Product Review: Booster Seats

It seems like just yesterday that you brought home your new bundle of joy in your carefully chosen, backward facing car seat. After miles of spills, tantrums, and on-the road snoozing, you've cycled through the forward facing car seat and are ready to shop for a booster seat. The booster seat is your child's last stop before he or she graduates to simply buckling in like the grown-ups.


Booster seats were introduced to help reduce the occurrence of child deaths in traffic accidents. It used to be assumed that once a child grew out of her car seat, she was ready to go solo, with only the vehicle's seatbelts for protection. Extensive testing and many horrifying real-life traffic accidents have shown that this simply isn't true. In fact, children as heavy as 80 lbs. need additional restraint and support to avoid death and serious injury in the event of a car crash.

Shoulder and lap belts are not made to fit a child's body well. This discrepancy in fit can pose a huge danger in a crash. Booster seats help adjust the child's position so that the vehicle's safety belts fit properly.

Booster Seat Laws

Booster seat laws can be confusing, which makes shopping for a booster seat a challenging experience. Every state has laws governing the usage of booster seats. Generally a child is done with a booster seat once he or she reaches a certain age or a certain weight.
The range of ages is between 4 and 8 years, and the weight range is between 40 and 80 pounds. Find out what your state laws are regarding booster seats so you'll be up-to-date and correctly equipped to suit your child's needs and comply with the local law. A good resource for child safety seat information is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website.

Shopping For a Booster Seat

Proper fit is the most important thing to look for in a booster seat. A seat that does not fit your vehicle or your child properly cannot protect your child in a crash.


When you purchase a booster seat, take your child with you to sit in the seat and test it out. By doing this, you can be sure that you have a booster seat that fits and avoid the inconvenience of having to return it to the store.

There are three basic types of booster seats: high-back, low-back, and combination.

  • High-back booster seats (or belt-positioning booster seats) help lift and position the child so that the seat belt fits properly. These seats do not have any internal straps and must be used with both a lap belt and shoulder belt. They feature a tall backrest that adds comfort and in some cases, impact protection. This is the type of booster seat you need if your car does not have a headrest.
  • Low-Back booster seats look similar to the booster seats commonly seen in restaurants. They're compact and simple seats that serve the same purpose as a high-back booster by helping the seat belts fit the child properly. These boosters are for larger children who have outgrown their high-back booster seats.
  • Combination Booster Seats can be converted from a high back into a low back.

Booster Seat Reviews

Britax is the leader in car seat safety, and their Britax Parkway SG Belt-Positioning Booster is consistently rated among the best in its class. The Parkway's features include True Side Impact Protection and SecureGuard anti-submarining technology. In layman's terms, these seats help minimize the force of a crash in the event of an accident. As you may have guessed, Britax products are quite expensive. If you're a parent who can spend top dollar for a brand name that's associated with impeccable safety, then the Britax Parkway might be for you.


When it comes to backless booster seats, The Graco Backless Turbo Booster Seat is a great value for the money. It's simple, safety-tested design gets high ratings from the experts, while the clean lines and wide variety of stylish colors will make riding in a booster seat cool for the big kids.

The Combi Dakota is another value-priced backless booster seat. It features a removable, machine-washable seat cover and a cup holder. It has a wider seat than most backless boosters which can make for a more comfortable ride for an older child.

The Chicco Key Fit Strada Booster is a high-back throne for your little prince or princess who loves to travel in comfort. It features micro vented material so it's breathable and cool. The cushy design not only provides luxury, it also sneaks in a good dose of safety. The headrest features wings that adjust up and out to both cradle your child's head and neck and help prevent injury in a crash. This is a mid-range product, but it can be converted to a backless booster for when your child reaches the appropriate weight, which makes it a great value for the money.

The Evenflo Confidence Booster is a good solid high-back booster seat that features an adjustable headrest and back. The seat depth is adjustable as well, adding to the comfort. Overall, this product is designed to accommodate various types of vehicle seats, and a wide range of children's body types. It retails for under $100, so you get a safe and cozy booster seat for a reasonable price.
The Safety 1st Summit Deluxe High Back Booster Car Seat is not yet available in stores at the time of this writing, but is set to launch in summer '10. Pre-launch consumer testing has shown this to be a very convenient and attractive seat with all the standard safety features parents want. It has a 5-point harness system with up-front harness adjustment, a side cup holder, and other cool features. {relatedarticles}Are your kids tired of struggling in and out of the booster seat? The Summit Deluxe has pivoting armrests to make entry and exit go a lot more smoothly.

At the end of the day, style and features are great, but fit is what really counts. Try as many booster seats as you need to find one that's right for your child. You can feel confident that you're doing something good for your family.