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To keep kids safe and comfortable during car rides, booster seats are a must-have. But unlike babies and toddlers who sit in traditional, high-back boosters with harnesses, slightly older kids (a minimum of four years and weighing at least 40 pounds) need something bigger, yet not too big to stay safe during a ride. Enter backless booster seats. Easy to install and perfectly safe and comfortable, a backless booster seat lets a child’s back rest against the vehicle seat while keeping him or her secured with a seat belt.
To help you find the right seat for your child, we spent a lot of time on the research. The result is a list of the best backless booster seats currently on the market. We also put together a comprehensive buying guide in which we cover everything you need to know about these trustworthy and comfy seats, including how to pick the right one for your kid.
The Best Backless Booster Seat
The Chicco GoFit is an ergonomically designed backless booster seat with lots of double-foam padding for support and comfort. The seat has integrated lap belt guides as well as a shoulder belt clip, making it perfect even for absolute booster seat beginners. For extra convenience, there are two removable and dishwasher safe cup holders that are soft-sided and, as a result, easy to fold out of the way to save space when needed. There are also two pop-out armrest covers, which, along with the Ergo Boost contoured seat’s cover, are machine washable. The seat is also easy to transfer from vehicle to vehicle thanks to its built-in carry handle.
The Chicco GoFit is designed for 4y+ kids who weight from 40 to 110 pounds and measure 38-57″ in height. Since this type of a booster is secured with vehicle seat belts, there is no latch system.
Contoured, double foam padded seat
No latch connector
Integrated lap seat belt guides + shoulder belt clip
Removable, space-saving cup holders
All fabrics are washable
- Weight4.95 pounds
Comfortable, convenient and durable, the Graco Backless booster seat is perfect for most kids aged 4 to 10 years. The seat has a padded cushion that can be removed for easy machine washing, as well as padded and height-adjustable armrests for more comfortable rides (which are not removable). While you can machine-wash the seat cover whenever needed, the plastic parts of the seat can be cleaned with a sponge, mild soap and water. There are also two cup holders that can be pushed inside the base of the seat when not needed.
The Graco Backless TurboBooster is designed for kids weighing between 40 to 100 pounds and measuring up to 57 inches in height. For those wondering, there is no latch, as it’s not necessary with this type of a booster seat.
Padded seat cushion
The cover is machine washable
Hideaway cup holders
No latch connector
- Weight5.1 pounds
The BubbleBum car seat is unique in design and look: inflatable, lightweight and minimalistic, this seat complements most car seats, plus is super-easy to use. And since it’s inflatable, it’s very comfortable, foldable and portable – perfect for traveling and comfy rides. This is more of a narrow backless booster seat which makes it a good choice for smaller seats and vehicles, although you can certainly use it no matter the size of your car. Since it has a patented memory foam technology inside the cushion, it provides stability and security even if it gets slightly deflated.
The BubbleBum is made for kids aged 4 to 11 years, weighing between 40 to 100 pounds. While many users wash the cover in a washing machine, it’s best to hand wash it with a little bit of soap and water.
Lightweight and foldable
Simple, comfortable and easy to use
No latch connectors
- Weight1.2 pounds
The Cosco backless booster seat offers great value for money: comfortable and safe for the kid, affordable and lightweight for you, it really does check all the right boxes. It securely fits on the seat, giving your child the extra height they need to keep the seatbelts properly positioned. The padding is thick, providing comfort for those long rides, however, the cover is not machine washable, so you’ll have to hand wash it when needed. Because this is a slim design booster seat, it leaves no marks on the vehicle seats, plus it’s easy to move from car to car.
The Cosco booster can hold kids weighing between 40 to 100 pounds, measuring 43 to 57” in height, and requires no latch connectors.
Lightweight, leaves no marks on vehicle seats
The cover needs to be hand-washed only
- Weight2.2 pounds
One of the most attractive backless booster seats around, the Evenflo AMP is available in 8 interesting designs and colors, making it perfect for kids who don’t like riding in “baby seats”. Besides funky designs, the Evenflo AMP boasts comfortable padding and durable construction. The seat is padded and contoured for comfy long rides, while the cover is machine washable. There are also two armrests which are easy to clean, as they’re made of plastic that can be wiped down with any damp cloth. There are two cup holders that don’t take much, if any extra space, as elastic is what keeps the cups in place.
The seat can hold kids weighing from 40 to 100 pounds, and because it just sits on the vehicle seat, there is no latch system.
Padded, contoured seat
Machine washable cover
Elastic cup holders
- Weight3.8 pounds
If you’re looking for a backless booster with a latch, Graco Affix is a great option. Comfortable and super-easy to use, this booster provides a secure connection to your vehicle’s seat with a convenient one-hand latch system that adjusts in the front. The set itself is lightly padded and the cover can be tossed in a washing machine, while the plastic armrests can be wiped down with a sponge and mild soap. There are two cup holders, where one does not come attached but is stored in a slot under the seat. There is even extra space for small items such as snacks and keys in a hideaway sliding drawer on the left side.
The Graco backless booster seat is made for kids weighing 40 to100 pounds and measuring up to 57″ in height.
Lightly padded seat
Hideaway storage drawer
- Weight6.4 pounds
For superhero-loving kids, specifically Batman fans, the KidsEmbrace booster seat DC Comics Batman is a perfect choice. Designed with the Gotham City’s hero’s sign and rigorously tested, this seat will keep your kid comfortable, happy and safe during car rides. The cushion is contoured and has light foam padding, while the cover is machine washable for easy cleaning. The seat has a shoulder-belt positioning clip that helps keep your vehicle belt at the proper height, ensuring safety and comfort. But unlike most booster seats on our list, this seat comes with only one cup holder– that said, this is usually enough for most kids.
The KidsEmbrace booster is made for kids aged at least 4 years, weighing 40 to 100 pounds, and measuring 40 to 57” in height.
Lightly foam-padded cushion
Machine washable cover
Shoulder belt positioning clip
1 integrated cup holder
- Weight3.9 pounds
For the parents of lively and messy kids, the Evenflo Amp Performance booster seat is a great option. Made of 100-percent polyester, this seat is one of the easiest ones to clean. In fact, apart from the contoured padding, everything is made of plastic which can be cleaned with a damp sponge/cloth and a little bit of mild soap. The pad itself can be machine washed, in cold water and on the delicate cycle. The seat also has always accessible elastic cup holders, as well as plastic comfy armrests which too can be wiped with a damp cloth. Since the seat attaches with the regular seat belt, there is no latch system.
The Evenflo AMP Performance supports children weighing from 40 to 110 pounds, measuring 40 to 57” in height. As a bonus, it comes in various cute colors.
Made of 100% polyester
The pad is machine washable
Elastic cup holders
- Weight6 pounds
If you and your child are not fans of traditional, rather bulky booster seats, Mifold’s compact and portable backless booster seat may be the perfect choice. Lightweight, safe and portable, this seat will give your kid a boost they need for proper seat belt positioning, without taking much, if any, of your vehicle space. It’s no wonder why – 10x smaller than a regular booster, Mifold is so compact that it can fit in the glove box when not in use. Because it’s so compact, this booster seat comes without any extra features and parts.
Although the manufacturer states it’s designed for kids aged 4+ years who weigh between 40 to 1000 pounds, we recommend using Mifold for older and taller kids only.
Compact, foldable backless booster seat
Lightweight and portable
No latch system
- Weight1.7 pounds
Super-comfortable, easy to use, and perfectly safe, the Clek Ozzi booster seat is a great choice for all children aged 4 or above. Designed to look and feel like the seat in your car, with an extra layer of padding for superior comfort, this booster will keep your kid happy and comfy during those long rides. The seat has a rigid latch system that locks it in place, providing extra security for rambunctious kids. There are also armrests for added comfort, but since this is a basic model, there are no cup holders, which can be a dealbreaker for some kids. On the bright side, you can purchase accessories including the cup holder, mat and a cleaning kit separately.
This seat is designed for kids measuring 40 to 57” in height and weighing between 40 to 120 pounds.
Extra padded cushion
Accessories like mat and cup holder sold separately
- Weight6 pounds
Best Backless Booster Seat Buying Guide
Shopping for the best backless booster car seat is a complex process. Naturally, every parent wants the best for their child, both in terms of safety and comfort, but finding a seat that satisfies both of those criteria (and then some) requires quite a bit of research. Should you get a booster with a latch system or one without it? Are inflatable seats more comfortable than standard cushions? Should you buy the most basic booster seat or one that comes with all the extras such as cup holders and storage compartments?
With so many different options, it’s no wonder many parents feel confused about what makes a backless booster seat safe. To help you find the right one for your child’s needs quickly and easily, we’ve put together this buying guide. Here, yu can read about all things booster seats, including the features to look for, the benefits of using booster seats, and finally, the differences between high back and backless booster seats. Without further ado, let’s jump right into the good stuff!
Features to Look for in a Backless Booster Seat
To purchase a safe and durable booster seat, it’s important to pay attention to certain things regarding the design of the seat itself.
- Safety Certifications
First things first: make sure the seat you’re buying can actually keep your child safe during car rides. The only way to know whether the seat offers the necessary protection is through safety certifications. Normally, these don’t come easy to manufacturers as they’re typically obtained via third party companies, so when you see that a seat has safety certifications, you can rest assured it’s been crash tested to meet or exceed all applicable U.S. or European standards. The best backless booster seats will be rigorously tested, engineered to promote safety and minimize the risk of the child in a car accident. Needless to say, every single one of the seats featured on our Top list has all the necessary safety certifications.
- Age Appropriate Design
Most backless booster seats can hold children weighing between 40 to 100 pounds and measuring 40 to 57 inches in height, so if your kid fits within this range, you’re good to go. Some seats are made for slightly heavier kids, up to 120 pounds, and it’s best to check the exact numbers before you make any purchasing decisions. This is important for two reasons: safety and comfort. To be safe and sound at all times during a ride, your kid needs to be properly secured with a seat belt. For that to happen, a booster seat is needed – if your child fits nicely in the booster, the seat belt will go over their shoulder and hips. Also, if they fit nicely in the seat, there will be no uncomfortable squeezing of any kind–they will feel comfy even during those extra long car rides.
- Build Materials
There are various materials used in backless booster seat construction, although most are made from durable plastic and some sort of cover material such as cotton. This makes sense from the convenience point – plastic is easy to wipe down with a damp cloth, plus it’s cheap enough to make the price of the seat budget-friendly. But the cushion is another important thing to take into account – you want a seat with a thickly padded cushion with a cover that can be easily removed. A nicely padded seat will keep your kid comfortable during long rides, while a removable cover will be easy to clean; ideally, it will also be machine washable. Whether it’s a standard cushion or an inflatable one doesn’t seem to matter that much.
Before purchasing a backless booster seat, ask yourself (and your kid) how important are accessories, such cup holders and storage compartments, to you? Some kids cannot travel without juice and snacks right next to them, while others have no problem going without them. While not the most important thing about this type of a product, these accessories can play a big role in how your child likes their booster seat, and as a result, whether or not wants to use it.
Benefits of Backless Booster Seats
Using a booster seat, whether backless or high back, keeps your child safe and secure during the entire car ride. While younger and smaller children can fit perfectly in their high back boosters, older and bigger children cannot. At the same time, they also cannot use seat belts properly as they’re made for average sized adults. That’s where backless booster seats come in: by boosting your kid’s height, the seat belts can be locked securely and properly around them, causing no discomfort. Besides safety, booster seats also promote comfort thanks to their padded cushions.
So, to sum up, the benefits of backless booster seats include:
- Safety: for bigger but not yet big enough children, backless booster seats provide the needed extra height for proper seat belt placement. A child seated on a booster seat has a 45% less risk to be injured in a crash than a child using a seat belt alone.
- Comfort: because they have padded cushions and give a few more inches to play with in terms of head space, they make those long car rides much more comfortable.
- Easy to use: whether they come with a latch system or without it, backless booster seats are super-easy to use and transfer from vehicle to vehicle as they usually have simple designs and are lightweight.
- Budget-friendly: most backless booster seats are reasonably priced. Typically, they cost between $20 to $40, which is something that most families can afford.
High Back Vs. Backless Booster Seat
Both high back and backless booster seats are designed to keep children safe during car rides. If you’re unsure which is better for your kid, take a look at the most important differences between the two.
High Back Booster Seats:
- Designed for younger and smaller kids, typically with a weight limit between 40 to 65 pounds
- Some have a five point harness for children under 40 pounds
- They have seat belt guides
- They have a headrest and side wings to protect the head and chest
- They come with a latch system
- Super-comfortable for long rides
- They’re pricier and heavier than their backless cousins
- Many leave imprints on a car seat due to their shape and weight.
Backless Booster Seats
- Designed for bigger kids, weighing between 40 to 120 pounds
- Some have seat belt guides
- Some come with a latch connector, others don’t
- Lightweight and easy to carry from car to car
- Most don’t leave imprints on a car seat
- More affordable than high back booster seats
- Not as comfortable as high back booster seats.
So how do you decide which booster seat is better suited for your child? Based on their weight and height, first and foremost. You shouldn’t rush to move your kid to a backless booster before they’re actually ready. Once they’ve outgrown the weight or height limit of their high back booster (typically between 40 to 65 pounds, depending on the model), you should move them to a nice backless booster seat.
Best Backless Booster Seat FAQ
Q: How do I install a backless booster seat?
A: Backless booster seats are incredibly easy to install and use. Since most come without latch connectors, all you have to do is place the booster on the vehicle seat, your child snugly inside the booster, and then use your seat belt to secure them. If the booster comes with a latch system, simply connect it to the vehicle seat before securing your child with the seat belt.
In case you need specific steps on how to secure a child in a backless booster seat:
- Put the booster on the center of the vehicle seat; if there is a latch, connect it;
- Sit your child on the booster seat and bring the seat belt across the hips and through the belt pathway;
- The seat belt should be below the armrests of the booster (if they are present)
- The shoulder part goes under, on the side that is closest to the buckle, across the chest and over the shoulder.
Don’t let your child put the seat belt down, behind their back, across the other side or their neck. These positions offer no upper body protection and are considered unsafe. If your child continuously does this and you have to readjust the seat belt all the time, they may not be ready for a backless booster seat yet. In this case, consider transferring them back to the standard, high back harness system.
Q: When can my child use a backless booster seat?
A: While it’s true that most children can be transferred from the high back booster to backless booster when they turn or are over 4 years old and weigh over 40 pounds, it’s important to remember that children grow both physically and mentally at different rates. For instance, some children, although 4 years old, may not actually meet the height requirements (around 40") of backless booster seats. Others may meet all the physical requirements, but may not be mature enough to sit still in a booster seat (as mentioned, they may try to move their seat belt in unsafe positions). The right time for a child to sit in a backless booster seat is when they have met all the requirements of that booster seat. On paper, this includes children aged 4 to 11 years, measuring 38/40 to 57 inches in height and weighing between 40 to 100/120 pounds (depends on the model).
Q: Do backless booster seats need to be anchored?
A: Most backless booster seats come without a latch system, meaning they do not need to be specifically anchored to the vehicle seat. This is because they already become connected to the seat the moment you bring the seat belts across your child – this way, both the child and booster seat are securely anchored to the vehicle seat. That said, there are some models that come with a latch system. Although latch-less boosters are perfectly safe, some parents prefer models with a latch connector. There is no better or worse here – just pick what you and your child feel more comfortable with.
Our Top Pick
While all backless booster seats featured on our Top List are good-quality products with all the necessary safety certifications, we believe the Chicco GoFit is one of the best backless booster seats on the market. Why you ask? For one, it has one of the most comfortable cushions around – double foam padding, plus it’s cotoured seat to provide maximum comfort. This is very important for kids that take long rides often. Equally important, the cover is easy to remove and can be machine washed. Two, the seat has convenient 2 cup holders that are soft-sided and can easily be pushed inside to save space. There are also pop-out armrests with machine washable covers. Finally, a built-in carry handle makes it easy to transfer the seat from vehicle to vehicle. All in all, a perfect backless booster seat that is guaranteed to keep your child safe, comfortable and happy for years.