If you’re like many modern parents with little kids, you’ve probably got two cars, but one car seat per child, which you move back and forth depending on who’s playing chauffeur for the day. If you’re lucky, you might even have a permanent base in each car, so you can move the baby carrier from car to car easily—but of course that only works for babies. My wife did a lot of research and we got Britax car seats, which are safe and comfy but also pretty expensive, and we’ve got two of them (one for each kid). We certainly weren’t going to spend more on getting another set, so we have to remember to schlep them back and forth as needed.
Things get a little easier when the kids are big enough to use booster seats, because most of those just use the car’s seatbelts and don’t need to be installed and uninstalled. Harmony Juvenile has just introduced a very lightweight and very inexpensive booster seat, and sent me one to try out with my kids. The LiteRider is a very simple design, with belt-guides that also function as armrests. For shorter kids, there’s an included shoulder belt guide which keeps the strap at the proper height over the shoulder. (My own booster seat which we use occasionally for my older daughter didn’t have one, so we had to wait until she taller to use it.)
Another nice feature is the “seat-saver” design: the underside is flat with rounded edges, so there’s nothing sharp to poke into your car’s upholstery. (I’d say they protect your leather interiors, but if you’re a parent with kids in car seats, either you don’t have leather interiors or you’re already resigned to have something ruined.) They do recommend using a mat under the car seat if it will be in place for an extended period of time, but it definitely looks like it would cause less wear on the seats than our other booster seat.
The seat fits kids 30-100 pounds, and 34-57″ in height. There’s no installation to speak of: like most booster seats, you just set it down and strap the kid in. For my three-year-old, I needed to use the shoulder strap guide, which took just a little time to get adjusted the first time but is now in place.
One gripe: the cover (which is easy to remove, a little trickier to replace) is hand-wash only. While this isn’t necessarily different from other car seats, isn’t it about time that somebody made a machine-washable car seat cover? Personally, I think everything kid-related should be machine washable. None of this “surface clean only” or “hand-wash, line-dry” stuff. If your kid makes a mess and you need to wash the cover, you really don’t want to wait for a cover to line-dry before you can go anywhere else.
The LiteRider is priced at $13.50, which makes it cheap enough that you can just get one for each vehicle. Of course, since it’s so light and there’s no installation to speak of, you probably won’t need to. It’s available at Walmart.com (and in some stores), in the tan or pink.
For more information on the seat, you can check out the Harmony Juvenile website.
Wired: Super-cheap booster seat with a pretty wide size range, minimal installation, and nice to your seats.
Tired: Hand-washing? They do realize I have kids, right?
Photos by Jonathan Liu