According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), hundreds of lives are saved every year by proper restraint systems for children 4 years old or younger involved in car accidents. Car seats are so vital to child safety that every state has laws requiring proper restraint.
As children get older and outgrow traditional car seats, booster seats become an essential next step in maintaining their safety. Booster seats elevate an older child to a level where seat belts can be properly secured across the strongest parts of the body — the chest and hips. One of the leading manufacturers of car booster seats is the Boston-based Evenflo Company. The top pick is the Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat for its comfort, ease of installation and overall safety record.
According to the NHTSA, children 8 to 12 years old need a booster seat until they outgrow the manufacturer’s size limitations. They should only use a car’s seat belt system when it can fit them properly. That means that the lap belt is across their thighs, not their stomach. Also, the shoulder belt should cross the shoulder and chest, not the face or neck.
High-back booster seats offer an extra level of safety with the side supports for the head, which can prevent whiplash. No-back booster seats are lightweight and inexpensive. They are ideal for smaller cars and families who have multiple children and multiple cars where the seats will be interchanged often. Remember that a child sitting on a no-back booster seat should have their ears level with the car’s seat back to prevent any face or neck injuries.
A third option is a combination car booster seat that includes a harness system for when children are younger. It basically is a one-and-done seat from the time a child is 2 years old and requires the harness system, but then can be transitioned to a high-back booster and even a no-back booster seat in more advanced systems. These products are much more expensive, but will take care of all your needs with one product.
Some Evenflo booster seats have an adjustable latch that fits different heights, which leads to greater safety and comfort. The desired height is usually found with a one-hand adjustment lever that is easy to use.
Many Evenflo booster car seat owners find the products easy to install. Detailed product manuals provide step-by-step instructions and there are both telephone and online customer support options. Keep in mind that no-back booster seats are easier to install since they often are not directly attached to the car’s seat but held in place by the seat belts.
High-back booster seats offer the added protection of padded “wings” that curve out to protect the face and neck. Make sure that the design of the booster seat does not push your child’s head forward in an uncomfortable position.
Many Evenflo booster seats feature integrated cup holders for drinks and snacks. These are very popular with parents and children alike and can easily be detached and washed.
Evenflo no-back booster seats start at $25, with high-back booster seats priced between $40-$60. Two-in-one car and booster seat combination products cost between $70-$100, and three-in-one units run $170 or higher.
A. Through the Evenflo website, you can set up an appointment with a trained staff member who will walk you through a video demonstration of how to correctly install the car booster seat.
A. An Evenflo 2-in-1 car booster seat features a harnessed car seat for younger children and then converts to a high-back booster seat that works with the car belt system. The 3-in-1 set offers the same transition, but includes the added feature of becoming a no-back booster for even bigger kids. No-back boosters are sold separately and affordably if your original child car seat is not a combination unit.
What you need to know: This booster seat has two modes to accommodate children at different ages and is widely praised for its comfort.
What you’ll love: A five-point harness secures children at least 2 years old and converts to a high-back booster seat for children at least 4 years old with a weight span of 22 to 110 pounds. Dual integrated cup holders and a removable/washable seat pad are bonuses.
What you should consider: Cup holders have to be attached, but their installation is relatively easy.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: When children are ready to use the car’s belt system, this is a comfortable and easy-to-install booster that gives them the lift they need.
What you’ll love: There are two modes of forward-facing use for children at least 4 years old and 40 to 57 inches tall. The included belt clip ensures a safe position for the car safety belt to fit your child’s shoulder. A one-hand adjustment provides six different height positions.
What you should consider: Some minor concerns were reported about overall fit for children that might be extra tall for their age.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: This lightweight two-in-one combination booster car seat uses a latch system for easy installation and removal between vehicles.
What you’ll love: The dual mode protects harnessed children 22 to 40 pounds, and the belt position secures children 40 to 110 pounds. Side impact and structural integrity are twice the federal standards. Harness can be cleaned with soap and water.
What you should consider: There were comfort issues raised when used for long car rides.
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Steve Ganger writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.