A Booster car seat also known as a toddler car seat bridges the divide between the period when your child is using a forward or front facing car seat (also known as a harness seat) to the time they start using a regular, adult-sized seat belt.
These car seats prop your child up and use safety belt positioning guides so that the car’s seat belt fits properly — over your baby’s thighs and shoulders, rather than the very vulnerable stomach and neck areas. Majority of these booster car seats have high backs, but some will convert to backless booster car seats. Those with high backs offer extra head, side and back support over backless booster car seats.
Types of Booster car seats.
High Back booster car seats
High back booster car seats are an excellent option for babies who nap in the car (basically all of them, right?)
High back boosters do not have an inbuilt harness to position the baby in place. Instead, the vehicles safety belt goes round the baby and the car seat as well. These types of car seats also have side “wings” that provide additional support to your child’s head and neck in the event of an accident.
Backless Booster car seats
These are made prop up your child so that the safety belt is a proper fit. They are suitable for cars that have head rests in the back seat, as it does not provide neck and head support. Backless boosters use a nifty feature known as a seat belt positioning system, which is ideal for a secure fit.
Backless booster car seats weigh less, are smaller and are therefore more portable than high-back seats. These traits make them great choices where cars have limited space, and for families that tend to travel a lot, or families that may need to fit 3 car seats across the back seat.
For children who are older, backless boosters are less embarrassing as they aren’t as conspicuous as convertible car seats for instance.
Combination car Seat: This car seat changes from a forward facing car seat into a booster car seat as your child grows.
All-in-One Seat: This type of car seat switches from a rear-facing car seat to a forward-facing car seat and then changes to a booster car seat as your baby grows.
Deciding between a backless booster seat or a high-back booster.
High back booster car seats position the safety belt better than backless boosters. They are made with safety belt routing guides, and if your car does not have headrests in the back seat, then these are the smart alternative.
Besides the individual features described above, backless booster car seats are cheaper, but be certain to find one with a clip that makes sure the safety belt always stays in the right place. This helps make sure the safety belt stays put always.
Why Use a Booster Car Seat?
Booster car seats are made to prop up your child so that the safety belt is a proper fit. When used, your vehicle’s safety belt will cross your child at the right parts of their body and holds them firmly.
For instance, if the lap belt is positioned too high up it will result in injury to the abdomen, and should the shoulder belt be positioned too high up, it’ll be on the neck rather than the shoulder. This can be fatal in the event of a car crash.
These car seats do an excellent job of reducing the risk of injury or death that is caused by improper safety belt positioning.
Booster car seats are the best choice for your baby once they outgrow their convertible car seat, and are still too tiny for the car’s safety belt. They are usually significantly cheaper and easier to use than infant car seats or convertible car seats.
Is my baby ready for a booster car seat?
Once they have outgrown the forward facing car seat’s height or weight limits, it is time for them to move on to a booster car seat. This is generally when they between forty and sixty five pounds. Verify these height and weight limits in your car seat manual.
Do not be in a hurry to put your child in a booster car seat. It is important to keep your child in a forward facing car seat for as long as you can.
We have compiled a helpful guide on the best time to move your kid to a booster car seat.
- Once your baby reaches their forward facing car seat’s height and weight limits.
- Within 4 to 8 years of age or when they are between 40 and 80 pounds (These height and weight limits aren’t the same everywhere and are entirely dependent on the car seat model)
- If your baby still cannot sit in the car’s seat with their back against the wall (while not slumped) and their knees bending at the edge of the car’s seat cushion. (Ideally a minimum of 35″ tall.)
Please note: Your child may be embarrassed as a result of still being in a car seat. However, a sure way to take care of this is to teach your child early on that it is important to be safe, and car seats are cool.
Here are a number of things to watch out for when purchasing the right booster car seat for your child:
Ease of Use: Your child is now expected to buckle and unbuckle themselves so ease of use is now as important as ever. The transition will be a lot less frustrating if latching mechanisms are easy to use, and reaching over to unbuckle isn’t difficult.
Price: Booster car seats are less pricey compared to infant car seats or convertible car seats. We recommend paying around $50-100 for a top quality booster seat, although as you may have noticed, we have recommended a few car seats that go above that. These are the plusher car seats which use lighter and higher quality parts meant to withstand the torture that our kids put them through. They have softer fabrics and have bells and whistles that make them easier to use.
Weight and Height Limits: Always check the details on the box or on the car seat label. Booster car seats are recommended by the U.S. federal government from as early as four years old (and a minimum of forty lbs) to as late as twelve years old. Some car seats go over a hundred pounds however. Different models have different specifications, even within the same brand.
Booster car seat safety.
When used properly, all booster seats meet basic safety requirements. It is not advisable to skip directly to seat belt use after the front facing car seat. Without the booster car seat, the child’s lap and shoulders will be too low and therefore the safety belt won’t fit the right way, posing a substantial safety risk.
Make sure you fill and return your car seat registration card to the manufacturer. This ensures you are notified about any recalls. Additionally, always read your car seat manual before to fitting the booster car seat in your vehicle.
Remember, the safest place for all children twelve years old and under is the back seat.
Here are the best booster car seats when it comes to ease of use, weight and heights limits, price, safety and reliability.