Booster Seat
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2011 Booster Seat Rankings

If you’re a parent, keeping your child safe, on and off the road, should be one of your top priorities. While it is common knowledge that small children need to be properly restrained in a forward-facing car seat, it is important to remember that the next step isn’t a seat belt, it’s a booster seat.

According to HealthyChildren.org, children who have outgrown their forward-facing car seat should sit in a booster seat for safety reasons. Children should stay in a booster seat until seat belts fit correctly which is typically when the child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 and 12 years old.

But unlike other items, you can’t judge the quality and safety of a booster seat by the price, design, features and brand.

So how do you tell the good from the bad?

Luckily, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) has done the research for you. In their most recent study the IIHS a record 31 booster seats as best bets – meaning they correctly position the safety belt on the child passenger in almost any car, minivan or SUV – with another five as good bets, seats that give an acceptable belt fit in most vehicles. Six of these booster seats were labeled as not recommended because the seat belts did not fit well.

Here are the results of the IIHS 2011 booster seat evaluation.

Best Bets

The following best bets are the most likely to position lap and shoulder belts correctly on most children in most cars, minivans and SUVs:

  • Britax Frontier 85
  • Britax Frontier 85 SICT
  • Britax Parkway SGL (highback mode)
  • BubbleBum
  • Chicco KeyFit Strada (highback mode)
  • Clek Oobr (highback mode)
  • Cosco Pronto (highback mode)
  • Cybex Solution X-Fix
  • Diono/Sunshine Kids Monterey (highback mode)
  • Eddie Bauer Auto Booster (highback mode)
  • Evenflo Big Kid Amp
  • Evenflo Big Kid Sport (backless mode)
  • Evenflo Maestro
  • Evenflo Symphony 65 e3
  • Ferrari Dreamway SP (highback mode)
  • Graco Argos 70 (highback mode)
  • Graco TurboBooster – Baldwin (highback mode)
  • Graco TurboBooster Elite (highback mode)
  • Harmony Cruz Youth Booster/Harmony Carpooler
  • Harmony Dreamtime (backless mode)
  • Harmony Dreamtime (highback mode)
  • Harmony Olympian/Secure Comfort Deluxe
  • Harmony Youth Booster Seat
  • Kids Embrace Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  • Maxi-Cosi Rodi XR (highback mode)
  • Recaro ProBOOSTER
  • Recaro ProSPORT
  • Recaro Vivo
  • Safety 1st Boost Air Protect (highback mode)
  • Safety 1st S1 Rümi Air
  • The First Years B570 Pathway

Good Bets

The following five good bets provide acceptable lap and shoulder fit in almost as many vehicle belt configurations as the best bet boosters:

  • Britax Parkway SG (highback mode)
  • Combi Kobuk Air Thru (backless mode)
  • Combi Kobuk Air Thru (highback mode)
  • Evenflo Symphony 65
  • Maxi-Cosi Rodi (highback mode)

Not Recommended

According to the IIHS, parents should avoid buying the following six booster seats because they do not provide a good seat belt fit. But, if you own one of these boosters, you shouldn’t throw it away because any booster seat is better than no booster seat. However, if it’s not too late, you should considering returning the seat and purchasing another.

  • Evenflo Chase
  • Evenflo Express
  • Evenflo Generations 65
  • Evenflo Sightseer
  • Safety 1st All-in-One
  • Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite
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