Narrowest Boosters

Are you driving carpool this year and wondering how you are going to fit 3 boosters across the back of your car?  Trying to fit multiple car seats & boosters can be a challenge – even in a big vehicle like a minivan.  Wondering which booster is the narrowest?

Bubble Bum in 3-across in tiny Volkswagen Golf

Bubble Bum in 3-across in tiny Volkswagen Golf

The Bubble Bum is the narrowest of all at just 12.5 inches – and also has no arm rests (which are the parts that tend to interfere most with placing a booster next to another car seat or booster).  The Bubble Bum is an inflatable booster that passes the US and European crash tests required of all boosters – not only that, it passes the crash tests in the inflated AND deflated states – so should the worst case scenario happen (the booster deflates) it will still work to keep your child safe.

The Harmony Cruz / Carpooler (same seat) is the next narrowest – it is just 9.5 inches at the narrowest part and 17 inches at its widest – but it is narrow where it most counts, so tends to fit well next to other seats.  If you need a high back booster (especially if the vehicle seat back does not come up to support to at least the top of the child’s ears), the V6 is the high back version of the Cruz/Carpooler.

If you need a narrow high back booster for the center seat (with a back that is rigid… so it does not require the vehicle seat back to support up to the top of the child’s ears – making it great for center seats that do not have a head rest) the Maxi Cosi RodiFix is an excellent option. Due to the absence of arm rests, it is also easier to get a child buckled in/out than with other boosters.

Maxi Cosi RodiFix in between 2 car seats

Maxi Cosi RodiFix in between 2 car seats

Before you rush to buy a booster for carpool…

Kids, especially younger ones, are safer in a 5-point harness.  Don’t rush to “graduate” your child to a booster seat.   Kids who are AT LEAST 40 pounds AND AT LEAST 4 years old can start riding on boosters.  Kids should ride on a booster UNTIL they can pass the 5-step-test (usually age 8-10).

If you can check “Yes” to all the statements below, your child is okay to use a booster:

YES       NO
  [ ]          [ ]       There is a shoulder AND lap belt where the child sits (boosters need shoulder belts)
  [ ]          [ ]       The child is at least 40 pounds (kids under 40 pounds are safer in a 5-point harness)
  [ ]          [ ]       The child is at least 4 years old
  [ ]          [ ]       The child can sit properly the entire trip without leaning forward, slouching, sitting on their knees, playing with the shoulder belt, etc

Are you having trouble getting your hand in to buckle/unbuckle the booster?

Do you need something EVEN NARROWER? 

Ride Safer Travel Vest using vehicle’s shoulder belt

The Ride Safer Travel Vest is an option where you don’t have the room for even a super narrow booster.  The Vest functions like a booster seat – in that its job is to keep the seat belt properly positioned on the correct parts of the child’s body.  The vest is NOT a 5-point harness and does not function like a 5-point harness car seat.  Please note that it is really important that the child sits up straight and does not slouch… which for some kids is difficult since their legs are sticking straight out on the vehicle seat; if the child slouches, the lap belt will go up into the belly which is a really dangerous place for it to be.  Kids may be less likely to slouch in a booster since a booster lets the child’s knees bend.Does a child need to ride in a position with just a lap belt?
One option would be to use a 5-point harness car seat with a high-weight-harness (a harness that accommodates kids who weigh more than 40 pounds) – of which there are MANY.
If you have a tether anchor available in that seating position, you can also use the Ride Safer 2 (not the 3) with the vehicle’s lap belt and the tether. For vehicles 2000 and newer, there are tether anchors in at least 3 seating locations in the vehicle – most older vehicles (as old as 1989) can have tether anchors retrofitted for free or at minimal cost.

Ride Safer Travel Vest with lap belt and tether

Back view showing tether used on Ride Safer Travel Vest in center seat

NOTES:

  • The boosters shown above, except the RodiFix & V6, are BACKLESS boosters.  In order to use a backless booster, or the Ride Safer Travel Vest, or the Harmony V6 (as the back is not rigid) you need to make sure that the vehicle seat back comes up to at least the top of the child’s ears in order to provide adequate head support.  If the vehicle seat back does NOT come up to at least the top of the ears, then you need to use a high back booster.
For approximate dimensions of other boosters and car seats, click here.
Comments
2 Responses to “Narrowest Boosters”
  1. The UICH Safety Store has moved, as I found when I tried to follow your link. It is unclear, looking at the new website, if you can order online at all- it looks like you must order by mail, not sure if that was how it was before.

  2. paula says:

    thank you – trying to fit three car seats/boosters across the back seat is a nightmare! you have helped enormously

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