Best Booster Seats: Keeping Older Children Safe in the Car

#1
Graco AFFIX
 
$72.99*
Pro Bullet 10-year expiration period
Pro Bullet Cupholder and small storage compartment
Con Bullet Few extra safety measures
#2
Graco Highback TurboBooster
 
$43.99*
Pro Bullet 10-year expiration period
Pro Bullet Adjustable headrest
Con Bullet No [tooltip]LATCH connectors[/tooltip]
#3
Evenflo Big Kid AMP
 
$44.99*
Pro Bullet Higher weight limit
Pro Bullet Two cupholders
Con Bullet 6-year expiration period

*amazon.com price as of 01/28/2020 at 1:40 p.m. mst.

The transition from a car seat to a booster seat when your child is four or five is an exciting time for them—who doesn’t like a little more independence at that age?—but it’s important for you to know when it’s safe to make the switch and how long to keep your kids in booster seats. The purpose of a booster seat is to raise up a child so that the shoulder and lap belts fit correctly and therefore safely.

child in booster seat

booster seats can also ensure that a child has adequate head support, whether from the back of the booster seat or from the headrest in the car. although there are age, weight, and height guidelines to follow, it’s most important to make sure the vehicle seat belt fits correctly. we’ve got our top picks for the best booster seats that ensure correct seat belt placement, as well as information on how to judge when your child is safe without one.

Quick notes about our best booster seat rankings

All currently manufactured car booster seats pass the same Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS 213)1, and they are all completely safe when used appropriately and installed correctly. Some booster seats have features that make them extra safe, which we took into account in our rankings.

Also, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tested2 to see which booster seats are most likely to fit correctly in a wide range of vehicles and provide a proper lap and shoulder belt fit for typical four- to eight-year-olds. The institute’s Best Bet rating is the highest rating, and one that all of the booster seats on our list earned.


Compare booster seats

买球注册*amazon.com price as of 01/28/2020 at 1:40 p.m. mst.


1. Graco AFFIX Youth Booster Seat review

Graco AFFIX Youth Booster Seat
 
$72.99
    Weight
    9.8 lbs.
    Dimensions
    16.75 x 25.5 x 10.5 in.
    Warranty
    1 year
    Expiration
    10 years

    买球注册*amazon.com price as of 01/28/2020 at 1:40 p.m. mst.

    Pros
    • Pro BulletEnergy-absorbing foam for impact protection
    • Pro BulletLATCH connectors
    • Pro BulletAbility to be high-back or backless
    • Pro BulletOne-hand adjustable headrest
    • Pro BulletLower price than similar products
    • Pro BulletLonger expiration period
    • Pro BulletCup holder and small storage compartment
    Cons
    • Con BulletLower weight limit than other products
    • Con BulletFewer extra safety measures

    the graco affix highback booster seat is a high-back booster seat that can convert into a backless seat. however, the backless seat has a size minimum of 40 pounds and 40 inches tall, whereas the high-back seat can be used with children who are at least 30 pounds and 38 inches tall.

    the graco affix has one slight recline position and uses easy-to-adjust latch connectors to keep the seat secure while it is unoccupied. the headrest is fully adjustable for your child’s comfort and protection and, as an added bonus, it uses energy-absorbing foam to protect your child in case of an accident. the graco affix has lower weight and height limits than our top pick and fell behind in terms of extra safety measures, but overall this is a well-made and highly recommended booster seat.


    2. Graco Highback TurboBooster Car Seat review

    Graco Highback TurboBooster Car Seat
     
    $43.99
      Weight
      9 lbs.
      Dimensions
      16.5 x 26.5 x 15 in.
      Warranty
      1 year
      Expiration
      10 years

      买球注册*amazon.com price as of 01/28/2020 at 1:40 p.m. mst.

      Pros
      • Pro BulletEnergy-absorbing foam for impact protection
      • Pro BulletOne-hand adjustable headrest
      • Pro BulletAbility to be high-back or backless
      • Pro BulletLower price than similar products
      • Pro BulletLonger expiration period
      • Pro BulletTwo retractable cup holders
      Cons
      • Con BulletNo LATCH connectors
      • Con BulletLower weight limit than other products
      • Con BulletFewer extra safety measures

      the graco turbobooster car seat has almost all of the great and reliable features of our number-three pick, the graco affix, with one exception: the turbobooster does not have latch connectors to keep the booster seat securely in place when not in use. but remember, latch connectors aren’t a requirement for a booster seat to be considered safe. other than that, it matches the graco affix in every way and is even less expensive.

      the high back is easy to remove and the weight and height limits are the same as for the affix (30 pounds and 38 inches for the high-back; 40 pounds and 40 inches for the backless). the headrest is fully adjustable and uses energy-absorbing foam to give more protection to your child’s head in the event of an accident. and like the graco affix, the turbobooster has a 10-year expiration period, so you can use the seat for several years longer than similar products. overall, the graco turbobooster is an excellent booster seat at an even lower cost than our other graco pick.


      3. Evenflo Big Kid AMP Booster Car Seat review

      Evenflo Big Kid AMP
       
      $44.99
        Weight
        8.2 lbs.
        Dimensions
        16 x 28 x 15 in.
        Warranty
        90 days
        Expiration
        6 years

        *amazon.com price as of 01/28/2020 at 1:40 p.m. mst.

        Pros
        • Pro BulletLower price point than many other options
        • Pro BulletAbility to be high-back or backless
        • Pro BulletHigh weight limit (110 lbs.)
        • Pro BulletOne-hand adjustable headrest
        • Pro BulletLightweight
        • Pro BulletTwo cupholders
        Cons
        • Con BulletNo LATCH connectors
        • Con BulletNon-reclining seat back
        • Con BulletLess substantial head/neck support
        • Con BulletLimited 90-day warranty

        买球注册the evenflo big kid amp booster car seat is another user favorite. the high back can easily be removed, though it does not recline at all, and the headrest is adjustable with one hand to six different positions. the seat is light at just over eight pounds, making it easy to reposition and move. the weight limit goes up to 110 pounds so the seat can be used longer with bigger kids—and best of all, the price is hard to beat.

        the downsides to this booster seat are that there are no latch connectors for when the seat is not in use, and it comes with only a limited 90-day warranty. we like to see a warranty of at least one year, especially when it comes to something as crucial as car seats. finally, some users report that the head/neck support is not as substantial as with other booster seats so there is very little support if your child falls asleep. in spite of that, the evenflo big kid amp booster seat is a great low-cost option for keeping your child safe in the car.



        Guidelines for wearing seat belts

        Follow the guidelines6 for correct seat belt fit to determine if your child is ready to transition out of a booster seat. Several organizations7 use a five-step test based on those guidelines to help parents evaluate what their kids are ready for.

        1. Do your child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat with feet flat on the floor?
        2. Does your child sit all the way back on the seat without slouching?
        3. Is the lap belt low across the hips and tops of the thighs?
        4. Does the shoulder belt cross the center of the collarbone?
        5. Can your child stay seated this way for the entire ride whether asleep or awake?

        if the answer to any of these questions is no, your child probably needs to continue using a booster seat. also, note that even when your child is in a booster, the seat belt should make contact with your child’s shoulder and chest. if this isn’t the case, find a different seat in the car to try to improve the belt position or find a different booster seat that fits your child better.


        High-back vs. backless booster seats

        Although none of the major child safety organizations differentiate between the safety of high-back and backless booster seats, backless booster seats are better for older or bigger children. Because backless booster seats don’t have shoulder belt positioning guides, they are likely to fit incorrectly on younger or smaller children. They are also better for children who can comfortably use the car’s headrest to provide head support and whiplash protection. If your child uses a backless booster seat, make sure that the back of the vehicle seat comes up to at least the top of your child’s ears. That is the same height as the base of their skull—anything lower increases your child’s risks of whiplash in an accident.


        Correctly use and install for maximum security

        child in booster seat

        Always find the right booster seat for your child’s size and weight. Some booster seats are geared toward larger or wider children while others have a more narrow fit. If you have a tall, skinny child, make sure the seat back is high enough for them without being too wide. Also, as you teach your children to buckle themselves into the booster seat, make sure they understand how to correctly use the belt guides.

        Correct installation is equally important as using the right kind of car seat for your child’s height and weight. The good news is that installing a booster seat is much less complicated than installing a car seat—the bad news is that in a recent study8 by the NHTSA, 20% of booster seats were incorrectly installed or misused. Visit a car seat inspection station (find one near you ) to make sure you maximize your child’s security.


        Take time to enjoy your booster seats

        though your kids may be eager for the day when they don’t need any kind of car seat, please don’t rush to get there. children are safer in the car when they are properly restrained, and even children over the age of eight often benefit from using use some kind of booster seat. try to involve your child in the process of picking their booster seat so they can be excited about using it. each of the top picks on our list is a great place to start the selection process, and remember that any booster seat will be safer than no booster seat for a child who needs it.

        If you are also interested in other car safety items. Check out our  best dash cam reviews for more information on security dashboard cameras for your car.


        1. SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A.,
        2. IIHS,
        3. American Academy of Pediatrics,
        4. NHTSA,
        5. CDC,
        6. NHTSA,  
        7. Car Seats for the Littles, Inc., 
        8. NHTSA,