It’s a fact that car booster seats save lives. According to the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), Children 4’ 9” and under should use a booster seat for safety. While seatbelts are designed for adult passengers and thus present a choking hazard for younger riders, booster seats lift your child, allowing the restraints to fit comfortably around them, while at the same time giving them an elevated position to see out of the window.

Which car booster seat is right for your child, though, and how do you choose in a market crowded with options? We’ve combed through the multitude of makes and models, and in this article we review 5 of what we believe are the best car booster seats on the market today. Some have been chosen for their popularity; others have made the list because of their ingenuity, and still others are included because they offered something different.

  • 6 positioning height adjustment
  • Energy absorbing foam for better protection
  • Dual cup holders
  • Adaptable car and booster seat
  • 90-day warranty

  • Easy to fit
  • Extra comfort padding
  • Lightweight and easy to store
  • Comes in 4 colors
  • 1-year warranty

  • 2-in-1 car seat and booster seat
  • Energy absorbing foam
  • Integrated cup holder and storage tray
  • Fully adjustable headrest
  • 1-year warranty

  • Inflates in 10 seconds
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Patented memory foam technology
  • Fits inside most handbags, backpacks, and tote bags
  • 1-year warranty

  • 2-in-1 car and booster seat
  • Side impact protection
  • 9-position harness
  • Easy on/off lower LATCH connectors
  • 1-year warranty


Evenflo Big Kid Booster Car Seat

Like the Graco Affix Booster, this Evenflo option is a 2-in-1 seat with both a car and booster option, and it also has energy-absorbing foam in the padding. Where this model differs is in the 6 adjustable height positions, so as your child grows so does the seat, until eventually they are ready to do away with the high back and just use the booster option. It also has 2 side impact zones for the head and torso.

Evenflo has produced this seat in 6 trim and color options to suit any taste, and it has 2 elastic cup holder. This seat is lighter than the Graco, weighing in at 8.45 lbs compared to 9.11 lbs, which means that it should be easier to lift into place when you either need to remove or fix it to the car seat. It is also considerably cheaper than the Graco model, so it’s good news for the bank balance.

On the downside, those savings have to come from somewhere, so this seat does not come equipped to use the LATCH system, which means that while it can still be attached using the seat belt, it isn’t going to feel as secure as other car booster seats in its class. Moreover, Evenflo states that the seat is suitable for children of 30 lbs and upwards but it doesn’t make it clear about the height specifications on Amazon. Subsequently, some customers have bought this model because their children meet the weight requirement but have discovered that they don’t meet the 40-inch height target.

Pros

  • Great price
  • Lightweight
  • 6 adjustable height positions
  • 2-in-1 car and booster seat
  • Energy absorbing foam

Cons

  • No LATCH system
  • Has height as well as weight restrictions


Cosco Backless Booster Car Seat

This Cosco Booster car seat is the first dedicated backless variety to feature on the list, and because it is backless, it is a whole lot cheaper than the rest, making it our budget pick. The seat has added padding for a comfortable ride, and the whole thing is lightweight, weighing just 2.2 lbs. It’s compact too, making it easy to lift in and out of the car and to store.

This seat has an age range of 6+, so it is for the older range of child, and the maximum weight specification is 100 lbs. It is relatively basic, but for the price you wouldn’t expect it to be any other way.

On the downside, because it is backless, it will only work for those children who are old enough to not need the back support. With the 2-in-1 varieties, they convert to boosters so you don’t need to spend out again. Some have also said that this seat is a little narrow and makes for slightly uncomfortable journeys. It also relies on the weight of your child and the seat belt to fix it in place instead of LATCH fixings that would make the whole thing far more secure.

Pros

  • Great price
  • Lightweight
  • Compact
  • Easy to fit in the car

Cons

  • No LATCH fixings
  • Slightly too narrow
  • Feels cheaply made

Graco Affix Booster Car

Graco is one of the major players in the booster car seat industry and has built a solid reputation for innovation and quality. This Affix seat is a high-back booster with a versatile 2-in-1 system that allows you to use it for very young children and then later adapt it into a booster seat as your child grows. This saves a lot in the outlay for a new car seat and gives you years of use.

The seat has been engineered to withstand collisions that meet and exceed the U.S crash test standard FMVSS 213, so you can have peace of mind that your child is as safe as they can be. The padding is constructed from energy absorbing foam for better management of an impact, and the torso and head-rest offer additional protection, especially from a side impact.

This Graco model also utilizes the LATCH system of fixings that anchor the seat to the car, so there is no danger of movement should the worst ever happen. Installation couldn’t be simpler with the Affix system that allows you to adjust the tension of the straps with one hand and the front adjust LATCH feature means that it can all be done in seconds.

On the downside, the seat has a headrest that the manufacturers recommend should not come into contact with your car’s headrest, because if it protrudes the seat doesn’t quite fit properly.  In addition, if you have a leather interior, the base of the booster leaves ridges on the seats and may cause damage.

Pros

  • Uses the LATCH system of anchors
  • 2-in-1 booster and car seat
  • Quick installation
  • 2 side impact zones
  • Energy absorbing foam

Cons

  • May not fit all makes and models
  • Possibly damages the car seat

BubbleBum Inflatable Booster Car Seat

This BubbleBum booster car seat makes it into the review because it redefines what a booster seat is. This thing inflates in roughly 10 seconds, by you blowing through the valve, much like blowing up a beach ball. What this means is that when it is deflated, it is lightweight and compact and can fit inside most handbags, backpacks, and tote bags. It is the ultimate on-the-go, emergency, travel booster car seat that’s been rated a “Best Bet” booster by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 8 years in a row.

The interior of the booster contains more memory foam than air, which means that in the event of a crash, even if it is punctured, it will maintain its structural integrity to protect your child. This ingenious booster meets both the U.S and E.U safety standards and has been crash-tested when inflated and deflated, so you know it works.

On the downside, for an inflatable booster seat, it isn’t particularly cheap, retailing at almost double the price of the Cosco Backless Booster Car Seat, which means that you are probably paying for the fact that this seat folds away neatly rather than for its comfort and ability to do the job. In addition, because it is inflatable it feels more like a vacation or an emergency booster rather than an everyday item. Moreover, if you live in colder climates, you may find that the temperature wreaks havoc on the seat’s ability to stay inflated, meaning that you will need to keep topping it up with air.

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Highly portable
  • Great for vacations and emergencies
  • Meets U.S and e.U safety standards
  • Inflates in 10 seconds

Cons

  • Deflates in the extreme cold
  • Not cheap to buy
  • Feels less substantial than other booster car seats in its class

Britax Pioneer Harness Booster Car Seat

This Britax booster car seat is probably the most technologically advanced of the models featured, and it’s worth noting that Britax was partly responsible for the invention of LATCH system, making car seats much safer. It is packed full of features, like the removable harness for when it transitions to a backless booster and the seat belt replaces it. It also has a 9-position adjustment feature, 2 large side impact zones for the face and torso, a SafeCell impact stabilizing steel frame, a SafeCell impact absorbing base, and easy on/off LATCH connectors.

With all that added protection, this thing weighs in a 21 lbs, making it one of the heaviest booster car seats available, but it does have a more comprehensive weight specification; able to handle children up to 110 lbs instead of the standard 100 lbs. On the downside, this seat is very expensive, costing over triple the next most expensive in this review. It is also very hard to adjust the harness, meaning that you are going to be fighting this thing to get any adjustment.

Pros

  • Easy on/off LATCH connectors
  • Greater variance in weight specifications
  • 2 side impact zones
  • 9-position height adjustment

Cons

  • Weighs 21 lbs
  • Expensive
  • The harness is hard to adjust

Comparison Chart

FEATURESGraco Affix Booster CarEvenflo Big Kid Booster Car SeatCosco Backless Booster Car SeatBubbleBum Inflatable Booster Car SeatBritax Pioneer Harness Booster Car Seat
2-in-1XX
LATCH ConnectorsXXX
Weight Ratio30 – 100 lbs30 – 110 lbs40 – 100 lbs40 – 100 lbs25 – 110 lbs
Easy to StoreXXX
Weight9.8 lbs8.45 lbs2.2 lbs1.2 lbs21 lbs
Dimensions15.5 x 16.5 x 26.7528 x 15 x 1616 x 15 x 311.8 x 5.9 x 3.921 x 19 x 28
Price$$$$$$$$
Warranty1-year90-day1-year1-year1-year

Buyer’s Guide:

Booster Car Seat for Kids

Every parent wants their child to be safe, so children will benefit the most from a car booster seat. It keeps them anchored to the spot, protects them in an impact, and most of all helps to absorb the force of the impact on their bodies. Try, though, and think a little wider when it comes to the benefits: you the parent, will benefit, knowing that your loved one is as safe as can be. This gives you peace of mind and relieves any anxiety you may have about taking a car journey with a child in the back. The other drivers on the road will also benefit, especially as it could avoid a terrible situation where they could suffer extreme guilt if there is an impact and something was to happen to your child.

Latch, or Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, to give it its full name, is a system of fixed anchor points added to all cars since 2013 to fix car seats into place. They look like metal slots, poking up from the seat cushion near to where the seat belt anchors are and are designed to make the process of installing the seat easier and safer. It is worth noting that you can still tether a car booster seat without a LATCH system using a standard seat belt, and both are safe methods of securing the seat; however, you must choose one or the other, because by mixing the two you jeopardize the integrity of the seat installation and risking possible injury to the child.

More than 2,600 children under the age of 13 are involved in car crashes daily, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes that almost 59 percent of all car booster seats are installed incorrectly. On the flip side, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention state that a properly fitted booster seat can reduce the risk of serious child injury by 45 percent.

You should make sure that:

  • The seat is the correct size and shape for your rear seat.
  • It should fit snugly and not slide around.
  • Get your child to sit in the seat while you trail the lap part of the seat belt through the first hook, making sure that the belt rests on the child’s torso and not their stomach.
  • Then clip the seat belt in place, threading it through the second hook.
  • Make sure the diagonal part of the belt is across their shoulder and not resting on the child’s neck.  
  • Also, make sure the waist part of the belt should be snug but not tight. If the chair doesn’t move, then you are safe to start your journey.

Alternatively, if you take your car to any police station or the local fire department, they will check to see if the seat is fitted correctly for you. That way, you have the peace of mind to know that you have acted accordingly within the law.

There are merits with both designs, and they do save lives, but what are the pros and cons?

Backless booster seats

Pros

  • Easier to store when not in use
  • Easier to fit
  • Cheaper

Cons

  • Not as secure as high-backed seats
  • Less comfort
  • Lack of side impact zones
High-backed booster seats

Pros

  • Side impact zones
  • Better fit in the car
  • Head and neck support

Cons

  • More expensive to buy
  • Don’t fit all makes and models of car
  • Trickier to fit correctly

  • Can I use a car booster seat in the front passenger seat?
  • You can use the booster in the front passenger seat, but it is safer to use it in the rear of the vehicle. The front is most likely to absorb the greatest impact so that the airbags may cause further damage to your child. In the back of the car, they are less likely to come to harm and less likely to feel the full force of the impact.
  • Are there any height restrictions for these booster car seats?
  • There aren’t height restrictions on the backless booster seats, but there are on the high-backed variety. Most manufacturers state that the minimum height should be 40 inches, with a maximum weight of 100 – 110 lbs.
  • Will a high-backed booster seat fit every make and model of car?
  • High-backed booster seats are designed to be as universal as possible, but because they are the high-backed variety, you should check that the headrests in your vehicle don’t prohibit the correct fitting of the seat. Often, the height of the booster will be too tall for the rear seat and not fit snugly, causing it to move around during travel. You can check with your manufacturer to see if this is the case, or failing that, take the car to the store and ask if you can test the seat for size before you buy.

Final Thoughts

Booster car seats are a crucial element of any car journey involving young children because they save lives. You could opt for the high-backed 2-in-1 variety like the Evenflo Big Kid Booster Car Seat and save money as your child grows by adapting the seat, or you might want to buy a dedicated booster like the Cosco Backless Booster Car Seat. The beauty of this booster seat is the price and simplicity of the design. It fits easily and does the job for a fraction of the cost of others in its class.

If you want to spend big, then look no further than the Britax Pioneer Harness Booster Car Seat, because it is packed full of features, has high impact absorbent sides and base, and offers side impact zones to protect your child. Whatever seat you choose, don’t take in-car child safety lightly because you may live to regret it.

Further Reading

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Kids