Buggin’ Out

A Hong Kong mother gives kids more than just a boost for lunch

No offense parents, but there are few things more irritating than fidgety children creating needless distractions at brunch. Kids will be kids, and just because you have them shouldn’t mean a dead halt to Sunday gatherings or getting out of the house for families. But you have to admit, that kid who won’t stop banging the underside of the table right next to you is grating for other diners.

There’s a reason kids fidget like that, and it’s part of a growing process that should never be stunted. But it can be made easier for everyone involved — including, most importantly, the children. Enter the Booster Bug.

Founded on the concept of active sitting, Booster Bugs are a Hong Kong-born accessory designed to help kids that need a boost to see what they’re doing (eating, working) better, as well as promote active engagement in the world around them.

Created by Heida Magnusdottir, an Icelandic Hong Kong resident and mother of four, the idea for a better booster — perfect for floors, chairs, and anywhere you need to sit — germinated in her mind as she moved around from city to city, finally blooming in London. “It [started] many years ago in New York. My oldest was three and out of the high chair but not quite ready for a regular chair. I wondered if there was something that would replace the good old phone book,” she recalls.

When she got to Hong Kong the stars seemed to align. With China’s large manufacturing base near by, she teamed up with design engineer Stewart Belcher on the final product and the ladybug-shaped Booster Bug was born. Working from the same tenets as a Pilates cushion, the air-filled Bug forces children to engage due to continuous, subtle movements from the cushion. The result is strengthening of the core muscles and improved posture, attention span and focus. Thanks to the multiple textures and design features (antennae!) it also helps cut down on the fidgeting.

“The three most important elements were always promoting good posture, increasing concentration and working as a booster seat,” Belcher agrees. “But we tried to make it as cute and colourful as possible. We found most companies couldn’t build it, but eventually found a manufacturer willing to experiment.” Booster Bugs (available online or at Bumps to Babes) come in pink, green and red, comply with European, UK and North American product safety regulations, are highly portable for use in any location, and they do the job so well schools and behavioural specialists are jumping on the Bug bandwagon.

According to educational and child psychologist Dr Tara Levinson, “I’ve seen it professionally and personally. The way I would describe it is that it’s a great tool for any child,” she says. If you look like Elaine Benes when you dance you’ll understand controlling one’s body doesn’t necessarily come naturally. It’s a learned behaviour that kids sometimes have trouble with. “It helps kids with organisation and stability of their body. That doesn’t always come easy: feedback and the wiggles for kids always on the go [is common]. It increases work productivity and focus … It’s not clinical looking and it doesn’t make anyone stand out,” Levinson finishes, before adding that most critical of factors when choosing kids’ products, “And it’s fun.” Besides, who has a phone book anymore?