One of the questions I get a lot include, “What is the best booster seat?” and “What are the top-rated booster seats?” Here’s what I know, and what I use:
Booster seats are car seats designed to be used by children between the ages of 4-8 years-old. The seat belt in a car is designed to fit an adult sized body. The booster seat adjusts the child’s height, so the belt can fit the child properly. The belt should come across the child’s hips and chest, not tummy and neck. Using a booster seat instead of a seat belt alone decreases your child’s risk of serious injury in a car crash by 45%. That’s huge!
While every state’s laws may vary slightly, the recommendation (by the AAP) is to stay in a booster (a full 5-point harness seat can also be used) until a child is 4’9” (57”) tall and between 8-12 years-old. In Utah, the child restraint laws indicate that a child needs to stay in a booster until at least 8 years-old (only sooner if the child is over 4’9”).
There are two kinds of booster seats: high-back booster seats or backless booster seats. The high back booster seat is designed to give head and neck support when the vehicle seat doesn’t provide it (e.g., many SUVs and minivans). I personally prefer the high-back booster seat because I don’t have to worry about what the car is like that I’m putting the seat in. I also like that if my child happens to fall asleep, there is a bit of head support so there isn’t so much head bobbing (which has to be uncomfortable). Finally, I prefer the high-back because the seat belt strap threads through the seat and I can adjust it perfectly to ensure it fits my kid properly.
While there are lots of great boosters out there, my personal favorite is the Graco Highback Turbobooster Car Seat. I own 3 of them. It gets good safety ratings, is lightweight (and consequently easy to transfer from car to car), and has some nice features (comes in different colors, has easy to use cup holders, has head and neck support, easy to adjust height when my kid grows, and the cover is washable). In terms of booster seats, I think it’s a great bang for your buck.
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