As a concerned parent, you want to keep your kids safe when they’re in the car with you. When they’re babies, they sit in traditional car seats – front facing seats that strap into the car and secure your child. However, when they get older, they still need to be safe – and young children are still too small to be safe wearing only a seatbelt.
The solution is a backless booster seat. They’re perfect for kids who are too big for traditional car seats but still too small to be without some extra protection. We know it can be hard to pick out the right seat with so many options to weigh, so we’ve done the legwork for you and picked our 10 favorites. But first, let’s talk about some of the key features and options to consider.
What to Look for in a Backless Booster Seat
- Your top priority for your kids is safety and it’s ours too, but there are some specific things you should keep in mind when evaluating backless booster seats.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates all booster seats. You should look for a seat with a high safety rating, ideally one that has side-impact protection and energy absorbing foam. It may also be helpful to choose a seat with a latch that will hold the seat in place when it’s not being used.
- Each seat on the market includes height and weight limits to help you determine whether it’s a good choice for your child. Since your child will need to grow with the seat, your best bet is to choose a seat where the low limit is close to your child’s current weight and height.
- Seats with a five point harness are preferable to seats that have only a belt strap. They hold your child in place securely with straps that go over the shoulders, across the chest, and also pass over the crotch and buckle into the seat below.
- You want the straps to be adjustable so the seat will still be safe and comfortable for your child as she grows. Ideally, the crotch strap should have at least two slots, and preferably three. None of the slots should be beneath where the child is sitting.
- Finally, it’s best to look for a seat that comes with a clear and easy-to-read guide that will show you how to secure the seat in your car, and to secure your child into the seat. Sometimes, instructions that come with products that are manufactured overseas may be poorly translated and difficult to understand.
Safest Backless Booster Seats in 2019
Now that you know what to look for in a backless booster seat for your child, it’s time to reveal our picks for the 10 best.
Last update on 2019-08-08 / Affiliate links / Price / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
10. Graco TurboBooster LX No Back Car Seat
The first backless booster seat on our list is from a respected name. It’s the Graco TurboBooster LX No Back Car Seat, and we chose it for several reasons. First, it holds children between 40 and 100 pounds and up to 57 inches tall, making it ideal for your child to grow from a regular car seat to a seatbelt. It’s got a secure latch to hold it in place whether your child is in it or not, and it stays steady so older kids can buckle themselves in.
The primary negative issue with this seat is the texture of the material that covers it. It’s a bit rough and may not be the most comfortable surface for kids who are wearing shorts or any other outfit that doesn’t cover their legs. It’s also a bit wider than the advertised width of 16.5” once you add the cup holder, so keep that in mind if you’re expecting to be able to seat other kids next to it.
9. Evenflo Amp Performance No Back Booster Car Seat
Coming in at #9 on our list is the Evenflo Amp Performance No Back Booster Car Seat. We chose it because it’s a lightweight seat that’s easy to transport while still offering your kids the protection you want. It’s tested up to 2 times the federal safety standards. It’s good for kids between 40 and 100 pounds and we love that the seat cover removes for easy clean-up.
The main downside of this seat is that it doesn’t come with a latch system to hold it in place when your child isn’t using it. Because it is lightweight, you’ll have to make sure to buckle it in using the seatbelt if you don’t want it flying around the car while you’re driving. The seat could have a little more cushioning to make it comfortable for long car rides, too.
8. Clek Ozzi Backless Booster Seat
The #8 pick on our list is the Clek Ozzi Backless Booster Seat. We like this seat for a variety of reasons. First, it has rigid latch connectors to keep the seat firmly anchored to the car at all times. Second, it includes the “Comfort Cube” system which provides extra padding to keep your child comfortable even during very long car rides. The cover is removable and washable for super-easy clean-up.
On the downside, this seat includes a large warning label on the front that definitely detracts from the overall look of the seat. Since part of Clek Ozzi’s marketing involves pointing out how much this seat looks like the interior of a car, it’s an odd choice at best. The other issue is that the seat is relatively shallow and, as such, may not be the best choice for tall children.
7. Safety 1st Store N Go Car Seat
Our #7 pick is the Safety 1st Store N Go Car Seat. We like that its bright colors will be appealing to kids, but the safety features are what we love the most. Not only will this seat grow with your child (from 40 to 100 pounds and from 43 to 57 inches), but it converts from a regular car seat to a backless booster. It includes a built-in cup holder on one side and a storage compartment on the other so your child can stow a book, toy, or snack next to them.
There are a few potential negatives here. First, the seat itself does not latch into the car, it buckles in using the seatbelts. That’s not ideal for times when the seat is in the car but your child isn’t. The second thing to keep in mind is that the seat is only 11 inches across. If your son or daughter is solidly built then it might be a tight fit.
6. Disney Store and Go Backless Booster Car Seat
If you have a child who loves Minnie Mouse, the #6 pick on our list is just right. It’s the Disney Store and Go Backless Booster Car Seat, and we like it for many reasons. First, it will hold kids between 40 and 100 pounds and it latches into the car very securely. Second, the cute Disney design makes kids feel special, and it features a secret treasure drawer that kids can use to store their stuff. And finally, it’s lightweight and very easy to install.
The biggest downside here is that the shoulder guard on the strap falls off easily. It stays in place when the straps are buckled but it can fall off when you undo them. It’s also worth noting that the treasure drawer can be difficult to open if it’s packed too fill of your child’s belongings, although turning it upside down can help.
5. BubbleBum Travel Car Booster Seat
Coming in at #5 on our list is the BubbleBum Travel Car Booster Seat. It makes our list because its 13-inch wide seat makes it possible to fit three kids across in a pinch while keeping them all safe. It holds children between the ages of 4 and 11 and up to 100 pounds. This seat is actually inflatable, which means it collapses down to nothing when it’s not in use. That makes it perfect for travel.
The primary negative of this seat is that, while it is highly portable, it’s not FAA-approved for use on planes. It has a tendency to deflate on long car trips so you may need to blow it up when you stop for bathroom breaks. And finally, its small size definitely makes it better for shorter, lighter children than for tall ones.
4. Cosco Topside Booster Car Seat
The #4 pick on our list is the Cosco Topside Booster Car Seat. It holds kids between 40 and 100 pounds, and it’s very lightweight and requires no assembly. We really like durability of the seat — and the seat measures at 16” wide including the armrests, meaning that it’s narrow enough to fit three across in most cars. It’s very lightweight and specifically designed not to damage your car seats.
There are a few potential cons to consider. First, this is definitely a narrow booster seat and may not be ideal for kids at the top end of the height and weight requirements. It’s also not very easy for smaller kids to buckle themselves in, so if you’re accustomed to your toddler being able to do that, it won’t be the case with this seat. The seat isn’t as well-cushioned as you might think from the pictures, so keep that in mind, too.
3. Graco Affix Backless Booster
Coming in at #3 on our list is the Graco Affix Backless Booster. There are lots of reasons we like it. First, it’s incredibly durable and well-constructed. It latches into the car easily, and the straps are easy for older kids to use to buckle themselves in. It comes with a strap that ensures that the over-the-shoulder seatbelt won’t cut across your child’s neck in an uncomfortable position, and it also comes with two cup holders and a pull-out drawer.
In terms of negatives, there are a few things to think about. The first is that while it latches into the car easily, it can be tricky to remove. If you have to switch between vehicles that might be a problem. The other issue is that the seat doesn’t actually give much of a boost. That’s not a problem in terms of safety but might not be ideal for kids who want to be able to see out the windows.
2. Aidia Scout Backless Safety Booster Car Seat
Our #2 pick is the Aidia Scout Backless Safety Booster Car Seat. We like this seat because of its ultra-lightweight design and portability. It weighs a little over two pounds, and yet it provides all of the safety features of some of the heavier seats. The seatbelt adjusters work well, and unlike many of the others on this list, this seat will hold children up to 110 pounds. The cover is removable and washable.
The primary negative of this seat has to do with the description. The manufacturer states that it’s good for children as light as 30 pounds, but that’s at odds with most regulations. You should not use it for children under the age of 4 or under 40 pounds. The seat is made of solid plastic and a little cushioning would be nice – but on the whole this is a great seat.
1. Graco Backless TurboBooster Car Seat
Finally, our #1 pick is the Graco Backless TurboBooster Car Seat. We chose this seat as our top pick because it’s super-durable. It’s made of sturdy plastic, and it will seat kids between 40 and 100 pounds. It buckles in using your car’s seatbelt system, and it features two retractable cup holders that kids can use to hold a drink, snacks, or toys. The cover removes easily and is machine washable.
The one big downside of this seat is that it relies on the seatbelts in the car to attach. They work perfectly well and adhere to federal safety standards, but you’ll need to remove the seat from the car when your child isn’t with you. Fortunately, it’s also small and relatively lightweight, so it’s easy enough to rest it on the floor or throw it in the trunk.
The primary consideration when buying a backless booster seat for your child is safety. After that, you can think about comfort, design, and extra features. The 10 seats on our list all adhere to federal safety standards so you’re free to choose the one that appeals to you the most.