Once you realize that you kid, who was once tiny, is slowly getting taller and heavier, it’s probably the time to start using a booster car seat. And for the new parents, this can be a really confusing time. Which model to choose? How big should it be? How to install one?
We’ve decided to help you with these questions – our unbiased and easy-to-understand reviews will show you which booster car seats are worth the money. We will take a detailed look at the most popular models that are currently on the market – join us and remove the confusion!
TOP RATED BOOSTER CAR SEATS
Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 – Editor’s Choice
After the success of their infant (KeyFit) and convertible (NextFit) car seats, the guys and girls working at Chicco have decided to complete the line of their quality car seats with a booster model. The Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 is finally here, and we can already say that this is one of the best seats of this type on the market. We took a detailed look at all of its features and found out that this seat has a lot of good things going for it – join us, and find out why have we decided to put the Editor’s Choice tag on it!
Upon opening the box, you’ll find six separate pieces – the bottom part, the back part, as well as two armrests and two cup holders. The assembly process is fairly easy, as there is a well-made instructions book included in the package. While the belt positioning boosters are quite straightforward (the belt itself is the thing that does the real work in the case of collision), the Chicco has still decided to add some features that will make everything safer and more comfortable. For example, the premium lower anchor connectors are a standard part of the KidFit. They won’t really affect the model’s performance in a crash but will provide some stability when the kid is getting in and out of the seat. There’s also the well-known DuoZone impact protection that features the thick EPS foam and is there to provide some additional safety for your child’s head and the upper torso.
Installing the seat into the vehicle is very easy, whether you’re going to use it in the backless or the high back mode. The manufacturer advises a minimum of 38″ of height, 30 pounds of weight, and 4 years of age for the kid to properly use this model, and puts the expiration date eight years from the date of manufacture.
In conclusion, this model is easy to assemble and use, positions the belts correctly and comes with some neat features – we certainly recommend it!
- Easy assembly
- Quick installation
- The DuoZone impact protection
- Great design
- A bit too lightweight
- The latch straps are not replaceable
Evenflo Big Kid AMP – Affordable and High-Quality Seat
Next up is Evenflo’s popular booster model that’s among the best-selling seats of this type right now – the Big Kid AMP. It can be used in both the backless and the high-back position and is also inexpensive, narrow, and lightweight, and just might be the thing that you’ve been searching for. We’re always pleased to have Evenflo’s juvenile products on a review, as this company certainly earned its status for a reason. Join us, and let’s see if this booster car seat has all the necessary features and is it worth the money.
Adjusting this model is very easy, and is done by squeezing the handle that can be found on the back of the headrest. The tallest of the headrest positions is about 18.5″, and there are six different positions. A parent can use the back until the kid’s shoulders reach over the belt guide while using the highest adjusting position. After that, the Big Kid AMP can be easily converted to the backless mode, which can be used until the upper weight and height limit (or until you notice that the tops of your kid’s ears are above the headrest). The model comes with a seatbelt adjuster, which is of great help when it comes to obtaining a proper fit.
We liked the presence of an energy absorbing foam liner, which provides some additional safety and comfort, as well as of the two convenient cup holders for the drinks. The pad is, of course, machine-washable, which means that keeping the Evenflo Big Kid AMP clean is an easy task to do. But one of the greatest things here is, actually, the cost – this model comes at an affordable price, and you won’t have to give too much money for it. It is one of the best budget-friendly options that are currently on the market.
This inexpensive seat comes with a good design, useful features, and can be easily converted to the backless position. In our opinion, one should definitely consider the Evenflo Big Kid AMP for purchase, especially the parents with smaller budgets.
- Doesn’t require vehicle head support
- Easily converts to backless position
- Machine-washable pad
- No lower anchors
- Not much torso/head support
Graco Affix Youth – Comfortable, Sturdy and Easy to Install
Whether you’re using an infant car seat, a convertible car seat, or the booster model, the safety should always be the first concern. The Graco Affix Youth is one of those models that ensure that your kid is protected in any car by positioning the seatbelt in a way that fits her or him properly. It connects to your car with the so-called LATCH system and has been tested to ensure that it exceeds all the recommended safety standards. It surely deserves a more in-depth look, so let’s do it together!
When used in the high-back position, the Graco Affix Youth provides protection for the kids weighing from 30 to 100 pounds. The backless mode will, on the other hand, provide safety for children weighing from 40 to 100 pounds. When used in the high-back mode, the seat provides the padded sides at the kid’s head level, and this adds some shock absorbency in the case of a collision. When it comes to comfort, we have only words of praise – there’s plenty of padding here in both of the positions. This makes the long car rides very comfortable, and is the feature that your kid will certainly like the most.
This model also comes with a foldable storage compartment and a cup holder. The cup holder is actually an elastic holder, which means that it can accommodate bottles and cups of different sizes and that it doesn’t add extra bulk to the seat. We should also mention that the cover is very easy to remove and that it can be washed in a washing machine. The Graco Affix Youth, unfortunately, does not bear the FAA certification, which means that you won’t be able to use it on the airplanes.
It’s no wonder that the Graco Affix Youth is among the most popular booster seats in the world – it provides easy installation, lots of safety features, and plenty of padding. Opting for this model can’t really turn out as a mistake.
- Easy installation
- Plenty of padding
- Shock-absorbing foam
- Adjustable head support
- Not FAA approved
- Arms aren’t adjustable
Britax Parkway SGL G1.1 – Safe, Nice and Easy to Clean
For many years, the Britax Parkway has been one of the best booster seats on the market. The latest entries in this series are the Britax Parkway SG and the Britax Parkway SGL. The primary difference between these two versions is the price – the SGL model costs a bit more, as it includes the well-known LATCH attachments that will help you secure the model to anchors located in newer cars. We’ve decided to take a closer look at the SGL model – is it really as good as they say?
The specifications of this seat are quite similar to those of the SG model. The weight rating stands between 40 to 120 pounds and the children can use this model when they’re between 38 and 63 inches tall. The manufacturer claims that the SGL is a bit heavier and wider than the previous version, and, in our opinion, that provides more protection. There’s a lot of EPS foam in the torso wings and the headrest, and this is definitely one of the best materials when it comes to shock absorption. Another thing worth mentioning is the presence of the SecureGuard clip, which can be attached to the seat pan. Its function is to help accurately position the vehicle belt at the kid’s lap area.
The expiration date for this model stands at six years from the date of manufacture, which is above average. Just like many other belt-positioning boosters, this seat also doesn’t bear the FAA certification, which means that you won’t be able to use it on an airplane. But you can still bring it on as the standard carry-on item. There’s also a handy storage pocket for the manual on the bottom – and that’s always a plus in our book.
Even though it’s not the best booster car seat we’ve ever seen, the Britax Parkway SGL G1.1 should certainly be considered for purchase. It comes with lots of advantages, and we hope that the next entry in the Parkway series will be even better.
- SecureGuard clip
- It has lower anchors
- Easy to clean
- Head and torso wings
- Somewhat expensive
- LATCH release button is sometimes finicky
Britax Frontier G1.1 – Product Worth Your Money
Britax is certainly one of the top names when it comes to strollers and car seats. Their products aren’t just safe, but also high-quality, which is exactly why we’re always glad to have their car seats on a review. We have decided to take a look at their Frontier G1.1 model, which combines comfort and safety, but is also at the high end when it comes to price. What is the Clicktight feature that the Britax advertises so much? Is it worth the extra cost? Let’s find out together!
When it comes to weight and height limitations, the Britax Frontier G1.1 can be used as a harness seat with children weighing 25 to 90lbs, and being 30 to 58 inches tall. The booster seat, on the other hand, can be used with kids weighing between 40 to 120lbs and being 45 to 62 inches tall. One of the primary selling points of this model is the previously mentioned “Clicktight” feature, which is a system that makes the installation process as simple as it gets. The Clicktight can tighten the straps for you, removing the need to fight with the straps in order to tighten them correctly. In our opinion, this is an outstanding feature and one that we would like to see on all other models.
Of course, the Clicktight feature isn’t the only good thing about this model. The Britax Frontier G1.1 also has a sturdy steel frame, as well as some energy-absorbing materials, like the double-layered side-impact protection and the energy absorbing headrest. There are also 9 (!) harness positions, as well as the front adjust recline lever which is very easy to operate. The manufacturer claims that the lifespan of this model stands at nine years, which is very long and allows the owner to get a lot of use out of it.
As you can see, we have only words of praise for this model – it’s one of the best on the market, and it’s definitely worth the money!
- High weight and height limits
- The Clicktight feature
- Provides a lot of security
- Very long lifespan
- Quite Heavy
CHOOSING THE BEST BOOSTER CAR SEAT – BUYER’S GUIDE
As the kids grow from infants to toddlers and then to preschoolers, their needs will inevitably change. Once they outgrow the infant and convertible car seats, they will still need to be safe when riding in the car, and this can be accomplished with a purchase of a good booster car seat.
And buying the right model can be really hard, especially if you don’t know a lot about the booster car seats. But, have no worries – we’re here to tell you all the things you need to know before you decide to purchase your first booster car seat.
THE TYPES OF BOOSTER SEATS
Unlike the infant or toddler seats, the boosters are relatively affordable and also highly portable. The choice of a model should depend on its purpose as well as on the preferences and needs of your kid.
- High-back booster seats
The high-back booster seats are designed to look like chairs, and, unlike some other car seats, they don’t hook into the vehicle itself. Instead, they are using the seatbelt to keep both the kid and the seat safe, and are most helpful in the vehicles that don’t have headrests. Their biggest advantage is the fact that they usually have slots that make it easier to guide the seat belt over the kid’s torso.
- Backless booster seat
The backless booster seats, as the name suggests, don’t have the back rests and are recommended for use in the cars with high seats and rear seat headrests. They position the kids in a way so that the vehicle’s seat belt fits them correctly, and they don’t help the guide the seat belt over the kid’s shoulder area. They are easier to transport from one vehicle to another.
- Combination booster seats
These kinds of booster seats hold special appeal for the parents who want to reduce the number of car seats they have to buy, as they can grow along with the kids. Adjusting them is an easy task to do.
The best models have:
- Great safety features and ratings
The IIHS rates all boosters on how well they can position the kid for a correct seat belt placement. Along with that, the parents should also look for the energy-absorbing foam and the side-impact protection.
- The high weight and height limits
If you have decided to purchase a combination booster seat for your kid, you should look for a model with high weight and height limits for the harness use. This will allow you to use the seat for a long time.
- Harness or belt guide that’s easy to use
It’s of crucial importance that the harness is easy to position and then buckle. Look for the models that have belt paths that are clearly marked, as this will make things much easier for both you and your kid.
- Adjustable crotch straps and harness slots
The harness straps have to be easily adjustable, and there should be at least two or three slots for the crotch strap. No part of the crotch strap should be under the kid.
BOOSTER CAR SEAT INSTALLATION – INSTRUCTIONS
Once your kid outgrows his toddler seat, he or she still won’t be old enough to properly use the adult seat belt in the car. And that’s when the booster car seats come in – they are designed to raise the kid in the car’s seat, which dramatically reduces the chance of a serious injury in the case of a collision. However, you’ll need to install it properly, and we’re here to help you with that.
Step #1 – Choose the right seat
There are several types of booster car seats that you can choose from. They will vary in things like material, design, and price. You’ll have to choose one that suits your kid, fits your car, and, of course, meets the current and the possible future needs.
Step #2 – Have your kid try the seat before buying
If possible, have your child try sitting on the booster seat before you buy it. Ask him or her if he feels comfortable while sitting on it.
Step #3 – Make sure that it fits in your vehicle
A booster seat is designed to rest on your vehicle’s back seat, where it will be strapped with the vehicle’s seat belt. Make sure that it doesn’t hang over the back seat’s edge, and that it sits flat, not tilted or turned.
Step #4 – Register your model
As soon as you have bought it, go to the manufacturer’s website and register your booster seat. It’s necessary to do this in order to validate your warranty, and the manufacturer will be able to notify you in the case of a recall on the model.
Step #5 – Read the instructions
Even though the general installation techniques are the same for all types of booster seats, each model has specific instruction as it has been designed in a slightly different way. To install it in an entirely correct way, you’ll have to read the instructions.
Step #6 – Place the seat in your car
The best location for your new booster seat will be the car’s back seat. In case your car only has the lap belt in the center of it, you’ll have to install the booster seat on the left or the right side.
Step #7 – Use the included guides and clips
Some models (but not all of them) will have guides or clips that will help you correctly position the seat belt across your new booster seat. The manufacturer’s instructions will help you to do this properly.
Step #8 – Check the fit
Once it is installed correctly, have your kid sit in the booster seat and ensure a good fit. Make sure that the model is secure on the back seat while your kid is sitting in it, and also make sure that your child is as comfortable as possible.
Step #9 – Check the fit as often as you can
As you kid is growing, you’ll have to adjust the position of the seat and the seat belt. Because of this, it would be a wise decision the check the position and the fit of the seat as often as you can.
Step #10 – Secure the seat when it is not in use
When your kid is not using the seat, it should be strapped down and stored in the trunk. If you don’t do that, a loose seat might move around while you’re driving and become a distraction, or even cause an injury.
Step #11 – Use it as long as it is necessary
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT CAR SEATS
Q: Who should use the booster seats?
A: Kids who weigh at least 40 pounds (18 kg) and who are four years of age, and are mature enough to sit in a correct way, need to use a booster seat once they have no need to use the 5-point harness anymore. They should use the booster seat until they are at least 4 feet and 8 inches tall.
Q: Why should my kid use it?
A: It’s a well-known fact that the vehicle crashes are among the leading causes of injuries and deaths of children. A booster seat can give the kid 60% more protection than the seat belt alone can.
Q: How does the booster seat work?
A: It boosts the kid up, allowing the seat belt to fit across his or her strongest bones, relocating it from the soft belly.
Q: What are the risks of not using it?
A: Kids whose parents let them use the adult seat belts are at a danger of getting severe injuries in case of a crash. These would be the injuries of the neck, head, internal organs, and spinal cord, and they can be fatal.
Q: My kid is three years old, but has over 40 pounds of weight. Should I buy a booster seat?
A: 3 years of age isn’t safe for a booster car seat. Some kids may be ready when they’re 4, and some 6 or more before they’re mature enough to use the booster car seat in a safe way.
Q: Are the seat belts safe at all? Should I stop using them?
A: No. The seat belts can prevent the kid from getting ejected from the car, but if there’s no booster seat to set the seat belt into the proper position, the belt alone won’t really protect the child from getting a serious injury inside the vehicle.
Using a quality booster car seat is an excellent way to protect your toddler from serious injuries that can occur in a possible car crash. These seats are quite versatile and are very easy to use, and there are a lot of great models that can be found at affordable prices. But, if you don’t know a lot of about these things, it can be a real chore to find the right model – the one that will suit your child, fit your car, and also fit your budget.
And that’s where we come in – in these reviews and articles, we have tried to remove the confusion and present you with the most popular models that are currently on the market, having a detailed look at all of their features, advantages, and flaws. All of the models we’ve reviewed are good in their own ways, but we have to note that one of them truly stands out – the Chicco KidFit 2-in-1. This exceptional model is, in our opinion, the best booster car seat on the market right now, as it features an excellent impact protection, and is also easy to assemble and use. It’s the product of our choice – but don’t forget to check out the other models. You just might find the thing that you’ve been looking for!