What every best Booster Seats has:
- Good safety ratings and features.
- High height and weight limits.
- An easy-to-use harness or belt guide.
Certified child passenger safety technicians write detailed reviews of popular car seats on CarseatBlog that detail pros and cons, important features and how seats fit a variety of kids and vehicles. They base recommendations on their experiences helping others install and use seats correctly as well as their own experiences as parents.
Baby Bargains reviews a wide array of baby gear and common baby brands. Booster seats are recommended based on expert testing, parents' reviews, and information from manufacturers and retailers. The site also assigns letter grades to brands within particular categories, helping shoppers get a feel for manufacturers to seek out and avoid on certain products overall.
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. Reviewers note pros and cons, how well the seats fit different kids and vehicles, price, and other important information.
BabyGearLab's systematic, thorough tests of booster seats and other gear are especially helpful for parents who are trying to compare popular models. Testers rank seats on the basis of crash-test performance, ease of use, weight and size, comfort and quality. Unfortunately, the rankings don't include several popular budget-friendly options like the Graco TurboBooster.
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 5-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.
The staff of Consumer Reports crash tests more than 50 belt-positioning booster seats, including high-back and backless models, as well as combination harness-to-booster seats in a separate report. 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.
Baby Center's annual Moms' Picks Awards bases its winning booster seats on results of a survey of thousands of parents. The site doesn't always review each seat in depth, but the picks are valuable for parents who want to know which products are well-liked during day-to-day use.
Lucie's List recommends the best baby gear for new parents, and its car-seat coverage is particularly helpful since founder Meg Collins is a former Child Passenger Safety Technician. The site focuses on combination booster seats at a variety of price points and provides a helpful overview of when parents should make the switch from a harnessed seat to a belt-positioning booster.
Amazon is one of a parent's best resources for real-world reviews of booster seats. Reviews are often quite detailed and even-handed. However, expensive seats may have fewer reviews than cheaper seats, and reviewers sometimes wrongly fault a product for bad experiences with a seller or shipping. On the plus side, most reviews tend to be thorough and helpful, with specific plusses and minuses of a product.
Baby List is a universal baby-gear registry that expectant parents can use with any online retailer. Editors base their booster-seat picks on what's popular with users and their own research. Picks include recommendations helpful in several situations, including the best budget pick and one that's best for families who need a narrow seat.
Walmart is a valuable resource for reviews of the more budget-friendly booster seat brands, including Cosco, Evenflo, Graco, Baby Trend, Harmony and Safety 1st. Accompanying reviews range from brief to detailed, but they typically aren't as thorough as the ones found at Amazon.
Like Walmart, Target tends to feature reviews that are less substantive than Amazon's, but this is a good place to seek out reviews on both budget-friendly and mid-range seats. Featured brands include Graco, Evenflo, Diono, Chicco and Britax.