I have never been able to stay upright while sleeping well even as an adult, so I was very excited to receive a Cardiff headrest to try out and we put it to good use on some road trips this summer. The Cardiff headrest is meant to be used for older children in a backless booster seat or for five-stepping passengers with the seat belt only. It does not change the fit of the seat belt. It is available for $75 on Amazon as well as at Canada’s Baby Store.
The purpose of the Cardiff is to provide side head support to children and adults who have outgrown a high-back booster but still tip out of the belt while sleeping. It helps passengers stay upright, which in turn keeps the shoulder belt properly positioned over their collar bone.
Transport Canada requires that all booster seats in Canada be tested on a test bench that simulates the average frontal crash. Several sized dummies are buckled into the booster seat and the test apparatus is “crashed,” (propelled above 48 km/h and 24.5G) and instrumentation on the dummy records how the dummy moved and what forces were applied to the head and chest. The Cardiff Headrest was added to this set-up and all readings were below the requirements. In-vehicle testing was also performed under more extreme conditions and still all readings from the dummies were below the Transport Canada requirements.
Here’s the take-home message: In these testing scenarios the Cardiff wasn’t presenting an added risk. Of course, real kids in real cars and real crashes won’t perform exactly the same way. However, if the difference is being slumped over because of no head support (where a high back booster isn’t available or possible) and definitely out of position at the time of a crash, or the chance that the addition of a Cardiff might cause an injury, as a parent I’d go with the option most likely to keep my child in proper seat belt position. It is an after-market product and it is up to parental discretion whether you are comfortable with its use for your own child. Although this product was tested to see if it changed how a dummy fared in a booster seat, it is unregulated and not subject to any testing to be sold.
The Cardiff comes in a package with all the necessary hardware to install it. It was simple to install, but requires an adjustable headrest with posts. It should install well in most vehicles with the right type of headrest. Installation only took a few minutes and it was easy to switch it to different vehicle seats as needed. The wings can be adjusted up or down depending on whether it’s in use and the height of the passenger using it.
The children we tried it with all like the Cardiff and appreciate the extra support they get from it. A few found they preferred it slightly off-centre as they tended to lean their head to one side more than the other and they liked that side of the headrest to be closer. Luckily this is easily done. In my vehicle, my own child who I used this with usually sits in the outboard passenger side, and I did find there was a slight decrease in my field of view. In my van it was not anything that I felt impeded my ability to drive but in a smaller vehicle it may be necessary to experiment with other seating positions. It fits a wide range of children in a variety of vehicles, but as usual if possible always try before you buy to make sure it works in your situation.
As I said earlier, I have always had trouble staying upright while sleeping myself, so I decided to give it a try on a longer drive. The wings are slightly flexible and have a bit of give when leaning on them, which took a bit of getting used to but was nice when going over bumps as it flexed with my head. Overall it felt solid and well made. There is padding added for comfort. I was able to sleep and liked that I could easily tuck the wings up when I didn’t need it anymore.
Overall I was very happy with the Cardiff headrest. It was easy to install in the vehicles we tried it in, allowed the passenger using it to sleep easily and comfortably, and kept them upright so that the seat belt was safely positioned. If you or your child are too big for a high-back booster but still fall asleep and have issues with slouching sideways when sleeping, it is definitely an option worth considering.
Want to check it out for yourself? Buy one from Amazon.ca or Canada’s Baby Store. Thanks to EI Brands one lucky reader will win a Cardiff Booster Seat Headrest for themselves! To enter use the Rafflecopter widget below, and make sure to leave a blog post comment here answering this question: What use do you have for a Cardiff? Do you have a big trip coming up? Or maybe you often drive home late at night? Tell us about it! Comments don’t show up until we approve them but that’s okay – tell the widget “I commented” and let us take care of the rest!
Thanks to EI Brands for providing the Cardiff used in this review but as usual, all opinions are our own.
Lindsay Wilson is a homeschooling mom of three and a co-founder of Vancouver Island Car Seat Techs living on the island. She has been a Child Passenger Safety Technician for almost six years now. If you need her, she is currently filling up her bathtub in preparation for a coming storm.