Best Booster Seats for Kids From Consumer Reports' Tests

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

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Children sitting in booster seats in a minivan. Photo: John Powers/Consumer Reports

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).

More on Car Seats

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

Check out our full booster seat ratings.

Emily A. Thomas, PhD

At Consumer Reports, I've found the perfect blend for my love of injury biomechanics, forensics, and kids as an automotive safety engineer for child passenger safety. For me there's no greater reward than helping families keep their little ones safe and coming home to put my advice into practice with my own precious little boy. Between church activities, my big Indian family, and exploring new places with the hubby and baby—my life and my heart are full.