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Top 5 Best Booster Seats | 2017 Reviews

November 26, 2016
5 Best Booster Seats

Top 5 Best Booster Seats | 2017 Reviews

There are plenty of emotional challenges a parent has to clear when their adorable little baby starts growing up, but there are lots of real-world issues as well: toilet training, pre-school, “big girl beds” – and replacing the child-restraint system in the car with a booster seat.

Most state laws are very specific about the type of car seats that children must sit in. In general, a child has to be in a booster seat (in the car’s back seat, of course) until they reach age 8, are taller than 4’9”, or weigh more than 80 pounds. So when you choose a booster seat, it makes sense to buy a good one; it is going to have to last for a long time.

Booster seats fall into one of two categories: small, less-expensive backless seats which are easy to move from car to car, and more permanent (and more costly) highback seats which provide maximum support and comfort. You may not have much of a choice if you have a small back seat and several children have to fit into it; you may also have a stubborn child who doesn’t want to sit in a “baby seat” anymore and insists on a backless model. Fortunately, even today’s high-quality backless seats are perfectly safe for kids once they’ve reached the age of 5 or so.

The obvious criteria for selecting a booster seat involve the child’s safety. Any good highback model will have easy-to-use yet secure buckling systems and will attach firmly to the car, and any seat at all will pass federal crash standards. Comfort is also important (especially if you have a “complainer” in your family) – as is price. Some of the options on our list of top 5 best booster seats may seem to be awfully expensive at first glance, but when you remember that you’ll be using the seat for at least four or five years (and quite possibly many more, depending on how many kids are in the family), a top-quality booster seat is really a smart investment.

Before going on our top 5 list, you may also want to check our comprehensive Best Booster Seat Buying Guide here.

Here are the reviews.

Quick Comparison Table

Britax Frontier Clicktight Harness to Booster

Recaro Performance Sport Harness to Booster

Graco Backless TurboBooster Car Seat

Chicco KidFit Booster Car Seat

Evenflo Amp Performance No Back Booster Car Seat

Britax Frontier Clicktight Combination Harness-2 Booster Car Seat
Recaro Performance Sport Combination Harness to Booster
Graco Backless TurboBooster Car Seat
LotFancy Automatic Digital Arm Blood Pressure Monitor
Evenflo Amp Performance No Back Booster Car Seat

$$$

$$$

$$$

$$$

$$$

25 pounds

25 pounds

5 pounds

10 pounds

5 pounds

5-point front harness, belt-positioning booster

5-point front harness, belt-positioning booster

Booster seat

Highback without harness, backless booster

Booster seat

Britax Frontier Clicktight Combination Harness-2 Booster Car Seat

Britax Frontier Clicktight Combination Harness-2 Booster Car Seat

In our view, Britax makes the best car seats, period. They have a selection of booster options and you really wouldn’t go wrong with any of them. But we’ve decided on the Frontier as the best of the bunch (even though it’s also the priciest) because it’s more versatile than other Britax seats like the Parkway. It has a harness for younger children so it’s the safest seat for them. Yet it’s taller and can be used in booster/seat belt mode as well, so it will fit older kids just fine as they approach age and weight limits and outgrow a harness. It also provides more comfort if your car doesn’t have adjustable rear headrests.

OK, let’s talk about the Frontier. Like all Britax seats it makes use of the company’s “Safe Cell” technology, which holds the seat and child in place and protects them in the event of an impact. The base, steel shell, energy-absorbing foam and headrest are built to absorb the force generated in an accident while the center of gravity of the seat is lowered; it’s the most complete safety system used by any booster seat. This model also features Britax click-tight installation which makes putting the seat into your car a breeze, since you only have to open the front of the unit, connect the seat belt through it, and snap the cover shut. There are also LATCH connectors.

Younger children can be secured with a five-point harness, strong enough to handle weights up to 90 pounds and with nine adjustable positions (the headrest is also adjustable, as is the crotch belt). When the kids are old enough to ride in a booster seat without their shoulders being strapped in, this seat will hold them until they reach 120 pounds. The seat reclines for comfort, and is FAA-approved for harness mode.

The Frontier has just about all of the extras you’d look for in a booster seat, including a hand-washable, removable seat cover, cup holders and storage cubbies. But even if it didn’t, this would still be our booster seat of choice despite its price tag of about $250. It’s that good.

Details of the Britax Frontier Clicktight Combination Harness-2 Booster Car Seat

Weight Limits

25-90 pounds for harness mode, 40-120 for booster mode

Modes

5-point front harness, belt-positioning booster

Front Recline

Yes, in harness mode

Adjustments

Harness (9 positions), seat recline, headrest and crotch belt (2 positions each)

Weight

25 pounds

Size

21 x 19 x 28 inches

Warranty

One year, limited

Recaro Performance Sport Combination Harness to Booster

Recaro Performance Sport Combination Harness to Booster

This Recaro model is quite similar to the Frontier in terms of its functionality, its design and its price. In full disclosure mode, we basically chose the Britax ahead of the Recaro because of the former’s long history of producing exceptional car seats and our experience and level of comfort with their products. You won’t be dissatisfied with the Recaro, though, unless its slightly-larger size is too big for your car.

The Performance Sport uses a different approach to protect the child who’s riding in the booster seat, but it’s still outstanding. There are metal-reinforced side wings to protect all of a child’s most-vulnerable areas including the head and heck, and memory foam to absorb the impact of a crash (as well as make the rider more comfortable during everyday use). Installation is easy with a LATCH system, and just as easy using a seat belt and tether – it doesn’t feel quite as safe because the belt goes behind the seat, but it works just as well as the Britax’s under-the-seat approach.

As a combination safety harness/booster seat, there’s plenty of flexibility built into the Recaro. The five-point harness can handle up to 65 pounds and has the added plus of what the company calls its HERO system, which effectively prevents the harness from twisting while staying firmly in place to protect the area from the shoulders to the head. There’s also a white stripe on the outside of the harness which “disappears” from view if the straps need to be readjusted. The harness adjustments are handy, but not effortless, and there are three adjustable crotch positions and a somewhat-difficult to use recline function. Once the child is older, the booster seat mode can accommodate up to 120 pounds without use of the harness and belts are easy for children to fasten and unfasten. This is a very comfortable seat, thanks to the foam padding and nylon mesh ventilation areas throughout the unit. There’s a cup holder and several storage pockets in the seat.

If you put a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream next to a pint of Breyer’s we’d choose the Ben and Jerry’s, but would still be happy if you told us we had to have the Breyer’s instead. We’d choose the Britax over the Recaro too, but would be 100% satisfied if you gave us the Recaro – and we would understand why someone else would prefer the other alternative.

Details of the Recaro Performance Sport Combination Harness to Booster

Weight Limits

20-65 pounds for harness mode, 30-120 for booster mode

Modes

5-point front harness, belt-positioning booster

Front Recline

Yes, in harness mode

Adjustments

Harness (multiple positions), seat recline, crotch belt (3 positions)

Weight

25 pounds

Size

28 x 21 x 25 inches

Warranty

One year, limited

Graco Backless TurboBooster Car Seat

Graco Backless TurboBooster Car Seat

Yes, we do have a dish of vanilla instead of a banana split, to stay with the ice cream metaphor. The Graco TurboBooster is a simple and inexpensive booster seat without dual modes or bells and whistles, but it’s still safe and comfortable.

We wouldn’t suggest the Graco for a child who is “maybe just old enough” for a booster seat because as with all traditional booster seats, there’s nothing to hold the seat firm to the car except the child’s weight. The company rates the seat for ages 4-10, but you might be more comfortable waiting until age 5 (or even 6) before transitioning your child from a harness-style front-facing car seat. Naturally, you don’t have to be concerned with ease of installation with a seat like this, since you just plop it down and away you go. Believe it or not, there are crash tests done for these simple backless seats, and the Graco meets or exceeds all U.S standards and has been given the “best bet” award by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The TurboBooster is one of the best-padded backless seats we’ve seen, well-padded and with adjustable arm rests so you can raise the level of the arms as your child grows taller. The cushion can be easily removed and machine-washed, and the plastic seat cleans up easily with soap and water. Last but not least, there’s a Disney-themed princess model available to satisfy the princess in your family. The $25 price tag will definitely satisfy the king and queen.

Details of the Graco Backless TurboBooster Car Seat

Weight Limits

40-100 pounds

Modes

Booster seat

Front Recline

No

Adjustments

Armrests

Weight

5 pounds

Size

15 x 16 x 9 inches

Warranty

One year, limited

Chicco KidFit Booster Car Seat

Chicco KidFit Booster Car Seat

If you like the idea of a car seat which can double as a highback booster for a younger child and a standard backless booster when the child gets older – and don’t want to pay a fortune for it – let us introduce you to the Chicco KidFit Booster. For less than $100, this model will take your kid (or kids) from late toddler stage all the way up until they no longer need a special seat.

The Chicco isn’t like the other dual-mode seats we’ve reviewed, because it doesn’t have a five-point restraint system for very young children. It’s very much like them, though, in that it provides excellent safety features with strong side-impact protection, along with ten different head-and-shoulder position adjustments so that a child fits securely into the seat no matter how big he is. There’s plenty of comfort with double foam padding and a contoured seat, and the KidFit is easy to attach with LATCH connections (there’s no seat belt attachment option). When your child has outgrown the highback seat, the backrest can come right off to leave a regular backless booster seat.

The seat pad and arm rests come off to go into the washing machine, there are two cupholders, and there’s a very cool shoulder belt guide on the seat which makes it easy even for kids with two left thumbs to buckle up. For an extremely reasonable price, this is a good car seat.

Details of the Chicco KidFit Booster Car Seat

Weight Limits

30-100 pounds for highback mode, 40-110 for backless mode

Modes

Highback without harness, backless booster

Front Recline

Yes, in highback mode

Adjustments

Harness (10 positions), seat recline

Weight

10 pounds

Size

16 x 18 x 26 inches

Warranty

One year, limited

Evenflo Amp Performance No Back Booster Car Seat

Evenflo Amp Performance No Back Booster Car Seat

We finish this list of top 5 best booster seats with another option for those who simply want a backless booster seat that’s safe and comfortable. This Evenflo model tests at twice the U.S. safety standards and has contoured padding so your child won’t get sore or fidgety (well, more fidgety than usual) on long trips. The pad comes off to be tossed into the washing machine, there are two cupholders, there’s a selection of eight colors and patterns, it’s lightweight – what more can you say about a portable booster seat other than it’s a very good buy at around $25?

Oh, there is one more thing to say: the curvature on the bottom of the Evenflo Amp means that it won’t fit securely into all contoured back seats. You may want to opt for the Graco instead, if that might be a problem in your car.

Details of the Evenflo Amp Performance No Back Booster Car Seat

Weight Limits

40-110 pounds

Modes

Booster seat

Front Recline

No

Adjustments

No

Weight

5 pounds

Size

15 x 16 x 11 inches

Warranty

90 days, limited

FAQ (By Our Ardent Readers)

  • What is a booster seat? Booster seat is for your child to be seated safely in the car during travel. It is a natural progression from a child car seat when they are 5 and above.
  • Why are booster seats important? Booster seat not only keeps the child in a comfortable position but also increase its safety. Hence for all children aged 5-10, it is very important to use booster seats for your journeys.
  • What are the different types of booster seats? There are traditionally two types of booster seats. One that has a back and neck support and the other is a backless one. Both have been tested for all the safety criteria and is perfect for the child over 5 years.
  • What is age and weight limit for using the booster seat? The booster seat  is best suited for children aged 5 and above, though some of the models claims that it can  safely used after 4 years. The booster seat with back support may still be used but the backless ones where the child's weight is the only thing that holds it to the car must be left at least until the child is 5 or even 6. The weight limit is approximately 40 pounds for most models. Kindly read through the instructions before buying the product.
  • How tall must a child be to grow out of booster seat? The child must atleast be 4'9'' tall to be able to come out of booster seat.
  • Does the backless booster seat need to be anchored? No it cant be. The weight of the child is what keeps it on the seat. The child is harnessed by the car seat belt. So make sure your child weighs atleast 45-50 pounds before using it.
  • What are baby booster seats? These are booster seats used to put the child on a dining chair instead of a highchair when the child is old enough to sit on its own. This should not be confused with the Car booster seat and should never be used in a car.
  • Are booster seats as comfortable as a child car seat? Yes certainly they are. Most of them have padding to make it a bit cozy and also comes with a cup and a bottle holder to tuck in their drink.
  • Are backless booster seat safe? Yes they are. They have passed all the safety criteria before being brought to the market. Our recommendation would be to use the backless booster seat after the child is 5 year old or weighs at least 45-50 pounds. 
  • What is a convertible car booster seat? It is a normal baby car seat which can then be converted into a booster seat when the child is ready for it. The back support comes off and the lower seating takes the shape of a booster seat. Remember that the child must be at least 5year old or weigh at least 45 pounds before converting it into a booster seat.
  • Are the booster seat with back support expensive? Yes they are in comparison with the backless ones. But considering that you would use it for a very long time depending on how many children you have, we would still consider it a wise investment inspite of its heavy price tag.
  • Can the booster seats be easily moved from one car to the other? Only the backless seats can be moved easily whereas the high back booster seat still needs proper installation. 
  • Where can i buy cheap booster seats? If you are looking for cheaper option but also are keeping in mind child's safety, then go for backless booster seat. All models in high back ones are definitely on the higher price range. 
  • How long can i use the booster seat for? As long as it lasts. They don't have a expiry date at all. They are very durable and last for years. If you have more children than the booster seat is put to use even more. 
  • Is it safe to buy a used car seat? Not really as it may not meet the health and safety norms. Since there are several models in all price ranges you could definitely choose that suits your budget without compromising on the child's safety.
  • Do booster seats recline? Not at all. your child must be at least 4 or 5 year old to use the booster seat.
  • Can i use the booster seat in the front car seat? Don't think so. The laws of every state emphasise on putting the child on the back seat only. Please understand your state laws before taking your child out for a drive.
  • Can booster seats go in the middle? Don't think so, especially if you have a small/mid segment car. You could possibly put 2 booster seats at the back or may be squeeze another in the middle if you have a big car.
  • When can i stop using the booster seat? When your child is 10 year old or weighs 80 pounds.
  • Where can i buy the booster seats? You could buy it in store or from trusted online retailers like Amazon. Don't forget to read through our in-depth reviews before nailing down your choice.

Originally posted 2016-05-24 10:09:20.


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