As the proud parent of a four-year-old son, we are on the verge of deciding the best time for them to get into a booster seat. He’s just under the weight requirements on our side, but it is still something that is looming on the horizon. But how can we be confident that we pick the best toddler booster seat?
To answer that question, we’ve conducted some research on some of the best brands in the area. These brands prioritize the same things that parents prioritize: safety, ease of installation, and comfort. Below, we will get into the details of finding a toddler booster seat that works for you.
How We Picked The Best Toddler Booster Seat
Below are the six categories we will focus on to rate the best toddler car seat.
- Safety Features
- Ease of Cleaning
- Customer Experience
- Ease of Installation
Same as any other car seat, toddler seats also have to meet safety standards. These features may be crash-tested, but the position of the seat belt is critical in this case. It brings us to ease of installation, which will make it easier to ensure a safe experience.
The next part of our review brings us to some convenience measures in the form of comfort and ease of cleaning. If you know kids, the combination of juice, chocolate, and other snacks will probably stain your seat. It will need to be easy to handwash or machine wash. Also, your kids are not going to want to sit in an uncomfortable toddler seat.
Finally, customer experience and cost are on our list of concerns. A company’s ability to address the controversy and standard issues is essential. If they sacrificed that with a lower price, it tends to show in the quality of materials and customer service. There has to be a balance of cost-effectiveness and customer service.
Best Overall: Graco SlimFit 3 In 1 Convertible Car Seat
- Follows the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Guidelines
- Handles weights from five to one hundred pounds
- Includes back-facing, front-facing, and booster seats
- Machine washable cover
- Steel reinforced frame
The best kind of car seats is those that can cover a wide range of ages and weights. The Graco SlimFit does the work of a booster, a front-facing, and a back-facing option. It is part of the reason why this model is our best overall choice among toddler booster seats.
The seat has a durable versatility that can handle weights from five to one hundred points. It follows proven safety standards set b the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It has been through the crash tests to prove it.
The steel-reinforced frame also gives it a durability that is much greater than standard car seats. “SlimFit” also means that this car can fit in a vehicle of any size, making it great for smaller cars.
People have address concerns with the location of a safety sticker that can burn the back of their children. But this can typically be solved through a car seat cover or by removing the label. Overall, it is still the best toddler booster seat based on our ratings.
Runner-Up: Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat
- Weight capacity of birth to 65 pounds
- Has side impact resistance and has an energy-absorbing feature for deadlier crashes
- Has a front-facing and back-facing booster seat
- Removable cover for cleaning
- V-shaped anchors for extra security
With a weight capacity of birth to 65 pounds, this is one of the most versatile car sets I’ve ever come across. It also has seven different recline positions that work with your baby as they grow older. It is an excellent choice for our runner up among the best seats.
The key in this model is safety, as it has a layer of side-impact resistance and comes with an energy-absorbing material. The crashes that would normally jolt your car seat will not affect this one. Combine this with v-shaped anchors, and you can be doubly sure that the car seat will not budget.
Many customers have expressed concerns regarding the quality of the material and the length of straps. There is a handful who have expressed their concerns with Britax. These seem to be limited incidents, given most people’s customer experience.
For those who are concerned with a robust design, Britax is likely the king of this area. It has a wide variety of colour and design options that will fit with any car. This feature, combined with high-quality safety devices, makes it an excellent choice for your children.
Best Budget Pick: Evenflo Maestro Sport Harness Booster Car Seat
- Front-facing booster to backless booster
- 22 to 110 lbs
- Machine-washable car seat pad
- Crash tested by customers who have high remarks
- Cup holders
The Evenflo Maestro Sports Harness Booster Car Seat delves into the higher weights. It can handle bigger children from 22 to 110 pounds. It transitions between front-facing seats to backless seats to include a child’s most active years.
The removable pad is machine washable, making for easy cleaning. It is also pretty comfortable with cup holders that work. So it is incredibly convenient for busy parents. It is also the most cost-effective model on this list, making it an easy pick for your budget.
Current customer experience also receives pretty high marks, as some parents have unintentionally crash-tested this. Their experience was to compliment the integrity of the car seat, which remained stationary despite a side collision. It is likely because of the easy installation of this car seat.
Many parents have expressed their concerns about the quality of the material. They have stated it is either uncomfortable for their child or made of flimsy plastic. These seem to be individual experiences, as the bulk of people have tested the device to work well.
Graco Tranzitions 3 In 1 Harness Booster Seat
- Weight goes from 22 to 100 pounds.
- Goes from five-point harness to front-facing seat to backless booster
- New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) crash tested to quality.
- Lightweight and portable
- Machine washable seat pads
The Graco Tranzitions may have an unusual way of spelling things, but that doesn’t take away from their ability to make a quality and cost-effective product. It is also accredited by the NCAP, which crash tests car seats as they apply to new cars. So safety is still a top concern given the lower price.
The Tranzitions is also a lightweight and portable model. If you need to move it between multiple cars, it is relatively easy to do so. The system will train them into putting belts on at a young age.
There are built-in plastic cup holders to make sure that your child can take a drink on the way. It is also has a machine-washable pad making sure that it is simple cleaning. It is another product that is pretty good for busy parents.
There are a few customers who have stated that this is difficult to tighten, requiring additional power beyond what would seem reasonable. Others have also noted that the back falls off a bit too quickly. These incidents are few and far between, but Graco’s customer service line is adept at addressing these sorts of issues.
KidsEmbrace 2-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat
- Handles kids between 22 and 100 pounds
- Cool Marvel characters design
- Adjustable headrest
- Meets all requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS)
- Front-facing and backless booster
If you asked your son or daughter if they wanted to sit in Spiderman’s lap, they would probably agree without hesitation. This booster allows them to take their favourite Marvel characters and sit with them in the car. It does this while remaining at a reasonable cost, considering the other features.
KidsEmbrace has still prioritized where it needs to be: safety. Their product has been tested under the FMVSS standard 213, meaning that it is for withstanding crashes. The Incredible Hulk seat seems to be the most appropriate considering the power of this seat.
It also emphasizes comfort with an adjustable headset. It transitions between a front-facing and backless booster that jumps between 22 to 100 pounds. It is pretty versatile.
Customers have addressed their concerns regarding straps that are a bit too loose. Again, the reviews point towards mostly positive experiences.
The worst day of your kid’s life will be when you have to remove the back. You will need to de-torso that Marvel character to make it backless.
How To Properly Install a Toddler Booster Seat
Installing a toddler booster seat is a bit different when compared to any other model. As a result, our installation advice will focus on the front-facing seats and the backless boosters. Instructions should be with all of these models.
Installing a Front-facing Booster
- Read the instructions
- Place the car seat in the backseat while it is facing forward.
- In a seatbelt front-facing seat, you will want to find a gap in the back of the car seat that you can loop the seatbelt through. Be sure it is snug. Lock the belt if possible.
- If the car and car seat both have anchors, you will be able to snap them in on two locations. There will be hidden hooks between the top and bottom cushions. If the car has no trunk, there should be a leash that you can loop over the seat and onto the distant anchor at the bottom of the back of the chair.
- Use both if they are available. Ensure the car seat will not budge an inch. Too much movement will possibly throw your child in the case of a severe accident.
There will also be another leash coming from the front. It is a bit less familiar for the seat to have a front-leash. Use it if you have it. There is no such thing as too much in this case.
Installing a Backless Booster Seat
Many of the instructions we have already mentioned are applicable in this section. Ensuring the anchors are in there correctly is essential. However, the key to a safe booster seat comes from the position of the seatbelt.
You know your child is the right size when the shoulder strap rests comfortably on the chest. The lower half of the belt should rest along their thighs. It should look as if you were putting on the seatbelt. If it does not look right, you may be transitioning them too early.
What About Rear-facing car seats?
Many of the same areas that we discussed in the front-facing section will apply here. Ensure that the seatbelt is through the loops, and the anchors are secure wherever available. In the case of babies, they need to be slightly reclining so that they can breathe properly.
Pay Attention to Weight and Height Limits
Weight limits are critical when it comes to making sure that your child is safe in their seat. Below is a list of the car seats we reviewed today alongside their weight limits.
- Graco SlimFit 3 In 1 Convertible Car Seat: 5 to 100 lbs
- Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat: Birth to 65
- Evenflo Maestro Sport Harness Booster Car Seat: 22 to 100
- Graco Tranzitions 3 In 1 Harness Booster Seat: 22 to 100
- KidsEmbrace 2-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat: 22 to 100.
You will also want to apply the same logic to different types of car seats. A rear-facing car seat is for those who are two and younger. A Front-facing car seat is for those who are below 40 pounds and between two and four. Anything beyond that, but under 4’9”, is typically reserved for booster seats.
By following these guidelines, you can ensure you are doing your part to ensure your child’s safety. If you have any concerns, please contact the customer service departments of your seat’s company.
Do I Need To Be Worried About State Regulations?
Each state has a different set of rules that apply to a variety of issues. Car seats are no different, as each state will have its own rules when it comes to child safety.
If you have any concerns about those limits, it would be best if you contact your state’s DMV. You may also lookup your state’s rules on Google, but be sure to utilize a trusted source. Some states are pickier than others. For example, California has laws dictating the quality of the seat, height of the child, and weight. Many companies will have already considered this.
Conclusion – Best Toddler Booster Seat
As someone with a four-year-old on the age of transition, I’m in the same shoes as you on deciding on the best car seat. In this case, this list helps me as much as it does you. The entirety of this list considers our priority: safety.
All of the seats meet some safety standards. There are also other concerns, which include ease-of-cleaning and installation. With this in mind, always pick the car seat based on you and your family’s priority. Among those on this list, any of these will be a good option that won’t break your budget.