High back booster seats are designed for children who have outgrown their forward facing car seat yet are not tall enough to safely travel in standard vehicle seats. Booster seats help to position your child correctly so that the 3-point seat belt sits in the best place to adequately protect them in the event of an accident. The difference between high back boosters and backless booster seats is the included back and headrest, which provide protection from head to hip, helping to absorb shock and impact away from your child in the event of a side-on collision.
Backless boosters provide no protection whatsoever for the upper-half of your child's body and can allow for slumping if your child falls asleep. This is the main reason that high back boosters are the safer choice when you decide to move up a stage.
*It is important to note that each new stage of car seat provides slightly less protection than the seat before it, so ensure your little one has fully outgrown their current car seat before transitioning up.
When to Switch to a High Back Booster
Depending on the type of seat, your child is ready to move up when they have reached either the height or weight limitations of their current seat, which will vary between models. For reference, your child's headrest should sit just above their shoulders in order to provide proper protection of their head and neck. If the headrest is at full height and cannot be adjusted further, it may be time to look into graduating up to the next stage.
To help your child with the transition from 5-point harness to 3-point seat belt, it's important to prepare them for the responsibility of limiting their movements and remaining in the confines of their seat, as vehicle seat belts provide a greater range of movement that younger children typically aren't used to.
What you Need to Know
Children under 4 should not use high back booster seats
Children under 8 should use boosters that feature a 5-point harness
High back boosters must be fitted with a 3-point seat belt, never the lap belt
Many high back boosters come with side-impact protection but not all do, so make sure you check before you buy