The best high-backed booster seats for older children

best high-backed booster seats

by Hannah Carroll |
Updated on

So, your little one isn't a baby anymore, which is why they now need one of these high-backed booster seats. Gone are the days they could be transported to and from the house snuggled up in their baby car seat. Now, they are an independent self-acclaimed big kid who wants to be treated as such.

Probably by now, they have grown out of their toddler car seat, and you may be wondering what the next step is. After all, children in the UK are legally required to sit in a car or booster seat until they are 12 years old or 135cm tall, whichever comes first. A high-back booster seat is one that uses the car's own three-point seat belt but raises the child up so the seat belt fits safely and comfortably. They have a back and side wings that help protect their heads and bodies, as well as providing a little support in case they nod off on the drive.

But with safety at the forefront of all parents' minds, and so many options to choose from, how do you know which is the best high-back booster seat for your child? Fear not, we are here to help. We've looked at the pros and cons and trawled the reviews to find the best high-backed booster seats of 2024 that are rated highly by parents like you. Read on to find out what came out tops, and more information about choosing a car seat to help keep your child safe.

The best high-backed booster seats at a glance:

Best overall high-backed booster seat: Joie i-Trillo FX Children's Car Seat -Buy now on Halfords

Best for comfortable sleeping: Cybex Silver Solution X-Fix Child's Car Seat - Buy now on Amazon UK
Best for older children: Maxi-Cosi Rodifix AirProtect Children's Car Seat - Buy now on Amazon UK

Best for height and width adjustment: Maxi-Cosi Kore i-Size High Back Booster Seat - Buy now on Amazon UK

High-backed booster seats are perfect for school-aged children and beyond - most will last until your child no longer requires one and can use a standard seat belt. Some have side impact protection, and others have 5-point harnesses to keep them safe. We've put together a list of the very best high-back booster seats for you to consider; check them out below.

The best high-backed booster seats 2024

Best overall high-backed booster seat

The Joie i-Trillo FX is a good value booster seat which can be used once your child reaches 15kg or 100cm. Parents can rest assured that their child is safe and sound with isofix connectors, belt guides, extra protection for head, body and hips, and a well-padded memory foam seat. 

In addition to the usual high-back booster seat safety features of a raised seat, firm back and head protection, the Joie features added Guard Surround Safety™ panels for extra side impact protection. If you need more space, for instance to fit an extra person in the middle seat, these can be removed to create more space. This car seat will grow with your little one and should last until they’re 12 years old (or 135cm) as the adjustable headrest moves up and down with 10 points to fit your growing child and ensure their head and neck are well supported. 

Reviewers felt it was lightweight and easy to install, with one pointing out that it’s “easy to fit and use, light to move in and out of the back seat, and goes into the boot”. The removable, machine-washable covers also make this a convenient option for those inevitable spills.

The Joie i-Trillo carries i-Size and ECE R129 safety certification, meaning it has been put through the most rigorous safety testing, including side impact testing. While parents favoured this seat for the all-important safety aspects, children loved that it features two foldable cup holders for easy access to their snacks and drinks, with one parent reviewer adding that the car seat was made "even better with the cup holders meaning he can reach his own drink easily!"

It’s worth bearing in mind that some of the i-Trillo range don’t have ISOFix so if this is a priority, check the specifications before you buy.

Pros

  • Guard Surround Safety™ panels add extra protection from side collisions
  • Lightweight and easy to fit, so good for transferring between cars
  • Well-cushioned with memory foam seat so comfortable for longer journeys
  • Isofix fitting adds extra security

Cons

  • Only two colours available
Suitable for:100-150cm (approximately 3.5 to 12 years)
Dimensions:H82.0 x D45.5cm x W53cm
ISOFIX: Yes
Weight: 5kg
Testing Certification:R129
  • Two cup holders
  • Memory foam cushion in the seat pad
  • Removable, machine-washable covers
  • Padded arm rests
  • Well-marked belt guide clears the path for simple and intuitive installation

Best for height and width adjustment

This i-size certified high back booster seat is suitable from 3.5 years to 12 years (or approximately 15-36kg) and carries ECE R129 certification so you can be confident your child is as safe as possible. As with other car seats on our list, it features isofix installation, side protection and an adjustable headrest to grow as your child grows.

In addition to the safety offered by the Isofix installation, which one reviewer noted "has a tight ratchet which allows the car seat to hug the seat and not move", it has a Side Protection System Plus. This combines glass fibre shock absorbers with energy absorbing material to offer additional protection in case of a side collision. 

Where this high-back booster seat differs from others is in the adjustable sides and height, allowing both the height and width to grow with your child. One reviewer commented that she “really liked the fact that the whole seat expands as the head rest is heightened but is still a fairly compact seat.” 
The removable seat cover offers both easy washing and the option to buy an additional summer cover which is made from absorbent material and can also be used as a protective cover for the car seat.

Some reviewers felt the cushioning was a little hard so this may be something to consider if you plan to do a lot of long journeys. 

Read our Maxi-Cosi Kore Pro review here.

Pros

  • Expands in both height and width for extra comfort for growing children
  • Side Protection System Plus for extra protection from side impact
  • Option to buy additional Summer Cover

Cons

  • Some reviewers felt the cushion was a little hard
Suitable for: 15kg to 36kg (approx. 4 - 12 years)
Dimensions: H76 X D44 x W51
ISOFIX: Yes
Weight: 6kg
Testing Certification:R129
  • Seatbelt and ISOFIX installation
  • Side Protection System Plus
  • Expands in height and width
  • Can buy a summer cover for hotter days

Best for comfortable sleeping

Cybex Silver Solution X-Fix Child's Car SeatMother&Baby Writer, Rebecca

The Cybex Silver Solution X-Fix Child's Car Seat is a firm favourite with parent reviewers who praise how sturdy and secure it felt. The integrated linear side impact protections (L.S.P. System) offer greater protection from side impact, while the energy absorbing shell dissipates the force of the impact further.

The Cybex Silver Solution car seat can be installed with ISOFIX and without, offering flexibility for cars which may not have isofix fittings, and the retractable ISOFIX anchor makes it easy to install and offers greater stability. Reviewers mentioned how easy it is to install and adjust, with one dad reviewer summing up the general feedback when he said “Straight out the box it was easy to assemble. Nice and lightweight, the grandparents found it easy to use. Once attached to the isofix it’s easy to put the seat belt through the side of the seat. Belt always stays in guide and my daughter finds it easy to pull around.”

The adjustable headrest is a real winner – unlike other models, the Cybex features a patented 3-position reclining headrest which keeps your child’s head from tilting forward when they fall asleep, making them more comfortable and secure, and one reviewer found that this meant her “nearly 5 year old can fall asleep in the car without her head lulling forward, thanks to the slight tilt design.” It’s also adjustable for height, with 11 positions meaning it can grow as your child grows.
The seat also comes in a range of colours and has a removable, washable cover to make it easy to clean.

Pros

  • The integrated linear side impact protections offer greater safety from side collision
  • Multiple colour choices
  • The cover is removable and washable for easy clean
  • The adjustable headrest offers safety and comfort during naps
  • It can be installed with a seat belt or isofix for added versatility

Cons

  • No cup holder which some other seats offer
Suitable for: 15-36 kg (3 to approximately 12 years)
Dimensions: 41D x 47W x 64H cm
ISOFIX: Yes
Weight:7kg
Testing Certification:R44/04
  • Machine washable
  • Seatbelt and ISOFIX installation
  • Patented adjustable headrest

Best for older children

This Maxi-Cosi RodiFix AirProtect high-back booster is a ECE R44/04 certified car seat that’s packed full of safety features and will fit any car that has ISOFIX. 

As with other high-back boosters on our list, this has a Side Protection System to protect your child in case of a crash, but it also features unique AirProtect® technology. This technology in the headrest absorbs shock in the event of a side impact, offering extra protection to your child’s head.  Maxi-Cosi claims this patented technology can help reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 20%. This headrest is also adjustable for height and width so grows as your child does.

The two reclining positions, sleeping or upright, ensures comfort on long journeys and helps prevent head rolling when the child is asleep "which makes it easy to snooze on long journeys". Both the headrest and the backrest are adjustable, allowing both to grow with your child.

Reviewers also praised that the removable, washable cover makes it easy to clean, while the fact it's lightweight was picked out as a plus, with one mum saying she "often has to change seats between cars and this has been the easiest to move among the three I've owned so far."

Some reviewers mentioned that the polystyrene of the seat had a tendency to squeak on journeys.

Pros

  • AirProtect® technology in the headrest to minimise the shock of impact
  • Easy-to-follow belt guide - can use seat belt and isofix for extra security
  • Adjustable back and headrest - grows with the child
  • Two reclining positions for extra comfort

Cons

  • Some reviewers report a squeaky sound from the headrest
Suitable for: 5-36kg or 33-79lbs (approx. 3.5-12 years old)
Dimensions: H63.5 x W49 x D51cm
ISOFIX:Yes
Weight: 8kg
Testing Certification:R44/04
  • Installed by the car seatbelt in combination with ISOFIX
  • Removable cover 
  • Belt guide ensures quick and easy installation

Priced amongst the mid-range high-backed booster car seats, the Cybex solution G i-Fix offers sleek style, with ease of use and the added bonus of flexibility. The reclinable headrest and back is a selling point, with three positions that help with the head flop scenario, keeping your child's head and neck protected even when they doze off. With rear facing seats being a safer option for younger children, some parents may search for a seat that can be both rear and forward facing, but for those looking for a front facing stage 3 car seat, the Cybex comes with a safety rating of 1.7 (GOOD) in ADAC Testing.

The lower recline function tilts the child’s position back, our tester reported that this was simple to do, even with their son sat in it. "Our son prefers to sit in the reclined position which may reflect the feel of his previous 360 car seat. Upon hearing that the car seat reclined both boys were very excited to see the product, with the eldest trying to persuade his sibling that he should be the one to have it!" The recline is a good USP, particularly for children transitioning from a car seat to a high backed booster, as the fit and feel will be more familiar to them. As well as flexibility from the recline, our reviewer also mentioned that the seat itself was very flexible, both in the upright body and wings, and that it was lightweight to carry. "Because of its flexibility, the seat moulded into the car’s seats much better than our elder son’s car seat."

Read our full Cybex Solution G i-Fix car seat review

Pros

  • Reclining headrest and back keeps child comfortable and safe when asleep
  • Isofix for quick and simple installation
  • Lightweight to carry and move between cars

Cons

  • Our tester found that her child was able to lean forward quite a lot, so had to tell him to sit back in the car seat
  • Ease of installing
    5.0
  • Style
    4.0
  • Ease of use
    5.0
  • Safety features
    5.0
  • Worth the money
    0.0
FittingsIsofix compatible or use with 3 point vehicle belt
SafetyR129-compliant
Height suitabilityChildren 100-150cm in height

Best for safety

The Britax Romer KIDFIX i-Size high-back booster boasts a wealth of features to keep your little one safe. German-designed and made, it’s been developed in partnership with leading car manufacturers and comes out very favourably in reviews in terms of how confident parents felt when using it. 

The seat uses proven technologies of XP-PAD and SecureGuard to protect in case of a front collisions, while SICT side panels protect in case of side impact. The Secure Guard is an optional fourth point in the standard three-point buckle system to help protect your little one's delicate tummy and parents “love the added safety of the middle, reducing risk.”

Internal Britax testing found that the shock-absorbing foam pad prevented the impact of a child's chin on their chest, absorbing up to 30% of the energy, while the SICT reduced the side impact forces by up to 40%, and the SecureGuard helped reduce the impact on the abdomen by up to 35 % in a frontal collision.

One very useful design feature for parents of three children is the slimline design that allows three of these seats to be installed side-by-side in a wide range of family cars making it one of the best narrow high back booster seats.

Reviewers were almost unanimous in their praise for this car seat, from the safety – “I could not feel more confident about his safety. Another brilliant seat from Britax” - to the comfort, with another reviewer saying “brilliant seat, my son loves it. The standout features for me are the comfort (he's never slept so much in the car) and the multiple safety features including side impact, chest and abdomen protection.”

Britax have also considered your child’s comfort, with padded fabric covers, holes on the shell to offer ventilation, and an ergonomic headrest. Not only that but they’ve taken the environment into consideration, manufacturing in Germany or the UK to reduce airmiles, and minimising the leaflets that come with the car seat. 

While the price point is a little higher than others on the market, parents felt the confidence it gave them made it good value for money. "More expensive than some other models but rates well with independent reviewers and will last until children can move out of car seats, so we decided to go ahead. Recommended!"

Pros

  • Added chest protection from the XP-Pad
  • Added abdominal protection from the SecureGuard 4th point in the buckle
  • Three of these seats can be installed side-by-side in many family cars
  • Very comfortable
  • Manufactured in Europe for lower airmiles, making it more environmentally friendly

Cons

  • No cup holders
Suitable for:15 - 36kg
Dimensions:H63-83 x W48 x D43cm
ISOFIX: Yes
Weight: 7.4kg
Testing Certification:R129
  • SecureGuard
  • Ergonomic seat
  • Fourth point buckle feature

Best lightweight car seat

The affordable high-back booster seat gets high marks from thousands of reviewers, giving us confidence that while it might not have the high-end features of more expensive models, reviewers “recommend it as an economical child booster seat.”

Parents particularly liked how lightweight it is. At just 3.6kg, it’s around half the weight of others on our list making it a good option for moving between cars or for keeping at grandparents’ house for shorter journeys. This seems to be a key reason many people bought the seat, including one grandparent who had “researched a booster seat that provided back support and was easy to place in and out of different cars, this fits bill perfectly and granddaughter loves it, especially side cups.”

The height of the headrest can be adjusted to six points with one hand, making it easy to use and ensure it can grow with your child. Parents (and children) also loved the retractable cup holders which, as one reviewer pointed out, are “a good addition too - stops a lot of unwanted spills from the boys. Worth that money all day long.”

It doesn’t come with Isofix but is strapped in with the car seat which makes it ideal for cars without isofix fittings. Reviewers also agreed that the removable cover was a selling point, with one saying her “child vomited on this and it was an absolute dream to wash and clean up. So easy to take off and put together! Looks like brand new again and fully sterilised with steam!”

Pros

  • Affordable as a second car seat or for grandparents' cars
  • Lightweight so easy to move between cars
  • Retractable cup holders to avoid spills and keep snacks and drinks at hand

Cons

  • No isofix
  • Fewer safety features than more expensive models
Suitable for: 4 - 12 years
Dimensions: H81.70 x D53.7 x W40.80cm
ISOFIX: No
Weight:3.6 kg
Testing Certification:R44
  • Two cup holders
  • Adjustable headrest
  • Washable cover

Best foldable high back booster car seat

Maxi-Cosi Tanza High-back booster seatMaxiCosi/Amazon

This foldable high back booster car seat is lightweight at just 5.32kg, making it easy to store or move from car to car when needed. Reviewers found this to be a particular highlight and that, as it’s “Isofix it’s quite easy to install (which is good, as we need to take it out occasionally), and fits well against our back seats.”

As well as being a convenient option for a portable car seat, the Maxi-Cosi Tanza has some impressive safety features, including G-Cell side impact protection, an integrated safety system which spreads the force of an impact to lower the risk of injury your child’s head, neck and shoulders. Ten headrest positions make it easy to find a position that will suit your child at every stage in their growth. It meets the highest EU safety standards (i-size ECE R129), and parents felt it was a reassuringly safe car seat, saying “the seat is strong and the frame extremely sturdy; this is an excellent car seat.”

The padded seat and raised sitting position were designed with the child’s comfort in mind, while the 100% recycled fabric cover is removable and washable, making it easy to clean if needed.

Some reviewers advised checking the sizing to be sure it would fit as they found that the base was too large for their cars, causing it to sit over the seat belt fittings. Others felt this was a plus point as it made the seat more comfortable for their child.

Pros

  • Foldable for easy transport and storage
  • 10 point positions on the headrest to adjust as your child grows
  • G-Cell Side Impact Protection System to protect in event of side collision
  • Isofix fitting

Cons

  • Wide base may not be suitable for smaller cars
Suitable for: 15 - 36kg
Dimensions: H62cm x W45cm x D59cm
ISOFIX: Yes
Weight:5.32kg
Testing Certification:R129
  • G-Cell Side Impact Protection
  • Foldable
  • 10-headrest positions

Best bargain car seat

Halfords high back booster seatHalfords

This good value car seat comes out tops with parents as “easy to install and good value.” As with the other high-back booster seats on the list, it’s suitable from 4 to 12 years approximately (15-36kg). 

It doesn’t have Isofix but is installed with the seat belt. The side impact protection helps protect your child in the event of a side collision while the adjustable headrest both keeps their head and neck protected and offers comfort if they happen to fall asleep. It’s ECE R44/04 compliant so you can have confidence that it’s been tested to high standards.

Parent reviewers thought their children were comfortable and one noted that “most importantly my granddaughter says it’s very comfortable.” It’s also won points from parents for practicality, with one reviewer noting that it’s “easy to assemble and light enough to be easy to swap between cars when needed.” The machine washable removable cover is also a big plus, while the cup holders are a hit with kids and parents, who said “the cup holders on both sides have proven extremely helpful. I put paper cups with snacks in there so my nephew can snack while holding his entertainment without dropping food all over the car.”

As a cheaper high back booster seat, this car seat ticks a lot of boxes that parent reviewers were looking for in terms of safety, convenience, ease of use, and practicality.

Pros

  • A lower-priced option
  • Removable and washable cover
  • Easy to install with the seat belt so convenient for moving between cars

Cons

  • No Isofix
Suitable for: 15kg - 36kg
Dimensions:W48 x H83.5 x D45cm
ISOFIX: No
Weight:4kg
Testing Certification:R44/04
  • Height adjustable head support
  • Removable covers
  • Cup holders

Best multi-stage without ISOFIX

The Joie Elevate is a Group 1/2/3 car seat, meaning it can be used from as young as 9 months old until secondary school. It’s certified ECE R44/04, so you can be confident it’s undergone rigorous testing for front and rear collisions.

It uses a 5-point harness until your little one’s old enough to move to the car’s seatbelt and has ten headrest positions to ensure their comfort and safety. For simplicity of use, the headrest and harness operate together, so you don't have to re-thread the harness when you adjust the chair for growth. 

Side impact protection helps in the event of a side collision, while the lock-off device keeps the car seat secure when installed using the car’s seat belt.

Parent reviewers appreciated the ventilated mesh “breathable sides so the little one doesn’t overheat,” and others thought the colour-coded installation guide made it “easy to fit and totally feels secure and safe”. Their children liked the cup holders for easy access to snacks and drinks, while parents liked the machine washable covers in case of spills or mess.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Great cushioning for comfort
  • 10-position adjustable headrest for growth
  • Full impact protection for the head and upper body

Cons

  • Harness can be a tight fit
  • No recline option
  • No isofix
Suitable for: 9-36kg/20-79lb (approx 1-12 years)
Dimensions: H63-83cm x W50.3cm x D50cm
ISOFIX: No
Weight: 5.47kg
Testing Certification:R44/04
  • Removable and machine washable covers
  • 10-position height adjustable headrest
  • Easy installation with lock-off device
  • Well-marked, colour-coded installation paths
  • Cup holder

Car seat guide

To help determine which of the best high-backed booster seats your little one needs, you should be looking for their 'stage group' based on their weight rather than their age. The stage groups for little ones are broken down as follows under ECE R44 regulations with different seat designs as a result.

It's recommended that you should try to keep your child in the lowest stage group for as long as possible to give them the optimal safety features.

Group 0+/1 car seats: Suitable from birth to 18kg, approx. four-years-old.

Group 1 car seats: Suitable for children 9-18kg, approx. nine months to four years old.

Group 0+/1/2 car seats: Suitable from birth to 25kg, approx. six-years-old.

Group 1/2/3 car seats: Suitable for children 9-36kg, approx. nine months to 12 years.

2/3 car seats: Suitable for children 15-36kg, approx. three to 12 years old.

i-Size car seats: Expected to eventually be adopted across all new car seats sold, i-Size was introduced in 2013 as safety regulation ECE R129 with rigorous testing through impact crash trials and new state-of-the-art Q dummies to test impact.

i-Size cars seats use a height-based system rather than weight to determine the right fit, provide better protection from side impacts, and keep children rearward-facing for longer, until at least 15 months or 75cm to protect their fragile heads and necks.

What is the difference between R129 and R44?

You may have spotted ECE R129 and ECE R44 in descriptions while you've been looking for the best high-back booster seat for your growing child. Essentially, both are indicators that the car seat has passed safety testing for rear and front collisions, but R129 is a more rigorous process that also includes side impact testing. R44 car seats can still be bought but are being phased out and will not be sold after September 2024, though it will still legal to use them for at least 8 years.

When should a child be in a high-back booster seat?

High-back booster seats, also known as Group 2/3 car seats, are suitable from 15kg. Most high-back boosters state that they are suitable from the age of four. However, you should always go by a child's weight or height rather than age.

Unlike baby and toddler car seats, these booster seats do not have an internal harness and children are instead secured by the car's seat belt. So, it is a good idea to try and keep them in an infant car seat until they meet the maximum weight.

Is a high-back booster safer than a backless booster?

A high-back booster seat is safer than a backless booster or a booster cushion. And there are three main reasons why.

Firstly, a high-back booster has potentially life-saving protection for your child's torso and head against side impacts. In this way, it is more similar to a car seat than a backless booster that just ensures your child is seated at the correct height for a car seat belt.

Speaking of which, high-backed boosters have guides that ensure that the belt is in the correct position for your child's height. Also, a high-back booster can sometimes recline, whereas backless seats cannot. As we all know, little ones love sleeping in the car. High-back booster seats stop your little one from slouching forward and causing injuries.

It's also worth knowing that based on new safety regulations launched in 2017, Group 3 car seats, i.e. new backless booster seats on the market, are limited to children who are taller than 125cm and weigh more than 22kg. Previously, these car seats were approved for use by children weighing between 15-36kg, but they've been deemed by the UN as being unsuitable for protecting smaller children from side-on collisions as they have fewer safety features.

Does a five-year-old need a five-point harness?

A five-point harness offers the maximum protection in a car seat. However, once your child weighs 18kg, the harness should be replaced by the seatbelt to ensure optimal safety. If you are unsure, always check the manufacturer's guides on the car seat.

What is ISOFIX?

For a car seat that's seamless to install, ISOFIX is a must. ISOFIX-compatible car seats have two arms that lock onto small metal bars located in the seat of your vehicle to anchor the car seat into place. Plus, they're accompanied by install indicators, so you can be sure it's correctly connected.

Most new cars since 2013 have a pair of ISOFIX anchor points. But it's something worth checking in your car if you want to reap the benefits.

Hannah Carroll is our Senior Parenting, Lifestyle and Home Product Writer.  In her capacity, she curates top-notch listicles, crafts insightful how-to guides, and delivers expert product reviews. As a mother of three, Hannah draws upon her comprehensive understanding of all facets of family life to bring true insight into all the products that make running a home easier.

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