BuckleBiters is a new product intended to assist children in belt-positioning boosters (and caregivers too) with the buckling process. If you have booster riders and flexible buckle stalks in your backseat then you probably understand how this product could be helpful.
The soft plush animal heads have wide mouths that “bite” the webbing under the seatbelt buckle and cinch it securely in place with the integrated elastic drawstring closure. This provides just enough stability to keep the buckle stalk upright and make it more accessible. This can be particularly helpful if you have recessed areas around your buckle stalks (pics below of 2006 Pilot and 2008 Highlander) that frequently swallow the buckle, making the process even more difficult for you or your child.
Currently there are 2 versions of this product. The Gator is considerably larger than the Hippo but I’ve been told that the size difference is being addressed. Since the Hippo gets the job done very well and takes up less space, this is the one I have a preference for.
I’ve attempted to consider any potential downsides of using this product and honestly, I can’t come up with much. Obviously, it won’t work with recessed buckles (pic right) since you need to have an accessible stalk of webbing under the buckle to attach the product to. Also, I would caution consumers not to use it on older vehicles with Gen3 seatbelt buckles since those may be prone to having issues all on their own. Gen3 buckles (like the ones in this same picture) have a release button that protrudes from the casing. Even though the product shouldn’t come close to touching that release button if it’s placed and secured properly on the webbing under the buckle, there are still no guarantees of what will and won’t happen in a crash. Therefore, I just think it’s better to avoid any hypothetical what-ifs and don’t use this product on Gen3 seatbelts.
Also, it’s possible that some kids may be drawn to the product while it is attached to the buckle stalk and this could lead to tampering issues. In my honest opinion, if a child is continually drawn to tampering with the product, then this child is probably not mature enough to ride safely in just a booster seat.
Finally, I’m stating the obvious here but it never hurts to reiterate the message that this product is not a substitute for proper adult supervision. Younger booster riders should *always* be supervised to make sure they buckle properly. However, for older kids (like my almost-8-year-old) who are well-trained and perfectly capable of buckling themselves – this product can be truly helpful. The first time my son used the BuckleBiter his comment was “can we keep this thing?”
BuckleBiter in action:
For more information, or to purchase the product, please visit the BuckleBiters website: http://www.bucklebiters.com/
Thank you BuckleBiters for providing the products used in this review (and for letting us keep them)! Lol!