The 10 Best Portable High Chairs
This wiki has been updated 29 times since it was first published in April of 2015. Portable and folding high chairs offer the perfect solution to dining out with little ones when traveling or at restaurants. They come in super-stylish, lightweight, and affordable options, so your child always has a safe, clean seat at the table with the family, no matter where you go. We've even included some handy slide-over models that are small enough to fit in a bag. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 08, 2020:
It's no secret that having a young child can make some of your favorite activities a bit more ... involved. Instead of just walking out the door at a moment's notice, you have to plan ahead for whatever activities you might decide to partake in. Luckily, these portable high chairs can help with that. They are small enough to keep in the trunk at all times, so you never wind up at a restaurant or friend's house only to realize your little one doesn't have any way to safely join you at the table. We have included a variety of different styles of high chairs, some of which could technically be considered booster seats, but all of which serve their intended purpose well.
If you prefer a completely self-standing model, you'll want to look at the Graco SimpleSwitch, Joovy Nook, and Ciao! Baby Travel. While these can be a bit more cumbersome to travel with than some of the other styles, none would be considered a hassle. Of these, the Graco SimpleSwitch is the most versatile, since it can be used with its included legs, or with its legs removed and strapped onto a traditional dining chair. The Ciao! Baby Travel, however, is best for outdoor use and makes the ideal model to take a long on a camping trip, as its design closely resembles the folding camping chairs you will probably be using. We will note though, that we think parents will really appreciate the stain-resistant faux leather upholstery on the Joovy Nook, which is easier to keep clean than the fabric found on the other two models.
We have also included in our recommendations models that are designed to attach to the table in some manner. These are the Chicco Caddy Hook On, Mountain Buggy Pod, Inglesina Fast, and Phil & Teds Lobster. The great thing about this style is that the lack of legs means they will store more compactly than the self-standing options. Of course, the downside is that they cannot be used when a table isn't present, such as when you want to keep your child next to you while you are standing and performing other activities.
Finally, we have the booster seat-style options that must be used in conjunction with a traditional chair if you want to keep your child at table level. These are the Hiccapop Omniboost, Fisher-Price Healthy Care, and Fisher-Price Spacesaver. Each of these stands out for different reasons. For example, we really like the oversized feet on the Omniboost that make it very stable, especially when used outdoors on soft surfaces; the Healthy Care features a snap-on lid to keep the feeding tray clean during transport; and the Spacesaver is well-padded and has been smartly designed with the ability to store the feeding tray snapped into the back. Plus, it comes in a nice variety of attractive prints.
Ikea Antilop The Antilop is not only easy to disassemble to take on the go, but it is very easy on the wallet as well. Unlike many other models, it doesn't have any fabric to get stained, so you can just wipe it down with a damp cloth, and it doesn't have any crevices to trap crumbs. Despite being very lightweight, it still feels sturdy and can accommodate kids up to 33 pounds. ikea.com
Why A Portable High Chair Is Essential
Any parent who has done this knows it's impossible to enjoy a meal like this.
Most restaurants will do their best to accommodate growing children by keeping things like coloring books, a kids menu, and high chairs in storage. But if you arrive at a restaurant, having made the reservation weeks ago, meeting friends who changed their schedule to be there, only to find the venue is out of high chairs for the evening or simply doesn't have them, you could be stuck holding your child on your lap for the entire meal. Any parent who has done this knows it's impossible to enjoy a meal like this. The child is constantly trying to crawl out of their lap, or grab things on the table they shouldn't, or spilling somebody's wine.
If you need a more compelling reason to travel with your own high chair in tow, consider that the ones the restaurant keeps on hand could carry more bacteria than a public toilet seat. Think of your own child's eating habits. They likely spill things, drool, spit out their food, and possibly even soil themselves in their chair. Busy restaurant staff may have time to give a high chair a quick wipe town before the next customer needs it, but that's all. Also consider the fact that children, and small infants, in particular, like to lick everything. Ironically, researchers suggest this type of behavior might be good for a baby at home and can even prevent the development of certain chronic diseases. But in a public place, it can be very dangerous.
Finally, there is the issue that restaurants that carry high chairs tend to carry one generic model, and all in one size. But children and babies do not come all in one size. There is a good chance your baby will not fit comfortably in the restaurant's high chair, and will either be too low at the table, lurking under your eye line where you cannot keep an eye on them, or too high, which can be dangerous.
Additional Features To Look For
Since babies and young children are constantly growing, parents need a portable high chair that grows with them. This is especially true for those buying a portable high chair for summer travel since this is when children actually grow the fastest. Fortunately, many models have both adjustable heights, and several reclining positions, to comfortably grow with a child from infancy through their high chair years. Make sure your model easily attaches to either most chairs or tables and doesn't require much assembly.
By the end of a meal, a portable high chair might be covered in crayon markings, spilled juice and chunks of food.
Young children aren't exactly notorious for their calm demeanor at the dinner table, especially those who eat some of the ingredients in common kids menus that cause hyperactivity. To avoid wrangling your child all night, look for a portable high chair with a harness that will keep them in their seat. Another way to make sure one's child behaves well is to keep them entertained, which is why many portable high chairs come with attached toys and games. These can be especially helpful for those times when the restaurant is out of coloring books.
One more characteristic that children are not famous for is cleanliness. By the end of a meal, a portable high chair might be covered in crayon markings, spilled juice and chunks of food. Make sure your model is easy to wipe down. If it has a seat pad, make sure that is machine washable. Rather than letting the high chair be one more thing you need to carry, let it carry things for you and get one with a large storage area.
Guidelines For Dining Out With Your Child
Just because you're a parent of a young child doesn't mean your favorite restaurants should be off limits. Simply follow some guidelines to make dining out with your child relatively hassle free. When it comes to seating, choose a table in a corner and put your children against the walls, so they don't have much room to throw food at the neighboring patrons.
Since your child is already going to be loud, choose a noisy restaurant.
Think about how busy the restaurant might be, too. Look for one where you know you can order food quickly, and that it will arrive fast. The longer a child has to wait for their food, the more likely they are to get into mischief. Some studies suggest a child's attention span is directly connected to how distracted their parent is, so engage your little one at the dinner table, rather than chat on your cell phone or read from your tablet.
As a parent of a young child, you've probably learned to stop expecting a quiet dinner. Since your child is already going to be loud, choose a noisy restaurant. That way, you won't feel that your kid's singing picture book, or new-found love of screaming, is disturbing the other patrons. On that note, if you're planning a long meal, keep your child busy with something like a puzzle or game.