The Britax Hippo – Mourning the Loss of the Special Needs Car Seat

The Britax Hippo – Mourning the Loss of the Special Needs Car seat

I had a conversation yesterday with the social worker at the hospital my son visits nearly 3 hours to see a specialist in Ollier’s Disease. She called to see if we were finished with the Britax Hippo we borrowed when my son had an external fixator placed in his thigh. The fixator had 5 metal rods that stuck out several inches to the side and made sitting in a traditional car seat impossible. At 6 years old, 45 lbs and 45″ tall he’s not large enough for a booster and also falls asleep nearly every car ride. We were thankful to have the loaner car seat from the hospital when we realized after his surgery that we wouldn’t be able to take him home on the 3 hour trip in the car seat we brought.

I started searching for a Britax Hippo car seat to purchase. I am thankful to have the loaner but would like to get it back to the hospital and have one of our own. To my disappointment I learned that the company no longer makes the car seat and does not have plans on making it again. I called them directly and the representative said they do have another special needs car seat coming out but it would be infant sized and not fit my son.

Where do we go from here?

Since my son’s bone tumor was first discovered I’ve spent countless hours on the phone. I started calling around again searching for this car seat and trying to find any alternative. I repeatedly come up empty handed.

What’s so special about the Britax Hippo?

If you look at the sides of this seat you see that unlike many other car seats, it’s flat on the sides. This allows casts to stick out, my son’s fixator to stick out on the side without hitting an arm rest, a raised side of the seat or a cup holder. This is literally the only car seat my son could fit in. Plus, it angles down at the hip and back at the head so when he falls asleep he doesn’t lean forward or off to the side. It’s really a great product! I do wish it had a head support but I’ll take everything else!

An alternative to the Britax Hippo?

I spoke with a carseat expert at great length on the phone. I wish I could remember his name but after so many hours on the phone…things start to blur. He said that they are currently recommending sawing off the side of other brand car seats and recommending the Diono Radian RXT. I looked at the cost of the seat, which is currently out of budget for us to “try” and possibly have fail. As you can see below it offers a fairly straight side but does not have the angle at the hip or tilt back the Britax Hippo offers.

diono radian rxt

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Why would Britax stop making a car seat so many people need?

My guess is sales. This is a special car seat you only need when going through something like my child has experienced with Ollier Disease. While we see lots of kids in spica casts and fixators when we visit his hospital, over 3 hours away, I can’t say I see one outside of the hospital in every day life.

So my guess is that it came down to numbers. It wasn’t a big money maker and dropped from the line.

Can someone else make the Britax Hippo?

I looked on the Britax website and they hold the patents for the cars seat. Their website says:

  • Patent No. 5,630,645
  • Patent No. 7,648,199

Will the company let them go to another brand since they are no longer producing the special needs seat? Maybe even a medical equipment provider? I hope so but I doubt it. I jokingly asked my son’s specialist to design a seat because there were so many kids in need of something like this and he said that at this point he is seriously considering it.

Here’s hoping he doesn’t have to take time off of his OR schedule to branch out into car seat design and someone else brings a special needs car seat to the market! I hate to think parents are using hack saws to adapt what’s available instead of having an easy, safe option from a reputable car seat brand.

Our Britax Hippo loaner

We will have to give this car seat back to the hospital for another child to use. I am still searching for something to replace it with and don’t have a lot of options available. Will something save the day? I hope so!

I appreciate your comments and thoughts below (comment moderation is on and they don’t show up right away because I get a lot of spam)

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2 years ago

We have a Wallaroo R82 loaner from a cast seat specialist we connected with outside of the hospital. We were shocked when we got sent home from Children’s a couple of weeks ago with our toddler in a spica cast that our only option was her laying down in the back seat with a harness.

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