The phil and teds Lobster is a durable hook-on built with quality. It comes with a dining tray and folds down neatly into a small package and then stores nicely in its included carry bag. This entire ensemble can then fit into a large purse or diaper bag. However, it is a much less versatile hook-on than the Editors' Choice, the Inglesina Fast Table Chair, and at $20 more than the comfortable, sturdy Inglesina, there is not much of a competition. Kiddos seem to be less comfortable and content as there's virtually no wiggle room. But while the seat leaves something to be desired, we still think there are enough pros for this to be considered when looking at hook-on chairs.
phil and teds Lobster Review
Pros: Very portable, easy to place, 4-point shoulder harness, crotch panel
Cons: Poor table compatability, not enough room for baby, tray could fit better, expensive
Manufacturer: phil & teds
Our Analysis and Test Results
Founded in 1994 by a father-son team and later purchased in 1998 by current CEO Campbell Gower, phil and teds is a super quirky, fresh, and innovative company whose mantra is "adapt and survive." Their About page also has one of their employees coining the phrase "living dynamically with kids in tow." This New Zealand-based company, best known for its in-line, tandem strollers, has freshened up the baby industry in the US infusing it with contemporary inspiration and vigorous competition.
The Lobster is suitable for use with babies from 6-months to 37 pounds. However, we had a 25-pound tester who pushed its space limits and was just downright irritable while using it. Sadly, the Lobster isn't as comfortable as some of the other chairs we looked at; it has small leg holes, a seat that is too deep and it positions baby too close to the eating surface.
Though the Lobster is well-made, it performed just average in comparison with other chairs in this review. Its strengths lie in Safety, Quality, Portability, and Ease of Cleaning.
Ease Of Use
The Lobster is simple to setup: fold it open, slide it onto the table and twist it tight, and voila, you're finished! There are certain limitations to the type of surfaces it can affix to though. It can only be used with tables that have straight edges without skirts or lips, which can cause difficulties for families hoping to use the chair at restaurants.
Placing the baby inside and strapping them in is not a walk in the park either. The smaller leg holes can be difficult to maneuver at times. Especially if you have a baby with chunkier thighs, shoes on, or an older child, it can be very difficult to get them settled into the seat as the leg holes are not as large as we expected. Also, as you can see below, the seat is rather close to the edge of the table, and if you have a wiggly toddler, getting them into this tight of a space can be challenging. Once there, you then have an even smaller space in which to fit your hands when you want to buckle baby in and tighten the straps; it can become frustrating very quickly. The harness straps have large, padded covers that can be removed to make a bit more room, but at the cost of some comfort.
Safety and Quality
The Lobster shines in both safety and quality with nice a fit and finishes, as well as being the only hook-on style chair in the review with a 4-point harness. The claw-like arms are super sturdy with non-slip, rubberized gripping. The stellar 4-point harness has a removable pad and the separate attached crotch panel is fantastic at keeping kiddos securely in place. The seat back is tall and supportive, but the distance from seat pad to dining surface is a whopping 8.5" which seems quite deep for a 6-month+ diner. This is possibly part of the reason it feels so cramped inside; baby has to either lift their arms up near their chest or squeeze them inside the limited seat space. The seat fabric itself is soft polyester with nice cushioning, likely to satisfy your baby's bum. However, we weren't as pleased with the included tray as it is small, flimsy-ish, easily removable and overall below par.
At 3.7 pounds, the Lobster is easy to carry and falls right in the middle of the group of chairs we tested in our review and when folded, it is the smallest hook-on chair. The chair and tray fit together snugly in the included carry bag and can be carried comfortably with the tote handles, or you can fit the whole kit and kaboodle into a large diaper bag. When it's time to set the chair up, you don't have to sort through and jigsaw together multiple pieces. You pop it open and twist it on tightly to an appropriate surface.
Ease Of Cleaning
Though a quick wet cloth wipedown should be sufficient after most meals, the polyester seat fabric is removable for a more thorough periodic hand washing and air drying. The included tray is top rack dishwasher friendly, but we suggest hand washing it in the sink to minimize plastic degradation and potential chemical leaching into baby's food.
The Lobster is a great portable high chair for traveling and being on the go with baby, though it may take occasional finagling to find a proper surface to attach it to. Before taking it around the world with you, however, we recommend a trial phase to make sure your child doesn't go ballistic in it due to lack of space. While some kids may not mind its tight quarters, other little tikes may find this chair a little too snug.
At $90 a pop, this is one of the more expensive portable high chairs in our review. And at $20 less, the Inglesina Fast Table Chair performs better, although a bit heavier with a larger fold and a carry bag that isn't as fantastic. The Inglesina does, however, offer more space, more table compatibility, and sport a sweet little storage pocket which is handy for small eating accessories.
The Phil and Teds Lobster hook-on definitely has some strong shining features: safety, quality, and portability. We appreciate that it is easy to use and includes a tray, however, we cannot recommend it as highly as some of the other chairs we tested as it just isn't that comfortable for little ones and it is difficult to get them in and out. Overall though, this beat out a lot of competition and a definite contender if baby doesn't mind the tight quarters.
Other Versions and Accessories
The Lobster is the only portable seat phil and teds offer, but they do have a full size high chair, the phil and teds Poppy.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD and Lindsay Selig