Graduating from a front-facing car seat to a booster seat is an important milestone. It marks your child’s entry into the ‘big kids’ category. The only problem being- wondering which booster seat to get them? ‘Should it be the high back or the backless booster seat?’
Select your booster seats wisely, as they play a crucial role in reducing the risk of injuries to children by 45%. Being a matter of child safety here is everything you need to know about booster seats and their types.
What are Booster Seats?
The most prevalent cause of death in children was found to be car crashes. A study reported that children (4-7 years of age) wearing seat belts were at a higher risk of being injured than children secured in booster seats. This can be due to the fact that car seat belts are manufactured to protect the average adult. They are not effective with kids.
Booster seats are therefore essential to keep our children safe on the road.
A booster seat (cushions) 'boosts' or raises the child into a correct sitting position in the car so that the seatbelt can be placed correctly. This is necessary because unlike a front-facing car seat that uses a 5-point harness system, the booster seat makes use of the vehicle's seat belt as a restrain.
How Do Booster Seats Work?
The ‘lift’ obtained by using the booster seat, aligns the seat belts properly on the strongest parts of the child's body, keeping them secure at all times. Parents must place:
- The shoulder belt across the center of the shoulder and chest. Make sure that it is not placed across the child’s neck, under their arm, or behind their back.
- The lap belt low and snug below the hip bones and across their upper thighs.
Improper positioning of the belts can cause damage to the internal organs or the spine in the event of a crash.
Transitioning To A Booster Seat:
According to the Child Passenger Safety guidelines given by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children who have outgrown the limits of their forward-facing car seat must use a belt-positioning booster seat.
This transition usually occurs when the child reaches an age of 5 years (although some boosters can be used from age 4) and weighs a minimum of 40 pounds.
Booster Seat Readiness:
Children grow at different rates. Sometimes, you might wonder if your child (at 3 or 4 years) is ready for a booster seat.
In such situations, take the booster seat readiness test. Check if your child:
- Is mature and can sit properly throughout the entire trip- includes no slouching, leaning, fiddling, or trying to remove the seat belt.asy to bring for travel
- Has exceeded the height and weight limits of their forward-facing car seat.
- Is at least 5 years of age.
- Has a height of at least 35 inches and weighs 40 pounds.
If you have answered ‘yes’ to all the above questions, then yes, your child is ready for a booster seat.
However, it should be noted that the AAP guidelines recommend that you continue using your 5-point harness system as long as possible. That's because the 5-point system gives your child more protection. Compared to the seat belt, the 5-point system is more effective as it spreads the crash forces over more areas of the body rather than creating a localised effect.
High Back vs Backless Booster Seat?
This is the question on all our minds. Before we weigh out its pros and cons, let’s take a look at the three types of booster seats available to you:
- Backless Booster Seat: This is a cushioned seat that gives the required ‘lift’ to position the seat belts correctly. A backless booster is recommended only IF your vehicle seat is high and reaches the back of your child’s ears or base of the skull. Otherwise, there is a high risk of whiplash injuries due to lack of protection to the base of the skill.Backless booster seats are:
- Compact, lightweight and portable.
- Preferred more by children as it looks less 'babyish' and provides them with more freedom of movement.
On the other hand, the lack of adequate support to the head, neck, and back poses a safety issue and can make the ride uncomfortable when children fall asleep.
- High Back Booster Seat: Designed like a seat, the high back booster provides adequate support and protection to the child’s head and neck. High back boosters:
- Can be used in cars with low seatbacks.
- Give additional postural stability to the child. The head and armrests prevent children from slouching or leaning and secure the child when they fall asleep.
- Provides more protection by means of its high back and LATCH system. In the event of an accident, the high back protects and prevents injuries to the head and back. Likewise, the LATCH system stabilizes the unit on the vehicle seat, preventing its side-ward movement during a side collision.
The drawback of a high back booster is that they are expensive, and bulky making it difficult to switch them between cars.
- Combination Seats: This can be used both as a 5-point harness car seat for children till they are 40 lb or a booster seat as they grow.
So which type of booster seat must you select? The answer depends solely on your child (their age, height, weight), your preferences, and the vehicle you use. For instance, a backless booster seat is more ideal for mature older children, while a high back booster is suited for younger children who have less postural control.
Selecting A High Back Booster Seat- Factors To Consider
When selecting a high back booster, ensure that your model meets the following criteria:
- Safety Standards: The model must meet the minimum safety standards set by the Federal government to provide adequate protection to your child.
- External Frame: A good booster seat will have a solid metal framework that will retain the shape of the seat even under impact. There will be an additional layer of foam for more protection.
- Lateral support: The key feature of a high back booster seat is its sides (wings) that support and protect the torso of the child, and prevents sideward leaning. Ensure that your model is made of solid padded sides that can withstand the impact from a side-on collision.
- Headrest: A model with an adjustable headrest is more durable, as you can adjust the headrest to suit your growing child.
- Seat Belt Guides: Seat belt guides help you to position and secure the seat belts correctly on the child without any difficulty.
- LATCH System: Some models are secured to the car seat by means of the vehicle seat belt. Some high back boosters on the other hand use a LATCH system to secure it firmly in the car. This makes it more stable, and easy for children to climb on and off.
- Versatility: High back booster seats with dual functions (converting to harness or backless seats), are more cost effective and useful as you can use the same model throughout your child’s growing years.
- Accessories: High back booster seats with additional features such as washable covers, cup holders or reclinable seats allow for more comfort in your journeys.
- The Maxi-Cosi Rodifix Booster Car Seat - Durable High Back Booster Seat
- Evenflo Big Kids LX High Back Booster - Convenient Booster For Big Kids
- Clek Oobr High Back Booster Seat - Eco-Friendly Booster
- Graco Turbobooster High Back Booster Seat - Most budget Friendly Booster
- Britax Skyline 2- Stage Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat - Best For Protection
- Graco TurboBooster Grow High Back Booster Seat - 3 Modes of Safe Usage
- Safety 1st Grand 2-in-1 Booster Seat - Affordable 5 pt Harness System
Top High Back Booster Seat Reviews:
Keeping in mind the above mentioned factors, we have identified 8 top high back booster seats, effectively narrowing down the search for you:
|Height limit: 57 inches|
Weight limit: 40- 120 pounds
|Installation Type: LATCH system, seat belts|
|Dimensions: 17.75”W x 15.2” H x 28.5” D inches||Manufactured material: High strength plastic|
The Maxi-Cosi high back booster is one that your child can grow in. With its adjustable headrest and expanding side wings, you can customize the booster seat to accommodate your growing child. The LATCH attachment system secures the booster and keeps it stable at all times.
The Maxi-Cosi has a narrow compact design, making it suitable for use in any vehicle. The locking shoulder seat belt guides facilitate easy positioning of the belts, enabling older children to buckle themselves in independently.
The front reclining seat gives comfort to a sleeping child, and with its easy-clean features (removable and washable covers) you can keep the seat mess-free.
Our verdict: With its side-impact cushioning, adjustable headrest and side wings, the Maxi-Cosi high back booster seat is the most durable booster seat, which your child can grow in. Consider it a worthy investment for the long years ahead.
|Height limit: 44-57 inches|
Weight limit: 40-110 pounds
|Installation type: Seat belts|
|Dimensions: 16" W x 28"H x 18" D||Manufactured material: Plastic|
The Evenflo high back booster seat is quite popular among parents for various reasons.
At under $50, this booster seat is versatile and can be used as both a high back and a backless booster. It can be used with children as young as 4 years of age giving you an extra year of usage.
The height of this model can be adjusted to 6 different height levels, to accommodate your child as they get taller. With its belt guides for optimal seat belt positioning; dual cup holders and padded seats for comfort; removable and washable covers for easy maintenance, the Evenflo model strikes all the right chords with parents.
Additionally, being sleek in design, the Evenflo booster can be installed in any vehicle type, or alongside other child car seats. Weighing only 1 gram, this model is lightweight, and portable, making it an ideal choice for families that use multiple cars.
Our verdict: The Evenflo model is one of the most convenient high-back booster seats currently available in the market. Being dual-functional you can use the model for a long time. Additionally, the compact design makes it a convenient option for families with multiple kids that need to fit in multiple car seats.
|Height limit: 38-57 inches|
Weight limit: 40-100 lbs
|Installation type: LATCH System|
|Dimensions: 18”W x 10” H x 16” D inches||Manufactured material: Metal structure and foam|
With its solid magnesium framework, energy-absorbing foam layer, and deep side wings, the Clek Oobr model has been designed to provide your child with maximum protection on the road. Its structure is designed to reduce injuries to the head and torso, by providing adequate support and reducing twisting movements during a side-impact collision.
Installation by the LATCH system keeps the unit steady and stable on the vehicle seat, and the belt guides ensure that you fit the seat belts correctly. The reclining seat (up to 12 degrees) provides comfort to children when asleep.
And the highlight, it is made of fabrics that are free of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants, which makes it more cleanable, durable, and eco-friendly. You're less likely to find water-based stains and bad odor on the Clek Oobr model and can recycle the product through the Clerk's car seat recycling program.
Our verdict: The Clek Oobr model is ideal for eco-conscious parents in search of an efficient high-back booster seat. Although pricier, the sleek design, use of organic fabrics, and high safety and comfort features make it a worthy purchase.
|Height limit: 38-57 inches|
Weight limit: 30-100 pounds
|Installation type: Seat belt|
|Dimensions: 16.5” W x 26.5” H x 15” D inches||Manufactured material: High-quality foam|
If you want to just invest in one efficient booster seat, then choose the Graco TurboBooster. Children can grow up using this model, as it can be converted (high-back to backless), has an adjustable headrest (adjustable to 6 positions), and armrests.
Padded with energy-absorbing foam, this model has been designed to provide maximum comfort and protection to children at all times.
The open belt loop guides help children learn to independently secure themselves on their seats. The Graco model has 2 cup holders that can be stored away when not in use, saving on space. On the other hand, there has been feedback from parents, stating that the holders are neither deep nor wide enough for different types of cups and bottles.
Our verdict: Choose the Graco TurboBooster if you're looking for a one-time investment that is both effective, long-lasting, and easy on your pockets.
|Height limit: up to 63 inches|
Weight limit: 40-120 pounds
|Installation type: Seat belt|
|Dimensions: 19.5” W x 27.5” H x 16” D inches||Manufactured materials: Foam and fabric|
When safety and comfort become your priority, go for the Britax Skyline model. Its double-layered energy-absorbing shell and foam-lined headrest provides double the protection against side-impact collision
The headrests can be adjusted to your child's growth and the padded structure and armrests make the seat more comfortable. You can easily clean up the Britax Skyline model, as the removable fabrics are washable, and cupholders dishwasher-safe.
It is easy to stabilize the Britax model, as a quick push is sufficient to lock the low connectors that lock the seat into place. The color-coded belt guides promote hassle-free securing of your child.
Our verdict: This user-friendly, easy to install, and highly stable model is designed to keep your child safe and secure when on the road, making the Britax Skyline model one of the best booster seats that protect kids.
|Height limit: 43-57 inches|
Weight limit: 40-100 pounds
|Installation type: Seat belt|
|Dimensions: 19.69" W x 27.17" H x 17.32" D inches||Manufactured materials:|
This unique model can be used in 3 modes- high back, backless and lastly, as a RightGuide Portable Seat, which can train big kids to ride correctly with properly secured seat belts. This RightGuide Seatbelt is removable and can be used to seat another child, enabling you to drive another child during carpools.
The Graco Grow High is specially engineered to protect children from a front-on or sideway collision. It is adequately padded for comfort and has push-button style lower anchor connectors that easily secure the booster on the vehicle seat.
Our verdict: While all other booster seats are dual in nature, the third mode of the Graco Grow High teaches children to be responsible co-passengers, buckled up at all times.
|Heigh limit: 43-57 inches|
Weight limit: 30-120 pounds
|Installation type: 5 point harness system|
|Dimensions: 19.63" W x 30.19" H x 18.25" D inches||Manufactured materials: Fabric|
The Grand Booster can be used in 2 modes as your child grows, a forward-facing seat with a 5-point harness system and a belt-positioning booster seat. It is designed to give comfort, (adjustable headrests), protection, and stability (harness system). With a washable deluxe fabric and dishwasher-safe cup holders, this model is easy to maintain.
Adhering to Federal Safety standards, this compact, lightweight device fits in most cars, is portable, and can be transferred between cars. With its compact design, you can use the Grand Booster alongside other child car seats, meaning they are ideal for families with multiple children.
Our verdict: With a structural ergonomic design supporting the child’s main pressure points, comfort enhancement features, and dual-mode, the Safety first Grand booster seat is suitable for all children.
When You Can Stop Using Booster Seats:
The law states that children must use a booster seat until they are of 8-12 years of age and become at least 4 ft 9 inches tall. After that, you can check to see if your child is ready to travel without a booster seat. Check to see if :
- They can sit correctly, with back leaning on the seat, and knees bent at the edge of the seat.
- They can position the seat belt correctly.
Even then children must continue to ride in the back seat until they are 13 years of age.
Be it for your child's safety or because the law states so, you require a booster seat until your child turns 12 years of age. A high back booster seat can be a better option, as it can position the child better, offer more protection especially from a side-impact collision, and is especially comfortable.
Choosing the right high-back booster seat for your child boils down to your child's and own personal preferences. Use this resource to think about and compare options, so that you can find 'the high back booster seat' which serves your child well.