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Car Seat Buying Guide

Jon Whittle

Booster Seats

This is the last stop on the safety-seat train. Expect to use a belt-positioning booster, which raises your child up so the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belts fit properly, until he’s between 8 and 12 years old, and 4’ 9” tall. You’ve got two choices—high-back and backless. The one you choose really depends on your car: If you have low seat backs and/or no headrests, a high-back booster is essential; it will provide head protection in the event of a crash, says Dr. Durbin. Otherwise, a backless booster will do your child just fine. Both perform equally well, he says.


Other Features Worth Looking For

  • Additional side-impact protection: The more side structure a seat has the better.
  • Two-piece chest clip: These clips are more difficult for busy hands to unsnap; they tend to be sturdier, too.
  • Rear-facing tether: There aren’t too many seats with this option, but a rear-facing tether can increase stability.
  • Well-spaced harness slots: When you’re using a rear-facing seat, you’ll want to be sure the bottom slots are low on the seat back—if they’re too high, your child might not fit. Just the opposite is true for forward-facing; if the top slots are too low, your munchkin might outgrow the seat before he’s actually ready to move on to booster. The result? You’ve got to buy another seat!