Best Booster Seats for Kids From Consumer Reports' Tests

·2 min read

Our experts examine dozens of models for safety, belt fit, and structural integrity

By Emily A. Thomas, PhD

Children pass many milestones on their road to adulthood, including going from an infant car seat to sitting independently with a seat belt. A key step on that journey is a booster seat, which gives the child enough height to position the car’s seat belt most effectively.

All boosters might seem alike, but our extensive testing of 44 models shows that there are significant differences among models and types (see our full booster seat ratings).

That’s why we evaluate the structural integrity of booster car seats in our simulated crash tests and assess how the seat belt fits on a test dummy representing an average-sized 6-year-old. The booster seats are subjected to a simulated 35-mph frontal crash to ensure that load-bearing components and key positioning features remain intact. All booster models we rated fared well in our crash structural integrity tests.

Proper belt fit is crucial. We check belt fit in five vehicles with different seating and belt geometries. (The shoulder belt should cross the middle of the collarbone and sternum, and the lap belt should sit across the upper thighs.) In our fit-to-vehicle evaluations, we also simulate typical child movement by moving the dummy around to determine whether the belt remains in place.

We also rate each booster for how easy it is to use, which includes an evaluation of its labels and instructions.

Below, we present our top booster seat picks, meaning those models that stood out in their categories. A few are designated as CR Best Buys for their combination of performance and price.

High-Back-to-Backless Boosters

High-Back-Only Boosters

Backless-Only Boosters

More from Consumer Reports:
Top pick tires for 2016
Best used cars for $25,000 and less
7 best mattresses for couples

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2022, Consumer Reports, Inc.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting