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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Best Booster Seats

By Jenny D, Charlotte Smarty Pants

As most of us moms know, children car seat safety can be so confusing. When do you turn them around? When do they graduate to regular sized car seat? When are they big enough for the booster seat? What is a convertible car seat? Our previous article covered most of these questions, but new booster seat crash tests just came out from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. They broke down the list to Best Bets, Good Bets, and Not Recommended.

For a proper fit, boosters elevate a child so that a regular safety belt will fit them better. The lap belt is supposed to fit across the upper thigh, not across the abdomen which is more likely to be injured in a crash than bony structures like the pelvis. The shoulder belt should cross snugly over the middle of a child’s shoulder and this makes it more comfortable to use. The better the fit, the less likely it is to move behind the back or under an arm. Also you can buy boosters as highbacks or as backless – and both types ranked within the best bets and good bets.

The Best Bets are most likely to position lap and shoulder belts in the right place:

Britax Frontier
Clek Oobr
Combi Dakota, backless with clip
Cosco Junvenile Pronto
Eddie Bauer Auto Booster
Evenflo Big Kid Amp, backless with clip
Maxi-Cosi Rodi XR
Recaro Vivo
Recaro Young Sport

Good Bets have acceptable lap and shoulder fit:

Britax Parkway SG
Combi Kobuk, backless with clip
Evenflo Symphony 65
Graco TurboBooster SafeSeat 3, Sachi
Graco TurboBooster SafeSeat Step 3, Wander
Maxi-Cosi Rodi

Parents should avoid buying the seats on the Not Recommended list because they do not provide good belt fit. The institute suggests that you do not throw it away if you have one of these because any booster seat is better than not one at all – so just replace it when you can.

Alpha Omega
Alpha Omega Elite
Alpha Omega Luxe Echelon
Combi Kobuk
Eddie Buer Deluxe
Eddie Bauer Deluxe 3-in-1
Evenflow Express
Evenflow Sightseer
Harmony Secure Comfort Deluxe, backless with clip
Safety 1st All-in-One
Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite

Do any of you smarties have any experience with the seats mentioned above?


Anonymous said...

Does anyone know at what age or weight a child can stop using the back of a booster seat and just use the bottom part?


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Summer said...

Valerie, I think the recommendation is if your car seatbacks have neck support for whiplash protection you can select a backless booster. Also, your child needs to be tall enough that the shoulder harness hits their shoulder, Many people prefer the high back booster because it positions the shoulder belt properly on the child's body. I will also say there was a very persuasive and informative article on TSP about the importance of keeping children restrained in a five-point harness and rear facing as long as possible.

aspohn said...

LOVE, love, love my Recaro Vivo! I hadn't heard of it until I started asking around to friends with a little bit older kids. Made by a company that builds sports car and commercial vehicle seats, Recaro makes an extremely sturdy seat that exceeds U.S. safety standards. The back is removable and converts to just a bottom booster but takes a lot to detach...not collapsible like other seats, i.e. Graco.
Hope this helps!

Kathleen T said...

I use the Evenflow Big kid (and love it), but with the back attached. Any idea on why this is a best bet only backless?

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