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All Booster Seats Not Created Equal?

Putting your kids in booster seats is the law in most states, and it can be a lifesaver in an accident.

However, a new report shows not all booster seats are created equal.

View the IIHS Report

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety took a look at 60 different booster seats. Some are listed as "Best Bets," but almost a dozen made it on the "Not Recommended" list.

"Early Show" consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen explained seatbelts are designed for adults and booster seats give kids a higher position in the car seat to help get them in the right spot.

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Anne McCartt, of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said, "The big thing about a booster is it needs to position the seatbelts correctly."

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety -- not all booster seats offer the same amount of protection in a crash -- it all comes down to where the lap and shoulder belts fit across your child's body.

McCartt told Koeppen, "Any booster is better than no booster at all but some boosters do a better job positioning belts."

The Institute has just released its latest ratings of almost all booster seats sold in the U.S. The Institute tested each seat using a crash test dummy representing an average sized 6-year-old. Nine of the booster seats came in as best bets -- including the Recaro Vivo.

McCartt pointed out with the Recaro Vivo model, the lap belt is flat on the upper thighs.

"It is not on the tummy of the child," she said. "The shoulder belt is sitting snugly across the center of the shoulder. "

The "Not Recommended" List featured 11 boosters - about half of them, Koeppen pointed out are a three-in-one design, where the car seat converts from a traditional car seat to a booster.

McCartt used the Eddie Bauer Deluxe 3-in-1 car seat in a demonstration. The Eddie Bauer seat, McCartt said, is on their "Not Recommended" list because it doesn't do a good job of positioning the belts.

She explained to Koeppen in the demonstration, "You can see the shoulder belt is beginning to fall off the shoulder."

The Institute recommends parents reconsider using 3-in-1 seats, but stresses you don't need to spend a fortune to get a booster that does a good job.

Included on the Institute's "best bets" and "good bets" lists are boosters that cost as little as $20 dollars, and others that can range up to $300.

Dorel, the maker of several boosters listed as "Not Recommended" told CBS News, "Our main focus is to make sure all of our car seats meet or exceed government crash test regulations and perform well in actual use, which they do. "

Dorel added that the company has "conducted hundreds of crash tests to ensure crash worthiness" and "The IIHS's test simulates only one size child in one position."

So if you have a booster on the "Not Recommended" list, should you still use it?

Koeppen said, "A booster is better than no booster. The Insurance Institute says it's important to make sure that the belts fit your child correctly. When buying a seat, take your child to the store, test the booster. Make sure the belts are across the upper thigh. And in the center of the shoulder."

What about backless seats -- how do they compare to boosters with high backs?

Koeppen said the Insurance Institute doesn't recommended one over the other.

She said, "They say backless seats can do a better job with lap belt fit, and high back boosters can do a better job with shoulder strap fit."

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