Helping feed your infants when you’re on the move with a portable high chair
Infant parents know how critical a piece of equipment a high chair is at mealtimes for your weaning baby or toddler at home. But just how essential is a high chair when you are travelling?
We used to make do with sharing the holding duties if a high chair wasn’t available away from home. However, once you have multiple children this can become extremely challenging and impractical.
Not all destinations are built the same when it comes to kiddy gear such as high chairs (and safety standards vary considerably around the world!). So is it worth bringing your own portable high chair? Will it reduce your mealtime stresses or is it just another piece of baby kit to lug around when you travel?
We have a comprehensive guide here on how to feed your baby on the move, but in this post, we are going to specifically look at portable travel high chairs and which might suit you & your baby best. We will cover:
- Different styles of portable high chairs
- Features to look for in a good travel high chair
- Best portable high chairs on the market
This post is part of our tried & tested family travel product reviews
What to look for in a portable high chair
Styles of portable highchairs
There are four different styles of portable high chair perfect for travel:
- Clamp-on chairs – a foldable high chair with a metal frame and cloth seat with a harness that can clamp on to the actual table.
- Booster seats – usually made of plastic and designed to sit on top of an existing dining chair to bring your baby up to table height, or can be used on the ground with their own tray.
- Cloth High Chair – a lightweight material wrap around a dining chair to keep babies and toddlers secure at the table but does not increase their height.
- Foldable chair for toddlers – these are complete chairs with their own tray but varying heights that can fold away.
Features to look for in a portable high chair
It’s a question of how much do you want to spend – and at what point does portability outweigh practicality? What sort of travel will you be undertaking with your baby or toddler – short day trips to the park or big city adventures?
Portable high chair features – Portability
For me, this is really number 1 when looking at travel high chairs. If I am going to bring an extra item for the baby (after already no doubt packing a diaper bag, a stroller, a carrier, a portacot) do I really need ANOTHER separate piece of kit? Will it fit neatly in my diaper bag or under my stroller? Does it come with its own carry bag? How much does it weigh?
Portable high chair features – Weight capacity
Generally speaking, high chairs are used from around 6 months to 3-years of age, but this can vary vastly by child. Many are very happy to sit independently as soon as they can, others love the comfort of their own chair bringing them to your height. Portable high chairs whilst safe, may not be as sturdy for a heavier child.
Portable high chair features – safety
It goes without saying how incredibly important this is. The whole point of having them in a chair is that they are secure. Just how small or wriggly is your child? Will a 3-point harness suffice? Or do you need a 5-point harness (that straps over the shoulders as well)?
Portable high chair features Functionality
How easy is it to set up the high chair up on the go? How easy is it to clean? Does it have a washable cover? Can food get inside any small holes? How does it store away?
Portable high chair features – value for money
Are you going to be needing a portable high chair on many occasions or just a one-off trip? Is this a “just in case”back up or will it get used daily?
Research your destination as best as possible to see what might be supplied and what the norm is for cafe’s and restaurants if you are dining out. On the rare occasion you cannot get a high chair, would feeding your baby in their stroller suffice?
Still think you might get a good bit of use our of a portable high chair? Great, read on!!!
The best travelling high chairs
See all of our favourites compared here, then read on for more details for when we think these portable high chair options may suit your travel needs:
Best Clamp-on Portable High Chairs
We love how these work in theory, but execution can be very variable depending on where to are dining. They are a safe and secure option though and see your baby right up close to the action: Our favourites are:
phil&teds Lobster Clip-On Highchair
This is our favourite of the table clip-on variety. Despite its size, it’s really super light to carry and folds down pretty flat when not in use into its own carry bag (It can fit in the bottom of your stroller or if your lucky, into a backpack/diaper bag).
The lining is machine washable and it includes a 5-point safety harness suitable to 37lbs and a removable tray table. This one’s pretty durable and works surprisingly well still even with a wiggly little one (and it looks good!)
It’s downfall – which is common to all the clip-on varieties we’re going to mention here – is finding the right table to connect it to. The clamps need the table to have a wide enough “lip” (it can handle table thickness from 0.8″ to 3.75″ to grab on to). Sadly it didn’t work on our table at home and we eventually sold ours, as cool and practical as it looked.
See also: Our review of the phil&teds Traveller carry cot – one of the lightest portable cots on the market.
Inglesina Fast Table chair
Also using the clamp-on style, this fancy number has a little pouch in the back of its washable cover which easily removes after use. Coming with its own travel bag and available in a variety of colours it is good from around 6 months until 37lbs and provides a 3-point safety harness.
There is little separating it in our option from the phil&teds, we do like the colour range but for practical purposes, it does the same job. We don’t like that you need to pay separately for the tray, and it is a little bigger, dimensions and weight (14″ x 17″ x 4″ folded).
Mountain Buggy Pod Clip-On High Chair
This is the absolute smallest and lightest in the clamp-on range we could find, weighing in at just 2.2lbs. Clamps to tables with a thickness of 0.8″ to 2″ (slightly more restrictive than the previous two) with rubber pads to avoid table damage.
If you want something super small but sturdy this will do the job, though better for your smaller infants with a max weight of 33lbs. Comes in three colours and with a carry bag and is washable.
See also: Love your lightweight but sturdy Mountain Buggy gear? See our review of the Mountain Buggy Nano ultra-compact stroller
Chicco Caddy Hook-On Chair
This is the biggest and heaviest of the clamp on variety but still folds quite flat and includes a 3-point safety harness, washable, but no carry bag.
The larger clamps on this one undoubtedly add weight but do make it more versatile as it can fit around tables that have skirts (that beam of wood underneath). They recommend between 0.75″ and table skirts up to 5.5″ including tabletop).
Best Booster Portable High Chairs
We start to see slightly higher weight capacity as we move into the booster seat range which attaches to the dining chair rather than the table. They also tend to be a little bulkier than the clamp-on variety of high chair, so bear this in mind for when you’re transiting with your baby gear.
Here are our top picks for portable boosters:
The First Years On-The-Go Booster Seat
A self-inflating booster! This one actually weighs in super light for a full booster and has a single strap under the chair. Suitable from 9 months and up to 50lbs this is better for your larger infants.
The product zips back up inside itself and is less than a 1lbs making it excellent for frequent travellers, no compromises on safety with a 3-point harness and easy wipe surface. No tray or other accessories included.
Bumbo Multi Seat
Now I’ll admit be LOVED our Bumbo at home on the floor, however, we are dubiously putting it here in the portable category as we have used it on the move too! It’s great for in the garden, picnics and camping and as it’s quite supportive can be used before 6-months.
It comes with a 3-point harness to keep baby snug and secure and a detachable tray that can store on the bag when not in use. Retractable straps allow it to be strapped on to a chair and it has an easy-to-clean plastic surface. It comes in a variety of fun colours to suit your decor!
Yep, it’s a little bulkier than some and doesn’t have a carry bag or shoulder strap. However if you want something practical for at home, and a booster for when you’re on the move for the littlest ones, this is my value-for-money pick.
Ingenuity SmartClean Toddler Booster Seat
A straight forward strap on booster that can work stand-alone on the floor much like the Bumbo, or strapped to a dining chair with a 3-point harness and a base and back strap. The seat part easily detaches from the base for easy cleaning.
Again, this isn’t entirely designed for the travel market. but it is super light for what you get so does classify as being portable, at a slightly cheaper pricing point than Bumbo too.
Fisher-Price Healthy Care Booster Seat
A little bit bulky but easy to clean, dishwasher safe tray and can connect to a standard dining chair with straps. It is light, it is cheap – is it really that portable though?
It attaches to just about any chair and is secured with a bottom strap and a back strap, with a third strap around the child’s waist. We like the built-in sippy cup feature, and the fact it has a shoulder strap for carrying but is the heaviest of this variety of portable seat. Good if you are leaving it at a relatives house for occasional use, for example.
Best Cloth High Chair
My Little Seat Travel Highchair
A durable fabric that wraps around a standard chair. It comes with a 5-point harness and is suitable from approximately 6 months (must be able to sit unaided) through to 35lbs.
We have removed this recommendation now as it appears the product is no longer available as at June 2021
Easy Seat Portable Travel High Chair
An incredibly sturdy fabric that fits over most chair types and includes a harness to wear over the shoulders for extra security. Fits chairs to a max height 16″ and 19″ width. It’s a “one click” secure then adjust the fasteners to tighten to your child’s size.
The product is machine washable and folds back into a tiny bag making it one of the best here for portability, yet sturdy. At a top value price point too so no big investment needed for a little extra convenience.
Foldable High Chair
This sort of chair is best for your outdoor adventures nearer to home. They are not as light and compact as the above-mentioned brands for overseas travel, but they work for safety and sturdiness that you can still easily move away from the kitchen at home – perfect for camping with a baby or for giving baby a sand-free seat at the beach.
Ciao! Baby Portable High Chair for Travel
This is an easy fold-out model that still gives your child some height to join you at the table when you’re away from home. It is a little weighty coming out at 7lbs and its quite long when its folded up (32″)
The parts don’t come apart for cleaning so you will need to sponge (or hose) this type of portable high chair down, but a great outdoorsy option with durable fabric. We like the built-in cup holder but note its not a hard surface tray.
Summer Infant Pop N’Sit Portable booster
Another portable high chair best suited for picnics, the beach and camping, it sits lower to the ground. It comes with its own hard tray and available in three colours.
A 3-point harness keeps your infant secure – but I can hardly see you pulling this one out in a city cafe? Great for day excursion nearer to home though – this is the one my brother’s family use and recommend, thanks for the personal recommendation!
Baby Delight Go With Me Chair
A little bigger than some of the models of portable high chair we’ve looked at here as it includes a sun canopy as well, but oh so useful! Weighing in at 7.5 lbs you’re not packing it in your hand luggage, but regular campers, take note!!
The chair will grow with your child as the sun canopy, tray and harness are removable making it ideal for camping with toddlers too. We also love that there are 8 contact points on the ground for added stability.
Globetrotters Recommend – Best Portable High Chair
So are portable high chairs worth the investment? Yes and no!
Sorry to leave you in the lurch, we have invested in three different designs and each had their pros and cons at every stage. The clamp-on in our mind is the best portable model, but it is so dependent on the table type you will get.
We really didn’t get as much use out of the cloth wrap style of high chair as we thought we would but I certainly kept it in our diaper bag for many years “just in case” – worthy of an investment as a backup.
If you are a regularly outdoorsy and camping family, it’s very much worth considering the fold-out variety while you’re infants are still very small.
So over to you, which travel high chair do you think works best for you and your family, or will you stick with improvising and carrying less gear?
Further family travel product reviews
You may also find these family travel product reviews helpful in preparing you for next trip with kids:
All our Tried and tested product reviews live here – let us know if there are any products you don’t see and we’ll get these reviewed for you!
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