Updated: May 9, 2015
Booster Car Seat Reviews:One of the most confusing things that a parent has to deal with is when a toddler gets to switch over to a booster car seat and leave the infant or convertible car seat behind. Most of the convertible car seats will handle kids up to 40 pounds and then you can make the change to a car booster seat. The idea behind the "booster" is that the child will be lifted up enough so they can use the car safety restraints and make sure the seat belt goes the shoulders. You will find booster seats for cars available in low back, high back, and no back at all. The backless booster car seats are often not high enough to get the seat belt situated properly - potentially causing an injury in an accident. The belt-positioning booster seats provide a high back for support and a guide that helps the parent get the seat belt aligned properly. Many parents choose to keep their kids in a toddler booster seat that still has a built in harness for the best safety precaution. Some of these seats can handle children up to 80 pounds and 57 inches tall.
We made the transition for our daughter when she was about 5 years old. She never weighed that much to begin with so we had to wait longer than usual to get to the booster seat from the toddler high back booster seat. She is still not that big, but at least the seat belts in 2 of our cars fit her properly with just the backless booster seat. Booster car seat reviews can be found all over the Internet on sites like About.com, Elitecarseats.com, Consumersearch.com, and our favorite source - Amazon.com. Amazon has some of the most informative reviews you will find from parents who actually use these seats everyday. They can give you pointers on which models perform the best and show you the ones that fail in the "real world". When it comes to expert advice on buying booster car seats we never look past the ratings that come out every year from Consumer Reports. They test the booster seats for crash protection, ease of use, fit to vehicle with the LATCH system, and of course they let you know about price. The top brands are Cosco (Eddie Bauer), Graco, Clek Olli, Britax, Combi, Evenflo, Safety 1st, Sunshine Kids. Prices for the backless models like the Graco TurboBooster are around $20 to $25 and the highback models go from about $50 all the way up to $280 for the Britax Frontier Booster Car Seat. A newer brand called Clek Olli really caught our eye in reviews. The Clek Olli backless booster is the first of its kind - it features a rigid LATCH connector. No other backless booster car seat offers this and of course it will cost you a bit more but it's worth it say parents. Having the piece of mind that the car seat is safe for your growing child is what it's all about. You can browse the top selling booster car seats here.
Backless Booster Seat:Booster seats and toddler car seats are made for older kids who have outgrown convertible car seats or infant seats, and are still too young to use adult safety belts. The backless booster seats are the most convenient for parents, but you will need one that fits your child properly and allows the seat belt to protect them in case of an accident. The Graco Backless TurboBooster Car Seat is considered the "best value" backless booster seat on the market for children weighing at least 40 lbs. Your child will be positioned high enough so that they can use the cars seat belts correctly. Choose from 8 different colors. RECOMMENDED - The latest model is the top rated Clek Olli Booster Seat which sells for around $90 but offers the LATCH connector which other backless models don't. The Clek Olli is test and safe for kids from 40 to 100 pounds and it will fit children from 40" to 57" tall. It's easy to install and comes in 8 different colored themes. The plush padding on the seat is another benefit that some of the cheaper brands don't give your kid. We used the Graco listed above with our daughter but when our son just reached 40 pounds we bought a Clek Olli seat and haven't looked back. It was more expensive but with safety and comfort in mind it was worth it. You can view all the best selling backless booster car seats here.
High Back Booster Seat:Some parents feel more comfortable with a high back booster seat and the toddler ones with a 5 point harness are definitely recommended by safety experts. The Britax Frontier Booster Car Seat sells for $280 and may not be for everyone but it does score well in safety tests and has a solid harness system. Another top rated model is the The First Years Compass B540 Booster Seat. The Compass booster car seat has energy absorbing EPS headrests and the side wings add impact protection to little ones. If your child has a larger torso, the Compass features a higher belt path to accommodate that. Other features include flip up armrests, dual cupholders, 6 position back height adjustment and a triple layered padded seat. Scores exceptionally well in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) crash tests. Pricing is very reasonable at $70. Another popular model on Amazon is the Graco High Back TurboBooster Car Seat which comes in 4 different colors and is just $60. Fits kids from 30 to 100 pounds and heights from 37 inches up to 57" tall. It converts to the backless booster so you can use it for years. We suggest reading reviews on all these options and making an informed decision when you do decide to buy. Check out the most popular high back booster car seats here.
Car Seat Safety:Through the years almost no car seat manufacturer (Cosco, Evenflo, Britax, Graco, Safety 1st, etc) has escaped the recall of models for safety issues. We suggest checking your manufacturers website every 6 months or so to determine if your model # is considered safe. Many of the items under recall are small issues that may cause safety concerns and are easy to fix. Even if your car seat hasn't been recalled, make sure you know the proper usage for it, especially when your child can use the adult safet belts instead of the 5 point harness mechanisms that come installed in the car seats. Too often child get choked or have severe neck injuries that can be avoided if the vehicle safety belt was adjusted properly and worn across the lower should. Get familiar with any carseat you buy since it will protect your child in case of an accident.
See our buying guides for all car seat types below: