Once your child has grown too big to use a front-facing car seat, they still won’t be the necessary size to be in the right orientation to be protected from injury by your vehicles seat belt. Moreover, continuing to use a seat that makes belts lay against the neck or abdomen region could lead to severe consequences in the unfortunate event of a collision.
Booster seats are the solution for kids not quite big enough to use a seat alone; they ensure seat belts are positioned well on small frames. Boosters don’t come equipped with their own belts, instead they utilise your vehicles pre-existing belts and position them in such a way that they are guided around your child’s lap and shoulder regions for an improved fit.
Do you need a booster seat?
It’s essential that children transition from a baby car seat to a booster seat before using a car seat belts independently. In most states, children are required to use a booster seat by law and there’s good reason for this, booster seats improve safety since they ensure the cars seat belt is correctly positioned over your child’s shoulder and abdomen to provide the protection they are designed to provide during the unfortunate event of a collision.
When do you need to use a booster seat?
In order to determine whether your child needs to start using a booster car seat, you need to analyse a few different factors rather than simply going from their age alone. Typically, your child should be at least 4 years of age and weigh 40 pounds or more or have grown too large for a front-facing car seat. Please note that car seats are by far the safest option, so use it for as long as your child fits in it. It’s also important to check the car seat laws in your state (to do this you can make use of tools such as the Child Safety Laws tool at the National Safe Kids Campaign site).
What should you look for in a booster Seat?
With so many different styles and types of car booster seats available today, it’s a good idea to equip yourself with the right knowledge to ensure you come away with one that won’t cause you any issues in the long run, and better still, one that you will truly appreciate. So here are some of our tips for choosing a good booster:
Fabric Choice – We all know how messy kids can be, so the type of materials used to cover and line the seat are worth considering. Softer fabrics such as cotton and wool may be preferred by many, but how will they look after the first few months of use? Car seats featuring easy to clean materials such as faux leather will save you time and money. Therefore, look for the ones with easy to wipe fabrics that won’t easily stain or retain a lot of moisture.
Adjustability – Of course it goes without saying that you want a seat that can be adjusted and changed to fit any vehicle or child. But did you know there are ones that can be adjusted as your child grows? If you want a seat that will last and provide good value for money, opt for a seat that can be re-positioned as your kid gets older.
Accessories – Although not a priority, built-in booster accessories can make all the difference between a good seat and a great seat. Accessories that can really come in useful include cup holders, storage compartments and arm rests.
Comfort – A poorly cushioned seat can really cause a lot of discomfort, especially due to the integral structure of booster seats often being incredibly hard. Therefore, make sure you check what type of foam padding has been used; it ought to be thick enough to provide a good amount of cushioning and preferably feature contours that will provide support to your child’s body.
Types of Booster Seat
There are a variety of different booster seat styles available, however, ensure you purchase one that has met the government’s safety standards. Therefore, it’s always advised to buy a new seat, since older models may not meet the standards.
As well as insuring they have met current government standards, it is also preferred by many to opt for seats tested and evaluated by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. So keep a look out for these seats, some of which we have reviewed below.
There are two major varieties of booster seats, referred to as high back and backless. The main differences are as follows:
Backless – As the name suggests, these are booster seats with no back. They just have the module that imparts the additional height required for a child to be safely strapped in using your vehicles seat belts.
High-back boosters – These provide back, head and leg support and resemble a miniature car seat. They are placed in position on a car seat and secured in place using the vehicles built-in seat belts. Instructions on how to do this are provided and it is usually a pretty straightforward process. High-backs have the advantage of padded headrests and can be re-positioned and adjusted as your child grows.
Our Top Picks
Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Belt Positioning Booster
This stylish high-back booster seat is easy to install and can be secured to your cars seat quickly. It’s upholstered with a super soft material that any child will find comfortable and is very easy to wipe clean with a damp cloth. There are also two handy cup holders, which are definitely an advantage for busy mums and dads who don’t want to keep passing the drinks back and forth. They can also be used to store other things such as toys and snacks!
Perhaps the biggest advantage about this booster seat is the fact that it can be easily adjusted and re-positioned as your child grows. This is ideal for money saving parents, wanting to make their money go further as with 10 different height positions it provides the guarantee of longevity.
The design of the seat speaks for itself. Although it is larger than some other boosters out there, you are gaining an advantage in terms of safety. For instance, the winged design of the head and shoulder regions provide side-impact protection, which is certainly a plus.
Evenflo Big Kid AMP Booster Car Seat
This ultra-lightweight booster seat is a good option for parents on a budget and has been rated a “Best Bet Booster” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. As with most booster seats it is made from a hard plastic resin, but the padding is thick and comfy, providing a good amount of support for the head, back and legs. The padding is also removable and machine washable making maintaining good hygiene standards easy and efficient.
A unique feature of this booster is the ability for it to convert from being a high-back booster into a no-back style too, meaning you can use as they grow older. The height can also be adjusted to 6 positions with the use of one hand, allowing you to accommodate growing kids. Although, it isn’t as adjustable as other models, it is certainly an advantage, making this a good deal for a very reasonable price.
This seat does come with elastic cup holders, which probably don’t serve young children as well as others, but it still serves as a place to hold snacks and drinks. It also may be worth noting that it is made and tested in the US.
Britax Parkway SGL G1.1 Belt-Positioning Booster
In terms of the materials used, this is a superior booster seat featuring a steel frame, an impact absorbing base and a double layer of energy-absorbent padding on the side wings. It also has bolstering around the head area, providing a good level of protection in the event of a crash. Due to the construction, it is worth noting that these seats are heavier than others, meaning they make take a little more effort to move around and transport, but perhaps this is a good trade off for a superior construction?
Similar to other models booster seats we have reviewed, the Britax can be adjusted to provide a secure and comfortable fit as your child matures. The adjustment is very straightforward and achieved with the use of a single button.
The Britax features an easy to clean moisture-resistant synthetic surface overlaying a good amount of padding. The two retractable cup holders are also easy to remove and wipe down when required, and are perfect for storing snacks, drinks and toys.
Overall, this booster seat is offering everything you could possibly want in a seat – comfort, extra safety features and an easy to clean design.
Clek Ozzi Backless Booster Car Seat
The Clek backless booster seat is designed with real car seats in mind and for that you are gaining a seat that has the same comfort and feel of a normal, everyday car seat. The design features a cube of padding to provide comfort and support for the back and bottom, so if you’re on the search for comfortable booster ideal for long road trips, this is probably the one for you.
As mentioned, the seat is designed to give the appearance and feel of a normal car seat, and the fabric used will camouflage quite well into most cars interiors. It is also removable, meaning it can be wiped down easily and hand washed periodically to maintain good hygiene standards.
Like other backless booster seats, the Clek booster is positioned in place with your cars pre-excising belts, yet the Clek provides the option of extra anchorage by utilizing your cars lower anchors. This extra security feature provides the added peace of mind many parents may be looking for.
To ensure your booster seat meets government safety standards always buy new and avoid second-hand seats. After that, much of the decision making comes down to personal inclination. If you want a lightweight seat that is easy to transport and move, a backless booster may be preferred, however, if you want a booster seat with superior safety features, such as ones with reinforced steel and energy absorbent head rests, you probably want to opt for a high-back model.
The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.