How to choose and fit booster seats and booster cushions
We’ve teamed up with the experts at Joie to see how you decide which is the right seat, and even more importantly, how you should fit it.
The difference between a booster seat and a booster cushion is that the cushion doesn’t have a back, so it doesn’t offer side impact protection. You can also buy booster seats with a removable back, but our advice is to keep the back in place – especially if it incorporates side wings – as this will give valuable extra protection. Recent changes in law also mean booster cushions can’t be used until a child is above 22kgs weight, or 125cm tall, encouraging the use of high-back seats for longer.
Finally, remember to fasten a booster seat or cushion even when nobody is sitting on it, or remove it from the car altogether. If possible, train the child to fasten it for you when they get out of the car. This is because an unfixed booster cushion is a loose projectile if you have an accident, and the last thing you want is a loose ‘safety device’ injuring you.
First, there are Group 2 seats, which cover children of between 15-25kg (or about four-six years); but, much more common are Group 2 & 3 seats, which cover a wider weight range, from 15 to 36kg (or roughly four – 11 years of age).
Then, there is a wide variety of combination seats, some allowing rear-facing travel until four years, others only forwards-facing use. These combination seats generally cover groups 0 and 1 using an integral harness, and then convert to use the cat’s seat belt for groups 2 & 3.
However, it’s important to note this rule only applies to new seats bought after that date, so they will be clearly labelled. If you already have a booster cushion that was bought before the change, you can carry on using it, although we recommend using a high-back booster because of the extra protection it gives.
With an Isofix seat, you simply secure the seat in the fittings and check that it’s fitted properly, either by looking at an indicator on the seat or listening out for a tell-tale click.
Then, whether you have an Isofix or non-Isofix seat, the procedure for fitting the belts is the same.
Make sure any adjustable parts on the seat, like a back rest or head rest, are positioned correctly for your child. Removing the car’s head restraint may ensure a better fit, but if you’re in any doubt at any point, consult the instruction manual.
With some seats that cater for younger children, you use the integral harness, which will automatically sit in the right place. But, if you’re fixing the seat with the car’s seat belts, you’ll need to feed the belt through guides on the booster seat. Ensure the lap belt is fed under the guides, as these keep the belt away from the stomach area; and, the upper guide will keep the diagonal belt in the centre of the chest and away from the neck.