We put two brands of portable booster seats to the test.
Booster seats are meant to prop up kids, so that safety belts hit their bodies in all the right places. Generally speaking, kids use boosters from the time that they’re 35-inches to 4-feet 9-inches tall and are 4 to at least 8 years old.
If you’re traveling and renting a booster seat from your car rental company, it can be costly at about $15 per booster, per day. It also may not be that clean! Instead consider packing your own compact booster seat. Our KidTripster parent-writers put two portable booster seats to the test: BubbleBum and mifold (pronounced MY-fold).
Photo courtesy: mifold
BubbleBum is an inflatable booster seat. It’s compact, rolls up easily, and comes with a drawstring bag. To use, you simply open up the valve, inflate by mouth, and place in the car. BubbleBum is smaller than a conventional booster seat, measuring about 13-inches across and adds about 4-inches in height - perfect positioning for a child’s lap and legs. Lap belt guides are attached to the seat; you also can add an included strap to keep the shoulder belt from rubbing on the face and neck. BubbleBum retails for $29.99 and comes in two colors: black and pink.
Pros: BubbleBum is easy to inflate and deflate. It’s compact and fits perfectly in a child’s roller suitcase or backpack. My girls love it. We even use it at home, if they need to ride in a friend’s car to a playdate.
Cons: BubbleBum can lose air. Be sure to check the seat, if you leave it overnight in the car.
Holly Thiel is lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two daughters.
Mifold’s claim to fame is that it’s ten times smaller than a conventional booster seat but just as safe. Instead of boosting your child up to the position of an adult, mifold holds the shoulder belt down off the face and neck. It comes in six colors with it’s own carrying bag and retails for $39.99.
Pros: This portable booster seat is incredibly compact and lightweight. It fits easily in most of my purses! Because of it’s narrow base, it’s a great option if you need to squeeze three children in a backseat or just one on the go. I can see this booster being really handy if you're carpooling short distances or traveling in cities where you and your child are riding in cabs, which of course don’t have boosters.
Cons: I found this device too difficult for a young child to use by himself, no matter how empowered he may feel with traditional booster seat; it definitely necessitates the fine motor skills of an adult. Also, because the child rides lower, it’s difficult for a 3- to 5-year old to see out the window, as he may be accustomed to. Finally, mifold is a hard plastic seat; it’s not ideal for long car rides. I'd say that you've got about a 30-minute window before the complaints begin.