Parents and guardians alike are concerned about the safety of their infants, toddlers, or big kids when traveling in the vehicle. The proper car seats can help reduce the risk of serious harm to small children in an accident. Additionally, each state has its version of a child restraint system that requires caregivers to install the best booster seats or appropriate safety-oriented ones.
When looking for a dedicated car seat for your child, the numerous types available and the different laws can make the process challenging. Plus, if you are shopping for the best booster seats, you should figure out what they are, whether you need them, the different types and the essential things to consider in your purchase. Then, you can familiarize yourself with these specialized car seats and check out our top recommendations below.
What Is a Booster Seat?
Infants and small toddlers start with a forward-facing car seat. However, these models have a height and weight limit that you can find within the manual. Typically, when your child's shoulders are above the harness slots at the top or when their ears can reach the top of the seat, it is time to upgrade them to booster seats.
A booster seat is a specialized car seat that lets the child sit at a higher level to use the seat belt safely. Although a five-point harness is safer, some of the best booster seats can grow with your child, and you will not need to make another purchase as they get taller and heavier. Nevertheless, it helps to know the other types of booster car seats that meet the necessary safety standards for your kid's age, height, and weight.
5 Best Booster Seats
1. Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 Car Seat
- 3 car seats in 1 – Rear-facing for infants 4-50 pounds |...
- Made of Steel reinforced | Product dimensions – 20.75” D x...
- 4-position extension panel adjusts to provide 5 inches of...
- Simply Safe Adjust Harness System adjusts the height of your...
- Graco ProtectPlus Engineered – A combination of the most...
At the top of our list of the best booster seats, the Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 car seat can cater to your kid from a newborn until they grow to be about 57 inches tall. As its name suggests, this product offers a three-mode use feature to be made into a rear-facing, high back booster or forward-facing car seat. The first mode is designed for infants between 4 and 50 pounds, the second is meant for big kids that weigh between 30 and 100 pounds and the last one can suit toddlers between 22 and 65 pounds.
The Graco Extend2Fit has a frame constructed from alloy steel to enhance its safety and durability. In addition, the booster car seat can let you keep your child riding in the rear-facing mode for longer since it offers a 4-position extension panel that adds about 5 inches of legroom as your kid grows. Moreover, the adjustable headrest can be moved through 10 positions to keep up with the child's increase in height.
This Graco booster seat has been rigorously tested to ensure it meets the ProtectPlus engineering safety standards. Also, it uses a no-rethread Simply Safe Adjust Harness that simplifies installing it onto the car seat. The mechanism allows for a single motion when securing the kid properly. Plus, it uses the InRight LATCH system for quick attachment that could take about a second.
The best booster seat should add convenience to your daily use, and the Graco car seat offers six recline positions to keep your child comfortable. At the same time, the two cup holders and storage pockets are excellent additions. For starters, the kid can place drinks, toys and snacks close to them. Additionally, the pockets allow you to put the harness away as you get your kid in and out of the Graco Extend2Fit.
2. Graco Affix High-Back Booster Seat with LATCH System
The Graco Affix High-Back Booster Car Seat offers impressive safety features that make it ideal for children below 57 inches tall. In addition, the model has a backless mode that can support a weight limit of about 100 pounds. These high-back booster seats are your best bet for making sure kids are riding safely in the car until they exceed the weight or height limit and can use the vehicle's seat belts.
If you want quick installation, the Graco Affix car seat lets you do it with one hand when you use its unique front-adjust LATCH system. You can use it to tighten this high-back booster seat to your vehicle's seat securely. Plus, this product has been extensively tested through the Graco ProtectPlus Engineering safety standards.
Whether in the high-back or backless mode, this car seat saves you time while picking up your kids from school. Because the product gives your child the freedom to self-buckle, they can let themselves in the booster seat quickly without you having to reach it yourself.
The Graco Affix is built for comfort thanks to the multiple layers of foam that keep the head, back, lap and shoulder well-rested when sitting. Additionally, the booster seat offers full back support for long journeys. So, the product will grow with your child, as long as they do not exceed the recommended weight limit, without becoming uncomfortable.
3. Graco TurboBooster High-Back Booster Seat
The Graco TurboBooster High-Back Booster Seats are also designed to work as a backless booster car seat, thanks to its 2-in-1 build. So as long as your big kid is less than 100 pounds and 57 inches tall, this product helps improve their safety and comfort when riding in the vehicle. Plus, the model features extra layers on the headrest and back to keep your child comfortable with reliable back support as they get older.
Moreover, the adjustable headrest on the Graco TurboBooster gives you six positions to keep up with the increasing height of your kid. The energy-absorbing foam boosts safety as it is designed to manage impact during collisions. In addition, the armrests are adjustable and are well-padded to help the booster seat remain comfortable. Plus, you get two cup holders that you can tuck away whenever they are not used to save on space.
The simple design of the Graco TurboBooster makes it easy to install. Although there is no latch, you can quickly slip the car's seat belt through this booster seat. Also, it remains buckled to the vehicle's seat when you are not using it. And its lightweight construction allows you to take it from one vehicle to another easily.
4. Evenflo Big Kid High-Back 2-in-1 Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat
- The big kid accommodates a child up to 110 lb, 40 -57 inch, and...
- The included belt clip helps safely position the vehicle's belt...
- 6 height positions offer a better fit as they grow, and can be...
If you are looking for a specialized forward-facing car seat for older children, the Evenflo Big Kid High-Back 2-in-1 Belt-Positioning Booster Seat is your best bet. This model has a backless mode which allows you to continue using it before your child grows beyond 57 inches tall. Additionally, the two seat-belt guides on either side give you the freedom to use it anywhere in the back car seats.
The modular design of the Evenflo Big Kid Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat is complemented by the lightweight construction. The main materials are plastic and a removable machine washable fabric. Thus, you can quickly move it from one vehicle to another and easily keep it clean. Plus, since you get to choose between two stylish color options, this high-back booster car seat will fit into any vehicle.
You can adjust the headrest through six positions so that your child is safely buckled in, even as they grow. Plus, you can easily tweak this feature with one hand. Finally, the dual backless booster seat features two cup holders, although they are not enclosed.
5. Britax Grow With You ClickTight Harness-2-Booster Car Seat
- TRUSTED QUALITY, UPDGRADED DESIGN: Looking for Frontier? Grow...
- PREMIUM, SOFT TOUCH FABRIC: 4-way stretch athleisure fabric...
- 2 in 1 BOOSTER SEAT: Easily transitions from forward facing...
- INSTALL CONFIDENTLY: With ClickTight, you know it’s right in...
- MORE COMFORT: Stay put, soft comfort pads keep your child's neck...
The Britax Grow With You ClickTight Booster Seat safety features offer reliable quality and an enhanced design at a premium cost. The frame is made from highly strong and durable alloy steel to handle a higher weight limit of 120 pounds and double foam padding on the sides for better protection during impact. Plus, this model is highly versatile with two recline positions, and you can use it in the 5 point harness mode or the high-back belt-positioning booster seat mode.
The exclusive Britax SafeCell technology used in the Grow With You ClickTight Booster Car Seat adds another point for safety. The material allows the product to absorb shock by crumpling up during impact. Additionally, the patented V-shaped tether slows down the high-back booster car seat and stabilizes it in case of a crash.
The machine-washable fabric is removable, and this helps you to keep it clean. Also, you can adjust the headrest through nine positions or select one of the two buckle positions as your child grows. Finally, your kid can use the four cup holders to keep their snacks and drinks conveniently close.
Why You Need a Booster Seat
States have varying laws regarding car seats, but they agree on numerous safety requirements for protecting children in vehicles. Child restraining systems are typically recommended for children who are about seven years or younger. It helps to review the specifics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Alternatively, you can find a comprehensive resource to help fill you in on the nitty-gritty.
If you have an infant or a toddler, it helps to plan for the future as they will quickly outgrow their specialized equipment. For example, booster car seats can keep your child safe and secure even as they age. You can buy a high-back model or one that has a backless mode when they exceed the height and weight requirements of harness booster seats.
How Do I Choose the Right Booster Seat?
Of course, safety is a major concern when looking for the best booster seats. However, you need to know the different types, comfort, ease of use and other factors to settle on the ideal purchase for your child.
a). Types of Booster Seats
1. High-Back Booster Car Seats
Since children are too short to reach the vehicle's seat belt, a high-back booster seat lifts them to ensure a proper fit. Additionally, the back and neck support reduces whiplash in case of a crash. Plus, the extra support allows them to sit comfortably without overly leaning.
2. A Backless Booster Seat
The best backless booster seat also lifts a child to reach the car's seat belt. However, it is more suitable if your vehicle has a headrest, even though it lacks the neck and head support needed to minimize whiplash. Still, they are very portable, making them excellent if the child frequently moves from one car to another.
Moreover, a backless booster car seat is essential if your kid has exceeded the height limit of a high-back model. Finally, if your vehicle is too narrow to fit a high-back booster car seat, you should consider the no-back option.
3. A Combination Booster Seat
This type of booster seat can change from one that uses a five-point harness to a high-back model. So, ff you want a product that can cater to your child from when they are a toddler until they grow tall enough to use seat belts., this is the model for you. Plus, it offers the same perks as the other booster seats in both categories.
4. All-in-One Booster Seats
The ultimate child restraining system is the all-in-one booster seat. This model can be used as a rear-facing, forward-facing harness booster or a high-back car seat. Plus, some models can be converted into backless booster seats. However, although it makes sense for long time use, they may be quite expensive.
b). Safety and Proper Fit
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tries to get the guesswork out of finding the right booster seat. They recommend products that offer reliable lap and shoulder belt fit for the vehicle you drive. If the booster seat you buy lacks a built-in harness, it will have to rely on the car's seat belts for installation.
The right lap belt fit should allow the seat belts to lie flat on the thighs instead of the lower abdomen. A poor lap belt fit will cause abdominal trauma in case of a crash or make the child uncomfortable during a ride.
On the other hand, ensure the right shoulder belt fit by checking if the seat belts cut across the shoulders. If they rest on the neck or fall off the shoulder, the child will be uncomfortable and try to move it to the wrong place.
A booster seat made from a durable frame can remain stable in case of impact to the vehicle. Side cushioning for the head, neck and back can also improve the safety of the child. Alternatively, some booster seat safety extras feature patented technologies that increase impact protection by reducing motion and absorbing shock.
Nevertheless, all booster seat manufacturers that sell in the US already meet the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety federal guidelines. Thus, it is crucial to check whether it will fit your vehicle and lifestyle.
c). Is the Booster Seat Easy to Use?
If you are concerned about your child's safety, operating some complicated equipment could make it difficult to ensure proper use. Therefore, you should consider buying a booster seat that is simple to install to reduce the chances of using it incorrectly. Additionally, the specialized car seat should be easy to use and provide you with one-handed ways of adjusting various settings and a detailed manual if it has numerous functionalities.
On the other hand, a booster seat that your child can operate can be essential, depending on your lifestyle. For example, if you always drop and pick up your kids from school, you can save plenty of time if they can quickly let themselves out of and into a seating position.
Moreover, a washable seat or a removable machine washable cover can make your work easier when keeping the vehicle clean. Since kids may spill their snacks and drinks, the right booster seat should help make your work easier.
d). What Are the Height and Weight Requirements?
Booster seat manufacturers often provide age requirements for their products. However, it is much safer to use your child's height and weight to measure the best fit for them. After all, the kid's age may not be enough information on the compatibility with the booster seat, as growth rates vary.
Nevertheless, toddlers and infants require more specialized car seats. Thus, there is a minimum requirement for weight and height to ensure proper booster seat use. Additionally, more legroom ensures your child can continue using the equipment until they exceed the recommended limits. Finally, a backless booster seat still has a height limit as exceeding the figure might make the seat belt uncomfortable for the kid.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Booster Seats
1. Can I put my two-year-old in a booster seat?
A three-year-old kid or younger should be put in a rear-facing seat or the right forward-facing seat with a 5-point harness. If they outgrow these child restraint systems, a booster seat will help lift them high enough for the car's seat belt to reach them comfortably. Additionally, look for the specifications and user guidelines that come with your purchase, as it will tell you when they'll fit in it.
2. Can a child stop using a booster seat?
The child should stop using the booster seat if they exceed the weight and height specifications of the product. For example, at this size, their knees could bend at the seat's edge letting the legs hang. Also, as soon as the car's seat belts can fit their shoulders well, it is a sign that they may have outgrown the safety seat.
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