CARS.COM — You try to ensure your kids' safety in your car with a child-safety seat or booster, but what about when they're in someone else's car? As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia report, booster usage goes way down during carpools. The developer of a new travel booster seat hopes to change that. The compact mifold booster can be stowed in a child's backpack or in a car's glove box, allowing parents and kids to keep it on hand for any situation.
When fellow mom and Cars.com Managing Editor Jennifer Newman and I first learned about the glove-box-sized booster, we were one of thousands of consumers who jumped at the chance to purchase one, with the promise of a March delivery date. It's April and our booster hasn't shipped. What gives? I attended a webinar co-hosted by mifold CEO Jon Sumroy, who answered some questions about the booster.
How Does It Work?
At 10 inches long, almost 5 inches wide and just 1.5 inches thick when folded, the mifold is about 10 times smaller than a regular booster seat. It works differently than a regular booster too. A traditional booster lifts children so the seat belt properly fits them at the hip bones and across the shoulder, but the mifold holds the seat belt down to their level, routing the lap belt over their hips and the shoulder belt across their chest.
It's made of high-strength aluminum with a seat pad dotted with friction bumps to reduce butt slide. The lap belt positioner has three width settings, and the shoulder clip is on a height-adjustable strap. Sumroy said the clips that hold the seat belt webbing are easy to use and have been designed for one-handed operation.
Who Is It For?
The booster is designed to be a backup for kids ages 4 to 12 years old and weighing between 40 and 100 pounds. As with traditional booster seats, once a child reaches 4 feet 9 inches tall, they've outgrown the mifold and can sit in the backseat using just the seat belt. As with many car seats, the mifold seat expires seven years from its manufacture date.
Has It Been Crash-Tested?
Sumroy said the booster meets federal standards and passed its crash tests. The company tested it using a 6-year-old dummy in the 50th percentile for size. Sumroy also expects the booster to garner a Best Bet rating for belt fitfrom the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, though its final score hasn't been released yet.
When Can I Get One?
The mifold costs $39 and can be purchased through the company's site; Sumroy said shoppers who purchased one during the initial presale last year will receive their booster in April. He expects new orders to ship in June and the boosters to be available for purchase in stores by late July. More than 45,000 people already have ordered the booster.
Mifold's promises of a safe, compact booster that kids can carry anywhere is intriguing, and the company's mission to make unsafe, booster-free carpools a thing of the past is admirable. As a mom and certified child passenger safety technician, I'm eager to test this new seat. Stay tuned for our full review.