The Best Portable High Chair
Which portable high chair is best for your family? With several factors to consider such as weight, size, and comfort, it can be a lot to take on. Luckily, we did the hard work for you. We researched over 30 chairs and narrowed it down to 11 finalists for a closer look. After spending time analyzing topics such as safety, portability, and weight, we have listed our favorite features of each chair, as well as some things to look out for. In the buying advice, we break down the information step by step and share the pros and cons of different types of chairs as well as other important situational factors to consider. Read on to see which portable chairs made the cut.
Inglesina Fast Table
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 made of high-quality canvas material that is easy to wipe clean. The fabric can also be removed, making for easier hand washing if it needs a deeper clean. The chair can fold down flat and be stored in the carry bag that is attached and hidden within the seat. Not only does this greatly increase portability, but also comes in handy if you are planning on using this in place of a full-size high chair, and would like to put the chair away in between mealtimes.
Easy to attach
Gap between baby and table
Needs 5-point harness
Only fits certain tables
One of the main complaints with this chair is that there is a gap between the table and baby; this means that a lot of food can end up sharing a seat with baby and eventually find its way to the floor. Especially if you have a child that is on the smaller side, this can be a messy situation. Even with the purchase of the tray, it is not going to solve the problem because the tray is essentially just a cover for the table; it is not made to close that gap. Another problem that could be an issue is the 3-point harness. There have been reports of kiddos squirming their way out of the harness and freeing themselves onto the table, so make sure to always keep an eye on your child and make sure it is adjusted correctly. While this chair will slide conveniently onto the edge of most tables, take note of the instruction manual before purchasing to see what table edges are suitable for this product. Keeping these things in mind, we still love the quality and functionality of this seat and highly recommend it.
Read the Review: Inglesina Fast Table
Best Toddler Booster
Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe
The Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe is a compact and durable booster-style high chair 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, small crevices were kept to a minimum to prevent spaces for unwanted food to creep into. Being made entirely of plastic, a good wipe down is sufficient to get the chair clean. The feeding tray is also dishwasher safe, although we recommend hand washing as often as possible. The chair also offers three different height settings and so will work with chairs of various heights and will be able to grow with your child. The back of the chair folds down to make it more compact.
Easy to clean
Attaches easily to most chairs
Feeding tray can be popped off by kids
Need to double check t-straps are secure
There are few things to note about this chair. One is that some crafty toddlers have been able to figure out how to remove the white feeding tray. This can lead to a big mess on the floor and result in having to fix a replacement meal. If this issue arises, you can just use the base tray without the addition of the feeding tray but will be dealing with a more bulky item when washing. It is also important to note that in some cases, users reported that the t-straps holding the harness straps to the chair have worked themselves free. Since the tray is not designed to hold the child in place, it is important to check that these straps are secure prior to each use. Despite these issues, the Healthy Care Deluxe can be a great booster-style option that will last for years.
Read the Review: Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe
Best Cloth Harness
Baby's Journey BabySitter
Baby's Journey BabySitter is a portable, padded fabric harness that attaches easily to most any chair. It is super lightweight and will conveniently fit right into your diaper bag for easy transportation. Some parents opt to use it to turn any chair into a safe spot for baby to sit when they need free hands, not just for meal time. It has adjustable harness straps that grow with your little one and it can be tossed into the washing machine for easy cleaning. This is a great low-cost and innovative option for an on-the-go parent.
Perfect for travel
Easy to use
Not good for self-feeding
Little ones can slouch to the side
Since this chair attaches to your normal dining chairs, it may mean that your little one could be below table height. This will not work if you were hoping for your kiddo to feed themselves. Some users, however, have gotten creative and bought this to use with antique high chairs or chairs with broken straps. If your child is extra wiggly or needs extra support when sitting, this may not be the best option for you. The directions specifically state that children need to be able to sit up unassisted in order to use this safely, so it is not safe for use with newborns. Despite these flaws, we believe the ease of use and extreme portability make this a top choice.
Summer Infant Pop 'N Sit
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.
Folds for easy portability (with bag)
Easy to open and close
Center strap placement is awkward
Tray can be stiff to take off
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.
Great Boost for Big Kids
OXO Tot Perch
OXO Tot Perch is a great choice for older kids who need an extra boost to comfortably sit at the table, but don't want a babyish seat. This seat has a non-skid base that helps it stay safely put on the chair. The seat offers an additional 3" of height which we think is the perfect amount to make up for sitting on knees during mealtime. It is easy to wipe down and the cushion is removable so you will be able to get those extra crumbs without too much of a hassle. The back of the seat folds down, making it perfect for storing. It is BPA, phthalate, and PVC free so you can feel at ease using this for your little ones. If you want to use this with a slightly younger toddler, you can check out the OXO Tot Perch with Straps.
Easy to wipe clean
Folds well for storage
Smaller than expected
Pad wears out
While this seat is designed for kiddos ages 3 and up, some users were surprised at the size of the seat, as it was smaller than they had 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. Most users were pleased with the durability of the seat but some users found the pad was susceptible to peeling and becoming worn out more quickly than they would like. However, if your kiddo is old enough to be done with a traditional booster but still needs some extra support to join the family at table height, the Tot Perch could be the perfect solution.
Baby Carrier & Chair Harness Combo
Onya Baby Outback
Onya Baby Outback is not only a portable high chair harness but also a baby carrier. Having the convenience of a carrier that transitions to a portable seat means one less baby product for you to keep track of on a day out. It is machine washable, making it super convenient to clean up after a messy meal and is fairly simple to use once you become familiar with the product. It can wrap and buckle around almost any chair and would be ideal for a family outing what involves alot of walking as it can easily transition back and forth. For further information on how the Onya Baby Outback performed as a carrier, check out our Best Baby Carrier Review.
Easy to use
While it has the ability to be more than a portable chair, it is the most expensive product in the group. If you already have a baby carrier or do not think you will use that feature, there are other fabric harnesses that will meet your needs at a much lower cost. Also, because this is a multi-use device, it is bulkier and heavier than the other cloth harnesses we tested. When you are packing a diaper bag and plan on stashing a harness in the bag, size and weight become very important in the big picture. But, if you are looking for a portable high chair, and also happen to be in the market for a carrier this product is hard to beat as it will perform well in both capacities.
Light & Compact Hook-On
Mountain Buggy Pod
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 is built with a solid aluminum frame and a zippered fabric cover. This makes chair highly portable thanks to the winning combination of sturdy, yet lightweight materials.
Small leg holes
Hand wash only
Zipper can unexpectedly come undone
One of the major 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 really 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 nice and 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.
Super Versatile Booster
Ingenuity Baby Base
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 is thoughtfully designed to be used on the floor as a tot chair, as well as a booster when 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.
Tray stores in seat
Easy to clean
Buckles are difficult
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 baby is in the seat. All in all, if you're looking for a chair that will mostly be used 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
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 can also be used 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 the least expensive item we looked at, making it a win-win situation.
Not good for self-feeding
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, 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 baby when using a high chair of any sort. Overall, we really loved how easy this was to use and the small footprint it offered.
Fully-Loaded Cadillac Booster
Peg Perego Rialto
Peg Perego Rialto is a foldable chair that works for children 9 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 to fit everything into. The material can be easily wiped clean with a damp cloth to get the food that will inevitably be caught by the seat.
Wipes down well
Tray can be finicky
While the Rialto is designed to be portable, thanks to its compact fold and included 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 correctly secure the tray in the first place. 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 definitely consider the Rialto.
Hook-On with 4-Point Harness
phil and teds Lobster
The phil and teds Lobster is a hook-on chair that is super compact and highly portable, folding up small enough to fit in your diaper bag. It comes with its own carry bag for easy storage and transportation. The design is pretty intuitive; it seems to almost unfold itself and literally "fall into place" once taken out of the bag. The claw shape clips are easy to use to secure the chair to an appropriate table (see directions for table compatibility). It is unique in that it features a 4-point harness to help ensure baby is safely secured in the seat. It is also the only hook-on chair that also comes with a tray - which means a cleaner surface for baby when using this chair at a restaurant or park table.
Easy to use
Small leg holes
Poor table compatibility
The main complaint about this seat is that the leg holes are very small and babies seem to outgrow it faster than anticipated. This seems to be something that was redesigned in the latest update of this product, as this was not an issue with previous versions. Another problem with the chair is that it is not compatible with as many different table types as our award-winning Inglesina Fast Table. If you only plan on using this chair with a few different tables, and you have double checked to be sure they are compatible, then this is no problem. However, if you are looking for something you can take out and about to use at restaurants or parks, you may encounter the problem of incompatibility. If you are willing to work around these flaws and are ok with more limited use, it can be a great compact hook-on chair that is easy to use.
Read the Review: phil and teds Lobster
How We Evaluated
Finding the perfect portable high chairs took over 70 hours of testing and research. We spent that time measuring, cleaning, comparing, researching the products, and testing ease of use with young children. We then took all the information and condensed it to form a simplified list of pros and cons and helpful buying advice to help you to make an informed decision on your purchase.
Finding the right portable high chair includes looking at several factors. After looking at over 45 chairs we narrowed it down to the top 11. 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.
When you purchase an item that is portable, weight is always one of the first things you want to consider in your purchase decision. Think about how you will primarily be using the chair and how weight will factor into day to day use. Needs vary from occasional trips to grandmas to restaurant outings to everyday use in your home.
As you can see, the Smart 'N Comfy is by far the lightest, with the next competitor, the Baby's Journey BabySitter, being 1/2 pound heavier. Both of these seats can be easily stashed in a diaper bag and brought along without much extra effort. The heaviest chair at 6.6 lbs, the Peg Perego Rialto, is something you likely won't want to lug around all over the place and would be a better choice for strictly in-home use.
There are many different varieties of portable high chairs, and all have different features that make them portable. To us, portability encompasses being easily moved around the home and stored as well as being travel-friendly having the ability to keep it in your diaper bag. When scoring this metric, we took into consideration overall weight, ability to fold and general size.
The top scores were earned by the harness style chairs. They are not only light but can be easily stored in your diaper bag and forgotten about until you need them. The Smart 'N Comfy clearly 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. The chairs that scored mid-range were the hook-on high chairs. While they may not fit in your diaper bag, they can easily be kept in the trunk of your car and should be able to fit in the lower basket of most strollers. The booster style seats performed the lowest for portability. Their rigid structure and size make them less desirable for taking out to a restaurant but could be the perfect chair to keep at grandparent's house or even in your own home if a full-size high chair takes up too much space in your kitchen.
If you dine out with baby often, you have likely experienced the use of a restaurant high chair or booster seat. More often than not, they are filled with crusty food and loaded with an untold army of germs. In addition, straps can either be missing or questionable and, again, loaded with yuck. We set out to find the best portable high chair in the effort to circumvent this issue. This way, you know your little one is dining in a safe, clean place when the family is out and about.
Types of Portable High Chairs
To start, there are 3 types of portable high-chairs that can be used on the go: wraps, hook-ons, and booster seats. The first two types can be used once baby has begun to sit unaided, usually about 6 months up to a max weight of 37 pounds at which point your child will probably be sitting in a real chair. The age limit for boosters varies a bit more, but are typically able to be used once baby has really developed solid core strength and can go up to a max weight of 50 pounds.
Wraps are pieces of fabric that attach baby to any chair and are extremely portable for on the go families. They are easy to keep in your diaper bag and use for dining, along with other activities. Onya Baby, a baby carrier manufacturer, produces the Onya Outback, which is a soft structured carrier that doubles as a portable high chair wrap.
Hook-On chairs are sort of futuristic and pretty awesome. Most have rubberized arms that secure to the table without scratching it and twist tight fasteners to secure to a surface before putting your little one inside. Most hook-ons are fairly lightweight and collapsible and come with a carry bag. Typically, infants need to be over 6 months and sitting upright solo when beginning to use hook-ons. The upper weight limit is generally lower than boosters, usually topping out around 37 lbs, so they won't be used for the long haul. However, by the time children reach this point, they typically have enough coordination to sit in a regular chair. Removable seat fabric for easy cleaning is a must and the metal frames can usually be cleaned by wiping them with a damp cloth.
If a hook-on chair is appealing to you, take a good look at the types of tables or countertops that may be used with this accessory as they may have limitations.
- Thickness: Not every hook-on will fit with every table. If you are planning on using this at home primarily, be sure that prior to purchasing you double check that the chair is compatible with the table or counter where you plan to use it.
- Edge Shape: Rectangular and square tables have a straight edge while circular or oval tables have a curved edge. With Hook-On chairs this difference in shape can change how the chair fits with the table! Check manufacturer recommendation for table compatibility as each chair may be different.
- Skirts or Lips: Any table or countertop with vertical material either at its edge or underneath it, will render some hook-on chairs unusable. For instance, the clamp-like mechanism of the Phil and Teds Lobster simply can not be used with surfaces sporting skirts/lips.
- Material and Structure: Simply put, you want to make sure that the surface to which you are going to secure a Hook-On chair is made of durable material with a solid and sturdy base.
Hook-Ons should not be attached to a glass surface, single pedestal table, loose tabletop, table leaf, card table, or over tablecloths or placemats.
Plain and simple, boosters are easy. You can generally begin using these at 12 months, so long as your baby has strong core development. Boosters will fit on almost all dining chairs by strapping around the backside and underside of the chair. As such, they can be used just about anywhere except for a restaurant booth. If they are being used at home, you can hide the seat by simply sliding the chair with the booster seat attached up to the table.
Ease Of Use
When using a portable high chair, you will be constantly setting it up and taking it down so it is important to think about ease of setup. You should take into account the number of items you have to assemble and the average time it takes to set up with each use. In the case of a portable high chair, less is more. When you combine a hungry toddler and a time-consuming chair to setup, you've got a recipe for disaster. A portable high chair that pops-up ready to go and easily clamps to the table or already comes in one piece is very nice.
Another ease of use issue to keep in mind is that table, countertop, and chair compatibility can become a real issue when dining out. Booster seats will fit on almost any dining chair but become problematic when faced with a booth. Some hook-ons do not fit all round-edged tables or those with vertical skirts. In addition, there are some very strict limitations that come with using hook-on chairs. Glass table tops absolutely CAN NOT be used and flimsy foldable or pedestal tables are out of the question as well.
Safety and Quality
Baby's safety should be first and foremost in your mind when dining in a portable high chair. Most come with a 3-point harness and it is essential to have both adjustable crotch and waist straps to get a good fit. Look for a substantial seat, one deep enough to hold baby in, as well as high seat backs that can help baby sit in a more ergonomic position. By no means should a child be able to "Houdini" themselves out. Before placing a child in the chair, always check to make sure that attachment mechanisms have been securely tightened so the hook-on or booster is firmly attached without give or movement.
The selling point of all the high chairs in this review is portability, and if you're reading this review, we assume this is very important to you, and we advise taking a close look at the overall weight of the chair you are considering, as even a 1/2 pound can make a big difference. The chairs we tested weighed in anywhere from .9 to 6.6 pounds, and wow, what a range. If you're carrying your baby and diaper bag in on one arm, you probably don't want to carry an almost 7-pound chair in the other unless you haven't made it to CrossFit that day. We also think you'll be more satisfied with one that can fold down into something less bulky. An included carry bag or padded shoulder strap, such as the one found on the Summer Infant Pop 'N Sit, would just be an added bonus.
The biggest issue with boosters is that they typically do not have the ability to fold flat (except for the Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe pictured above right), so if you are taking it with you to dine out or are thinking of traveling with baby, you would be stuck with carrying a pretty massive item with you. We found the hook-on chairs to be more travel-friendly than boosters, as they fold down to a decent size and usually include their own carry bags. Being able to simply fold the chair flat, slide it in a bag, and then toss it over your shoulder is very convenient. Even more so in the case of the Phil and Teds Lobster, which you can place in a diaper bag.
Ease of Cleaning
As these chairs will get pretty messy, finding one that is easy to clean is a treasure. Finding a chair that will stay looking clean and tidy with just the wipe of a damp cloth can simplify your life and take one more thing off your to-do list. After all, cleaning up after our little ones is a daily, if not, hourly routine, so why not try to make it as painless as possible. Fabrics and chairs with crevices tend to be more difficult to clean. Removable fabrics that can be hand or machine washed and hard, smooth plastic that can be washed in the sink is are important features to look for.
Purchasing a Portable High Chair is a good move if you dine out or travel a lot with baby in tow. It can also be nice to have something for weekend trips over at the grandparent's, and for those on a budget or living in tight quarters, it can be all you need for baby to eat comfortably at home until they are ready to sit in a regular chair. In the end, safety, comfort, functionality, and portability are all key components you will want to check out before purchasing a high chair. Keep these things in mind, and we're sure you'll find one that can travel to wherever you and baby happen to wander. Eat well!
— Juliet Spurrier, MD and Lindsay Selig
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