When you first place your newborn in a car seat, it feels enormous. But babies grow fast. Before you know it, you’ll be looking for a booster seat that will fit your preschooler.
If you’re budget-conscious and looking for convenience, you might try a car seat that will help keep your kid safe until they no longer need one. Since it’s hard to know the difference between one seat and another, we’ve sorted out the best booster car seats with a harness to make it easy.
What Should I Look for in a Harness Booster Car Seat?
As you start looking, you’ll find lists of limits and requirements that can make your head spin. Here are several things you want to watch for as you look through the product specs:
- Width: If you have a small car or you’re trying to fit three kids in the back seat, you’ll need a narrower style.
- Weight: Models range from about nine to 30 pounds, so you may want a lighter one if you’re going to be moving it from one car to another.
- Price: Harness booster car seats range from $60-$300+.
- Height Limit: Experts recommend keeping your child in a booster seat until they are at least 57” tall. Most, but not all, seats meet this requirement.
- Weight Limit: Most harness booster seats will fit kids until they weigh 100-120 pounds. If your kid is bigger than average, you might need one on the higher end.
- Longevity: If you’re going to be using it from toddler hood until they’re ready to sit in an adult seat, you’ll need at least 8-10 years before the manufacturer expiration date.
- Convertibility: Some seats are rear facing, and designed to fit from infancy on up while others are forward-facing only. Many harness booster car seats also only convert to a high-back booster, not a backless one. You need to think about how much convertibility you want.
- Fit: Every child is different, so you might want to try them out in the store before you choose.
- Added Features: Cup holders and washable pads offer convenience to kids and parents.
In addition, you should make sure the booster car seat you're looking into buying wasn't recalled. Although safety recalls aren’t frequent, it’s always good to check before you buy, especially if you’re shopping for last year’s model.
When Can My Child Use a Booster Car Seat?
Moving your child from a five-point harness to a booster seat is a big decision. They’ll have more freedom to move, and you’ll want to make sure that they’ll continue to be safe while you’re on the road.
Car seat experts recommend waiting until your child:
- Is at least 5 years old, preferably older
- Weighs 40 pounds, the minimum for most car seats in booster mode
- No longer naps in the car
- Can stay seated with their back against the seat until the ride is over
Until they reach the weight limit for the 5-point harness, which is 65-90 pounds for most seats, you can feel free to stick with the 5-point harness arrangement so your baby is in for a safe ride.
1. Britax Frontier Harness-2-Booster Car Seat
If your kid is sprouting up as quickly as pea shoots in spring, you need a seat that will grow with them. The Britax Frontier Harness-2-Booster offers the highest height and weight limits in the industry. At 62” and 120 pounds while in booster mode, it will fit the average child until they’re at least 12 years old.
2. Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Car Seat
With a weight limit of 30-100 pounds, Graco Tranzitions offers great comfort and support for those busy middle years. If you’ve got multiple cars but only one car seat, not to worry! Graco Tanziaitions 17-pound weight makes it easier for parents to switch cars. You also get Graco’s signature sliding cup holders, perfect for when you need to make extra space in a hurry.
3. Evenflo Maestro Sport Harness Booster Car Seat
Got a convertible car seat that retires soon? The Evenflo Maestro may be a great replacement. With a six-year lifespan, this one will be perfect for your child from the age of four until they’re ready for an adult seat. And at around $80, you won’t feel bad about having to buy a new seat.
4. Chicco MyFit LE Harness + Booster Car Seat
Chicco’s been known for years as an innovator in car seats, and the MyFit is no exception. In harness mode, you’ll appreciate the ease of the lockoff device. Want a little extra room in the back? Fold in the cup holders in an instant. Need a seat that will work with a lap-only belt? This one does!
5. Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
Searching for a reliable seat that will stay with your child all the way up, without the price? Go with the Safety 1st Grow and Go. This seat covers 5-100 pounds, plenty of room for the average kid. You’ll enjoy the snap-off cover, perfect for easy washing. For a splash of extra cuteness, this car seat comes in several colors, including two Disney print styles!
6. Diono Radian 3 RXT All-in-One Convertible Car Seat
Need to fit three kids in one row? The Diono Radian 3 RXT’s got your back. Extra safety features like a steel alloy frame helps to protect little ones in case of an accident. If you’re willing to heft its 28-pound weight, it’s rated by the FAA for travel.
7. Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Car Seat
If you’re looking to be one and done when it comes to buying car seats, the Graco 4Ever fits the bill with a weight limit that ranges from 4-120 pounds. You’ve got six positions of recline and 10 positions for the harness, so that you can ensure a great fit every year. At the right time, you can take it down to a backless booster.
8. Evenflo Evolve Platinum 3-in-1 Combination Booster Seat
When you really need a comfy ride that takes all your child’s needs into consideration, the Evenflo Evolve Platinum is the way to go. The seat’s fabric helps regulate the temperature, ideal for those blazing hot or freezing days. This mid-priced car seat offers plenty of padded comfort until your kid reaches 57” or 120 pounds.
9. Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 Combination Booster Car Seat
Like the Diono Radian, the Cosco Finale is built to fit in small spaces, but at a fraction of the price. If you’re ready to retire the infant seat and move to a forward-facing only seat, the Finale offers minimalist convenience and comfort for around $60. It also includes easily washable cup holders. The Cosco Finale gives you great value for a great price.
10. Graco Nautilus 65 LX 3-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat
When you want predictability and customizability, it’s got to be the Graco Nautilus. This seat is noticeably easy to install, and converts from harness to high-back to backless booster seat. You’ll love the ability to adjust the harness and headrest in a single movement. The 10-year expiration gives you the chance to buy it early and still use it all the way up.
When you’re a parent on the go, your kids can spend a lot of time in their car seats. It pays to pick a great one. After all, what’s more important than your child’s comfort and safety? Best of all, some of these options are so cheap, you can get two — one for each vehicle!
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