7 Best Booster Seats of 2022
Best Booster Seats
July 22, 2019

Best Booster Seats

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Here's everything you need to know about choosing the best booster seat.Best Booster Seats

Infant bucket seats, convertible seats, boosters… When it comes to car seats, you’re going to be in it for the long haul. This is especially true when it comes to booster seats, since your little one will be riding in one for years.

Buckle up, because we have everything you need to know about the safety guidelines around boosters, when to make the switch, and which seats are best to keep your tiny passenger as safe as possible.

In this article:

What is a Booster Seat?

After a child outgrows a front-facing car seat, they’re still not big enough to be in the correct position for your vehicle’s seat belts to do its job: saving your child from injury should you get into an accident. Straps that lay against the neck or across the belly can actually do harm instead of good in the event of a crash.

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

Do You Need a Booster Seat?

While laws vary on how big a child must be before they can ride without a special seat, most states require children to use a booster seat until 8 years old. It’s also 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 they have reached the maximum weight and/or height limit of your forward-facing car seat. For some seats that’s around 40 pounds or five years old, while others have much higher limits.

Another thing to consider when transitioning your child from a car seat to a booster is the freedom of movement that a booster allows. A car seat has a 5-point harness, which means that when it’s properly tightened, it doesn’t allow your child the freedom to move around all that much. A booster, however, does not. And leaning over, twisting, reaching over to poke a sibling…none of these are safe positions for your child to be in while you’re driving. Most kids aren’t mature enough to sit properly in a booster until at least 5 years old.

A booster seat is used until children are usually around 8 to 12 years old and a vehicle seat belt fits properly without it.

What Type of Booster Seat is Best?

Any new booster seat you purchase has met the government’s safety standards. (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-back boosters 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.

Note that there are also combination high-back booster seats, which can function either as a car seat with a 5-point harness (for children up to at least 40 pounds), or a belt-positioning booster for kids over 40 pounds. In these types of seats, the back portion of the seat is not usually removable.

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. Backless boosters have seat belt guides that position the belt over the correct place on the child’s body.

According to the Car Seat Lady, in order to use a backless booster, the vehicle seat must come up to your child’s ears. That’s because the top of the ears is the same height as the bottom of the skull, and the skull needs protection in the event of a crash. If your child’s ears come up past the vehicle seat, they should use a high-back booster.

Typically boosters sit in the back passenger seat without being tethered down. Some provide connectors that 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 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.

Babylist’s Best Booster Seat Picks

Best 2-in-1 Booster Seat

Why We Love It

The Chicco KidFit often earns a top spot on best booster seat lists—and it definitely deserves it. At an accessible price point and loaded with great features, this high-back seat that converts to a backless booster boasts side-impact protection, 10 height positions, LATCH connectors, double-foam padding and a 2-position backrest. The retractable cup holders are a great add, especially if you’re stuck riding in the back and don’t want to get poked in the side throughout the trip, and parents rave about the seat’s light weight and kid-approved comfort level.

Keep in Mind

This booster can be harder to clean than others. (There are two videos on the company’s website that illustrate how to remove and reinstall the fabric.)

Seat Weight 10.2 lbs
Height and weight requirements With backrest: 30-100 lbs and at least 4 years old; Without backrest: 40-110 lbs, 38-57 in and at least 4 years old

Best Transitional Booster Seat

Why We Love It

A combination harness-to-booster seat is ideal if you’re trying to limit the amount of baby gear you own while also trying to maximize the amount of time your little one spends in a 5-point harness. This Graco seat comes in at a great price point and is loaded with features (the Simply Safe Adjust Harness System for just the right fit, a machine- washable seat pad, insert and harness covers, a one-hand adjustable headrest and so much more) and will go the distance from toddler to big kid.

Seat Weight 15 lbs
Height and weight requirements Harness mode: 22-65 lbs, 27-49 in ; High-back mode: 30-100 lbs, 38-57 in; Backless mode: 40-100 lbs, 40-57 in

Most Highly Reviewed Booster Seat

Why We Love It

Over 5,000 Amazon customers can’t be wrong. This Evenflo seat is well-loved by parents, and for good reason. At under $50, this seat features 6 height positions, excellent head support, comfortable padding, dual cup holders and the ability to transition into a backless booster. Parents love the narrow width, especially when you need more than one car seat across your back row, and the seat’s light weight, which makes for easy transferring from car to car or for travel.

Keep in Mind

This seat doesn’t use LATCH; instead, it installs with just your car’s seat belt.

Seat Weight 7 lbs
Height and weight requirements With backrest: 30-110 lbs, 44-57 in and at least 4 years old; Without backrest: 40-100 lbs, 40-57 in and at least 4 years old

Most Affordable Booster Seat

Why We Love It

If you’re in the market for a great seat at an affordable price, this Graco pick is your answer. For under $45, you’ll get a high-back booster that seamlessly transitions to a backless booster when your child is ready. You’ll also get an adjustable headrest and padded armrests, energy-absorbing foam for impact absorption in the case of an accident, belt guides for seat belt positioning and a “Best Bet Booster” designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Keep in Mind

Some parents say that the cup holders aren’t very wide or deep, making it tough to fit all types of cups and water bottles into the drink holders.

Seat Weight 8.4 lbs
Height and weight requirements With backrest: 30-100 lbs, 38-52 in and at least 3 years old; Without backrest: 40-100 lbs, 40-57 in and at least 4 years old

Best Backless Booster Seat

Why We Love It

If your child meets the height requirements, a backless booster can be a great option that’s a whole lot smaller than its high-back counterparts. The TurboBooster is comfortable and features a washable, removable cover and two hideaway cup holders. And at only 5 pounds, it’s ideal for travel.

Keep in Mind

Remember that when using a backless booster, you want the vehicle seat to come up to your child’s ears to protect your little one’s head in case of a crash. (If their ears come up over the seat, you’ll want to use a high-back booster instead.)

Seat Weight 5 lbs
Height and weight requirements 40-100 lbs, 43-57 in and between the ages of 4 and 10

Best Modern Booster Seat

Why We Love It

Clek is known for making modern, stylish seats that exceed even the highest safety standards. The Oobr is a high-back-to-backless booster that’s built just like the seat of your car, featuring a metal substructure energy-absorbing foam layers. There’s even a unique recline feature (when used with LATCH) that allows the seat to slide forward and pivot back for up to 12 degrees of recline.

Keep in Mind

The Oobr is one of the pricier seats on our list, but many parents don’t mind paying up for this type of quality.

Seat Weight 20 lbs
Height and weight requirements With backrest: 33-100 lbs, 38-57 in and at least 4 years old; Without backrest: 40-100 lbs, 40-57 in and at least 4 years old

Best Booster Seat for Travel

Why We Love It

The BubbleBum is more than just a fun name—it’s an innovative product that solves for the huge problem (and inconvenience) of traveling with big, bulky booster seats. This booster seat inflates, meaning that when it’s not in use, it’s easily foldable and packable into a bag or backpack. It features a webbing harness and nylon seat belt guides and comes in a ton of fun colors and patterns.

Keep in Mind

For another great travel seat option, check out the mifold Grab-and-Go Booster Seat.

Seat Weight 1.2 lbs
Height and weight requirements 40-100 lbs and 4-11 years old

Choosing What’s Right for You

All new booster seats on the market have met the same safety standards. When it comes to choosing what’s right, after safety, it all comes down to personal preference and your family’s specific needs. 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!

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