10 Best

Car Booster Seats

of September 2023

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A Guide to the Best Car Booster Seats

Yehudah Posnick

Seat belts are important for keeping you from ejecting out of a car. But seatbelts are designed for adults who are 4’ 9” or taller. An adolescent (or even an adult) who is shorter than 4’ 9” will notice that a seatbelt will not rest on their hips but on their belly. In the event of an accident, the seatbelt will press on the soft internal organs and may cause serious injury. There has to be a way of getting the seatbelt to rest on a child’s hip bones. That’s where a car booster seat comes into play.

A car booster seat is designed to raise your child’s sitting position a few extra inches to support their entire back and neck, and ensure that the seatbelt rests on their hips properly. We’ll see that there are booster seats that allow you to adjust the height. This can be very useful if your child will ride in a carpool at times, and the back seat isn’t the same height as your family car. And there are special features, such as cup holders and removable, machine-washable cushions!

We’ll go through some of the features of the best car booster seats on the market. We’ll also give some pointers on how to best utilize these car booster features, to ensure your child’s safety.

Types of Car Booster Seats

  • Three-in-one: There are car booster seats that can convert from a harness booster to a highback booster, and then to a backless booster. The Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Harness Booster Set is a good example. Graco says that their 3-in-1 sets can be used for children ranging from 49” to 57” in height:

    • Harness booster: This is for children weighing 22-65 pounds, and up to 49” in height. It has a forward-facing harness that straps your child in place with 5-point support. This is an adequate transition from a rear-facing child car seat, which is more for children up to 2 years of age, as your child starts to want to sit front-facing.

Graco Nautilus 65 3-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat

    • High back boosters provide support for the entire height of your child’s back, as well as a headrest. This is recommended for children weighing between 40 to 100 pounds. You’ll start off with a high-back booster for younger children. They’re a necessity if your car has low seat backs and no headrests.

Graco Nautilus 65 3-in-1 High-back Booster

    • Backless boosters simply raise your child’s sitting position. Some will also provide armrests. So, a backless booster will be adequate for a car seat that already has a headrest. The extra inches that the booster raises your child will do the trick to get your child’s head to nest safely in the headrest. Also, if the car seat already extends to your child’s entire height when they sit, a backless booster will be adequate.

Graco Nautilus 65 3-in-1 Backless Booster

  • 2-in-1 seats: There are also car booster seats that don’t have the harness stage. They just have the high-back booster seat and the backless booster. An example is the Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Belt Positioning Booster Car Seat. The high-back booster can be raised to 10 different heights to protect your child’s head and shoulders, so you can adjust it as your child grows.

Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Belt Positioning High-Back Booster Car Seat

Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Belt Positioning Backless Booster

What reviewers say

Here is what customers say about their choice of car booster seat:

  • Removable pads: If your child eats while they’re in the car, they’ll invariably get the booster seat dirty. Manufacturers have that in mind, so they make the booster seat from detachable pads that are machine-washable.

  • Adjustability: You want your booster seat to be good for your child until they’re around 12 years old, depending on their height and weight. Many car booster seats allow you to adjust the height of the back support, and, in many brands, even the width. That’s the case with the Maxi-Cosi RodiFix Booster Car Seat. You can adjust the height between 12 different positions, and recline it backward for more comfort.

Maxi-Cosi RodiFix Booster Car Seat

  • Maximum time of use: The best manufacturers, such as Graco, certainly aim to make a product that will last for years. However, they also warn that you shouldn’t use a particular booster seat that you purchase for more than 10 years. It’s understandable that ten years of daily use will put wear and tear on the product, and it’s best to buy a new one.


Important Features

Here are some tips regarding the installation and use of a car booster seat:

  • Try to keep your child in a back-facing seat as long as possible: Pediatricians recommend keeping your child in a rear-facing seat until they’re two years old. But, it should even be beyond that, depending on your child’s comfort and size. This is because the ratio of a child’s head size to their body size is larger than that of an adult. Also, their neck muscles aren’t as developed as in an adult. If you seat the child in a front-facing seat too soon, they may experience a jolt that can cause serious spinal injury.

  • Side-impact protection: There are models of booster seats that have been tested for all sorts of possible impacts and car accidents. Note that some models are even tested for side impact protection, besides the more typical collisions from the front or rear of the car.

  • Placement of seat belt: A high-back booster seat will have special guiding clips to indicate where the seat belt and shoulder belt will go. You have to realize that, without a harness, your child must be using the car’s seatbelts to ensure their safety!

  • Cup and snack holders: If your child wants to drink, there’s a risk that their drink might spill. Many car booster seats will have 2 or even 4 cup and snack holders. In many models, it’s possible to slip them out of the booster, for easier cleaning.

  • Minimal 40-lb. weight to go to a booster seat: Some booster seats say that they’re safe for children that weigh 30 pounds or more. However, investigations have shown that children under 40 pounds should still be in a car seat with a five-point harness, for more support. Children who weigh under 40 pounds can experience serious jolting and severe injuries, by slipping out of the seatbelt! They should either use a child car seat or the front-facing harness booster seat that we saw above from Graco, which provides five-point support.

  • When to know that a backless booster is enough: There’s a way of measuring when to transition from the back-supporting booster seat to the backless version. If the back seat or headrest reaches the top of your child’s ears, then a simple backless booster will be enough.

  • Placement of seatbelt: A booster seat can ensure that your child is wearing a seatbelt correctly. The seatbelt should lay across your child’s shoulder and hip bones. If the seat is too low, you’ll see that the seatbelt lies across their belly and neck, which is inadequate support while riding. That’s an advantage to car booster seats with adjustable heights. You can change the height of the back support in accordance with the car you’re riding in!

Final Verdict

We went through some models of the best car booster seats. You’ll notice that manufacturers have put a lot of thought to put extra features, for additional safety and comfort. Look through the list of the Best Reviews Guide’s best car booster seats, and select one today!

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