Our favourite booster seats (and why we love them)

A note about boosters: In order for a child to be properly protected by the adult seat belt, s/he must be a minimum of 40lbs AND developmentally mature enough to remain seated properly at ALL times, even when sleeping.  Some kids are ready at 5, many by 6, and almost all by 7.  If your child has outgrown their harnessed seat by height or weight but is not yet developmentally ready for a booster, look at a higher weight harnessed seat with tall top harness slots.  When transitioning to a booster, we prefer to see children in high back boosters; it gives many a better sense of security, provides head support while sleeping, often provides better shoulder belt fit, and in vehicles without head support, is required for adequate head and neck support.  Booster seats require a lap/shoulder belt and can never be used with a lap-only belt.

High-back boosters have head support and belt guides to position the shoulder belt.  No-back, or backless boosters, do not have head support and a child must have in-vehicle head support up to at least the tops of their ears. Approximate torso height is indicated by highest shoulder belt guide measurement but note that kids fit into seats quite differently and looking at a measurement should only be a guide.

Not sure if your child is ready? This article might help you decide, or for a quicker read maybe this one.

If you are buying online consider purchasing from Amazon.ca; a small portion of the purchase cost is directed to our donation fund at no extra cost to you.

Booster Seats (in no particular order)

Evenflo Spectrum (read our review here)Spectrum Seascape

  • $99 and available mid-February at Babies R Us, with more retailers to follow soon
  • consistently good lap belt fit, shoulder belt retraction is best when shoulder belts aren’t anchored far forward of the guide
  • the back can be removed and it can be used as a backless booster
  • high shoulder belt guides (22″ at highest level)
  • does not need reinforcement of headrest so a good choice for vehicles that do not have head support for the child
  • is not latchable – buckle up empty boosters
  • well-padded and comfortable
  • expires 6 years from date of manufacture
  • 40-110lbs weight range, 44″-57″ height range
  • approximate top shoulder guide measurement: 22″

Graco Turbo BoosterTurbobooster

  • ~$75 (different levels of comfort padding) but often on sale for less (can be found at Toys R Us, Walmart, Great Canadian Superstore, Amazon.ca)
  • consistently good lap belt fit and shoulder belt fit; a favourite for fitting slim children
  • the back can be removed and it can be used as a backless booster (~$35 as a stand-alone seat)
  • fairly slim which can be good for 3 across situations
  • lightweight booster but can NOT be latched-in so always advised to buckle up the booster when not in use
  • not the highest high back booster but it should last many kids to 7+ as a high back booster with an easy lever for adjusting seat belt guide height
  • need to assemble the armrests which are mandatory and you must ABSOLUTELY install the screws into the armrests before using this booster; two heights available for arm rests to affect lap belt fit
  • does not need reinforcement of headrest so a good choice for vehicles that do not have head support for the child
  • expiry varies depending on date of manufacture; newer models are good for ten years
  • 40-100lbs weight range, 40″-57″ weight range
  • approximate top shoulder guide measurement: 19.75″

Diono Monterey Booster Monterey(read our review here)

  • ~$140 (Amazon.ca, Sears, specialty retailers)
  • one of the tallest adjustable boosters available in Canada
  • requires in-vehicle head support up to at least the top of the child’s ears (not suitable for vehicles with low seat-backs or forward-leaning head rests)
  • good lap belt and shoulder fit with ample leg support
  • high back portion can be removed and used as a no back booster
  • heavy booster but it can be latched into vehicle so it does not become a projectile in a crash
  • comfortable padding and premium material covers available
  • height easily adjustable as are the side wings around the shoulder area allowing comfort with broad shoulders
  • expires 8 years after the date of manufacture on newer seats (look for the ‘heart’ logo on the head piece); 6 years after date of manufacturer on older seats
  • 40-120lbs weight range, 38-63″ height range
  • approximate top shoulder guide measurement: 21″

Britax Parkway SGL BoosterParkwaySGL

  • ~$199 for the SGL version – Available at baby boutiques and Babies R Us, Amazon.ca
  • one of the tallest adjustable boosters available in Canada
  • good lap belt fit and shoulder belt fit although it may not fit well with smaller booster riders
  • high back portion can be removed and used as a backless booster
  • narrow and sometimes can be beneficial in 3 across situations
  • comes with a Slide Guard(SG) clip that attaches to the lap belt which may prevent the child “submarining” under the seat belt
  • can be latched onto the UAS of a car
  • height easily adjustable and has generous leg support
  • expires 6 years after the date of manufacturer
  • 40-120lbs weight range, 38″-63″ height range
  • approximate top shoulder guide measurement: 21.25″

 

Clek Oobr BoosterOobr

  • ~$300-$380 depending on the cover option, at specialty retailers, Babies R Us, Amazon.ca
  • tall adjustable booster
  • good lap and shoulder belt fit but shallower seat pan may be uncomfortable for children with longer legs.
  • can be latched in using rigid latch
  • recline feature for car sleepers (this feature can only be used if the seat is latched into the vehicle)
  • high back can be removed and the seat used as a no back booster
  • fairly heavy booster seat
  • expires 9 years after the date of manufacture
  • 40-100lbs weight range, 40″-57″ height range
  • approximate top shoulder guide measurement: 21″Harmonybooster

Harmony Youth Booster Seat (read our ode to it here)

  • ~$18 at Walmart
  • backless booster
  • good lap belt fit on most kids
  • narrow seat making it a good choice for 3-across or tight seating arrangements
  • lightweight booster but can NOT be latched-in so always advised to buckle up the booster when not in use
  • expires 6 years after the date of manufacture
  • 40-100lbs weight range, 40″-57″ height range

 

Clek Ozzi or Olli Boosters

  • ~$70-130 at specialty retailers (Ozzi available at Canadian Tire), Amazon.ca
  • backless booster
  • good lap belt fit on most kids
  • rigid UAS for installation in vehicle (no need to rebuckle seat when it’s empty)
  • expired 9 years after the date of manufacture
  • 40-120lbs weight range, 40″-57″ height range

Affix

 

Graco Affix (read our review here)

  • ~$60 (backless) at Babies R Us, Walmart, Sears, Canadian Tire, $120 (high back) at Sears, Amazon.ca
  • backless booster/high back now available
  • good lap belt fit on most kids
  • flexible UAS for installation in vehicle (no need to re-buckle seat when it’s empty)
  • expires ten years after the date of manufacture
  • 40-100lbs weight range, 40″-57″ height range
  • approximate top shoulder guide measurement:19.5″ (when used as a high back booster of course)

 

Evenflo AMPEvenflo AMP

  • ~$70-80 at Babies R Us, Amazon.ca, Canadian Tire
  • good lap belt fit and shoulder belt fit; check fit on slimmer kids
  • the back can be removed and it can be used as a backless booster
  • lightweight booster but can not be latched-in so always advised to buckle up the booster when not in use
  • not the tallest high back booster but it should last many kids to 7+ as a high back booster with a easy lever for adjusting seat belt guide height
  • does not need reinforcement of headrest so a good choice for vehicles that do not have head support for the child
  • higher arm rests may make it easier for children to buckle in some circumstances
  • one of the few boosters that work in the 3rd row of current generation Dodge Grand Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country/Mazda 5; shoulder belts anchored forward of the chest still slide freely through this belt guide where they do not in most other high back boosters.
  • more likely than most to work in vehicles with long buckle stalks
  • expires six years after the date of manufacture
  • 40-110lbs weight range, 38″-57″ height range
  • approximate top shoulder guide measurement: 19.5″

 

Harmony Dreamtime 2Dreamtime2

  • ~$50 at Walmart
  • high back booster that converts to backless booster
  • good lap belt fit on most kids
  • narrow seat making it a good choice for 3-across or tight seating arrangements (narrowest high back booster available)
  • lightweight booster but can NOT be latched-in so always advised to buckle up the booster when not in use
  • not the tallest high back booster but it should last many kids to 7+ as a high back booster with an easy lever for adjusting seat belt guide height
  • expires 6 years after the date of manufacture
  • 40-110lbs weight range, 34″-57″ height range
  • one of the few boosters that work in the 3rd row of current generation Dodge Grand Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country; shoulder belts anchored forward of the chest still slide freely through this belt guide where they do not in most other high back boosters.

 

Harmony Big Boost Deluxe (read our review here)HarmonyBigBoost

  • ~$30 at Walmart or directly from Harmony
  • backless booster with slight lumbar support up the back
  • lap belt fit tends to be lower than most – a great option if the vehicle seat belt tends to ride high on the belly
  • scooped and rounded shape makes it easy for kids to buckle low, recessed buckle stalks
  • detachable cup holder
  • comes with UAS so it can be latched into place when unoccupied
  • expires 10 years after the date of manufacture
  • for children 40-110lbs weight range, 40″-57″ height range

IMG_7031Diono Backless Boosters (with cupholders: may be called “Hip” and without may be called “Jet”;
both formerly branded with Little Tikes logo)

  • ~$30 Canadian Tire (Jet – shown in red) or Babies R Us or Sears (Hip – shown in grey), possibly available elsewhere at specialty stores
  • backless booster
  • lap belt fit is consistently good
  • wider seat pan makes it an excellent choice for kids wider in the hip/bum, but tapered shape at back means it doesn’t take up a lot of space on a vehicle seat
  • lightweight booster but can NOT be latched-in so always advised to buckle up the booster when not in use
  • expires 6 years after the date of manufacture
  • 40-110lbs weight range, 38″-60″ height range