Small cars and multiple children do not have to be mutually exclusive. Anyone that has ever sat in a car next to a child knows that car seats take up a lot of room.
This is annoying for adults and children that have grown out of car seats, when they have to sit next to a smaller child in a car seat. But, it becomes downright impossible if you have to squeeze more than one child into the same row of seats, whether to fit them in a midsized sedan because you don’t have or don’t want a minivan or into a larger car because there are many children that need car seats.
It does not have to be that way, if you choose your car seats carefully. Well-chosen car seats can make what feels like a jigsaw puzzle destined to fail into an easy process that keeps everybody safe and comfortable.
The easiest way to improve the multiple car seats in a row situation, or even to just make a backseat more comfortable for people who sit next to car seats, is to invest in a narrow booster seat.
There are many car seats out there that prioritize a small width that don’t sacrifice anything in safety, which is most important, of course.
In additional to their narrow width, some of the best narrow car seats even improve safety and had added benefits that promote the longevity of the car seat and a children’s comfort while sitting in it.
We will focus on narrow booster seats specifically to help you sort through the options, so you know if a high back booster, a backless booster or a 2-in-1 booster is the best for you.
In general, the narrowest option tends to be a backless booster, but while your child still needs to be in a high back version, there are options. When choosing the best and narrowest booster seats, there are a few different factors to keep in mind.
When you’re looking for a narrow booster seat, the first thing you’ll probably think to check is the seat’s width, and you’re right to do so. A typical booster seat width is between 17 and 25 inches wide, so opting for boosters that fall approximately between 15 and 20 inches will guarantee that you’ve chosen one of the narrowest options out there.
This measurement is usually taken at the widest point on the base of a backless booster, but if you’re dealing with boosters that have a high back, double check to make sure that no area on the back is wider than the widest point on the base, including in the headrests.
When a booster seat boasts that it is a 2-in-1 seat or it is convertible, that usually means that as your child grows the seat will transition with them from a booster with a high back to a backless booster. Not all boosters do this, but many have this capability, which makes the booster seat last much longer.
That said, sometimes the 2-in-1 seats are not always the narrowest because they have extra parts built in to complement both kinds of seats.
The narrowest boosters often omit armrests or incorporate thin, flexible armrests to save space. This can sometimes be beneficial because one of the biggest safety mistakes that people make with booster seats is buckling the child in with the seat belt over top of the armrests, so the belt rests on their stomach, instead of along the child’s lap. As such, sometimes these narrow boosters without armrests can actually be safer for children because they promote correct buckling.
If you’re trying to cram three boosters into one row of a car, then almost inevitably at least one of the boosters will cover up when you need to buckle the child. Although you can purchase extensions to help with this problem, one great way to avoid it all together is to invest in a booster seat that has some sort of built-in accessibility to the buckle, usually in the form of a hole to access it.
Choosing one of those boosters can maximize the amount of space you have, so you don’t have to fumble around seats to get your children buckled and even make it so children learn how to buckle themselves quicker.
Your child might end up sending a lot of time in their booster seat, so, although safety is your top priority, you’ll also likely want to choose a booster seat they will be comfortable in. Some car seats come with additional padding to ensure maximum comfort, and while a booster seat might not seem like the most comfortable seat in the world, they actually can be very comfortable.
Talk to your child about which kinds of car seats they’ve liked the most in the past, and they might be able to give you some clues about the care seats you buy in the future.
Our Favorite Narrow Booster Seats
With all of these important factors in mind, it comes time to choose a narrow booster seat. Here are some of our favorite narrow booster seats:
Maxi-Cosi Rodifix Booster Car Seat: this booster seat is one of the seats with a high back. It’s very narrow but also promotes comfort, correct buckling technique and easy buckling. The only downside is that it can’t convert to a backless booster.
Peg Perego Viaggio Shuttle Plus 120: Of all the booster seats out there, this one is one of the most impressive because of its flexible sides that allow you to adjust the width of the seat based on a child’s needs. That flexibility allows it to accommodate children of all sizes, and the back can also be removed.
Graco RightGuide Portable Seat Belt Trainer: this booster seat is the narrowest of all car seat outs there. At a very affordable price, this backless booster is a great option for older kids that still need boosters.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Which booster seat is the narrowest?
The narrowest booster seat out there currently is the Graco RightGuide Portable Seat Belt Trainer. It clocks in at 13.25 inches at its widest point and is also very affordable. It is a backless booster seat.
What is the narrowest booster with a high back?
If your child is not quite ready for a backless booster, then the Diono Radian 3R All-in-One Convertible Car Seat is the best high back option. At just 16 inches across, it’s still remarkably narrow and can work for your child as they grow.
Can you put three car seats in a row?
Yes, you can put three car seats in a row. This tends to work best when at least one and preferably two or all three of the seats are booster seats. In order to squeeze them all in, you’ll need to ensure that you choose narrow car seats, ideally made to be placed next to other car seats.
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