Best Booster Seats of 2017

Best Booster Seats of 2017

Last Updated: January 18, 2017
Best Booster Seats of 2017

After your child outgrows a front-facing car seat, he still won’t be big enough to be in the correct position for your vehicle’s seat belts to do their job: save your child from injury should you get in an accident. Straps that lay against his neck or across his belly could actually do serious damage in the event of a crash.

Booster seats were developed to elevate children, making adult seat belts fit better on little bodies. Many boosters also have clips that guide the shoulder and lap belts into the proper placement. Boosters do not come with their own safety belts, but use your vehicle’s seat belts instead.

Do you need a booster car seat?

While laws vary on how big your child must be before she can ride without a special seat, most states require children to use a booster seat until 8 years old. Also, it’s just plain safer to use one until your vehicle’s seat belt straps can naturally fall over your child’s shoulder and across the lap - the spots where adult belts should lay.

When do you need a booster car seat?

You should transition your child to a booster seat when he has reached the weight and/or height maximum of the forward-facing car seat. For some car seats that’s around 40 pounds or five years old, while others have higher weight limits. A booster seat is used until children are 8 to 12 years old and a vehicle seat belt properly fits without it.

What type of booster car seat is best?

Any new booster seat you purchase has met the government’s safety standards. (Although, that’s not true for second-hand seats. So, it’s best to buy boosters new.)

However, some boosters performed better than others in evaluations conducted by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. Check out the safety ratings for a gamut of booster seat options, including ones to avoid.

When shopping for booster seats, you’ll have two types to choose from: high-back and backless.

High-backs, or HBBs, are similar to a car seat in that they are a mini-sized seat, with a bottom and back, placed on your passenger seat. High-back boosters offer a guide through which you can thread the shoulder belt to make sure the fit is exactly where it needs to be. On some, the backrest can be adjusted for height, and most high-backs have padded headrests.

Backless boosters only have the seat component to provide the extra height needed to be safely strapped in, and are less expensive than high-backs. Some offer a clip that positions the lap belt as well.

Typically boosters sit in the back passenger seat without being tethered down. But some provide connectors that will attach to your vehicle’s anchors to keep the booster secured to the vehicle seat. This doesn’t affect your child’s safety while riding in it, but eliminates the booster sliding around when your little one is getting in and out. More importantly, tethering it to your vehicle’s seat keeps an empty booster from becoming a dangerous projectile in the event of a collision. If the booster you choose doesn’t have connectors to attach to your automobile’s seat, be sure to stow it in your trunk or secure it down with a seatbelt when your child isn’t in it. Which booster car seat to select depends on what you think will work best for your family. To start, take a look at these options that received the highest ratings from BabyList parents.

Babylist Best Picks

All-Around Winner

Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Belt Positioning Booster Car Seat - $99.99
WHY WE LOVE IT

There’s no slipping around with this high-back style that can be fastened to your car’s seat. Plus, the KidFit’s head and shoulder “wings” offer side-impact protection. When your little one grows, so does the KidFit: it has 10 different height positions. Another bonus? It can morph into a backless booster, which is awesome when you need it to be more toteable for a trip.

KEEP IN MIND

Kids are klutzy and this booster is harder to clean than others. There are two videos on the company’s website that illustrate how to remove and reinstall the fabric.

WHAT BABYLIST PARENTS SAY

“Well worth the money.” -Meg

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Weight requirements: 30 to 110 lbs.

Budget Booster

Evenflo Amp Belt-Positioning Car Seat Product - $36.99
WHY WE LOVE IT

Like the Chicco KidFit, Evenflo’s Amp is a high-back booster that converts into a no-back style too. But it has a few less height options - six - and no-frills cup holders that use elastic straps to secure drinks and snacks. For the money though, the Amp is a great deal.

KEEP IN MIND

We’re not big fans of the flimsy cup/snack holders. And, the angle they are placed makes it more difficult for kids to access.

WHAT BABYLIST PARENTS SAY

“Having a removable back support is great. It’s light and easy to switch between cars.” -Hannah

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Weight requirements: 30 to 100 lbs.

Best Bodyguard

Britax Parkway SGL Belt-Positioning Booster Seat - $128.00
WHY WE LOVE IT

Wish you could bubble wrap your child? Well, with the Parkway, that’s nearly the case. It has a steel frame, an impact-absorbing base, and two layers of energy-absorbant cushioning on the extended sides. Latches secure the booster to your vehicle’s seat, and a clip ensures the lap belt doesn’t let your child slip under during a collision.

KEEP IN MIND

The Parkway seems to offer everything - extra safety features, retractable cup holders, and the ability to convert to a backless model - and it’s price point reflects that.

WHAT BABYLIST PARENTS SAY

“My daughter loves it! ” - Robyn

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Weight requirements: 40 to 120 lbs.

Good for Big Families

Graco Highback TurboBooster Car Seat - $45.99
WHY WE LOVE IT

If you need to squeeze a bunch of kids in the backseat, you’re going to fall hard for the TurboBooster. In most midsize cars, you can fit three of these across the backseat and they can convert from highback to backless. The bonus? Padded, height-adjustable armrests.

KEEP IN MIND

Unfortunately, the TurboBooster does not come with latches to anchor it to your automobile’s seats.

WHAT BABYLIST PARENTS SAY

“It’s easy to use.” - Molly

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Weight requirements: 30 to 100 lbs.

Cushy Seat

Clek Ozzi Backless Booster Seat - $59.99
WHY WE LOVE IT

Clek is all about making boosters that look and act like a vehicle’s regular seat. Translation: extra layers of bottom cushioning make for a smooth, comfortable ride, which is especially great for longer road trips.

KEEP IN MIND

At this price, we’re surprised this backless number has no cup holders. Even worse? It will arrive with a huge, ugly, non-removable label of legalese across the front (which isn’t pictured on the box, website, etc.).

WHAT BABYLIST PARENTS SAY

“I think it’s the best!” - Arlene

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Weight requirements: 40 to 120 lbs.


Choosing What’s Right for You

The bottom line is that all new booster seats on the market have met safety standards. After safety, it comes down to personal preference. Do you need something that’s lightweight and can be easily transferred between cars? Are headrests essential because your child tends to nod off in the car? Would extra safety features in a booster help you stress less on the road? These are the things to think about as you decide what booster is best for you and your little travel companion. Here’s to many happy miles ahead!