A booster seat is imperative to keeping your big kid safe while riding in the car. This is because children under 4′ 9″ are not yet tall enough for the seat belt to restrain them effectively in the event of an accident. The best rated booster seats on this list are ones that allow your child to safely use your vehicle’s seat belt system by supplying proper fit.
What are the height and weight requirements for a booster seat?
The height and weight requirements vary between different brands of booster seats. Most require your child to weigh a minimum of either 30 or 40 lbs. and be at least 38 or 40 inches tall.
Even if your child meets these minimums, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) recommends that young children be restrained in a forward-facing car seat with 5-point harness system for as long as possible.
So if you’re wondering:
Can my 3 year old sit in a booster seat?
The answer to that is simply, go by size, not age. Children should use a booster seat no sooner than when they have outgrown the height and weight limitations of their toddler forward-facing car seat.
Switching to a booster seat before this can have a negative effect on the safety of your little one since proper fit = safe.
It’s also important that your child is mature enough to use your vehicle’s seat belt system correctly with a booster seat.
Are they ready to “do it themselves”? Have they outgrown their forward-facing car seat?
If so, then it’s time to make them feel grown up in one of these best rated booster seats.
What are the best rated booster seats based on?
To make the list, I’ve selected booster seats that exceed expectations from two major sources of car seat safety regulation – the NHTSA and the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).
The NHTSA rates car seats in four categories to determine their ease-of-use rating. These categories are the following: evaluation of instructions, evaluation of labels, vehicle installation features and securing the child. Each booster seat on this list has a combined score of 4 out of 5 stars or higher for overall ease-of-use.
In addition, the IIHS has accredited each of the booster seats on this list as a “Best Bet”. This means that the seat provides the best belt fit for children ages 4 to 8 years old in almost any car, minivan or SUV.
Lastly, these best rated booster seats wouldn’t make the list if they didn’t have outstanding ratings from parents like you, the consumer. You can check out the online star ratings and reviews for each seat in the links provided below.
5 Best Rated Booster Seats
Finally, here are the 5 best rated booster seats on the market. Each booster is forward-facing and comes as either a High Back Booster, Backless Booster or a combination of both. Remember that fit is key when it comes to the safety of your child, so make sure your child meets the weight and height minimums of the seat before considering any other features.
Each seat is around $100 or much less and is available on Amazon with Free Shipping straight to your door.
Child Size: Big Kid
High Back Booster Seat Mode: 30-100 lbs., Child Height: 38”-57” | Backless Mode: 40-100 lbs., Child Height 40”-57”
The Graco Affix features a lightweight design that converts from a high back booster to a backless seat as your child grows. It has a front adjust LATCH system making it ideal for easy transfers and installation between carpools. Not only can your child “do it themselves” by using your vehicle’s own seat belt, but they can keep after school snacks nearby with the included cup holder and drawer.
See why the Graco Affix makes our best rated booster seats list by reading reviews here.
Child Size: Big Kid Age 4-10 years old
Backless Booster Seat: 40-100 lbs. | Child Height: 40”- 57”
The Graco Backless TurboBooster forgoes all the bells and whistles of larger car seats, proving that less is more and just as effective. This backless booster is simple in design and weighs only 5 lbs. making it effortless to carry and switch between cars. With a price point under $30, it’s also the most affordable of all the best rated booster seats on this list.
Child Size: Big Kid Age 3+ years old
High Back Booster: 30-110 lbs., Child Height: 38”-57” | Backless Booster: 40-110 lbs., Child Height: 40”-57”
The Evenflo AMP High Back Booster is a 2 in 1 that converts from a high back booster seat to backless mode. In the high back position, the headrest adjusts to height and the belt loop guides the seat belt into its proper position over your child’s shoulder for a perfect fit.
This best-selling booster seat also has the unique feature of elastic cup holders. Whether a water bottle or sippy cup, it’ll fit snuggly next to your little one for their comfort.
The Evenflo Amp High Back Booster Car Seat is available in various, colorful designs that appeal to young boys and girls. With another affordable price point under $40, you can pick the style that suits them best.
Child Size: Big Kid Age 4+ years old
High Back Booster: 30-100 lbs.| Backless Booster: 40-110 lbs. | Child Height: 38”-57”
The Chicco KidFit 2 in 1 is the most luxurious booster seat on this list. With a contoured design and double foam padding, your child will sit like royalty upon this backseat throne. The car seat comes with LATCH attachments and a one-handed cinch pull, which tightens and locks the seat firmly in place in your vehicle.
Even better, both the seat pad and armrest covers are removable and machine-washable. The cup holders, perfect for holding drinks and snacks, fold in when not in use. You can also remove them for super easy cleaning.
While you will pay a higher price for the Chicco KidFit than the other best rated car seats on this list, it still comes in at just around $100. Not a bad price to pay for the extra comfort, security and ease of use.
Child Size: Big Kid
Forward Facing Booster: 40-120 lbs.| Child Height: 38”-63”
The Britax Skyline is a high back booster seat that offers optimal comfort and fit for big kids with its soft, foam-lined shell, 10-position headrest and belt positioning guides.
Britax was ranked #1 in safety technology by the NHTSA in November 2015, and continues to boast some of the highest safety ratings. The Britax Skyline in particular has a double layer of side impact protection and awesome head restraint – just look at the size of the head piece!
This booster seat attaches firmly to your vehicle’s seat with an easy to use LATCH system.
Since each of the best rated booster seats listed above exceeds expectations for highway safety and consumer satisfaction, your choice may come down to a few simple features.
You might be wondering:
What is the difference between a backless booster and booster with back?
The main difference between a backless booster and a high back, is the head support. In a backless booster, your child’s ears should not be higher than your vehicle’s seat back. A high back booster with adjustable headrest can supply this support.
Here are some other differences to consider:
High Back Booster:
- Seat belt guides ensure belt is properly positioned
- Side impact protection
- Head support for sleeping children
- Lightweight for switching cars
- More grown up feeling for older children
- More leg room for tall children
Should booster seats be anchored?
One thing to realize about booster seats is that some come with LATCH attachments or another way to anchor the booster to your vehicle’s seat and others simply sit on the seat and are only restrained when in use. This means that if your child is not present and buckled into the booster seat while you are driving, the booster seat may become a projectile in the event of an accident.
To prevent this, it’s important to buckle the seat belt even when your child is not in the seat. If you think you might forget to do this and you’d rather have the piece of mind that your child’s booster seat is secured to the seat no matter what, choose one of the best rated booster seats on this list that does come with the LATCH feature:
- Graco Affix
- Chicco KidFit
- Britax Skyline
More Booster Seat Options
All of the best rated booster seats on this list are ones that use your vehicle’s seat belt system. But there are more great booster seat options to choose from! If you would rather consider a booster seat that transitions from a 5-point harness to the car’s seat belt, please check out the best harness to booster seats here.