||43.3″||57″||40 pounds||110 pounds|
|Graco TurboBooster TakeAlong||43″||57″||40 pounds||100 pounds|
|Clek Oobr||38″||57″||33 pounds||100 pounds|
|Essentials by Britax Skyline||38″||63″||40 pounds||120 pounds|
|Evenflo Maestro||28″||57″||22 pounds||110 pounds|
FAQs – Booster Car Seats
Even the most prepared parents find themselves with questions regarding booster seat use (as well as other areas of parenting). Whether you are buying a booster seat for your first child or consider yourself an expert, these frequently asked questions might help you on the quest for the perfect booster seat.
Does my child need to ride in a booster seat?
As parents, we often go out of our way to ensure our little ones are safe. We lock up medications and cleaning supplies, cover our outlets when they are not in use, and monitor our little one’s day and night to keep them out of harm’s way.
Unfortunately, it is not always our homes that are dangerous places for our toddlers. The CDC reports that the leading cause of death in children under 12 in the United States is an injury caused by motor vehicle accidents. Buckling is one thing that can keep children safe but having them in the proper seat is even more important.
Some parents mistakenly think that once a child outgrows a rear-facing and then forward-facing car seat, they should just use the vehicle seat belt. But that’s false! For children around 4 to 8 years of age, it is time to transition to a booster car seat.
Can I buy a used booster seat?
Buying gently-used items is a great way to save money. However, like infant car seats, booster seats should not be used after a car accident.
Never buy a used car seat that is older than six years. You also should buy from a trustworthy person, as you cannot always see the damage caused in a car accident. Structural damage may cause the booster to fail in the event of a collision.
What if my toddler grows out of their front-facing car seat before their 4th birthday?
Most parents do not want to buy their child several safety seats through their lifetime, both because of the cost and because each purchase means more research to find the perfect seat.
If your child grows out of their forward-facing car seat early, choose a booster with a harness. This provides the most protection and can be used by most children until they are 40-50 pounds.
To avoid needing to buy another booster as they grow, look for a 2-in-1 booster seat.
How do I know if a booster seat is compatible with my car?
Back row seating generally does not have cumbersome headrests that will get in the way of your child’s booster. If the backseat does have a headrest, see if it is removable. If not, you will need to choose a backless model and keep your child in a forward-facing car seat as long as possible.
The other option is to choose a seat that is shorter than the bottom edge of the headrest. Measure starting at the base of your vehicle’s seat, keeping in mind that the highest part of the seat will give you the most accurate measurement. Then, measure to the bottom side of the headrest. Choose a booster seat that is shorter in height than the distance between the base of the seat and the headrest.
How do I know if my toddler can eat in their booster seat?
You should always avoid foods that pose a choking hazard when you are driving. If your toddler eats well, be sure they can easily chew foods in the car.
You should also consider a seat that has cup holders and storage pouches, which will allow your child to eat without having to hold food and a drink (like the wonderful dual cup holders on the Baby Trend Hybrid 3-in-1 that we review).
Finally, consider how easy it will be to wash your child’s seat if they do make a mess. Considering patterns and fabrics that hide stains well may also be a good option.
Where do I find booster seat safety ratings?
Not all booster seats are created equally. While you can read countless booster seat reviews online, none compare to the safety data.
Among the leading resources for parents of toddlers is safety data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. They use a dummy that is the size of an average 6-year old to test the latest models available. You can compare the information you have learned reading reviews with the IIHS’s convenient booster seat safety search tool that lets you look up safety data in an instant. In addition to testing how the seats stand up in a crash, areas like installation and fit of the lap belt are also tested.
Where should I position the booster in my car?
Children under the age of 12 should always sit in the back seat. While many parents consider it convenient, you should also consider which seat is safest. Consult the manufacturer’s guide for your vehicle.
Additionally, keep in mind that some middle seats do not have anchors, so you may want to choose one of the side seats for this reason. If you can’t find the information in the manual, speak with a CPST (child passenger safety technician).
What does it mean when a booster seat or car seat expires’?
Car seats have an expiration date because all materials start to break down over time. This means that your child’s booster seat will not maintain the same safety standards after a certain amount of time.
Booster seats also expire once they are in a car accident, as it is impossible to tell if there has been any internal damage that may cause the seat to fail.
Even if there is not any apparent damage, you should not use a car seat after the expiration date recommended by the manufacturer.
Should I use a booster car seat on an airplane?
Car seats and booster seats are made for all types of travel, including use on airlines. Not only will they keep your little one safe in turbulence, but they will also provide protection should there be a crash.
Something to note, however, is that not all boosters are made for use on airplanes. Backless boosters are the least-recommended.
Some parents rent boosters for airplane rides. However, it is best to bring your own booster seat on the airplane. Most airlines will allow this, and it makes installation easier. You also know that the seat you are using is safe. Call ahead and find out the requirements after you schedule your flight. Be sure to read more advice on traveling with a car set on an airplane.
How do I install a booster seat?
Booster seat installation depends on the type of booster that you have chosen, as well as the instructions provided by your manufacturer. One of the biggest things to consider is the compatibility of the seat. You should consider the angle of the seat and how it aligns with your backseat, as well as the height of the headrest.
If you are installing a seat that has a harness, you’ll want to be sure the harness fits over your child’s shoulders and the clip is centered in their chest. You can go to your local fire department or police station if you are unsure if you are fastening your child’s seat correctly.
Once you move out of a harnessed seat, correct installation will affect where the belt sits on your child. The lap belt should sit across their lap, rather than their stomach. Additionally, the shoulder strap should be positioned across their chest instead of across their neck.
What is an anchoring system?
A LATCH anchoring system is built into most newer cars. It is a hook or latch that can usually be found inside the vehicle’s seat, but you can consult your vehicle guide to learn more.
The anchoring system works with a latch or hook attached to the car seat. If the seat belt were to fail for any reason, this adds an extra level of security by ensuring the car seat does not go flying out of the vehicle seat. It also holds the seat in place when it is not being used by a child, so it does not become a hazard if the driver is in an accident.
We have a review that looks at the Clek Olli vs Ozzi booster seats, which are 2 great booster options that utilize the latch system.
What do I look for when choosing a seat?
Choosing to use a booster seat for your child is choosing to protect them from the unforeseen. It does not matter how safe of a driver you are, accidents happen all the time. Your best line of defense is a booster seat that provides all the security your toddler needs.
While factors like how much you are spending and the extra features may come into play, never sacrifice them for your child’s safety. Use a harness until your son or daughter outgrows it and then be sure the booster you choose makes the seat belt of your vehicle fit them securely.