Saturday, 21 May 2011

Review: BubbleBum booster seat

Child car safety is, quite rightly, considered very important today - something that has changed very quickly over the course of a generation. I never had a car seat as a child - even having rear seat belts were considered pretty novel for a long, long time. Nowadays, children under 135cm or the age of 12 must travel in a child car seat unless there aren't seat belts available, something that is increasingly rare these days. Even then, I would never consider letting Monkey and Missy Woo travel in a car without seat belts.

Travelling with children can be quite problematic because of this. I would personally be unhappy putting them in a taxi in a foreign country without seat belts and car seats but it's pretty difficult to book a taxi with a car seat and even booster seats are pretty bulky to carry.

A couple of years ago, I saw that someone had come up with a portable booster seat designed for travel. Of course, it was a mum, Grainne Kelly, who came up with the idea of the BubbleBum booster seat. It's portable, it's foldable, it's inflatable. So it is perfect for travel, or those situations where you need a carseat quickly. It's approved for Group 2 or 3 use - in other words, from about 15kg/33lbs (about 4 years old) right up to the point they don't need a car seat anymore.

I was sent one to try out with the children. The seat is only available in one colour - purple - but they say that 98% of all children chose that colour in tests, although I believe other colours may be available soon. The fact that the children fought over who was going to sit on the BubbleBum suggests this is more than likely to be true.

The seat lived up to the claim that it can be inflated in 30 seconds. You need to use your own puff to blow it up but that is not a problem. It's not large - its 33cmx33cmx11cm - but that makes it perfect for fitting in a third seat across the rear seats in smaller cars. My car is a Focus and we've never been able to fit 3 child seats across the back before but I easily managed this deploying the BubbleBum in the middle seat (we obviously have a 3 point belt there) when one of Monkey's friends to tea one day. The only thing that is a bit fiddly is that it has a seat belt restraint on either side that you need to thread the belt through before securing the belt which made strapping in a bit faffy. That is our only criticism.

I had to use the BubbleBum in the back of my car because it shouldn't be used in the front seat if it has an airbag. Our other car doesn't have a passenger airbag so we could use it in there.

The children loved the BubbleBum so much that I had to hide the seat as there were arguments over it every time we got in the car. As we have had a peaceful few months since we made a decree about who is to sit on which side of the car (seriously), I thought it best to maintain in-car harmony. Still, it is handy - the children like having friends home for tea after school and until now, I've had to remember to borrow another seat from our other car to bring them home. Now, I don't need to.

The BubbleBum is, I think, an excellent product. At £29.99 delivered, it's great value as that's less than the cost of hiring a seat from car rental companies, with the added bonus of being cleaner too. (We hired a baby seat for Monkey in Spain once - ewwww!)

These are definitely handy to have around - you never know when you might suddenly need to transport an extra child at short notice. Although the law does cover emergency situations, I know personally I'd rather make sure any child travelling in my car has the appropriate seats and restraints so they are as safe as possible. A big thumbs up from all of us for the BubbleBum. I just need a second one now so the children will stop fighting over it.

(I was sent a BubbleBum booster seat to review and keep. I have not received any other compensation, I have not been told what to write and all opinions are my own.)
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