Backless Booster Seats v High-backed Booster Seats
Before I consider which are the best backless booster car seats, I should say something about the 2 different types of booster seat that are available.
Backless booster seats are simply cushions that raise the height of your child so that there is a better chance of getting a proper shoulder belt fit. They also come with lap belt positioning arms.
High-backed booster seats raise the height of your child, but also come with shoulder belt positioning mechanisms, lap belt positioning arms and side impact protection padding.
I have previously made my views very clear on this issue, but I will say it again … for as long as your child remains within the recommended height and weight limits, they should use a high-backed booster seat!
High-backed booster seats are much safer for children than backless booster seats due to the following factors:
- High-backed boosters have a mechanism for positioning the shoulder belt safely
- High-backed boosters have side impact protection features
- High-backed boosters help to prevent your child from slouching / sleeping in an unsafe position
Having said all of that, I know that there are some people that will still want to buy backless booster seats either as a regular day-to-day seat or as a cost-effective extra seat for taxi cab rides, grandparent’s vehicles, going on holidays etc.
I can certainly see the sense in having a couple of these lying around for occasional use since taking 2-3 high-backed booster seats on a plane or trying to persuade your local cab driver to wait while you install them is probably not going to work!
However, you should always bear in mind that (depending upon the model), backless booster seats are NOT suitable for any child that weighs less than 40 lbs or is under 40 inches in height.
If you think that you might be interested in a high-backed booster seat instead, you can read about them here.
You should also consider the combination harness to booster seats reviewed here.
Which are the Best Backless Booster Seats?
There are 2 backless booster seats that stand out from the crowd for me and both of them have been awarded “Best Bet” status by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
The IIHS recently published the results of their booster seat tests. These tests evaluated the quality of the belt fit for each model in a variety of different vehicle types and the seats were then placed into 1 of 3 categories: Best Bet, Good Bet, Not Recommended.
Those in the “Good Bet” category are perfectly fine to purchase, but those in the “Not Recommended” should be avoided in my opinion. The seats to be avoided are the “Safety 1st All in One” and the “Safety 1st Omega Elite”.
2 “Best Bet” Booster Seats
#1 Graco Affix Backless Booster
The Graco Affix Backless Booster seat is designed to accommodate children from 40 – 100 lbs and from 40 – 57 inches tall. The recommended age range is between 4 and 10 years. Please note that your child should fit within all 3 of these brackets before even considering using one of these seats.
The seat is secured in your vehicle using the lower LATCH anchors and comes with a very handy front adjustment strap that means that you don’t have to reach behind the seat to make alterations.
As for convenience, the seat comes with a drinks holder, hideaway storage compartment and the cover is machine washable.
#2 Graco TurboBooster
The Graco TurboBooster seat seat is designed to accommodate children from 40 – 100 lbs and from 40 – 57 inches tall. The recommended age range is between 4 and 10 years. Please note that your child should fit within all 3 of these brackets before even considering using one of these seats.
This seat does NOT come with LATCH. However, this is not really a safety issue since the LATCH connectors on a booster seat are primarily present to keep the seat in place between uses. In the event of a collision, it is the seatbelt that restrains your child rather than the LATCH mechanism. Nonetheless, I can say from personal experience that the LATCH connectors are a great convenience feature and greatly assist your child to get in and out of the booster seat without help.
It comes with 2 retractable drink/snack compartments and the cover is machine washable.
You can buy the Graco TurboBooster here.
Other “Best Bet” Backless Booster Seats
Whilst I am a big fan of the Graco seats, there are some other “Best Bet” Backless booster seats to consider, including:
After purchasing any child car seat, you should always read the User Manual thoroughly before using it. It is also advisable to visit your local Fire Department or NHTSA Child Car Seat Inspection Centre to ensure that the seat is definitely suitable for your child’s specific requirements and that you have installed it correctly. These services are usually provided free of charge.
You can find your nearest NHTSA Centre here.
Do You Need More Help?
If you need any further advice or assistance whatsoever, please feel free to contact me and I will do my very best to help.
If you have any feedback about my “Best Backless Booster Car Seats″ post, please feel free to leave a comment in the box below, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org