When your child is between the ages of four to eight, they’re likely too large for the traditional child safety seat but still not the right height and weight to safely wear most seat belts alone. Determining when the right time to switch is only part of the decision process. Finding the appropriate booster seat may be a time-consuming process, but it is one that is well worth investing in to ensure your older child’s safety in the vehicle.
Here are some of the best booster seats for bigger kids on the market today. Each receives high marks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and other child safety experts. Note that all car seats have to meet federal regulations for safety, so any one of them may be good choices. It all depends on your child’s height and weight, the car seat manufacturer’s recommendations, and whether the child booster seat fits your vehicle.
Britax Frontier 85 combination booster seat
This seat provides exceptional safety with a secure fit, has one of the highest seat capacities, due to its five-point safety harness fitting children up to 120 pounds in booster mode. The Britax Frontier 85 combination booster seat features easy-to-adjust head restraint, harness and head rest for the best fit. The Frontier 85 is also uniquely designed to keep the child’s head, neck, spine and body in proper alignment during a crash. Tether webbing anchors the seat at two points to help minimize forward movement in a crash.
Graco Highback TurboBooster
Parents looking for an inexpensive, highly-rated booster seat may find that the Graco Highback TurboBooster fits the bill. Lightweight, weighing just three pounds, this seat is easy to handle. It features an adjustable headrest to keep your child’s body in proper alignment while also providing comfort and support. Suitable for children ages three to 10, ranging in weight from 30 to 100 pounds, or up to 57 inches in height. The open loop seat belt guide helps parents know the booster seat is properly installed before placing the child in it.
Evenflo Maestro booster
Another inexpensive and safe booster seat option is the Evenflo Maestro. This booster seat uses RightFit belt position to create a snug, secure fit that’s cozy and comfortable at the same time. Lightweight and easy to install, the Evenflo Maestro features an easily-adjustable 5-point safety harness with armrests and handy cup holder on each side.
Diono RadianR100 convertible booster
The newly-released Diono RadianR100 convertible booster provides three adaptable modes for use with children from infant to 100 pounds. This seat can be used rear-facing from 5 to 40 pounds, forward-facing from 20 to 65 pounds, and up to 100 pounds in booster mode. Integrated 5-point safety harness with SuperLATCH installation makes for a secure fit in the family vehicle. The Diono RadianR100 convertible booster also folds to a compact design that is easy to transport, including on airplanes.
Britax Parkway SGL booster
Suitable for children ranging from 38 to 63 inches in height and between 40 and 120 pounds in weight, the Britax Parkway SGL booster comes as a complete unit, with no assembly required. State-of-the-art safety features include ISOFLEX Flexible Lower LATCH system, SecureGuard technology that uses your vehicle’s safety belt to keep the lap portion of it in place, and side impact protection with good head support with large side walls to keep your child’s body properly aligned.
Clek Oobr booster
This full-back booster seat provides superior protection without sacrificing comfort, convenience or style. With its easily-removable back, the Oobr converts to a backless booster. Oobr features the exclusive Elemental Safety System. Suitable for children between 38-57 inches in height and 33-100 pounds (highback), and 40-57 inches in height and 40-100 pounds (backless).
For the complete list of recommended booster seats from the IIHS, click here.