A booster seat does exactly what you think it does: boost a child up higher so a car seat belt fits around them more snugly and safely. When your kiddo reaches the maximum weight and height requirements for forward-facing car seats with a 5-point harness system and top tether, finding the best booster seat for toddlers is the next step.
Of course, if you’re like, oh, pretty much every parent ever, you will look at your child for months and wonder, “Are they ready to move to a booster seat?” SafeKids.org recommends waiting as long as possible before making this transition, simply because it’s safer. But they can’t go to their high school prom in a forward-facing car seat, so at some point, you will move them to the booster. This will probably happen around the age of 4 or 5.
- Best High Back Booster Seat: Graco TurboBooster LX High Back Booster Seat
- Best Backless Booster Seat: Graco Backless TurboBooster Car Seat
- Best 2-In-1 Booster Seat: Evenflo Maestro Harness Booster Seat
- Best Affordable Booster Seat: Evenflo Big Kid AMP High back Booster Car Seat
- Best Splurge Booster Seat: Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120
- Best Booster Seat For Traveling: Mifold Brad-AndGo Car Booster Seat
- Best Convertible Booster Seat: Graco Nautilus 65 3-In-1 Harness Booster Car Seat
- Best Harness Booster Seat: Chicco MyFit LE Harness + Booster Car Seat
- Best Booster Seat For Tall Kids: Diono Monterey XT Latch
What Are the Types of Booster Seats?
There are two main types of booster seats: a high back booster seat and a backless booster seat. A high back booster is, again, what it sounds like: a booster seat with back and head support. A backless booster doesn’t have a back, as the name suggests, and simply helps to properly position a car seat belt for a child’s smaller frame. Both types of booster seats are secured with your car’s seat belt.
What to Consider When Choosing a Booster Seat
This mostly has to do with age. Most parents find that a high-back booster is a good next step for kids who are used to sitting in a forward-facing car seat (especially if they tend to fall asleep in the car). Check the weight and height requirements for any high-back booster you are considering to make sure it’s a good fit for your child. Once your child hits the age of around 8, they may notice their friends are riding in backless boosters and start to feel self-conscious about sitting in a high-back booster seat, because it resembles a car seat. That’s a good time to consider switching to the backless booster seat; again, confer with the weight and height requirements of the seats.
There are laws about how long kids must ride in booster seats that vary by state. In general, kids are required to ride in a seat belt-positioning booster seat until they reach 4’9” in height, and are between the ages of 8 and 12. Assure your child they won’t always have to sit in a booster, but that it’s the safest way to travel for now. And remind them that the safest place for them to sit is in the back seat of any vehicle, until they reach the age of 13.
The other factors that will inform your booster-buying decision is, of course, budget, and if there are any special considerations, like that your child is fairly tall for their age, or if you’ll be traveling frequently. Read on to learn about the best booster seats on the market now.