The Best Portable High Chair
The Inglesina Fast Table is a comfortable and sturdy chair, and we were pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to use. It is relatively easy to attach the chair to a table using its twist clamp system. The fabric seat is a high-quality canvas that wipes clean. It can also be removed for easier hand washing if it needs a deeper clean. The chair can fold flat and stow in the attached carry bag hidden in the seat. This functionality greatly increases portability, for outings and in-home use.
This chair has a gap between the table and the baby which means that food can end up in the baby's seat and on the floor. Even with the purchase of the tray, you'll still have a problem because the tray is only a cover for the table and does not close the gap. Another potential problem is the 3-point harness. There are reports of little ones squirming their way out of the harness, so make sure you keep an eye on your child and ensure that the harness is correctly adjusted. While this chair slides conveniently onto the edge of most tables, you'll want to review the instruction manual to see what table edges are suitable before each use. Despite these concerns, we love the quality and functionality of this versatile seat and highly recommend it.
Read review: Inglesina Fast Table
The Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe is a compact and durable booster-style option that easily attaches to most chairs. The adjustable straps attach to the underside and back of a chair for a secure fit. The design also makes it easy to clean and small crevices were kept to a minimum to prevent a hard-to-clean mess. This seat is entirely plastic, so a good wipe down is sufficient to get the chair clean. The feeding tray is also dishwasher safe, although we recommend hand washing for longevity. This chair has three height settings and will work with dining chairs of various heights, so it can grow with your child. The back of the chair folds down for travel and storing.
Some crafty toddlers have been able to figure out how to remove the white feeding tray, which can lead to a big mess on the floor and result in fixing a replacement meal. Also, users report that the t-straps holding the harness straps to the chair can work themselves free. Since the tray is not designed to keep the child in place, it is essential to check that these straps are secure before each use. Despite these issues, the Healthy Care Deluxe is a great booster-style option that can last for years.
Read review: Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe
Summer Infant Pop 'N Sit is a cute, foldable camping style chair that is fun for little ones to use. The chair comes with a carry bag that is super convenient when you are on the go. The simple design makes it easy to pop open and use wherever you might need it. It comes with straps to attach to a chair if you want to use it up to a table, but also has a tray if you want to use it on the ground outdoors. The chair is sturdy and able to be used in various settings, such as picnics, the beach, or in your backyard.
There have been several complaints about the straps of this chair. Several users noted that the waist strap is sewn low on the seat where the bottom and back of the chair meet instead of higher up near where a child's natural waist would be. The problem with this is that the straps wrap closer around the thighs, making it harder to keep active children restrained and less comfortable as the straps could potentially dig into their legs. Some users also noted that their average-sized babies outgrew the straps faster than anticipated. Another thing to keep in mind is that while the tray is dishwasher safe, the seat material is spot clean only. The tray can also be a bit stiff to put on and take off but should loosen up with use. This seat is not perfect, but for the parent that is looking for a compact, portable high chair to use in the great outdoors, this is a great option.
The First Years On-the-Go is an inflatable booster seat that impressed us with its lightweight and slim profile and is a favorite of ours for jet setting families. Unlike some other travel-friendly options, it provides a substantial boost 3.5-inch boost, bringing baby closer to table height during meal times. When it's time to go, this booster will deflate and fold up to the size of a large laptop case; an easily packable item. No assembly is required to use this seat and setup only takes a few steps. Simply undo the wrap-around zipper and the self-inflating base will rise to its full height in a matter of minutes, so no huffing or puffing required. It has a three-point harness that is simple to operate and keeps baby secure. There is a mesh pocket on the back of the seat that we like to use for items such as baby utensils or an extra bib. We also appreciate that the low price makes it less of a bummer if you were to accidentally leave the seat behind.
The most pressing complaint we have about this booster seat is its instability. Due to the nature of a blow-up seat, there is going to be some movement in the base. For younger babies or those with less bodily control, this seat may not be the best choice. As a general rule, we recommend always closely monitoring your child while they are in a booster, and this seat is no exception. Our second complaint is cleaning the seat. The fabric on the On-the-Go is a slick canvas material that is easy to wipe down but may absorb stains from more brightly colored food, such as spaghetti. There are also some crevasses where the seams of the seat come together that seem to be crumb magnets and are nearly impossible to get clean. The fabric cannot be removed from the seat and you should not submerge the entire seat in water. While we would probably not recommend this booster for everyday use, it is still a favorite of ours for travel. It is one of the few products that bring baby up to table height while still being very light and packable. We recommend The First Years On-the-Go booster for anyone who regularly takes trips where they must be conscious of how they pack.
OXO Tot Perch with Straps is a great choice for toddlers and older kids who need an extra boost to sit comfortably at the table and don't want a babyish seat. The seat offers an added 3" of height, which is just about perfect. The Perch has a non-skid base that helps it stay put on the chair and the 3-point harness keeps little ones safely seated. It is easy to wipe clean, and the cushion is removable, so you will be able to get those extra crumbs without a hassle. The back of the seat folds down, making it perfect for storing. Plus, it is BPA, phthalate, and PVC-free. The straps are removable for use with older children who no longer need restraints.
Some users were surprised that the seat is smaller than anticipated. The dimensions are 12" x 13.5" x 5", so double-check that this size will be sufficient to fit your toddler's bottom. While we like the durability of the seat, some users report the seat pad peeling. Other users feel the booster has too many nooks and crannies making deep cleaning challenging with messy babies. However, if your toddler needs some extra support to meet the table height, and they aren't as messy as younger children, the Tot Perch with Straps could be the perfect solution.
Mountain Buggy Pod is an easy-to-use hook-on chair that is compact enough to fit in a larger diaper bag or the basket of a stroller. Coming in at only 2.2 lbs, it is one of the lightest portable chairs we tested, aside from the cloth harness style ones. The simple design is easy to attach and remove from tables by twisting or untwisting the clamps. Just be aware that it will only fit on tabletops thinner than 1.8". The Pod has a solid aluminum frame and a zippered fabric cover, that makes the chair highly portable thanks to the winning combination of sturdy, yet lightweight materials.
One of the significant downsides to this chair is the size of the leg holes. They are much smaller than we would expect with the weight limit, as some thicker kiddo's 15 or more pounds under the weight limit have had considerable issues with this. The problem becomes especially apparent if your baby has shoes on or has some (adorably) chunky thighs. Another drawback is that the fabric is not machine washable. Luckily it is easy enough to wipe down, but in a situation where it requires a deep clean, you will have to unzip and wash it by hand. Before each use, you will need to make sure zippers are secure when putting it back on as there have been reports of the cover unexpectedly unzipping. Also, keep in mind that this chair is only designed to fit tables up to 1.8 inches thick. If you are planning on using this at home, make sure your table is compatible before purchasing. However, if you are only planning on using this for on-the-go situations, 1.8" seems to be sufficient for the majority of restaurant tables. Overall, the Pod is a great budget-friendly product and the lightest non-harness chair we tested.
The Ingenuity Baby Base is a grow-with-me chair that will last for years. There is the foam insert that can be used during the younger years and then removed when your child no longer needs it or fits. It ou can also is designed for use on the floor as a tot chair and as a booster strapped to a chair. It comes with a tray that can be conveniently stored in the bottom portion of the chair. The entire chair can easily be wiped clean with a damp cloth. Both the tray and the foam insert are dishwasher safe when a deeper clean is needed.
This chair performs well in terms of versatility but is not as convenient when it comes to portability. It will work in a pinch if you need something to bring along to grandma's house, but being the second heaviest we tested, don't expect to take this out for easy restaurant dining. Also, the way the harness straps are set up can make them difficult to use. The crotch strap is positioned directly behind the middle leg divider making it frustrating to access when a baby is in the seat. All in all, if you're looking for a chair that you can mostly use at home but is still small and light enough to bring along occasionally, the Baby Base is a good quality chair that will last through multiple stages of childhood.
Smart n Comfy is a 3-in-1 product designed for use during various day to day situations. Not only can it be used as a portable high chair, but y as a cover for grocery store carts and as well as a walking harness. The fabric harness has two leg holes for your child to step through and then a wide waistbelt that wraps around their belly and latches in the back with a hook and loop closure. This simple design keeps kiddos nicely snug and secure. At less than half a pound, the Smart n Comfy was the lightest product we tested. Thanks to its extremely lightweight and small design, it is also potentially the most portable product in this review. It is convenient to keep it stashed in your diaper bag so you will always be prepared. Additionally, it happens to be one of the least expensive items we looked at, making it a win-win situation.
Due to the highly simplistic design, the Smart n Comfy lacks a few features that you would find in a more traditional portable high chair. First, this is going to attach to a regular dining chair, which means it will not boost your child up to table height. If you are planning on having your little one self-feed from the table, this may be an issue as they might be too short to reach their food. Also, while this always felt secure when we strapped baby in during testing, it only has one thin strap to attach it to a chair, which we consider the bare minimum. If you have an extra crafty kiddo, then they may be able to figure out how to maneuver the strap over the back of the chair. However, we recommend always keeping a close eye on the baby when using a high chair of any sort. Overall, we loved how easy this was to use and the small footprint it offered.
Peg Perego Rialto is a foldable chair that works for children nine months and up. It has multiple height adjustments, which allows you to customize the seat to fit multiple chair and table heights as well as the changing height of your child. This last aspect is important as the Rialto will fit children up to 45 lbs. The design is sleek and modern. Although it may not look very compact, it folds for portability and comes with a carry sack that fits everything. The material can be easily wiped clean with a damp cloth to get the food that will inevitably be caught by the seat.
While the Rialto is designed to be portable, thanks to its compact fold and included a carry bag, it is the heaviest seat we tested. When everything is packed up, the bag is quite bulky and is not something you will be able to keep in your diaper bag just in case. The tray component of this seat can also be temperamental. Some users noted that it is quite difficult for parents to get on and off, while others stated that their child was able to get the tray to pop off on their own, possibly due to user error based on the fact that it is hard to secure the tray correctly. But, if you feel that you can work around these few flaws, and want a super modern stylish chair that has some great features, you should consider the Rialto.
The phil and teds Lobster is a hook-on chair that is super compact and highly portable with its own storage bag, folding small enough to fit in your diaper bag. The design is intuitive and seems almost to unfold itself and literally "fall into place" when removed from the bag. The claw shape clips are easy to use to secure the chair to a compatible table (see the manual for table options). This seat features a 4-point harness to safely secure a baby in the seat. It is also the only hook-on chair in this review that comes with a tray - which means a cleaner surface for baby when using this chair at a restaurant or park table.
Unfortunately, the leg holes are very small, and babies often outgrow it faster than anticipated. It also means it can be challenging to get your baby in and out. This issue appears to be something that was redesigned in the latest update of this product, as this was not an issue with previous versions. It also is not compatible with as many table types as the award-winning Inglesina Fast Table. If you only plan to use this chair with only a few kinds of tables, and you double-check to ensure compatibility, then this is less of an issue. However, if you want something to use at restaurants or parks, you might encounter a problem with compatibility. If you are willing to work around these flaws, it can be a great compact hook-on chair that is easy to use.
Read review: phil and teds Lobster
Why You Should Trust Us
BabyGearLab has been purchasing and reviewing baby gear since 2013. We test and use most gear to ensure it does what the manufacturer claims and to test for metrics like the ease of use, weight, and quality. The portable highchair roundup is led by our founder, Dr. Juliet Spurrier. Dr. Spurrier is a board-certified pediatrician and mother of 2. As a doctor, she has a background in childhood safety concerns and the potential results of poorly designed or inappropriately used gear. Dr. Spurrier approves all final competitors using this background and her time as a mother to guide her. The team also includes Senior Review Editor, Wendy Schmitz. Wendy is a mom of 2 boys and has been a part of the BabyGearLab family for five years. Wendy uses her scientific training and analytical background, as well as her knowledge of baby products and mother experience, to analyze test results to help parents find the right products for their family and situation.
We researched the top portable options and purchased several products for this roundup. The products were reviewed in our in-house lab for things like safety and weight before their real-world use ensued. Families with little ones tested the products and provided feedback on metrics like the ease of use and portability.
How We Evaluated
When choosing the perfect portable high chairs, we wanted to make sure we thought of everything. After over 70 hours of combined testing and research we found the top contenders. We measured, cleaned, and compared. Extensive research of the products, and most importantly, using the seats with young children help us make our decision. We then took all the information we gathered and condensed it into a simplified list of pros and cons and helpful buying advice so you can be just as confident in your purchase as we are.
Finding the right portable high chair includes consideration of several factors. After researching over 45 chairs, we narrowed it down to the top options. We evaluated, tested the chairs side-by-side, and provided you with all of the information you need to find the portable high chair that will work best for your family.
Weight is probably the most important factor to take into account when you make your purchase. We suggest thinking about how and where you plan to use the chair and how weight might impact your day-to-day use. Situations can range from occasional trips to visit grandma and restaurant outings, to everyday home use, or even for use while traveling.
The Smart 'N Comfy is by far the lightest. It can be rolled up, stashed in a diaper bag, and carried without added effort making it a great choice to keep on hand for planned or surprise dining out. The Peg Perego Rialto is the heaviest chair at 6.6 lbs, which is something you likely won't want to lug around and might be better for primarily in-home use.
There are several varieties of portable high chairs, and they all have different features that make them portable. To us, portability encompasses being easily transported and stored at home, as well as being travel-friendly and potentially fitting in your diaper bag. When scoring portability, we considered overall weight, ability to fold, and size.
Not surprisingly, the harness style options are the top scorers. Their ultra-light weight and ability to be folded and stuffed mean that they can easily be stored in your diaper bag without taking up considerable real estate in an alright tightly packed bag. The Smart 'N Comfy earned the top score for this metric, as it is not only the lightest but can be folded up to a size of a wallet. Typically, the second most portable style is hook-on chairs. While they aren't likely to fit in your diaper bag, they will fit in your car trunk and possibly in the storage basket of your stroller. The booster-style seats are the least portable. Their rigid structure and larger size make them less desirable for outings, but they could be the perfect product to keep at a grandparent's house or in your home if a full-size highchair takes up too much space. However, The First Years On-the-Go booster high chair lives outside this stereotype and is just as light, trim, and portable as any hook-on chair, maybe more.
If you dine out with your baby often, you're likely very familiar with restaurant high chairs and booster seats. More often than not, they are filled with crusty food and loaded with an untold army of germs. Straps may be of questionable quality and cleanliness, or maybe they are just missing altogether. To help you avoid this potential mealtime minefield, we set out to find the best portable high chair so you can be prepared for anything. With your handy portable chair in tow, you'll know your little one is in a safe, clean place no matter where you choose to share a meal.
There are 3 main categories in the world of portable high-chairs: wraps, hook-ons, and booster seats. The first two are suitable for babies and toddlers who can sit upright without assistance, usually about 6 months up to 37 lbs, at which point your child will probably want to sit in a grown-up chair. The age limit for boosters varies more, but are typically suitable once a baby has developed enough core strength to sit unaided and are usually good for a maximum weight of 50 lbs.
Wraps are harness style pieces of fabric that allow you to buckle baby to any chair. They are extremely portable and ideal for on-the-go families; the perfect size for stowing in your diaper bag. You can use them for dining, and often times they come in handy for other activities as well. Additional uses can include doubling as a toddler walking harness or baby carrier. Baby should be pretty good at sitting upright on their own before being put in a wrap style seat.
Hook-on chairs are pretty awesome. They take up zero floor space, require minimal clipping and adjusting, and keep your baby right at table height with the rest of the family. Most have rubberized arms that secure to the table with twist tight fasteners. The are typically fairly lightweight, collapsible, and come with a carry bag. Generally, babies need to be over 6 months and sitting upright without help to use a hook-on. Unfortunately, the upper weight limit is lower than boosters on average, usually topping out around 37 lbs, so you can't use them for the long haul. However, by the time children reach this point, they typically have enough coordination to sit in a regular chair.
If a hook-on chair is appealing to you, be sure to consider where you might use your chair as different seats all have varying limitations.
- Thickness: Not every hook-on will fit with every table. If you are planning on using this primarily at home, ensure that the chair is compatible with your table or counter by double-checking measurements and learning the seat specs before purchasing.
- Table Shape: Rectangular and square tables have a straight edge, while circular or oval tables are curved. The difference in the table shape can change how the hook-on chair fits on the edge of the table. Check the manufacturer recommendations for table compatibility, as each has different limitations.
- Skirts or Lips: Any table or countertop with vertical material at its edge or underneath will render some hook-on chairs unusable. For instance, you can't use the clamp-like mechanism of the phil and teds Lobster on any surface with a skirt/lip.
- Material and Structure: You need to ensure that the surface where you plan to secure your hook-on chair is durable with a solid and sturdy base.
Hook-on should not be attached to a glass surface, single pedestal table, loose tabletop, table leaf, card table, or over tablecloths or placemats.
You can generally begin placing your baby in a booster around 12 months, as long as your baby has a strong core. Boosters are very versatile in their ability to fit on almost any chair by strapping around the backside and underside of the chair. This is cool because you can use them almost anywhere except for a booth. If you have one at home, you can hide the seat in plain sight by simply sliding the chair with the booster seat up to the table.
The main draw of using a booster is that it is designed to bring your little one closer to the table action so they can eat with the family. However, this objective does not always come to fruition. Depending on the chosen chair, the height of the table, and the height of your child, the booster may come just short of actual table height. Having an adjustable height feature can increase the odds of a portable chair working almost anywhere. The Peg Perego Rialto has a height adjustment that is very useful if you regularly dine at a variety of locations with different chairs and tables.
A potential deterrent of boosters is that they always require close monitoring to ensure a safe dining experience. You'll need to stay close by a child in a booster attached to a chair, as there is always a chance that they can push against the table and cause the chair to tip backward, especially if you have a particularly wriggly or rambunctious child. Another downfall is their bulk. This makes them less portable, and even if they collapse, they are almost always too large to fit in a diaper bag or stroller basket.
Selecting the perfect on-the-go dining seat requires examining important features and functionality so you can be confident in choosing the best option for your needs.
Ease Of Use
The whole point of having a portable high chair is to be able to take it with you. This means you will be setting it up and taking it down frequently, and the importance of ease of setup will soon make itself apparent. You should consider the complexity of assembly when purchasing a portable high chair. How many parts does it have? How long does it take to put together with each use? For portable high chairs, less is definitely more. When you combine a hungry toddler and a time-consuming chair set up, you've got the perfect recipe for a toddler (and maybe parent) meltdown. A portable high chair that pops-up in one piece ready to go or easily clamps to the table can be invaluable.
Another potential issue to keep in mind is compatibility. The type of table, countertop, or chair you would like to use can become a real issue when dining out. Booster seats can strap onto almost any chair but become problematic when faced with a booth. Some hook-on chairs do not fit on round tables or those with vertical skirts. A few other limitations come with using hook-on chairs. You CAN'T use hook-on options with glass tabletops. Flimsy, foldable, or pedestal tables are also a no-go.
Safety and Quality
Your baby's safety should be your first and foremost considerations when using a portable high chair. Most chairs come with a 3-point harness, and it is essential to have the ability to adjustable both the crotch and waist straps to get a secure fit. Look for a substantial, deep seat, as well as a high seatback that can help your baby find a more ergonomic sitting position. You don't want a seat that allows your child to "Houdini" themselves out. Before placing your child in the chair, always ensure that the attachment mechanisms are securely fastened, so there is absolutely no give or movement in the booster or hook-on. A quality product will function properly and allow you to use it safely without fear of your child falling or escaping from the chair.
The main selling point of the chairs in this review, and probably the reason you are here in the first place is portability. We recommend closely comparing the weight of each chair, as even a 1/2 pound can make a big difference when added to the rest of a baby's travel gear. The chairs in this review all fall within the range of 0.9 to 6.6 lbs, creating a big gap between the lightest and heaviest of the group. If you're on foot, holding your baby and towing around a diaper bag, an almost 7 lb chair is probably not something you want to add to the mix. We appreciate the chairs that can fold into something less bulky, especially when they come with a carry bag or padded shoulder strap.
The biggest problem with boosters is that they typically don't fold flat (except for the First Years On-the-Go), so if you are taking it to dine out or are planning to travel, you'll be stuck carrying a pretty bulky item. We found the hook-on chairs to be more travel-friendly than boosters in general, as they fold down and usually fit inside an included carry bag. Being able to fold the chair flat, slip it in a bag, and then toss it over your shoulder is all too convenient.
Ease of Cleaning
These chairs can get messy, so finding one that is easy to clean is a big plus. Finding a chair that stays clean with a good wipe down can simplify your life. Cleaning up after little ones is an hourly routine, so why not make it as painless as possible? Chairs with crevices are more challenging to clean. Removable covers that are hand or machine washable and smooth plastic that you can wash in the sink are useful features.
Purchasing a portable high chair is a good move if you dine out or frequently travel with your baby in tow. It can also be nice to have something for trips to the grandparents, or those on a budget or living in tight quarters. A portable chair can be all you need for your baby to eat comfortably at home until little ones are ready to sit in a regular chair. In the end, safety, comfort, functionality, and portability are all key components you will need to consider before purchasing a high chair. If you keep these factors in mind, we're sure you'll find one that can travel to wherever you and baby happen to roam. Eat well!
— Juliet Spurrier, MD and Lindsay Selig