I have the same frustration as many others. With a Frontier 85 and Radian XTSL in the 3rd row of my minivan, I was unable to find a booster that fit between the two so that my little sister could safely ride with us. Everything was too wide.
So, I was excited to learn about The BubbleBum, an inflatable booster that stores in a bag. I looked it over and quickly ascertained that it's a real, tried and true booster seat, made of high quality materials and smartly designed. This is not a redneck hack. This is a very well thought out answer to a long standing space problem.
But, whenever I discussed this creative product, parents around me would express fear or dismissal. They heard the word, "inflatable" and instantly decided it was cheap and unreliable. I think the novelty of this technology drives some people away, and that's why I decided to specifically review this product and to offer a giveaway on my blog. I want parents to take a few minutes to learn about this option, because a properly fitting booster is much, much safer in that tough spot in your car than no booster at all.
This FMVSS213 approved device (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard) has passed the same safety standards as other boosters. It has also been tested through the deflation process and passed as well. So for the parents who are immediately worried about this booster being damaged and deflating, the researchers prepared for that and tested for that.
It arrives in a bag about the size of a medium cloth diaper wetbag with a belt positioner and manual. It has a drawstring to close it. Thankfully, it's very simple to inflate and deflate. This is not a magical folding puzzle, like when you open a tent and spend an hour fitting it into the bag just right lol! When you're finished using The BubbleBum, you just squish it in half and shove it back into the bag. The bag can then go right into a large backpack, suitcase, under the vehicle seat, in a coat closet, etc.
When you're ready to use it, you simply pull it out, twist the black valve, and blow to inflate. It only takes a few blows. Then you twist the valve closed. Connect the shoulder belt positioner, thread the vehicle belt through the clear, red guides and you're ready to roll. These red guides seemed pesky to me at first, but when using it in the tight 3rd row, I realized they were much better than the bulky arms of a conventional booster as I had to jam my hand down between carseats to buckle the booster.
You could potentially leave this seat partially threaded through the guides to use again and again. I think for younger children or in really tight spots, threading the belt through will be difficult. (Then again, a very young child really shouldn't be in a backless booster anyways.)
The BubbleBum isn't magical, and it still needs to be threaded, but it is quite the problem solver for tight fits and traveling. If you're looking for a way to make that split seat, smart seat or middle seat accessible without sacrificing safety, this is the product for you. And if you want something that you can shove in the diaper bag to take for the taxi, Grandma's car, or keep under the seat for that extra passenger, this is it.
I tested the neon pink BubbleBum as pictured above. I used this seat in three vehicles with three different children. For privacy purposes, only my own child is shown here. I tested in a 2013 GMC Acadia with a 10 year old, 76 pound, 52 inch child. I tested in a 2009 Subaru Outback with a 7 year old, 51 pound, 47 inch child. And I tested my 2004 Honda Odyssey with my 5 year old, 45 pound, 46 inch child.
Feedback from the children:
"I like the squishy feeling. It's softer than the [vehicle] seat."
"Cool, it's not even a booster!" Translation: it's cool enough for Mr. I Hate Little Kid Carseats.
"I like the red holders because they keep the belt from hurting my tummy." Mommy LOVES that part, too!
"I need help!" They did all need help. With time, some children can use this independently. The assistance issue was something I'm willing to put up with for the ability to safely transport, though. The thing is, no matter what goes into a hard spot, assistance is probably needed to get hands down between the seats for the buckle.
The BubbleBum is definitely on my list as a firm recommendation for trouble spots in vehicles and for travelling. It could also be useful for older children who reject boosters and for children with sensory issues who would find the softer seat more appealing.
Please remember to use backless boosters responsibly. Always ensure the vehicle belt is on the thighs, not stomach, and in the middle of the shoulder, not falling off or against the neck. Ensure the child is old enough and heavy/tall enough to meet the minimums and that there is an available headrest. And teach the child to sit correctly in the seat at all times.
Where to buy: The BubbleBum is available at some large retailers such as Walmart and Target. You can also find it on Amazon. Visit their store locator here for more options.
Connect with BubbleBumUSA!
|OMG! OMG! It fits! WOOOT! LOL.|
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