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Best Booster Seats for Toddlers

by Melissa Willets


Best Booster Seats for Toddlers
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A booster seat does exactly what you think it does: boost a child up higher, so a car seat belt fits them more snugly and safely. When your kiddo reaches the maximum weight and height requirements for their forward-facing car seat with a 5-point harness system and top tether, a booster seat 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.

 

 

 

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.

1 of 9 Image Credits: Amazon

Best High Back Booster Seat

Price:$79.00

Parents rave that this seat is the safest high-back booster money can buy. Since the seat is secured to a vehicle via the LATCH system, it offers the safety of a car seat, with the look of a big kid booster. This is a good buy for any parent whose child has outgrown their forward-facing car seat.

Specifications:
40 to 100 lbs. 38” to 57” More than 4 years old

What Reviewers Are Saying:
“We just replaced the last car seat like this we had after being in a accident. Our car flipped three times on the highway and my son emerged without a scratch. As soon as we were safe at home I came here to order the same seat again because I was so impressed with how well it kept him safe.”

“I have been using this seat for at least 2 years for my daughter. We were recently in an accident involving a semi. The impact was on the side of the car where my she was sitting. This seat kept her head and body amazingly stable. I will be purchasing this seat again.”

“I was recently involved in a car accident in which I was rear-ended and slammed into two other cars. My four year old was restrained in the Graco Affix Youth Booster Seat seat at the time. The car seat did exactly what it was designed to do and my child walked away with no injuries. This seat gets two thumbs up from my family!!”

2 of 9 Image Credits: Target

Best Backless Booster Seat

Price:$20.00

It’s unanimous! Parents are saying the best booster seat without a back is this one. That’s because it not only has a low price but also a safe design. Win-win. The Graco Backless TurboBooster seat gets top ratings by users, no matter where you look. ‘Nuf said.

Specifications:
40 to 100 lbs. 40” to 57” tall

What Reviewers Are Saying:
“My son was riding with my mother on an Interstate when they crashed into the center median ditch, which launched them airborne and rolling 3 times. My 6 year old son was in this booster seat when they crashed. I am happy to say that his seat kept him in the vehicle and he was able to walk away from the crash with only minor injuries. I had to get rid of the seat after the crash, but I went right back to the store and bought this same seat...I highly recommend this booster to anyone who wants to protect their child.”

“Good quality and affordable.”

3 of 9 Image Credits: Target

Best 2-in-1 Booster Seat

Price:$80.00

This seat converts from a forward-facing car seat with a 5-point harness to a high-back booster seat secured via a car seat belt. It’s a great pick for parents who want extended use out of a seat, especially since there are four shoulder adjustment settings for the harness, and two crotch buckle positions. It’s side-impact tested and secured via a LATCH system for parental peace of mind.

Specifications:
22 to 110 lbs. 28” to 57” tall Ages 4 to 8 for booster use

What Reviewers Are Saying:
“I bought this car seat for my 15 month old son. We loved it so much we ordered another for my 2 year old. It is everything you think you are getting and more!! Worth the money hands down.”

“If you're in the market for something more than the cheap boosters, but don't want to spend over $100...this is a good buy.”

“Easy to carry, lightweight. Easy to assemble cup holders.”

4 of 9 Image Credits: Amazon

Best Affordable Booster Seat

Price:$40.00

Parents, rejoice! Because this seat offers two boosters for the very low price of one. The Evenflo booster transitions from a high-back booster, with 6 adjustable height positions, to a backless booster. It features a shoulder belt clip, and kids will appreciate the attached cup holders. Because juice.

Specifications:
High-back booster 30 to 110 lbs.
No-back booster 40 to 110 lbs.
40” to 57” tall
At least 4 years of age

What Reviewers Are Saying:
“Great booster for a child that has outgrown the 5 point harness type.”

“This is my favorite booster seat. This is now my 4th one of this exact seat (3 different colors), so that each vehicle has 2 of them for my 2 kids.”

“This is a great booster seat that can combine the seat back or that can be removed to just have the seat base. The seat back can be adjusted up and down as required.”

5 of 9 Image Credits: Amazon

Best Splurge Booster Seat

Price:$300.00

OK, here’s a high-back booster seat that can basically be customized to fit your child as they grow. The Peg Perego features four areas to adjust to fit the rider: The headrest adjusts to five positions up and down, the upper backrest adjusts up and down to three different positions, side wings expand out to three positions and the seat reclines to five positions. Want to hear the coolest part? All of these adjustments can be made independently of one another. This seat is highly rated for safety, too. Ready for the finale, parents? The back folds down for easy storage and transport. Winner!

Specifications:
40 to 120 lbs. Up to 63” tall

What Reviewers Are Saying:
“I'm a car seat psycho (for safety) and I've tried multiples of every version of seat (infant, convertible, HBB...) to find the very best of the best. After 3 different HBBs, this Peg Flex is the holy grail.”

“The BEST part of this seat is the one handed lever that allows the entire seat to recline regardless of the position of the back of the actual car rest. AMAZING!!!!!! no more struggling to adjust two seperate pieces which in turn woke up my child almost all the time.”

“It’s what all boosters should do! This car seat is great for my 4 year old who weighs 45 lbs. He can easy sleep in it, it reclines at an angle that allows his head to be cradled by the headrest of the seat.”

6 of 9 Image Credits: Amazon

Best Booster Seat for Traveling

Price:$36.00

This innovative stow-and-go seat works differently from your traditional booster seat. Instead of holding the child up, this seat holds the seat belt down, to meet the child where they are. It’s literally 10 times smaller than an average booster seat (you can fit this foldable seat in your pocket, it’s so small!), weighs less than 2 pounds, and claims to be just as safe. The evidence? It meets or exceeds the US-based Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. Designed for carpooling, traveling and, well, general awesomeness, you won’t find a less expensive or more compact, lightweight travel booster seat. Just one word of caution: Some parents are saying kids can’t buckle themselves in the seat without help, but if that’s your biggest travel hassle, you’re doing pretty well! (Honorable mention goes to the Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120; just note it weighs almost 15 pounds and costs 10 times as much.)

Specifications:
40 to 100 lbs. 40” to 57” tall At least 4 years of age

What Reviewers Are Saying:
“Really easy to take on trips. It is as compact as they say.”

“It was super fast to set up in the cars, and he was very secure. It really is such a smart design.”

“These are amazing. We bought two one for our 6 year old and the other for our 8 year old. Both were able to easily use. They are so compact and easy to carry. We traveled across country and just put one in each child's backpack. I'll be keeping one in the car as a backup if we have any other little ones that we are cruising around with. Well worth the cost, especially for the kid on the go.”

7 of 9 Image Credits: Target

Best Convertible Booster Seat

Price:$180.00

This Graco booster seat goes from a 5-point harness car seat to a high-back booster seat to a backless booster, so it grows with your kiddo from 20 to 100 pounds — yeah, basically for their entire childhood! The seat is highly rated for safety (as all Graco booster seats are) and offers one-handed headrest adjustment, plus the ability to recline.

Specifications:
Harnessed 22 to 65 lbs. High-back booster 30 to 100 lbs. Backless booster 40 to 100 lbs. 27” to 57” tall

What Reviewers Are Saying:
“Love this car seat. I have 2 now, one for my car and one for grandma's car. It has nice buckles, big head rest protection, you don't have to re-thread the straps to adjust the height.”

“My son was feeling uncomfortable in his convertible car seat so we decided to get a booster. I love the idea of the 5 point harness and the safety surround. He looks more comfortable and loves it!”

“Great booster seat. Feels sturdy. Love that the harness can fit my 5 year old son and has room to grow.”

8 of 9 Image Credits: Amazon

Best Harness Booster Seat

Price:$199.00

This Chicco booster seat can be used with its 5-point harness system or your car’s seat belt. It’s designed with safety in mind, featuring two layers of side-impact protection. It’s practical, too, given its no rethread harness (where has this been all our lives?) and 4-position recline option, which is perfect for kiddos who want to catnap on long rides.

Specifications:
25 to 65 lbs. with harness 30 to 100 lbs.

What Reviewers Are Saying:
“I am very happy with this car seat/booster. My daughter says it’s very comfortable. It was easy to install, more narrow then her previous seat and the straps and buckles are simple enough for her to do herself.”

“This chair is incredible. Easy to use and install. My daughter is comfortable in this seat. She loves it. It’s easy for her to buckle up and for me to buckle her in. Chicco does NOT disappoint. This is my 3rd Chicco.”

“After lots of reading other reviews and research I decided to go with this one. Shortly after I purchased the car seat we took about a 7hr road trip and my son was still very comfortable sitting in it. It is very easy to install and get leveled even being 7 months pregnant.”

9 of 9 Image Credits: Walmart

Best Booster Seat for Tall Kids

Price:$49.00

This Harmony booster seat features a headrest with seven adjustment settings, so it definitely grows with your child. It also converts to a backless booster for added longevity. This award-winning seat is safety-impact tested, with a removable seat pad for easy cleaning (hooray!), and offers two recline positions, so it’s a great pick for any kiddo.

Specifications:
30 to 110 lbs. 34” to 57” tall

What Reviewers Are Saying:
“This one seems well built has lots of protection and the material seems very durable. He likes it much better than his old seat. Plus the top section can be removed as he continues to grow.”

“My son loves it, it fits him good and can grow with him. You can adjust or completely remove the headrest part and back which is nice.”