The 9 Best Booster Seats of 2021

The smartest and safest options out there

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Best Booster Seats

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

Car seats can be confusing, to say the least. There are so many different types and varying guidelines, so it can be really tricky trying to figure out 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. However, since it’s safest to keep kids in a five-point harness for as long as possible, there are a lot of forward-facing car seats that will convert into high-back booster seats when your child is big enough to transition.

When you first start shopping around, remember safety is of the utmost importance, and you should consider how the type of booster seat you choose will fit in your vehicle. And, don’t forget to think about how your child feels about the booster seat, whether it’s easy for them to climb in and out of, or if they’re genuinely ready for the big switch. 

We’ve collected some of the best booster seats on the market to help you narrow down your search a bit. 

Our Top Picks
Safe for babies and usable as they continue to grow, it features four conversions and a 10-position adjustable headrest.
Get the most bang for your buck with this pick, which easily converts into a backless booster and has adjustable details.
A pick that will last until your child is ready to independently sit, it's usable as either a highback or backless booster.
Complete with padded, adjustable armrests, the simple, backless option offers easy installation and transferring between cars.
Traveling parents will appreciate this pick's details designed for long rides, from the contoured seat to the adjustable headrest.
Ideal for big kids between 40 and 110 pounds, it features a six-position adjustable headrest and two sitting modes.
Perfect if you appreciate versatility, it can be used as either a forward-facing car seat with a harness or a highback booster.
Usable from the newborn to highback booster stage, it's complete with a five-point harness and adjustable headrest.
Ideal if your car doesn't have a lot of space, the compact booster doesn't skimp on details with its adjustability and cup holder.

Best Overall: Graco 4Ever DLX 4 in 1 Car Seat

Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Car Seat
Pros
  • Four conversions

  • Adjustable headrest

  • Machine-washable cover

  • Easy installation

Cons
  • Expensive

What makes this seat so great is that you can purchase it way before your child even needs a booster because it has four conversions and is safe for babies as little as 4 pounds all the way up to big kids reaching 120 pounds. There are two booster conversions, either high-back or backless and the seat has a 10-position adjustable headrest which you can easily lift up to ensure the right fit as your child continues to grow.

The seat also has a removable, machine washable cover, two cup holders, and a simple LATCH system so you can quickly and easily install the booster without jeopardizing safety.

What is LATCH?

Most cars manufactured after September 1, 2002, are required to include a LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children). Designed to make installing car seats safe and less complicated, this method allows caregivers to safely install car seats using anchors as opposed to the car's seat belts.

Product Weight: 27.93 pounds | Height Range: Up to 57 inches tall | Weight Range: 4 - 120 pounds (weight ranges vary based on conversion) | Age Range: Not Listed | Convertible: Yes

Best Budget: Graco TurboBooster Highback Booster Seat

Graco TurboBooster Highback Booster Seat
Pros
  • Converts to a backless booster

  • Includes a seatbelt guide

  • Adjustable headrests and armrests

Cons
  • No LATCH system

You will get a lot for your money with this highback booster seat that can convert into a backless booster. It’s safe for kids between 40 and 100 pounds and up to 57 inches tall. The seatbelt guide helps to foster independence as your child is able to safely 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. 

Product Weight: 9 pounds | Height Range: Up to 57 inches | Weight Range: 40 - 100 pounds | Age Range: Not Listed | Convertible: Yes

Best Highback: Graco Affix Highback Booster Seat with Latch System

Graco Affix Highback Booster Seat with Latch System
Pros
  • Converts to a backless booster

  • Adjustable headrest

  • Includes cup holder

  • Includes LATCH

Cons
  • Seat belt guide could be better

This booster seat will last until your child is ready to sit on their own because it can convert from a highback booster to backless. It’s safe for kids between 40 and 100 pounds and 38 to 57 inches tall and can be easily installed thanks to the attached latch.

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. It has a simple design but will keep your child safely buckled in until they’re ready to sit without any booster.

Product Weight: 9.11 pounds (seat) and 1.65 pounds (base) | Height Range: Up to 57 inches (height limit varies by conversion) | Weight Range: 40 - 100 pounds | Age Range: Not Listed | Convertible: Yes

Best Backless: Graco TurboBooster Backless Booster Car Seat

Graco TurboBooster Backless Booster Seat
Pros
  • Adjustable armrests

  • Easy to move between cars

  • Machine-washable cover

Cons
  • No LATCH system

If you just need something simple that will accommodate your growing child, this booster seat is for you. 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 makes moving it from one car to another super easy.

It also features two cup holders and a removable cover that is machine washable. Kids between 43 and 57 inches and 40 to 100 pounds are able to safely buckle in using a seatbelt when sitting in this booster seat. 

Product Weight: 4.41 pounds | Height Range: 43 - 57 inches | Weight Range: 40 - 100 pounds | Age Range: Not Listed | Convertible: No

Best for Travel: Chicco KidFit Zip Air Plus 2-in-1 Belt Positioning Booster Car Seat

Chicco KidFit Zip Air Plus 2-in-1 Belt Positioning Booster Car Seat
Pros
  • Includes LATCH

  • Adjustable headrest

  • Machine-washable cover

Cons
  • Expensive

With this booster, your kid will be set on road trips thanks to the comfortable contoured seat, 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 your big kid’s phone.

If there’s a spill, the seat cover easily zips off and is safe to toss into the washing machine and 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 for easy installation, and even has pop-out armrest covers. 

Product Weight: 12.1 pounds | Height Range: 38 - 57 inches | Weight Range: 40 - 110 pounds (weight limit varies by conversion) | Age Range: 4Y+| Convertible: Yes

Best for Big Kids: Evenflo Big Kid LX High Back Booster Car Seat

Evenflo Big Kid LX High Back Booster Car Seat
Pros
  • Converts to a backless booster

  • Machine-washable

  • Comes in various colors

Cons
  • No LATCH system

Big kids between 40 and 110 pounds and 40 and 57 inches tall can safely ride in this two-in-one booster. It can be set up as a high back or backless booster and has a six-position adjustable headrest so it will grow along with your child and it has seat belt guides to ensure they are safely buckled in.

The booster also features two cup holders the keep their cups and snacks at an arms reach. It is available in several color options and has an easy-to-remove cover that is safe to toss into the washing machine.

Product Weight: 8 pounds | Height Range: 40 - 57 inches | Weight Range: 40 - 110 pounds | Age Range: 4Y+ | Convertible: Yes

Best 2-in-1: Britax Grow with You ClickTight Harness-2-Booster

Britax Grow with You ClickTight Harness-2-Booster
Pros
  • Converts to a highback booster

  • Machine-washable cover

  • Adjustable headrest

Cons
  • Expensive

This seat is safe for kids between 25 and 125 pounds and can be used as either a forward-facing car seat with a five-point harness or as a highback booster. Your kiddo can ride in comfort thanks to the four cup and snack holder and two reclining positions.

Don't worry about them creating a crumb coating on the cover as you can easily remove and toss it in the wash. The ClickTight technology makes it super easy to install while the nine-position adjustable headrest and two buckle positions grow with your child. 

Product Weight: 25 pounds | Height Range: Up to 65 inches (height limits vary by conversion) | Weight Range: 25 - 120 pounds (weight limits vary by conversion) | Age Range: Not Listed | Convertible: Yes

Best for Toddlers: Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 Car Seat

Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 Car Seat
Pros
  • Includes LATCH

  • Adjustable headrest

  • Machine-washable cover

Cons
  • Expensive

This is another seat that you can purchase when your baby is still a newborn and use it through the highback booster stage. It’s designed with an easy latch so it can be safely and easily installed in cars, has two cup holders, and an adjustable 10-position headrest.

Once they’re ready, you can turn your toddler forward-facing with the five-point harness and then ultimately convert it into a highback booster with the seatbelt. This seat comes with an easily removable machine washable cover and is safe for kids up to 100 pounds or 57 inches tall. 

Product Weight: 21 pounds | Height Range: Up to 57 inches (height limits vary by conversion) | Weight Range: 4 - 100 pounds (weight limits vary by conversion) | Age Range: Not Listed | Convertible: Yes

Best for Small Cars: UPPAbaby ALTA Booster Seat

UPPAbaby ALTA Booster Seat
Pros
  • Small footprint

  • Adjustable headrest

  • Includes LATCH

  • Machine-washable cover

Cons
  • Not convertible

If you drive a small vehicle this booster won’t take up the entire backseat because of its compact design. It has a non-converting high-back design with a seven-position adjustable headrest, cup holder, and a seatbelt guide to help your child learn how to buckle themselves in safely.

Designed for big kids, this seat attaches easily and securely with the LATCH system. You can easily remove the seat cover using the zipper on the back and toss it into the washing machine whenever it needs to be cleaned. 

Product Weight: 16.6 pounds | Height Range: 38 - 57 inches | Weight Range: 40 - 100 pounds | Age Range: 6 - 10Y | Convertible: No

Final Verdict

Your child will be comfortable and safe in any of the boosters on this list; however, our favorite is the Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat (view at Amazon) because of its quality, longevity, and ease of use. 

What to Look for 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 US 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/boosters you’re trying to fit. You may need a seat that is more narrow in order to safely install the seat. 

Alisa Baer, MD Pediatrician & Co-Founder of The Car Seat Lady, LLC, says that one of the features in highback boosters that kids love most is one parent may want to skip: armrests. This is because their design alone helps to “eliminate [a] very common” safety concern. She explains, “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. 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". Choosing a seat without armrests helps to eliminate this common installation error.

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 Verywell Family 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 University of North Carolina (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 seatbelt to properly click it in and out as needed. 

Additionally, you might want to have your child help you find the best booster for them. “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" says the UNC Highway Safety Research Center.

This doesn’t mean you don’t have to relinquish total control, though, do your research and narrow your choices down to two or three designs that meet all of your needs, and then have your child choose which of them they like best. 

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 seat.

High Back

  • Lifts the child up so the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (NHTSA)
  • Provides head and neck support and can minimize whiplash (NHTSA / Dr. Baer)
  • Ideal for vehicles that don’t have headrests or high seat backs (NHTSA)
  • Kids sit with less leaning and squirming as opposed to backless (Dr. Baer)

Backless

  • Boosts the child’s height so the seat belt fits properly (NHTSA)
  • Ideal for vehicles that have headrests (NHTSA)
  • Does not provide support to child’s neck and head or protect against whiplash (NHTSA / Dr. Baer)
  • Good for any time a child is riding in someone else’s vehicle; taxi, Uber, friend’s parents, family member, etc. (Dr. Baer)
  • Good for kids who have outgrown their highback booster but have not passed the five-step seatbelt test (Dr. Baer)
  • The vehicle’s seat is too narrow to fit a highback booster (Dr. Baer)

Combination

  • Transitions from a forward-facing car seat with a five-point harness to a highback booster seat (NHTSA)
  • Good for parents looking for a seat with longevity (NHTSA)
  • Has all of the advantages of a standalone highback 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 grows (NHTSA)
  • Some, not all, will convert into a backless booster seat
  • Offers all of the benefits of a highback booster and a combination seat
  • The best option for longevity

FAQs 

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 seatbelt 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 five years old before transitioning to a booster seat, assuming they haven’t met their car seat’s height or weight limits before then.

Why Trust Verywell Family? 

Ashley Ziegler is a full-time parenting writer, mom to a 1 and a 4-year-old, and she has personal experience in researching and using forward-facing car seats and high-back booster seats. Key considerations she focused on when selecting these products include personal experience, safety features, longevity, and user reviews.

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4 Sources
Verywell Family 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.
  1. HealthyChildren.org. Car seats: Information for families. Updated February 8, 2021.

  2. Car seats and booster seats | nhtsa.

  3. AAP News. New child passenger safety seat guidance advises kids to ride rear-facing as long as possible; drops age criterion. Updated August 30, 2018.

  4. Is your child ready for a booster seat? Buckle Up for Life.