Booster Seats: Ratings of Sources
Certified child passenger safety technicians run CarSeatBlog.com. Recommendations list crucial features, pros and cons, and often link to more detailed reviews. Editors base their recommendations from both their work helping others install and use seats correctly as well as their own experiences as parents. They note that their picks are subjective and not based on crash testing, and they do not include newer seats that they may not have much experience with.
"Baby Bargains" reviews baby gear and common baby brands. The authors review popular booster seats based on expert testing and parents' reviews, as well as information from manufacturers and retailers. Their website offers up-to-date information, additional reviews, recall information and forums for parents to discuss baby products.
This website, run by professional child passenger safety technicians and instructors, names a number of booster seats to its recommended list based on technicians' experiences with a wide range of seats. Short reviews note pros and cons, and the page links to longer, more detailed reviews.
The IIHS evaluates booster seats on how well they make a seat belt fit an average 6-year-old. Engineers measure belt fit on a crash dummy. Seats are rated best bets, good bets, check fit or not recommended based on those measurements. While the picks are unbiased, they do not take into account anything other than belt fit or do any kind of crash testing.
NHTSA rates car seats on a five-star scale for ease of use, focusing on label content and clarity, instruction content and clarity, ease of installation and ease of securing a child. While the picks are unbiased, they do not take into account anything other than ease of use, although, that's important for proper fit, which is the key to safety.
BabyCenter.com names an overall winner and four finalists in the booster seat category of its annual Moms' Picks Awards, based on results of a survey of more than 8,000 parents. Picks are accompanied by editors' reviews and ratings, and quotes from parents. Special awards are also given for ease of use, quality, looks and space-saving abilities. The site also has in-depth reviews on other seats.
Amazon.com is one of a parent's best resources for real-world reviews of booster seats. Reviews are often quite detailed and even-handed. Expensive seats may have fewer reviews than cheaper seats. Prospective buyers should read carefully, since reviewers sometimes wrongly fault a product for bad experiences with a seller or shipping. Readers should also beware of older reviews, which might discuss an older version of a product with flaws that have been addressed.
The staff of ConsumerReports.org crash tests 13 combination and 33 belt-positioning booster seats, including high-back and backless models. The ratings are reliable and unbiased, and they include editors' highs and lows for each seat -- helpful for parents who want a quick summary of each seat. However, the tests appear to be dated.
Reviewers at Walmart.com rate booster seats on a 5-star scale. Accompanying reviews range from brief to detailed, but they typically aren't as thorough as the ones found at Amazon.com. Still, the site is an especially good resource for feedback on budget seats, some of which are Walmart exclusives.