Cheap, light, and small, the Mifold also changes how the car seat operates, to make it easier to use.
The Mifold is one of those inventions that seems so obvious when you see it that you wonder why it hasn’t always existed. It’s a tiny booster seat for kids, only instead of lifting the kid to the position of an adult, it pulls the seatbelt down to the correct height for the child.
This has several advantages. First, it’s smaller, and therefore cheaper. You can stow one in the glove compartment of the seat-pocket for when you need it, or even give it to your kid to take when it gets a ride to school from a neighbor. The size also means you can use three in the back seat of one car.
But there are other advantages, too. Kids, says Mifold inventor Jon Sumroy, love it. "Most kids—who are ambivalent about regular car seats—think that it is cool and like a gadget. In research, they compare it to their iPads," Sumroy told Co.Exist. Even bigger kids, who don’t want their friends to see them in a "babyish" booster seat, are cool with the Mifold. "Most parents are sick of the constant battles to persuade their bigger kids to use a child restraint. Mifold is almost invisible in use so friends cannot see it and bigger kids are finally happy to agree to being protected."
The seat is a simple folding cushion with a rigid aircraft aluminum base. On either side is a slot through which the lap-belt is hooked. This moves the belt down off the child’s belly. Another slot clips over the shoulder strap. This clip is attached to the base by its own webbing strap, so it pulls the belt down, bringing it to shoulder height. It’s so quick and easy to deploy, the kid can do the setup itself, all while sitting in the car already. Take a look:
While kids love it, the Mifold is mostly appreciated by adults. It weighs just 1.6 pounds, works for kids from 4-12 years old, and 40-120 pounds in weight, and is small enough to be carried from vehicle to vehicle. "The simple fact is that today, after decades of improvements in the rate of adoption of child restraints, there are still many journeys where children do not have an appropriate restraint. In carpools, with grandparents or other relatives, in taxis, on vacation, in rental cars and so on," Sumroy told us. He says that, according to the Paediatric Journal, half of all kids don’t have the right booster on the school run.
According to Sumroy, there are two kinds of parents. Those who value safety above all else, and are willing to pay. They like the Mifold because their kids can always be protected, even in somebody else’s car. "The other group of parents want to do the minimum and spend the least to ensure that they comply with the law," says Sumroy, and they love it too. "This is because the driver is responsible for providing all passengers with a suitable car seat. If an unexpected passenger is in the car without a seat, the driver is liable for a fine and license points." If you have the $80 Mifold tucked away somewhere, you can avoid fines.
Lastly, don’t overlook the environmental impact of a car seat that’s 10 times smaller than a regular booster. That’s a lot less landfill at the end of its life.
The Mifold should be shipping some time this summer.