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Published October 03, 2012, 11:35 PM

Thursday Review | Inflatable booster works in a pinch

FARGO – The Bubble Bum car booster seat is something only a mom could invent. It’s ingenious, really: an inflatable booster seat that stows easily, the perfect solution when traveling in a rental car or taxi, or hauling an extra kid at the spur of the moment.

By: Sherri Richards, INFORUM

FARGO – The Bubble Bum car booster seat is something only a mom could invent.

It’s ingenious, really: an inflatable booster seat that stows easily, the perfect solution when traveling in a rental car or taxi, or hauling an extra kid at the spur of the moment.

I expected the seat to feel slippery and cheap, like a blow-up beach raft, so was pleasantly surprised by its fabric covering and cushy feel.

The air valve twists open and closed easily. I was able to inflate the seat by mouth in less than a minute.

My 4-year-old daughter declared it “comfortable.”

Because it doesn’t have arm rests, it’s narrower than most boosters. It fit easily next to our high-back booster and convertible car seat, meaning three kids could sit in the back seat.

The booster has red clips on both sides that the lap belt must thread through. This made buckling and unbuckling trickier than Eve’s regular booster, especially because I’m used to doing so with one hand.

The Bubble Bum also comes with a clip to position the shoulder belt. I did have some trouble adjusting it to where it kept the shoulder strap in place.

After a quick trip to the store and back home, I deflated the seat. It reminded me of deflating an air mattress. I couldn’t seem to get all the air out, as much as I squeezed. Its drawstring carrying bag is stretchy, though, so I could still tuck it back inside.

While the seat is light, I’m not sure it would readily fit inside a purse or glove box, as its makers claim. It definitely would fit in a carry-on bag or backpack.

The seat is said to meet all U.S. federal motor vehicle safety standards. It’s designed for use by kids ages 4 to 11 who weigh 40 to 100 pounds.

It retails for $40, and is sold online. Similarly shaped backless boosters can be found for as little as $15, so you are more paying for portability.

I wondered how its plastic materials would withstand North Dakota’s extreme temperatures, especially if stored in a car’s trunk. Bubble Bum makers note it contains memory foam and not just plastic but suggest not leaving it in a car in extreme heat and leaving the valve open when not in use.

Bobbi Paper, injury prevention coordinator with Sanford Children’s and Safe Kids Fargo/ Moorhead, says she hasn’t seen Bubble Bum seats in our area, but the product has been discussed at conferences and safety meetings.

Paper says it meets standards conventional car seats must meet before being sold in the U.S., and was rated a “best bet” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. She notes it’s recommended that children transitioning from a car seat use a high-back booster until they are 6 or 7 years old. There is an inflatable high-back booster on the market called “Go Booster,” she says.

Bottom line: I wouldn’t use the Bubble Bum on a daily basis, but it would be a great solution for traveling kiddos.

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