KidsEmbrace 2-in-1 Belt-Positioning Booster Review

(Last Updated On: May 16, 2018)
KidsEmbrace 2-in-1 Booster Seat

KidsEmbrace 2-in-1 Booster Seat

KidsEmbrace has been making fun featured character car seats for many years, including their 2-in-1 Belt-Positioning booster.  We’ve spend some quality time with their combination car seat and were eager to see how the Justice League booster seat stacks up.

CSFTL Quick Stats

  • High back booster weight range: 30-100 pounds
  • High back booster height range: 38-57 inches tall
  • Backless booster weight range: 40-100 pounds
  • Backless booster height range: 40-57 inches tall
  • Highest booster guide position: 18 inches
  • Expiration: 7 years

Measurements

  • Width at widest point (armrests): 17 inches without cupholder attached
  • Width at widest point (armrests): 20 inches with cupholder attached
  • Backless mode: width at armrests: 17 inches
  • Internal seating area width: 11 inches
  • Seat pan depth: 14 inches
  • Weight in high back mode: 9 pounds
  • Weight in backless booster mode: 3.5 pounds

Features

Characters!

The most obviously awesome thing about this booster seat is that it comes in fun, kid-friendly prints! Batman, Superman, and Justice League are all available in the 2-in-1 booster seats, and then the backless boosters only have Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as well. Kids are drawn to these characters and we applaud anything that encourages children to ride safely.

It’s Comfortably Wide

Widest part of the KidsEmbrace booster seat, on the low shoulder wings, is 17 inches wide.

Widest part of the KidsEmbrace booster seat, on the low shoulder wings, is 17 inches wide.

The second thing that’s amazing, and less obvious, is the width. At the absolute widest, this seat is only 17 inches wide. Which honestly surprised me. It looks and acts like a wider booster that has plenty of room through the legs and hips.

My eight year old model never once found the seat uncomfortable.  She’s not super large, but she’s also not petite. It didn’t even occur to me that it would only be 17 inches wide — the seating area is so robust, I thought it would be much wider. With the cupholder attached, the seat is widest there at 20 inches across.

Lightweight

It’s also very lightweight in both high back and backless modes. My daughter can carry the seat around in both modes, and certainly in backless mode with ease. This light weight makes this booster a great option for carpools or field trips.

Manual Challenges

Typo on the stickers. A "Backl" booster and requiring the child to be "3857 inches" to use.

Typos on the labels. A “Backl” booster and requiring the child to be “3857 inches” to use.

I had a very interesting time with the manual and labels for this seat. The booster I received directly from KidsEmbrace included a manual that had typos and errors on nearly every page. There were spelling and typo errors on the labels as well.  While that was frustrating, we want to be clear — KidsEmbrace was very receptive to our feedback.  They redid the manual twice while we conversed on the subject.

If we were to hand out the very first CSFTL Manufacturer Most Receptive to Feedback award, it would go to KidsEmbrace for the way they responded to our concerns over the manual and the labels.

I don’t know if there will be a recall on the booster seats that ship with this really terribly written manual and typo filled labels. They are certainly not FMVSS213 complaint.

If you have a booster with these issues, please report the seat to NHTSA at https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/ivoq/Complaint.cfm, and contact KidsEmbrace for a new copy of a compliant manual.

Age Limits

KidsEmbrace states a minimum of 3 years old for the high back booster and 4 years old for the backless mode.  HOWEVER.  CSFTL and other organizations maintain that children should be at least 5 years old and have the size and maturity to sit properly 100% of the time while in a booster seat. If a child does not sit properly in their booster seat, their seat will not protect them adequately.

Assembly

Like most booster seats that have a high back and a backless mode, converting it from backless to high back mode takes just a little assembly.  Lay high back and backless pieces of the booster flat on the floor face up, hook the back portion onto the backless portion of the seat, then move the back into an upright position.
The cover didn’t get in the way and the openings in the backless booster are large and open for the back to rotate in. The downside of this openness is to be careful while carrying this booster seat around. If you grab it from the back only, the bottom may open and tip off. If you carry it like a chair — grabbing it by the armrest or the bottom of the seat — you’ll have no problems.There is a required backless belt guide attached to the seat via a screw.  This means no worries about losing the shoulder belt guide adjuster anytime or anyplace down the road!
Simply take it out of the storage compartment when the child is ready to ride in backless mode and attach it to the seatbelt. Or store it under the cover of the backless booster when the seat is in high back mode.

Cupholder

The booster includes an optional solid plastic cupholder that attaches on either side of the booster.

Setup and Installation

Setup: High Back Mode

KidsEmbrace booster in high back mode.

This seat is a traditional high back booster without lower anchors. Simply place the booster seat on the vehicle seat, thread the vehicle seat belt through the shoulder and lap belt guides, then buckle the child in. That’s it!

Our 8 year old model was able buckle herself into this seat in a variety of cars.  The booster is also light enough that if she did have to move it over a bit to access a buckle, that was very easy for her to do herself.

Like any seat booster that doesn’t have this booster should be buckled in when not in use to prevent it from becoming a projectile.

Setup: Backless Mode

KidsEmbrace booster seat backless mode

KidsEmbrace booster seat backless mode

In backless mode, this booster is what our young reviewer describes as a “plopper.”  Just set the booster seat on the vehicle seat, have the child sit on it, and then buckle them in or have them buckle themselves in. The backless mode belt path is open enough that most children should be able to route the vehicle seat belt appropriately with ease.  The belt guide is not so high that the armrests are uncomfortable or bulky for our passengers. As with any booster that has no lower anchors, it should be buckled in when not in use to prevent it from becoming a projectile.

Fit to Child

High Back Mode

6 Year Old Doll

Six year old sized doll using the KidsEmbrace booster.

KidsEmbrace Booster: 6 year old doll

When our 6 year old Huggable Images doll tried this seat, the vehicle seat belt fit was absolutely textbook perfect. The shoulder belt touches the collarbone and crosses it at the middle, and the lap belt is low on the hips and high on the thighs. The only downside is that my 6 year old sized doll is about to outgrow this seat in high back mode.

8 Years Old

My eight year old too tall to comfortably sit back for a photo.

My 8 year old is too tall to comfortably sit back for a photo of the KidsEmbrace Booster Seat.

Here’s where we run into some trouble. My 8 year old model weighs 70 pounds and is 50 inches tall.  She wears a size 8 shirt so her torso is average for her age. She has long outgrown this booster in high back mode.

The lowest shoulder belt guide height is 16 inches, the highest is 18 inches high.  There are four notches in between those heights at nearly half an inch intervals.   That’s a 2 inch difference between the lowest and the highest settings.   Most booster seats on the market right now have a larger gap between the lowest and highest settings so a child can use it for a longer time.

She can’t even sit back in it to pretend to fit so I could get a picture.  When we were working on this review, she scooted her bum very far forward to get her shoulders to fit under the headwings.

If your child has an average to long torso and you’d want to use a high back booster past 6 years old, this is not the booster for you.

Headrest Adjustment

Pull the dial away from the back of the headrest.

Pull the dial away from the back of the headrest.

Raise the headrest to your desired height.

Raise the headrest to your desired height.

Push the dial back in to lock the headrest in position.

Push the dial back in to lock the headrest in position.

To adjust the headrest, pull the dial away from the back of the booster’s headrest, rotate it to the position you would like, then push the dial back in so it locks the headrest at that height. Once I figured out how to adjust the headrest height, it’s quite easy, but it was not at all intuitive to this veteran tech how to adjust the headrest and keep it locked.

Fit to Child

Backless Mode

8 Years Old

The least smug smile I could get out of her. Using the backless booster and belt guide on her shoulder.

The least smug smile I could get out of her. Using the backless booster and belt guide on her shoulder.

Our model remains 8 years old, still weighs 70 pounds and is 50 inches tall.  The backless mode offered her a solid belt fit. In backless mode, the attached shoulder belt guide adjuster is required.

The good news is that it’s easy to use. It slides onto the shoulder portion of the adult seat belt and then it is adjusted to your child’s seated shoulder height.  She had no problem getting in and buckling herself in with the adjuster attached to the shoulder belt.

 

KidsEmbrace booster seat shoulder belt adjuster

KidsEmbrace booster seat shoulder belt adjuster

It took a few moments to set it up for her but once it was set, we didn’t have to move it until she had a growth spurt and needed to move it up a bit.

The gap behind the booster in my vehicle.

Gap behind the KidsEmbrace booster seat.

The lap belt fit through the backless booster’s belt path is textbook perfect.

The biggest downside my 8 year old commented on for the backless booster was that because of the shape of the booster, and the shape of most cars’ backseats, there is a gap behind the booster that she could feel. She found this uncomfortable, but not so bad that she couldn’t use the seat. She did not complain about the holes for the back to connect to the backless portion, just the gap behind the whole thing. If you have a more flat curve to your backseat than I do, this may not be something your child notices at all. If you have a very curved backseat (like a sports car’s bucket seats in the back), this booster may not actually fit at all. In my car this was more of a problem than in my husband’s car.

I wish my model found this seat more comfortable in backless mode, but that’s more an issue of a square-ish booster trying to fit into a curved backseat space.  It’s not the first booster my family has used where that has been an issue.

Important Information: Where to Find

The date of manufacture is a small white sticker on the underside. The seven year expiration is mentioned in the manual.

The date of manufacture is a small white label on the underside. The seven year expiration is mentioned in the manual.

Expiration: The expiration is listed in the manual as seven years from the label on the seat. The label is located on the underside of the seat, nearly smack in the middle.

The manual storage location.

The manual storage location.

Manual Storage: The manual is stored under the trim cover on the outside of an armrest on the backless booster.

This seat is not certified for use in aircraft. These are more typos on the stickers.

This seat is not certified for use in aircraft. These are more typos on the labels.

FAA Approval: Like all booster seats, this seat is not aircraft approved because it requires a lap and shoulder belt for use and airplanes only have lap belts. This is mentioned on the labels and in the manual.

Overall Thoughts

The KidsEmbrace 2-in-1 Booster Seat has a lot to offer in backless mode.  It’s lightweight, offers a consistent belt fit, and is stunningly wide where it counts — in the seating area.

The 18 inch top shoulder belt guide and fairly narrow back area mean that it’s very short-lived in high back mode.

Where it shines is in backless mode.  It’s easy to buckle and carry around, it’s stunningly narrow, while offering a comfortably wide seating area. It also has a nice cupholder. These things all make the backless mode of this booster a great option for carpooling. The shoulder belt guide adjuster stays attached to the seat and is fairly easy to use.

Despite these solid features, the manual and labels were a sizable concern.  We appreciate so very much the fact that KidsEmbrace worked to revisit the manual in short order and we hope that very few of these seats ship with the same version of the manual we received with the seat.

Do you want one for your child?  Check out the different characters!

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