Raising Kids Toddlers & Preschoolers Gear Car Seats The Best Booster Seats for Growing Kids So long, car seats! By Ashley Ziegler Published on March 17, 2023 Share Tweet Pin Email We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more. Photo: Parents/ Jaclyn Mastropasqua With so many different types of car seats on the market and varying guidelines, it can be really tricky to know when to move your child to a booster seat (or even know what a booster seat is). Booster seats are designed to sit a child up high enough in a seat so that they can safely use the car’s seat belt. Depending on your child's size and needs, you can opt for a high back booster seat with a five-point harness or a backless booster seat that utilizes your car's seat belt. In fact, keeping kids in a five-point harness as long as possible is the safest way for children to ride. When it comes to actually choosing the style and design of your child’s booster seat, the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center suggests incorporating your kiddo’s opinion into the process. “Kids who are old enough to ride in a booster seat are also old enough to have an opinion about some of the comfort and style choices. Kids are more likely to ride in a booster seat without complaint if they have had a voice in choosing the seat," a rep from the center tells us. When you first start shopping around, consider how well the booster seat you choose will fit in your vehicle. Also, consider whether it’s easy for them to climb in and out of the seat and whether they’re genuinely ready for the big switch. Our Favorite Booster Seats Best Overall: Diono Monterey XT 2-in-1 Booster Seat Best Budget: Graco TurboBooster Highback Booster Seat Best Highback: Graco Affix Highback Booster Seat with Latch System Best Backless: Graco TurboBooster Backless Booster Car Seat Best for Travel: Chicco KidFit Zip Air Plus Booster Car Seat Best Small Footprint: Maxi-Cosi Rodifix Booster Car Seat Best 2-in-1: Britax ClickTight Harness-2-Booster Car Seat Best for Small Cars: UPPAbaby ALTA Booster Seat Best Portable: hiccapop UberBoost Inflatable Car Seat Best Backless with LATCH: Chicco GoFit Plus Backless Booster Best Overall: Diono Monterey XT Latch 2-in-1 High Back Booster Car Seat Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Why We Like It: It expands in height and width, and even converts to a backless booster, growing with your kid. But Take Note: It has no top anchor for the back and may be too large for some vehicles. This booster seat by Diono expands in height as well as width and can even convert to a backless booster seat making it our top choice for its versatility. It has 11 headrest positions, side impact protection, and two retractable cup holders. The height and width adjustments are made with a simple dial on the back that can be done with one hand and also has two recline positions. At only 15 pounds, it's lightweight for a high back booster, making it easy to move between vehicles. In addition to seat-belt installation, it installs with LATCH connectors. LATCH stands for "Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children," and these connectors are designed to make installing car seats safe and less complicated, allowing caregivers to safely install car seats using anchors as opposed to the car's seat belts. This seat is safe for children between 40 and 120 pounds and up to 63 inches tall. It comes in multiple colors, and the cover is machine washable. Price at time of publication: $160 The Details: Product Weight: 15.2 poundsHeight Range: Up to 63 inchesWeight Range: 40 - 120 poundsAge Range: 4-12 yearsConvertible: Yes Best Budget: Graco TurboBooster Highback Booster Seat Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Why We Like It: This inexpensive, lightweight option converts to a backless booster, But Take Note: The seat is wider than some, and removing the back takes a bit of muscle. You will get a lot for your money with this high back booster seat that can convert into a backless booster (albeit with a bit of muscle, as we can say from personal experience). It’s safe for kids between 40 and 100 pounds and up to 57 inches tall. The seat-belt guide keeps the belt in a safe position while still fostering independence as your child is able to buckle themselves in. The booster features two cup holders, an adjustable headrest, and height-adjustable armrests to keep your kid comfortable as they continue to grow. Price at time of publication: $60 The Details: Product Weight: 9 poundsHeight Range: Up to 57 inchesWeight Range: 40 - 100 poundsAge Range: Not ListedConvertible: Yes Best High Back: Graco Affix Highback Booster Seat With LATCH System Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Buy on Kohls.com Why We Like It: This booster includes a LATCH system to keep it secured to the car, and it converts to a backless booster. But Take Note: The cup holder makes the seat wide, and the armrest makes buckling difficult for some kids. This booster seat features a LATCH connector to secure the seat to the car. That makes it easier for a child to buckle themselves in with the seat belt, because the booster stays in place while they wriggle around and get settled in. It will last until your child is ready to sit on their own because it can convert from a high-back to backless booster. It’s safe for kids between 40 and 100 pounds and 38 to 57 inches tall. The headrest is fully adjustable, so that it can grow right alongside your child, and the seat comes equipped with a cup holder and a snack holder. Price at time of publication: $90 The Details: Product Weight: 9.11 pounds (seat) and 1.65 pounds (base)Height Range: Up to 57 inchesWeight Range: 40 - 100 poundsAge Range: Not ListedConvertible: Yes Best Backless: Graco TurboBooster Backless Booster Car Seat Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Why We Like It: It has adjustable armrests, and it's super easy to move between cars or even take on airplanes. But Take Note: Because the armrests are fabric, they may be more difficult to clean. Safety experts recommend staying in a high back booster until they've exceeded its height limit. Once they're there, you're free to downgrade to a backless booster that gets them just tall enough that the seat belt protects them in the right place. This inexpensive option, for kids between 43 and 57 inches and 40-100 pounds, can use this. is a longtime favorite. It has padded armrests that are adjustable so that as your child continues to get taller, they can still sit comfortably in the booster seat. The simple design also makes moving it from one car to another super easy. The booster has two cup holders and a removable cover that is machine washable. Price at time of publication: $29 The Details: Product Weight: 4.41 poundsHeight Range: 43 - 57 inchesWeight Range: 40 - 100 poundsAge Range: Not ListedConvertible: No Best for Travel: Chicco KidFit Zip Air Plus 2-in-1 Belt Positioning Booster Car Seat Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Why We Like It: A zip-on leg rest and mesh material makes this booster extra comfortable for kids. But Take Note: In some cars, it may not fit flush against the back of the seat. With this booster, your kid will be set on road trips thanks to the comfortable contoured seat made with breathable mesh material and a zip-on leg rest that might even make grown-ups in the car jealous. It also has two cup holders that collapse down when they’re not in use and an add-on console that fits into a cup holder and is large enough to hold a phone. If there’s a spill, the seat cover easily zips off and is safe to toss into the washing machine. The seat is equipped with seat belt guides, so you will always be assured your child is securely fastened in. It also has a 10-position adjustable headrest, uses the LATCH system to secure it to the car, and even has pop-out armrest covers. Price at time of publication: $160 The Details: Product Weight: 11 poundsHeight Range: 38 - 57 inchesWeight Range: 40 - 110 poundsAge Range: 4 years and upConvertible: Yes Best 2-in-1: Britax Grow With You ClickTight Harness-2-Booster Car Seat Courtesy of Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Buy on Macy's Why We Like It: This converts from a car seat to a high back booster, with a machine-washable cover and adjustable headrest that ensure its durability. But Take Note: The car seat feature means it costs more than a simple booster. If you want to make this purchase before your child is ready for a booster, this seat goes from a forward-facing car seat with a five-point harness to a high back booster. Children between 25 and 125 pounds can ride in comfort thanks to the cup holders and two reclining positions. Don't worry about them creating a permanent crumb coating on the cover, as you can easily remove and toss it in the wash. The brand's ClickTight technology refers to the way you can install the seat belt (for the harness mode) through a panel in the seat back instead of struggling with difficult threading of other car seats. This seat also has a nine-position adjustable headrest and two buckle positions to grow with your child. While it's more expensive than other products on the list, it's meant to be used for more years than a booster. Price at time of publication: $330 The Details: Product Weight: 25 poundsHeight Range: Up to 65 inches (height limits vary by mode)Weight Range: 25 - 120 pounds (weight limits vary by mode)Age Range: Not ListedConvertible: Yes Best for Small Cars: UPPAbaby ALTA Booster Seat Amazon Buy on Babylist.com Buy on Nordstrom Buy on Saks Fifth Avenue Why We Like It: With a very cool-looking, compact design, this booster seat also positions the seat belt correctly on kids' legs. But Take Note: It doesn't convert to a backless booster. If you drive a small vehicle you may want more compact booster seat list this one that won't take up the entire backseat. It has an attractive, high-back design with a seven-position adjustable headrest, cup holder, and a seat-belt guide to help your child learn how to buckle themselves in safely. The seat has protective sides and a loop at the crotch to help position the seat belt at the child's legs. It does not, however, convert to a backless booster. Designed for big kids, this seat attaches easily and securely to the car with the LATCH system. You can remove the seat cover using the zipper on the back and toss it into the washing machine whenever it needs to be cleaned. Price at time of publication: $180 The Details: Product Weight: 16.6 poundsHeight Range: 38 - 57 inchesWeight Range: 40 - 100 poundsAge Range: 6 - 10 yearsConvertible: No Best Backless with LATCH: Chicco GoFit Plus Backless Booster Car Seat With LATCH Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Buy on Target Why We Like It: Collapsable cup holders, quick release front strap for easy unlatching, and built-in carry handle But Take Note: May not fit easily in smaller vehicles If you're looking for the simplicity of a backless booster seat with the stability of a LATCH system connector, the GoFit Plus is a good choice. It has a quick-release handle in front to make unlatching easy with one hand. It even has a built-in handle for carrying when transferring between vehicles. The coverings, including the armrests, are removable and machine washable, and the seat includes two collapsable cup holders that are also removable and dishwasher safe. This seat is safe for children between 40 and 110 pounds and at least 4 years old. Price at time of publication: $60 The Details: Product Weight: 6 poundsHeight Range: 38-57 inchesWeight Range: 40 - 110 poundsAge Range: 4 years and upConvertible: No Best for Travel: hiccapop UberBoost Inflatable Booster Car Seat Buy on Amazon Why We Like It: Packable, inflates in seconds, and non-skid bottom But Take Note: No cup holder and may deflate after repeated use The UberBoost booster seat is inflatable, so it's easy to pack in a suitcase or backpack making it a great choice to take on adventures near and far. This seat is good for carpools, air travel, vacations, or Uber and Lyft rides. We like that it inflates in about 20 seconds with a large valve, and when deflated, it can be rolled up and packed in the included travel bag. It supports children from 40 to 110 pounds and has a non-skid base to keep the seat securely in place. It comes with a lifetime guarantee that covers manufacturing defects and accidental damage and the cloth cover unzips to be machine washed and dried. The seat has a narrow base, so you can fit two or three in the back seat of most vehicles. Price at time of publication: $37 The Details: Product Weight: 1.3 poundsHeight Range: Not listedWeight Range: 40 - 110 poundsAge Range: 4 - 11 yearsConvertible: No How We Selected the Best Booster Seats We chose the best booster seats by researching reviews from customers and competitors, and we studied the features of more than 30 products on the market. We considered price, design, features, ease of cleaning, materials, and recommendations for age, height, and weight limits when deciding our picks. We also consulted with Alisa Baer, M.D., pediatrician and co-founder of the Car Seat Lady, LLC, for any considerations or product recommendations while reviewing guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Factors to Consider in a Booster Seat Safety Once you’re confident that it’s time to make the move, keep in mind that every booster seat sold in the U.S. must meet all federal safety standards, so no matter what, when they are installed and used properly, they will keep your child safe. That being said, specific designs vary and you’ll want to choose the one that is best suited for your vehicle, child, and your family’s lifestyle. Something to consider is the size of your vehicle’s backseat and how many car seats or boosters you’re trying to fit. You may need a seat that is more narrow in order to safely install the seat. Dr. Baer says that one of the features in high back boosters that kids love most is also one that parents may want to skip: armrests. Boosters without armrests help “eliminate [a] very common” safety concern: “Studies show that nearly half of all boosters are misused in one specific way, where the vehicle lap belt is routed over the top of one or both of the booster’s armrests," she explains. "This is particularly dangerous as the lap belt is directly over the child’s soft belly, which is exactly where the lap belt should never be." You can learn more about proper seat belt positioning here, and you can find out how different booster seat models hold up in crash tests using the Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance’s compliance database. Readiness The most important thing you will need to consider when choosing a booster seat is your child’s height, weight, and general readiness to transition from a five-point harness front-facing seat to a booster seat. A representative from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tells us that parents should “keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer.” However, their maturity also plays a role in whether or not it’s time to transition. “The biggest mistakes we see parents make is switching to a booster seat before the child is ready and moving out of the booster seat too soon,” a representative from the UNC Highway Safety Research Center says. “Booster seats are intended for older kids who have outgrown the limits of their harnessed car seats and are mature enough to sit correctly in a booster seat. For many kids, this may not be until they are 6 years old or older." Ease of Use for Child By the time your child is in a booster seat, they’re more independent, so consider how easy it will be for them to climb in and out of the seat and whether or not they can reach the seat belt to properly click it in and out as needed. Booster Type There are four different booster seat types, according to the NHTSA: a booster seat with a high back, a backless booster seat, a combination seat, and an all-in-one car seat. Dr. Baer also weighed in on the pros and cons of each design. High Back Lifts the child up so the vehicle’s seat belt fits properlyProvides head and neck support and can minimize whiplashIdeal for vehicles that don’t have headrests or high seat backsKids sit with less leaning and squirming as opposed to backless Backless Boosts the child’s height so the seat belt fits properly Ideal for vehicles that have headrests Does not provide support to child’s neck and head or protect against whiplash Good for any time a child is riding in someone else’s vehicle; taxi, Uber, friend’s parents, family member, etc. Good for kids who have outgrown their high back booster but have not passed the five-step seat belt test The vehicle’s seat is too narrow to fit a high back booster Combination Transitions from a forward-facing car seat with a five-point harness to a high back booster seatGood for parents looking for a seat with longevityHas all of the advantages of a standalone high back booster seat All-in-One Converts from a rear-facing car seat to a forward-facing car seat with harness to a booster seat as the child growsSome, not all, will convert into a backless booster seatOffers all of the benefits of a high back booster and a combination seatThe best option for longevity Your Questions, Answered When can a child stop using a booster seat? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children stay in a booster seat until they are big enough for a seat belt to fit them properly and/or once they’ve reached the height or weight limit for the booster. When do I switch to a booster seat? The longer your child wears a five-point harness, the better, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, so that means you want to keep them in one until they reach their forward-facing car seat’s height or weight limit (whichever comes first). At a minimum, children should be at least 5 years old before transitioning to a booster seat, assuming they haven’t met their car seat’s height or weight limits before then. At what age can a child use a backless booster seat? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children remain in a high back booster seat for as long as possible, as this provides added back and neck support. However, children may be ready to transition to a backless booster seat around age 5 or 6. They should be at least 40 pounds and at least 38 inches tall. Children should be mature enough to be able to sit still without slouching or wiggling around a lot and the seat belt strap should fit correctly across their shoulder and not on their neck. What can I expect to pay for a booster seat? The cost of a booster seat can vary greatly based on the style of seat you're looking for and any extra features that are included. Simple backless booster seats will cost less than a high back booster seat with multiple adjustment options. Booster seats on our list range from $37 to upwards of $250. Who We Are Ashley Ziegler is a full-time parenting writer, mom to a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old, and she has personal experience in researching and using forward-facing car seats and highback booster seats. Key considerations she focused on when selecting these products include personal experience, safety features, longevity, and user reviews. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Parents uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Car seats: information for families. HealthyChildren.org. Car Seats & Booster Seats. nhtsa. New child passenger safety seat guidance advises kids to ride rear-facing as long as possible; drops age criterion. AAP News. HealthyChildren.org. Car seats: Information for families. Is your child ready for a booster seat? Buckle Up for Life.