Friday, September 15th, 2006
Review: Strap-A-Lap Portable Toddler Booster Seat
Alternate title: See a Great Product Redesigned to Death
Strap-a-Lap is a foldable platform you strap over the handles of a theater or stadium seat so your toddler can see over the adults in the row in front of you.
I found this product at a garage sale held by a mother of two. As I was snatching up board books she picked up a small purple pouch and began pitching me on the virtues of her Strap-A-Lap. And no, she wasn’t a dominatrix. Well, as far as I know.
Her Strap-a-Lap is a portable booster seat for the movie theater, she said, and has been used by three families so far. She sold it to me for 50 cents, so I took her enthusiasm to be genuine.
I would later discover I held in my hands the first edition of this product, made by Brookins, Inc. in Broomfield, Colo.
It’s an ingeniously simple inventionâ€¦ just a 14"x7" piece of sturdy nylon bordered lengthwise by long pieces of Velcro. You wrap its four Velcro straps around the arms of a chair. And there you have itâ€¦ a simple booster platform suspended in the air over the seat, ideal for a non-squirming child.
A tag on the product cautions, "For ages 2 to 8. [â€¦] Do not stand or jump on or use in any manner other than as a seat supported by public seating fixed to the floor."
A small purple zippered carrying pouch is included that attaches with a Velcro loop to your belt or belt loop or purse or backpack or stroller or hand or anything else you wish.
In researching this invention I couldn’t find it for sale anywhere except eBay. A trademark search revealed Brookings, Inc. held rights on the "Strap-a-Lap" name from 1993 to 1999 and Chelsea & Scott, Ltd. has held it since 2003. You know Chelsea & Scott by the baby products retailer name One Step Ahead.
I then found a completely redesigned version of Strap-A-Lap on One Step Ahead’s web site. Gone was its simplicity.
- The thin nylon seat is now padded with foam. Would you pad a hammock? Strap-a-Lap is essentially a hanging seat.
- The straps now affix with locking clips. They probably lessen the chance of the straps loosening, but also make tightening the straps more complicated. Instead, I would simply have widened the Velcro strips.
- The seat is now optionally personalized with the words, "Reserved for [your child's name]." Would my first generation Strap-A-Lap have been used by three families if the name of the first owner’s child was printed on it? Heck, would the second child in that first family have wanted to use it?
- For carrying or storage, it folds up and gets wrapped around two elastic loops and is then attached to a belt loop with a pressure clipâ€¦ instead of being easily stuffed into a bag like my first edition copy.
So I wasn’t surprised when I e-mailed One Step Ahead and the company sent me this reply:
Thank you for your inquiry, we regret to inform you that the item you
are seeking has been discontinued; it is no longer available to order
with One Step Ahead.
We do not have any additional information on the manufacture of this
item or where you would be able to purchase this item. We sincerely
apologize for the inconvenience.
If you are interested in Strap-A-Lap, I suggest configuring an automated eBay search that will e-mail you when the product comes up for auction. Just pay attention to which version you are buying.