Some of us are old enough to remember the free-wheeling days of no seatbelts. Long road trips would see kids wrestling in the back seat or climbing over to the front to spend a little “calm down” time wedged between mom and dad. If you were blessed enough to have parents who could afford a station wagon, car travel took on an even greater appeal as the floor of the cargo area would open to reveal bench seats – no belt restraints, of course – where it was a juvenile free-for-all that far removed from parental oversight. Of course, the ultimate kid vehicle experience was piling into the bed of a pick-up truck – fighting over who got the primo seats up on the wheel wells – and feeling the sixty-mile-an-hour breeze whipping hair back and rustling cheeks.
That was a different era. The pendulum has swung from that time of reckless freedom to today’s government-regulated world of buckles and boosters and belts. And while there may be a bit of nostalgia for the good old days of internal vehicular freedom of movement, that wistfulness is usually overpowered by a face-palming sense of “What were we thinking?” The very fact that any of us survived those days and are still here to remember them is evidence of the truth that God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives.
Today is a much safer era for vehicle travel – for adults and, especially, for kids. There is a car seat or booster specially designed for every stage of a child’s development. While it is incontrovertible that this child-seating has saved countless lives, it also feels as if each one was perfectly engineered to cause parents the maximum level of stress and aggravation. It often seems as if it takes a combination of science and magic to get a seat situated properly in a car, and a child situated properly in the seat.
Many wisely solve this problem by driving their cars to the nearest fire station, where the first responders are usually more than happy to make sure that the seats are safely secured. Once that car seat is fireman approved, it may not move for the next three years until the next size up is required.
But times are changing, as are the ways people get from place to place. Car-pooling is becoming more and more popular as families share the responsibility to get their kids to school and activities. Also, in the cities in particular, ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are providing an appealing alternative to carrying the expense of a car payment and insurance. If you’re an adult, you just jump in and out of your office car-pool or your Uber. But if you have kids, then it’s a whole different story. You have to lug what is often a very heavy and bulky seat to the car, secure the seat, secure your child, then undo it all when you reach your destination – only to redo everything when it’s time to go home. There has to be a better way.
In steps Israeli innovation. Jon Sumroy, a British Israeli, was living in the US with his family. Carpooling was big in his area, and there was one topic of griping that was shared amongst all the parents – the hassle of car seats. Although his background was in pharmaceuticals, Sumroy began thinking of ways that he could innovate the car seat for his four children – making it compact and portable, so that the car seat could stay with the child, not the car. He wrote on his company’s website, “I thought, if I could make a booster that was really small and really tough, that could easily be taken everywhere, then our children would always be safe, no matter whose car they are in.”i
To do so, he had to deal with the belts. “Booster seats are designed to lift children up to meet the belt. I wanted to make a small, portable way to hold the belt down to fit the child,” said Sumroy.ii What he created was mifold, a small, foldable car seat that can fit in a child’s backpack or even in mom’s purse. It is designed for children four and up, weighing 40 to 100 lbs, and 40-59” tall.iii The product took off, selling over one million units in 150 countries over the last decade. Since launching, the company that mifold birthed, Carfoldio, has won many awards for innovation and design. Recently, their highback booster, mifold hifold, was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 Best Inventions of 2020.iv
While the freedom (and danger) of no seatbelts may be a thing of the past, it is also not necessary to be shackled by traditional car seats and boosters. Thanks to another Israeli invention, mifold, ease and freedom have returned to the backseat.
i Mifold. “Compact Safety for Every Adventure.” Mifold, mifold.com/.
ii Korn, Eliyahu. “Israeli-Made Compact, Portable Booster Seat Redefines Future Of Car Travel With Kids.” Nocamels, 2 Feb. 2021, nocamels.com/2021/02/israeli-mifold-hifold-compact-car-seat-future-travel/.
iii Mifold. “Compact Safety for Every Adventure.” Mifold, mifold.com/.