I was the meanest mom ever today.
My family had just spent a lovely evening at a friend’s house about 1.5 hours away from home. We ate s’mores, we played with lambs and goats, we ate too much guacamole. All it all it was a pretty successful trip, and unsurprisingly when it came time to leave my 9 year old daughter begged to stay another night or two. The rest of our family had to get home, but the begging worked and Hannah got her wish; my only caveat was that I had to make sure her booster seat fit in my friend’s car for her ride home.
Sounds simple enough? Nope. It was a nightmare. My husband and I tried for over an hour before finally giving up and breaking our daughter’s heart. No possible combination of the booster and/or car seats available (of which there were 6 between my friend and I) would fit three across in my friend’s small SUV. Hannah was really cursing out her safety-minded mother (in her head, of course) and to be honest I felt awful. This wasn’t how I wanted to end the weekend; tears, anger, disappointment, and sadness.
The entire time I was working on these installs I was wishing I’d had our new mifold booster seat with me. I had just received it free in the mail for the purpose of writing THIS post, actually! The plan was to complete the blog post after I returned tonight, and so here I sit… albeit with a slightly different intro than I had planned. I promise the story I just told you is true (and I also promise she will be lamenting this disappointing day for years to come). While I received the mifold for free, this review is honest and was not at all swayed by the company’s input.
As an active member of the Child Passenger Safety community I’ve heard quite a lot of buzz about the mifold booster seat. Questions about the safety of the product (“How the heck is that supposed to work?!”) to the audacity of its claims (“There is no way this is just as safe as my huge booster seat!”) were incredibly common when the mifold was first announced – and I’ll be the first to admit I was a skeptic. It is small, yes, but it has some quirks due to its incredibly unique design that need to be taken into consideration. We’ll go over those in a little bit. Let’s talk about what worked and what I loved.
Most important information first: the mifold grab n’ go booster seat is designed and tested to be used with children who are:
- 4-12 years of age,
- and 40 to 57 inches tall,
- and between 40-100lbs.
That said, I have never met a 4 year old who was ready to be in a booster seat full time or even occasionally. The best practice is to wait until your child outgrows their harnessed seat before switching to a booster. Kids need to be able to sit in a booster seat with all its relative freedoms yet continue to act as though they are harnessed. For this reason I would add a personal rule regarding this and any booster seat use: the child must be mature enough to remain seated properly the entire ride. This usually does not happen until the child is over 6 years old. Let me illustrate:
|Ladies and Gentlemen, I present a case study in Why 4 Year Olds Are Not Ready For Booster Seats.
As I mentioned above, my daughter is 9. She has been in a booster seat for just about 2 years now, so she’s aware of the rules and knows I’ll enforce them (that is: “if you don’t sit up straight so help me I will turn this car around and put you back in a harness.”) I feel comfortable with her using the mifold based on her maturity level, and she falls within the parameters listed above, so she’s good to go.
Right out of the box, the mifold comes with an easy to read manual and registration card, a sturdy shoulder belt adjustment clip attached to thick webbing, and of course the booster itself. There are also some really helpful videos available on their website to help walk you through the process of proper use and installation.
|Hannah is 9 years old, 53lbs and 52″ tall
I was pleasantly surprised by the belt fit the mifold achieved! Hannah is a petite child, so I had reservations about this part but I am so pleased with it. The shoulder belt positioning clip is strong and difficult to slide along the webbing, which in my experience is a good thing; that means it won’t slip out of place and end up higher than it should. The steel reinforced adjustable lap belt guides helped position the lap belt high on her thighs instead of up high on the soft tissue of her belly.
These belt guides have three settings for while in use and one for while it’s being stored. Always choose the setting that puts the guides closest to the child’s thighs without actually touching them. This can be a little tricky to achieve once the child is sitting on it already so get it set before guiding the belt through the guide. The guides also move the belt down the child’s body, moving the lap belt away from the vulnerable flesh of the abdomen area, but this can be problematic on some children (including those who are near the 4 year/40lb/40in starting limits on the seat) because it can move the lap belt too far down their thighs. You should always check the fit on any booster or car seat before deciding if it’s right for your child!
The mifold is marketed as a travel seat and a perfect solution for three across situations, and it’s easy to see why (must I remind you of my failures as a mother?). It’s compact and lightweight but sturdy enough to trust your child with. I can see this being very helpful for moms and dads to keep in their vehicles for backup seats or to fit an extra kid in the car. We’ve got car pools for soccer practice, track practice, Girl Scouts, who knows what else, and the mifold helps ensure we’re not compromising safety for convenience. Also? One of the less-touted cool things about the mifold is that it’s basically invisible. That means if your 9 or 10 year old is giving you a hard time about still being in a booster seat, the teeny tiny mifold might be the answer you’re both looking for; there doesn’t have to be a compromise on your child’s safety, and you don’t have to be the bad guy again.
Or at least until the next time an impossible situation pops up, of course.
Dana is the lucky mother to two incredible kids (aged 10 & 6) and the happy wife of Nate. She stumbled around in her adult life for a while before finally realizing that she could get paid to pursue her passion: keeping kids safe. In 2013 she started working at Modern Natural Baby in Ferndale where she eventually became a Child Passenger Safety Technician with additional Special Needs training. Dana also runs the child passenger safety-focused Facebook page Buckle Up Detroit and works with the amazing lady bosses at Metro Detroit Doula Services offering car seat classes, consultations, and more!