Many of us are familiar with car seat safety guidelines for babies and toddlers, but we find ourselves either unfamiliar with guidelines once our children graduate to a forward-facing position—or we find ourselves growing more lax as our little ones get bigger. Back in July 2017, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated their car seat safety guidelines, so here’s a quick review of some important guidelines:
- Children should remain rear-facing as long as possible. That means they should be rear-facing as long as they are within the height and weight limits for their particular car seat.
- Children who are forward-facing should remain in a five-point harness for as long as possible. As long as they are within the height and weight limits to do so for their particular car seat, they should use the harness.
- Children should use a booster seat (high back or backless) until vehicle seat belts fit them properly, usually when they reach 4 feet 9 inches tall, which is sometime between 8 to 12 years of age.
Even if your child has officially outgrown their rear-facing seat and their size says that they could fit into a belt-positioning booster seat with no harness, there are other things to consider when it comes to deciding if they’re ready to go harness-free, so be sure to check here. Still, some parents are tempted to move their children straight from their rear-facing convertible seat to a belt-positioning booster seat—that is, a booster seat without a five-point harness—because purchasing a forward-facing car seat with a five-point harness can seem like a major investment. Great news, though! It doesn’t have to be. Check out this selection of (safe!) booster seats with a five-point harness—all for $100 or less.
Cosco Highback 2-in-1 Booster Car Seat ($41): Convertible from a harnessed booster to a high-backed belt-positioning booster that will fit children from 22-80 pounds.
Eddie Bauer Combination Booster Car Seat ($60): This seat’s not a bad price at its regular price of $100, but right now it’s a steal at about 40% off! The 2-in-1 combination means it will work for kids from 22 up to 100 pounds.
Evenflo Chase Harnessed Booster ($60): This harnessed booster converts to a high-backed belt-positioning booster that, between its two modes, fits children from 22-100 pounds.
Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 Booster Car Seat ($60): A newer version of the Cosco Highback 2-in-1 Booster Car Seat, the two modes allow for children between 30 and 100 pounds.
Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat ($75): This 2-in-1 harness and seat belt combination will fit a child from 22-110 pounds.
Safety 1st Summit Deluxe Booster Car Seat ($85): Suitable for children from 22-100 pounds, depending on whether you’re using the five-point harness or the belt-position booster mode. Bonus: Pivoting arm rests!
Baby Trend Hybrid LX 3 -in-1 Car Seat ($86): This seat goes from a five-point harness suitable for a 22-pound child to a belt-position high-back booster suitable for a 100-pound child.
Eddie Bauer Deluxe Highback Booster Car Seat ($100): The combination five-point harness and belt-positioning high-back booster make this choice suitable for children from 22-100 pounds.
Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat ($100): Okay, I know I’m supposed to be talking about 2-in-1 car seats, but here’s a 3-in-1 option that is a five-point harness booster, a belt-positioning high-back booster, and a backless booster. Get this style and you are done buying car seats until your kid is out of car seats. Boom. While this seat has a similar weight limit to 2-in-1 seats (22-100 pounds), you’re not going to have to go out and buy a backless booster as your kid gets older and is unwilling/embarrassed to sit in a high-back booster.
If you have other suggestions, please share them with us in the comments!