I admit I tend to go overboard before making purchases for my children. I research items, read the reviews, and even visit stores to test the salesperson’s knowledge about an item. Before my daughter was even born, I attended a stroller class in New York City. I learned about the various types on the market and how to fully operate them. Amazingly, the class was full. Fast forward two strollers, four car seats and a whole lot of other baby paraphernalia later, I am finally coming to terms that I don’t have “babies” anymore, although my kids will always be my babies.
Time to upgrade the seating situation in my car. Bye-bye car seats, hello boosters.
This seemed like an easy thing to do. My dad had just gifted me a subscription to Consumer Reports. I had a working knowledge of the booster seat brands and their functions. I thought, “This shouldn’t be too consuming.” I flipped through the magazine to the section that highlighted “Highback to Backless, Belt Positioning Booster Seats.” This means that you can remove the back of the booster seat when the child is too large to fit comfortably in a highback booster. The number one booster on the list: Evenflo Big Kid Amp $40. In fact, the top four Highback to Backless boosters on Consumer Report’s list belonged to the Evenflo brand. Graco Affix placed fifth on the list. I logged on to Amazon, read the reviews for the Evenflo booster and ordered two, one in pink and another in blue.
Easy… so I thought.
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Once the seats arrived I wasn’t completely satisfied with them. I had no idea that the seat didn’t use a latch. This means that you must buckle in the seat when not in use to keep it from flying around your car in the event of a car crash. The fit for my daughter was… ok, but not great. She said the seat was comfortable and she loved the color pink. However my kids are tall for their ages, and they still fall asleep during car rides. I needed a seat that cradled their heads. The Evenflo booster did not do this. My husband took one look at the seats and felt that the seats should be used as an alternative when we switch cars. Back to square one.
As a family, we ventured down to the big box baby store. I had the kids sit in the seats and asked their opinions while I checked the fit. I compared the pricing in the store with several online retailers. In the end, we decided to keep the Evenflo Big Kid Amp Highback booster for my husband’s truck. For my car, which is the main car they ride in, we chose the Britax Parkway SGL, which costs about $120. I felt this seat cradled their heads when sleeping, was comfortable, provided side-impact protection and also had the latch system to secure the booster to the car when not in use.
Here are a few tips to consider when buying booster seats:
-Allow your child to sit in the seat before purchase. This allows you to check the proper fit of the seat and whether the seat is comfortable for your kid.
-Consider whether you want a seat that latches to the car or not. A booster that latches is slightly more expensive, but saves you from remembering to secure the seats when not in use.
-Cost shouldn’t be the determining factor. Highback boosters can range in price from $35 dollars to $300. While the materials may not seem as luxurious on an inexpensive booster, price does not determine how safe the seat is.
-Read the reviews. Parents have tested the seats with their most precious cargo, their children. Consider their experiences when selecting the best seat for your child.
-Check the height, weight and age requirements before use. Check out http://www.buckleupnc.org/resources/crlaw_qa.pdf for specifics to our state.