Best Booster Seats
Why You Need to Trust Us
As part of my research for this guide, I interviewed 13 safety experts and physicians. Their insights helped me to determine what makes a high-quality booster seat, as well as the best ways to use one.
Among them were certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Lani Harrison, a seasoned tech in Los Angeles who installs more than 300 car seats each year; Aditya Belwadi, Ph. D, is a biomechanics scientist leading the Child Passenger Safety Research Team at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Julie Mansfield is an engineer research at the Injury Biomechanics Research Center of The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Bill Horn heads sled testing at Calspan of Buffalo in New York. This facility, which offers one of top crash-testing facilities in America, is also on hand.
I’m also a Certified CPST and I completed a 40-hour training course through Safe Kids Worldwide. I interviewed representatives of the car seat manufacturer Chicco, Diono Nuna, Graco, Bubble. Bum. Fold. Talking to parents about car seats, I scanned through hundreds of Amazon reviews and read articles on reputable websites like Baby. Gear. Lab Car Safety Seats for Littles Once the top seats had been identified, Calspan engineers were commissioned to do side-impact crash testing.
Over a year I was a Wirecutter reporter on car seats. Also, I wrote the Infant Convertible Car Seat Guides. Since I spent almost a decade working on Capitol Hill and the Department of Commerce, I’m familiar with all aspects of safety and government regulations. Slate, The Washington Post and Marie Claire have published my reporting about policy and parenting. While my children are 5 and 2 years old, they haven’t been in boosters yet. However, I feel confident placing them into any one of these Wirecutter recommendations.
Here’s How We Tested
Our finalist booster seats were tested by five families. We had them rate the ease of use.
Then, after consulting with several industry experts, we conducted independent side-impact testing with Calspan in Buffalo, New York.
Julie Mansfield, a research engineer with the Injury Biomechanics Research Center at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, found that though frontal impacts are the most common type of car crash, side-impact collisions have a higher percentage of injuries. Mansfield explained that the protection provided by side impacts is not as good because of how cars are made. “You’ll see a lot more intrusion when you look into the frontal-impact accident.” A larger portion of the car acts as a buffer between the crash and passengers.
The US currently doesn’t have any federal regulations that require children in car seats to meet standards for side-impact protection. NHTSA is currently considering a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to establish side-impact standards. The agency which regulates car seats does not yet include booster seats.
NHTSA does front-impact testing for booster seats. Unfortunately, the database of its testers isn’t complete and many of our finalists did not have crash test data.
It is also worth noting that booster seat crash testing can be done. However, unlike convertible and infant car seats which offer extra protection with five-point harnesses, children riding in booster seats rely on their car’s seatbelt for safety. As with adult passengers, safety features in the vehicle play an even greater role.
Calspan found that side impact testing is best performed with a 3 year-old boy. Most high-back boosters weigh at least 30-pounds. NHTSA tests crash-testing using the identical dummy. Calspan’s experts confirmed that the protocol is the best way to assess the safety of booster seats. Engineer Bill Horn oversaw crash testing and said, “The 3-year old dummy was standard.” We used the crash testing results to confirm our picks, and to help distinguish among them. Because we only tested six seats, these results should not necessarily be taken to mean that another seat would fail in a crash.
Diono Monterey XT The best booster car seat This attractive, comfortable booster seat performed the best in our side-impact crash testing, and its unique backrest adjusts in width as your kid grows.
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Diono Monterey XT performed the best of the booster seats we subjected to crash testing, is easy for kids to buckle in and use properly, converts from a high-back to a backless booster, and comes with hook latches that are easily adjusted at the front of the seat. Diono’s unique backrest adjustable feature makes the seat better for kids as they age. Children loved the two cupholders. They can be pushed in and out. According to the testers, Diono Monterey XT appears and feels better than any other seat we looked at.
Diono’s crash-test was the only instance in which the head of the dummy did not touch the car doors. Calspan engineer Bill Horn, though we could not replicate this test to confirm that it was not an error, believes the seat’s more comfortable headrest contributed to this outcome. “That headrest really is very thick,” Horn observed. He noted that there is quite a bit of space between the door and the dummy. The Diono scored about the same on chest and head impact as Chicco, which had a score of 623 vs. 625. A very similar chest-impact score of 15.4 vs 16.8 was also recorded.
In our side-impact tests, the Diono was only seat that kept the dummy’s head away from the doors. This is due to the more enclosed and substantial headrest. Video: Calspan Calspan was a Wirecutter editor and also test the Chicco & Graco seats together with his family. The “shoulder belt buckle pass through” on the Diono is praised for its better positioning of the child’s shoulder. This makes it less likely to twist or come loose than other choices. Another tester found this seat to be one of the easiest to customize to the height of her 5-year-old. As with our picks, you can adjust the height of the headrest by adjusting the chin to accommodate your child. Adjusting the Diono’s shoulders can be done with the knob in the back. It can provide more space, something that is rare among booster chairs and make it easier for kids to use. Two cupholders fold down into the seat, making it easy to store.
You can raise or lower the Diono’s headrest by squeezing the red adjuster on the back of it. Our only tested model has the ability to adjust its backrest width. To widen the shoulders, turn the red knob. Video: Rozette Rago Like all of the high-back boosters we tested, the Diono is able to convert to a backless booster. Children between 40-120 pounds and 38-63 inches can fit both the high back and backless booster. The Diono is easier to use than other choices and will accommodate taller and heavier children.
10 Best Booster Car Seats Of 2021, According To Experts
You can keep your large child safe after they have outgrown the car seat.
If your child is outgrowing their car seat harness but not ready to be in the backseat of your vehicle, you can transition to a booster chair.
There are two types of booster car seat: the high-back or the backless. A high-back booster seat offers the protection and support of a car chair, however you will need to use your vehicle’s seatbelt instead of using a harness. The booster places the seatbelt at your child’s shoulder, across their chests and along the arms of seat. At the top of the legs, the arm extends across to support the child’s legs. A backless booster seat is available for children who are large enough to no longer require the shoulder guide. It only guides the belt across your lap. Many booster seats can be converted from high-back to low back.
The parenting and product experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute ‘s Little Lab test all of the must-haves for babies, toddlers and children, from baby humidifiers and crib mattresses to swing sets and everything in between. To evaluate safety, comfort and adjustability of booster seats for children under the age of 12, we have road-tested them. The following are our top picks for booster cars seats:
Car Seat with the Best Overall Booster Seat
Car Seat Booster Car Seat:
Car Seat with Booster:
All products featured have been reviewed and selected independently by our editorial team. You may receive commission if you purchase through the included links.
Skip slides Children in booster chairs Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock Booster seat help to ensure your child’s car seat is correctly fitted. It also reduces the possibility of an injury if there are injuries. Learn about booster seat safety for children of all ages and weights. Also, check out our selections for the top high-back and low-back options available today.
Best Booster Seats
This guide will help you choose the best booster for your child.
The Babylist editors are passionate about baby gear. They curate and share their top picks with you. Babylist earns commissions when you make a purchase through the linked site.
Convertible seats and boosters Clek bucket seat convertible seats… You’ll be using your car seat for the long-term. This is particularly true for booster seats because your baby will use them for years.
You can relax, as we cover all aspects of safety for boosters. When to switch and what seats to use to protect your child.
The following article contains:
The Best Babylist Booster Seats
Which is the Safest Booster Seat in 2020?
- Britax Parkway SGL G1.
- Evenflo Chase LX Harnessed Booster-Car Seat
- KidsEmbrace Combination Toddler Harness Booster Car Seat.
- Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Belt Positioning Car Seat.
- Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat.
- Maxi-Cosi RodiFix Booster Car Seat.
- Graco High-Back Turbobooster Car Seat.
What Is The Safest Booster Seat 2021?
7 out of 12 Graco TurboBooster Booster Car Seats Our favorite is the Graco TurboBooster Booster Seats. It has been rigorously crash tested to ensure it meets or exceeds safety standards. Mar. 17, 2021
Which Car Booster Seat Is The Best?
Best Overall Booster Car Seat: Diono Monterey XT.Best Value Booster Car Seat: Evenflo Big Kid LX.Best All-in-One Booster Car Seat: Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Car Seat.Best 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat: Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Harness Booster.More items…*May 19, 2021
Are Backless booster seats better?
Older children prefer backless booster seats over car seats with harnesses. 12/20/20
.Best Booster Seats