November 7, 2011

Does The Bubble Bum Solve The Third Car Seat Dilemma?

bubble_bum_inflatable_booster.jpg

The Bubble Bum is the third inflatable European booster seat solution to surface here on Daddy Types. Is it finally the one that actually works well enough to use?

Frankly, I find it a bit extraordinary that the Bubble Bum meets EU R44.04 safety standards "in the deflated state," and yet folds small enough to fit "in Granny's glove compartment."

[UPDATE FROM THE BUBBLE BUMS THEMSELVES: I emailed some followup questions, and the BubbleBum folks got right back to me. The EU standard has a "worst case scenario" component, which in this case, meant testing the seat deflated. Because the Bubble Bum also has memory foam, it retains sufficient volume even when punctured or deflated.

They also pointed out that a booster seat like the BubbleBum is not classified as a child restraint system, but a seat belt positioner [and so involves the use of the positioning clip, not just the seat]. The car's own shoulder belt is the restraint system, obviously.]

But whatever, if a Bubble Bum actually does fit in between two traditional hard-shell booster or car seats, then they have solved one of the greatest parenting dilemmas this side of paid paternity leave: how to not buy a three-row vehicle.

[UPDATE FROM THE COMMENTS: Wow, is this true, it's only 13x13 inches? You could fit that almost anywhere! ]

That they also make far-flung rental car use easier is just a bonus. That they compound your guilt for not using a car seat in a taxi is, well, let's just call it a win for child safety.

Buy your Bubble Bum from Magic Beans for $39.99 and I get good karma [mbeans.com]
Buy your BubbleBum inflatable booster seat from Amazon, and I get a dollar [amazon]

Previously: Bedi EasyCarSeat by Gumotex
Luftikid inflatable car seat: der Junge in the Plastic Bubble

12 Comments

A very timely post! Yesterday I was just trying to determine whether my Honda Fit/Jazz would take 3 seats in the back for the impending arrival of K3. Will take a look at this as an option ...

Please report back! I'll see if I can dig up the actual dimensions of the Bubble Bum.

I have a BubbleBum and bought it for exactly that reason... we have 3 kids and our 8 yr old still needs a booster... getting them in our compact SUV (We have a Honda Rav4) was a challenge until we found BubbleBum. There was a post on carseat.org showing BubbleBum fitting in the smallest of seats... Brilliant!

Ours is 13" x 13" x 4"... and it's cushy. Our son loves how comfy it is...

Hope this helps! We love this booster!

Definitely an intriguing option. But it gets me wondering how unfortunate it is that the era of enhanced booster seat requirements did not overlap with the era of phonebooks.

Seriously, I keep thinking, if this is all it takes to make a standards-compliant booster seat, how the hell have car manufacturers not been making fold-down cushions all along?

[and to answer my own question, I think the answer is in terms of forward movement on impact, built-in child restraint systems are subject to stricter test standards under FMVSS213 than add-on systems.]

Why can't they make something like this that's not inflatable?

There are the built-in pop-up boosters in a few Volvos and the Dodge Journey. I don't know of any others. All they do is raise the seat cushion a few inches. I'm surprised more family oriented cars don't offer this as an option.
My in-laws have a V70 and popping up that integrated booster makes them as happy as just about any other feature in the car.

Honda Rav4? Was that one of the DT wacky station wagon entries I missed?

I think that error sums up quite a bit about the small family wagon situation in the US right now.

My 1998 Saab 9-3 had the fold-down booster seat over the middle seat, and my Mercedes GL320 has it too. I've driven C-class Mercedeses that had it as well, and Volvos. I've always assumed that it was a European thing.

So it seems Australia doubts the efficacy of this entire format, leaving it out of their new standard for boosters (although the old standard permits it and continues to be applicable). http://nurture.whereilive.com.au/news/story/call-for-car-booster-ban/

We took two of these to Germany this summer. They were perfect. We actually didn't need them for the taxi though..as you can call a "family taxi" and they pick you up in a station wagon with carseats installed. However we were visiting friends and these seats were great. Light to carry down the stairs at the hotel (family of 4 cant fit in the lift) and quick to pop into car and go without blocking all the street traffic. The best part was we didn't need to check or lug around car seats at the airport. We rolled up the Bubble bums and put them in our suitcases. Great travel seat.. and great extra for staying with Grandma too.

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