I recently received a BubbleBum, an inflatable booster seat meant for kids ages 4-11, 40-100 lbs. This booster seats deflates and rolls up into a tidy little bag, perfect for travel. When you need to use it, you can blow and inflate it into working order with only a few breaths. Place it on the seat, have your child tuck the safety belt loops into the red side handles and, voila, you’re ready to go.
The BubbleBum is a godsend solution for people who travel with kids. It’s great if you don’t want to check your child’s booster seat in with the airline (even though it’s free.) It’s also great if you don’t want to have to lug the booster seat around along with the requisite suitcases, strollers and everything else that comes with travel with kids.
Last summer I flew to Hawaii from Orlando with my two kids (and without my husband). Not only was that a super long flight (twelve hours, plus a four hour layover in Los Angeles) but when we arrived in Hawaii, I had to navigate both exhausted kids, a stroller, two suitcases, all our carryons and both my son’s booster and my daughter’s car seat and find my way, on foot, to the car rental counter and into our rental car. I still want to crawl up into a ball when I think about that day. I did it, but, ugh, was it exhausting! (Don’t worry. Being in Hawaii for a week made up for the trouble.) In between cursing under my breath and barking orders to behave to my darlings, I wished there was a better way. I could handle the kids, the stroller and even the suitcases, but those stupid carseats were just too much. They’re big and clunky and there’s no easy way to carry them, especially when your hands are already full. If only I had the BubbleBum then! One less clunky hunk of plastic would have helped so much.
So, here’s the good and the bad of the BubbleBum:
Good: It’s super portable. It easily fits into a carryon bag or the outside zipper of a small suitcase.
Good: It’s very easy to use. A few breaths is all it takes to inflate the booster and have it ready to use.
Good: It’s safe. It’s been rated a “Best Bet” Booster by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and it meets and exceeds all US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS213).
Good: It makes three-across kid seating a reality in any car. If you need to fit three kids in three boosters across at the small back seat of any car, the BubbleBum will fit! Easily! It’s only 13″ across! Even if you have two bigger car seats and just need to squeeze a booster in the middle now and then for the occasional carpool, the BubbleBum is perfect for that.
Bad: It’s not as big or comfortable as a normal booster. I don’t think my 7-year-old 50-pound son would be truly comfortable sitting on this tiny inflatable seat for hours and hours. For short rides between airports, hotels, museums or theme parks, it’s fine but I wouldn’t go cross-country with it. It’s a little too small, there’s no arm rests and, honestly, the larger boosters with seat backs help the kids close their eyes to nap much better than this tiny booster ever could. I also suspect a larger 9 or 10-year-old would find this a bit uncomfortable since it’s probably not as big as they might be.
Bad: This works for kids over 4 years and over 40 pounds, but not for toddlers. It’s the toddler and baby car seats that are, honestly, the bigger burden. I can’t fault the company for not solving all our car seat travel problems, but this does only solve half my problem. I’ll still have to check or rent the bigger car seat for my three year old.
Bad: This is not FAA approved. If you want your kids to fly with a booster seat (which is not required by law) you need to bring a standard booster. I read some reviews that said airline attendants may not allow you to use it at all.
All in all, for less than $30, this is a great product to use for travel or the occasional carpool booster. It’s small and easy to use. It may not be as comfortable as a standard booster, but it works when the alternatives are clunky, burdensome or nonexistent.
You can find the BubbleBum at Target ($29.99), Walmart ($29.88), or on Amazon ($28.95 with Prime) or at many stores that carry baby and kid travel gear.