We all know how fast kids grow up. For many of us, it seems like we were just learning how to install their infant car seat so we could bring them home from the hospital! And before you know it, your child is not so tiny anymore, maxing out their convertible car seat that once seemed so big for them. When that day comes, and it will for all of us unfortunately, it's time to transition to a booster seat! But if you're like me, booster seat shopping can be overwhelming! From backless boosters to high-backs that double as a forward-facing car seat, it can be difficult to know what to choose!
To help you, we've compared four of the TOP booster seats on the market to ensure you find the right seat for your kiddo! Let's get started!
The UPPAbaby ALTA offers a stylish seat for elementary age kiddos and pre-teens alike! Coming in five gorgeous colors, your child is sure to feel excited as they pick their very own seat that fits their style and aesthetic. And for us moms? We get the peace of mind that they will be kept safe at all times!
The ALTA is designed with UPPAbaby's SecureFit™ belt routing system that ensures proper seat belt positioning at all times. This feature is extremely important for small children that may be more likely to *submarine in the event of a crash. (See FAQ's below for more info on submarining.)
UPPAbaby also incorporated high-end foam in the headrest and Side Impact Protection Pods on the exterior of the seat to increase head and neck protection in a collision.
The rigid latch connectors also make install simple and straightforward with guaranteed tightness and alignment. This is a great feature to have because it allows you to not only install it within your own vehicle in seconds, but allows you to switch your booster from vehicle to vehicle without any sweat!
And last but not least: comfort! When it comes to keeping your child happy in the car, the UPPAbaby ALTA will NOT fail you or your child! With a spacious design that prevents your child from feeling claustrophobic to the dual armrests and cupholder that can be positioned on either side, your child is sure to feel comfy and relaxed on daily errands or long car trips alike!
UPPAbaby ALTA Breakdown:
Weight/Height Range: 40 to 100 pounds; 38 to 57 inches tall (approximately age 6-10 years)
Product Weight: 16 pounds
Product Dimensions: 20” L x 19” W x 25.5–33” H (from lowest to highest headrest position)
Fabric: Durable, soft material that can be quickly removed with the zipper design
Fabric Care Instructions: Machine wash on cold with mild detergent on a gentle cycle; Lay flat to dry
Colors: JAKE (Black Melange), MORGAN (Charcoal Melange), SASHA (Grey Melange with Pink Accent), NOA (Navy Melange), LUCCA (Teal Melange)
Installation: Rigid LATCH connectors
Headrest: Adjustable, 7-position headrest
Harness Mode: No
Backless Mode: No
Expiration/Warranty: 10 years from manufacture date to expiration; Limited lifetime warranty
Bonus Features/Accessories Included: Dual armrest; Removable cupholder that can be used on either side
Additional Links: UPPAbaby ALTA User Manual; Instructional Installation Video
Britax Grow With You ClickTight Plus
The Britax Grow With You ClickTight Plus Harness-2-Booster Seat is one of the best seats for a smooth and easy transition between convertible car seat to booster! With an incorporated 5-point harness, you get an extended use seat, allowing you to use it in car seat mode for your toddler, then transition to a belt-positioning booster for the remainder of their childhood!
When it comes to its safety features, Britax has gone above and beyond to incorporate the best car seat technologies currently found on the market! In particular, the patented SafeCell technology with three layers of side impact protection and energy-absorbing foam creates the safest environment for your child in the event of a collision, protecting their head, neck, and body from injury.
Additionally, the ClickTight technology for harness mode ensures you have a secure install every single time, leaving you with the confidence that you are doing everything in your power to keep your kiddos safe!
The fabrics are ultra-plush as well, while the extra padding in the headrest provides a great support for car naps! The four snack and cup holders are another unique feature, allowing your kids to keep ALL their goodies or even crayons/markers close by at all times during those long car rides.
Britax Grow With You ClickTight Plus Breakdown:
Weight/Height Range: Forward-facing harness: 25 to 65 pounds; 34 to 49 inches tall; Belt-positioning high-back booster: 40 to 120 pounds; 44 to 63 inches tall
Product Weight: 25 pounds
Product Dimensions: 21" L x 23" W x 25-35.5" H (from lowest to highest headrest position)
Fabrics: Removable, SafeWash® cover with no added FR (flame resistant) chemicals
Fabric Care Instructions: Machine washable and dryer safe
Colors: Jet Safewash (Black); (Will be released in new colors in the coming months)
Installation: Seat belt installation (for forward-facing harness mode only) or rigid LATCH connectors
Headrest: 9-position, quick-adjust harness and headrest
Recline: 2 recline positions
Harness Mode: Yes
Backless Mode: No
Expiration/Warranty: 9 years from manufacture date to expiration; 1 year limited warranty
Bonus Features/Accessories Included: Dual armrest; 4 snack and cup holders (non-removable)
Additional Links: Britax Grow With You ClickTight Plus User Manual; Installation video using ClickTight; Installation video using LATCH
Nuna has always been one of my personal favorite brands for baby gear. And the Nuna AACE booster is no exception! With modern color choices and a sleek frame, your kids will be excited to use their new booster when they outgrow their convertible car seat!
The Nuna AACE is an all-in-one booster that allows you to use it for young elementary school kiddos until they no longer need a booster at all! With the unique 3D Growth™ system, the shoulder width expands as you extend the headrest, giving more space for growing kiddos. The seat also features three depths, allowing for greater leg comfort as they get taller!
Although the AACE is great for style and comfort, the safety features truly set the Nuna AACE apart from other boosters. From the GREENGUARD GOLD Certification and FR-free fabrics that ensure your kiddos aren't breathing harmful chemicals, to the Side Impact Protection Pods for added head and neck protection in a collision, the AACE is one of the safest boosters on the market!
Nuna AACE Breakdown:
Weight/Height Range: High-back booster: 40 to 110 pounds; 38 to 60 inches tall; Backless Booster: 50 to 120 pounds; 38 to 60 inches tall
Product Weight: 15.6 pounds
Product Dimensions: 14.6" L x 21.5" W X 26" H (lowest high-back booster position) to 15" L x 22.5" W X 33" H (highest high-back booster position)
Fabrics: Breathable and naturally flame resistant knit fabrics (No added FR chemicals)
Fabric Care Instructions: Hand or machine wash fabrics on delicate cycle with cold water and mild detergent; Air dry
Colors: Caviar, Granite, Lake, Seafoam, Coral, Lagoon
Installation: Rigid LATCH connectors
Headrest: 9 positions
Recline: 8 positions
Harness Mode: No
Backless Mode: Yes
Expiration/Warranty: 10 years from manufacture date to expiration; 2 year limited warranty
Bonus Features/Accessories Included: Padded dual armrests; Removable dishwasher safe cup holder; Belt-positioning clip for correct shoulder belt routing
Additional Links: Nuna AACE User Manual; Nuna AACE Complete Demo and Installation Video
The Maxi-Cosi RodiSport is another popular booster seat pick! Similar to the Nuna AACE in that it doubles as a high-back, belt-positioning booster as well as a backless booster, the RodiSport is a great choice for kiddos that seem to get a growth-spurt every other week!
The shoulder and lap belt guides are a great feature, enabling younger kiddos to have independence by buckling themselves in while you feel confident that they're secured correctly every single time. Once your child is tall enough where you don't need to worry about the belt positioning, simply remove the back for a lightweight, compact seat!
The Maxi-Cosi RodiSport is also designed for easy and secure installation every single time with the rigid LATCH system. Click into place and you're on your way! This along with the dishwasher safe cupholder and machine washable and dryer-safe plush fabrics make for a parent-friendly booster seat everyone is sure to love!
Maxi-Cosi RodiSport Breakdown:
Weight/Height Range: High-back booster: 40 to 100 pounds; 43 to 57 inches tall; Backless Booster: 40 to 110 pounds; 43 to 57 inches tall
Product Weight: 13 pounds
Product Dimensions: 20" L x 19" W x 26" H
Fabrics: Premium, plush removable fabrics
Fabric Care Instructions: Machine wash separately with cold water; Tumble dry on low for 10-12 minutes and remove immediately
Colors: Midnight Black, Polished Pebble, Essential Blue
Installation: Rigid LATCH connectors
Headrest: 7 positions
Recline: Multiple position recline
Harness Mode: No
Backless Mode: Yes
Expiration/Warranty: 10 years from manufacture date to expiration; 1 year limited warranty
Bonus Features/Accessories Included: Padded, dual armrests; Removable, dishwasher safe cupholder
Additional Links: Maxi-Cosi RodiSport User Guide
When it comes to picking a booster seat for your child, you can't go wrong with any of the models we've talked about here! It all depends on what needs you and your children have in a booster.
Check out our side-by-side comparison here for an easy way to narrow down your choices!
Booster Seat FAQ's
Do I have to use a booster seat? Why is it so important?
Many parents let their kids sit in the car with the regular seat belt once they've outgrown their convertible car seat. However, this is a very dangerous mistake! Many children, even pre-teens, are still too small to be sitting in the vehicle seat without a booster seat.
The purpose of the booster is to elevate children to a height that allows the vehicle seat belt to be properly positioned across the child's lap, hips, and chest without digging into their neck. Many children require a booster until they are about 4 feet 9 inches tall, which is normally between ages 8 and 12.
Many booster seats, such as the UPPAbaby ALTA, ensure you have proper seat belt positioning that prevents a phenomenon known as "submarining". *Submarining is when small children slide under the lap belt during a collision. This can lead to excessive injury and death.
It's always better to be safe than sorry. Although kids like to be independent and sit in the car without a booster as they get older, using a booster for kids that just aren't quite tall enough can save their life or save them from unnecessary harm in the event of a crash.
When should I transition from a convertible car seat to a booster seat?
Keep your child in their convertible car seat as long as possible as it will offer the best protection if you get into an accident due to the 5-point harness. However, it's important that you familiarize yourself with the car seat manual and transition your child to a booster once they reach the height or weight limit of the seat, whichever comes first.
An easy way to know if your child has exceeded the height limit is to check the harness position. If the car seat has the harness in the utmost position and the child's shoulders are still above where the shoulder straps come out of the car seat, they are too tall for their car seat and it is probably time to transition to a booster.
What are the differences between a harness mode booster, high-back booster and a backless booster?
The three main booster modes are harness mode, high-back belt positioning mode, and backless mode.
Harness mode is found in boosters with a 5-point harness, similar to what you'd find in a convertible car seat. Boosters with this mode allow you to use the seat as your forward-facing car seat from a younger age, and then transition to booster mode with the vehicle seat belt later on. (The Britax Grow With You ClickTight Plus is the only booster in this comparison article with harness mode.)
High-back belt positioning mode refers to the booster mode that has a tall seatback and uses the vehicle seat belt to keep your child in place rather than an incorporated harness. High-back belt positioning boosters are great for kids that are just growing out of their convertible car seat. This is because this mode ensures the vehicle seat belt is positioned properly across the child's lap, hips, chest, and shoulders for optimal safety.
Backless mode refers to boosters that do not have a seat back attached. These are often used for older kids that just need a little extra height to ensure the vehicle seat belt is positioned properly.
Booster seats in general, whether with or without a back, will help keep your child safe in a car accident. However, high-back boosters are recommended if your vehicle seats don't have a headrest or if the vehicle seat back is not very tall. The back rest that the boosters provide in these scenarios offer essential support that keeps your child's neck and head steady and safe from harm in the event of a crash.
Backless boosters can be used for vehicles with headrests or taller seat backs that already offer added neck protection.
Always refer to your booster manual for how and when to use each mode.
How should the headrest and seat belt be positioned in a booster seat?
We recommend always reading the car seat manual for instructions on how to best install and position the headrest to ensure proper seat belt alignment on your child.
As a general guide though, the headrest should be installed at a height that allows the shoulder belt to be positioned directly in the center of your child's chest and shoulder. The seat belt should not be digging into your child's neck. The lap belt should be snug across the child's thighs.
What if my child is embarrassed and feels "too old" for a booster seat?
Due to the fact that many parents stop using boosters before they should, some kids will notice and wonder why they have to use a booster seat if their friends don't. This can cause them to feel embarrassed when they're the only one still in a "car seat".
If your child is feeling this way, sit down with them and explain to them that you want them to be safe and that a booster seat allows them to be as safe as possible.
Another great option is to let your child pick the color of his booster and then show him how to get buckled. Giving your children freedom and independence helps them feel more excited and less anxious about using a booster.
Also do your best to refrain from calling their booster a "car seat" as this can make some children feel like babies.