In order to find the best portable high chair, you actually have to know what you’re looking for. We got a team of experts on the case, researching, testing, and reviewing various portable high chairs to see which ones made the cut. Once we had it narrowed down to the best portable high chairs on the market, we were able to conclude that the Fisher-Price SpaceSaver High Chair holds the crown in the number one spot.
Why Should You Get a Portable High Chair?
A high chair is a necessary item to have for a baby, as most parents agree. Some may question the necessity in getting a portable high chair instead of a regular high chair. The answer is simple: it’s easy to use, easy to take apart, and you can bring it with you wherever you need to without any hassle. The simple fact of the matter is that portable high chairs are much more convenient than regular high chairs. This goes especially for those clunky, hard-to-construct high chair that are big and in the way. Plus, they’re usually a bit more comfortable than regular high chairs, since the padding has to be compacted for the size.
Benefits of Using a Portable High Chair
The obvious first and most important benefit of using a portable high chair is in the name itself – it’s portable. This means you can take it with you on long trips, store it in small or tight places, and much more. It’s the recommended type of high chair for parents who need to take their little one to the babysitter overnight, parents who find themselves busy and always on the move, or those who frequently visit friends and family. If you’re visiting with them over food, you know you’re going to need a high chair handy.
Types of Portable High Chairs
There are countless benefits to using a portable high chair, but it really depends more on the type of high chair you get. This is because there are different benefits for different types of high chairs that can be portable. The different types of portable high chairs are:
Hook-on High Chairs
Hook-on high chairs are fairly self-explanatory, but they’re chairs that simply clip onto the table through the arms. The child is locked in carefully and securely, but it also takes up minimal space and room. The baby is half under the table because of the way the high chair is designed, so it’s perfect for restaurants, family events, or any time you quickly need to snap a high chair together because there aren’t any available.
Fabric High Chairs
If you have a spare chair, preferably beside you, you can use a fabric high chair to securely snuggle up your little one, the main band going across their chest like a seatbelt would. It’s a reliable way to keep the baby firm and in place the entire time, whether they’re a smaller baby close to the size of an infant or a toddler. These can work like a strap, or they can secure the child primarily through the legs as if they were in a harness, securing them to the chair that way instead. This type of fabric high chair is called a wrap.
Travel High Chairs
Kind of in the name, these high chairs are designed for travel. They could either be geared towards outdoor travel or just travel in general, so it really just depends on the preference you have towards it. Travel high chairs are small, able to be compacted into small places, and they’re easy to carry and move.
You can have your little one join you at the real table and meet a little close to your height with a booster seat. It can have straps, a way to secure them in or put them in to lock down their legs, or it can have nothing for the bigger kids who won’t get up and misbehave. The only downside to booster seats is that they’re usually bulky, even though they’re small in the scheme of things. Carrying around a booster seat is no walk in the park, as many parents have come to realize after they’ve made their mistakes.
How We Picked the Best Portable High Chair
With the versatility and range of different types of portable high chairs that there are, we had to put together a special list of variables to fairly consider when trying to decide on the best portable high chair on the market. We got all the moms and dads on our team to test, deliberate, and research, so we came up with a list of requirements that a high chair has to have before it can ever be considered our number one.
Safety and quality are two big variables that go slightly above the rest, because they make the foundations of a good or bad portable high chair. High chairs that have secure harnesses, quality materials, and the high chairs that have passed all of their certifications and exceeded standards are the kind of high chairs you should be going after.
No portable high chair that has a poor review or only a small number of reviews (less than 15) was put into consideration for our number one spot. We only looked at products that are already highly-rated, because those are the only products you can reliably trust more than the ones that already have poor ratings.
The ease of use of the product itself is vital before it can be given the number one spot. Since we tested a vast majority of these items, we were able to take into account the amount of items needed to assemble each high chair, the time it took to set up each chair, and so on. A portable high chair that’s easy to put together, simple to move around, and can remove the headache from adding a high chair to your armory is the best way to go, especially when you’re on the move a lot.
Somewhat tying in with the ease of use of the product and how well it is to move around, the portability of the high chair is an important factor to consider. Sometimes, making two trips isn’t an option. Getting a high chair that’s small enough that you can include it in your arms when you’re carrying a baby, a diaper bag, and who knows what else can be make or break for the whole day.
How easy the high chair is to clean up after it’s been messed on is an important variable in play. That’s why we only looked at certain fabric high chairs, because they’re made out of materials that don’t stain or are easy to clean, and only certain materials for regular high chairs. Removable fabrics, dishwasher-safe high chair parts, and ease of cleaning all help us to decide which product should be considered the best portable high chair.
Our Pick for the Best Portable High Chair
Fisher-Price SpaceSaver High Chair
We didn’t just close our eyes and randomly select the Fisher-Price SpaceSaver High Chair as our number one choice. Instead, this particular high chair actually managed to meet every factor and piece of criteria that we had. It met all of the specifications that we had set so much so that we just couldn’t pass it up.
Now, safety and quality of the overall materials used in the high chair were the two biggest factors we had to put into consideration. The Fisher-Price SpaceSaver High Chair can strap securely and easily into most dining, kitchen, and restaurant chairs, so your baby will be snug and locked in the entire time you’re enjoying your meal. The harness is easy to strap in while still being difficult for your child to unclip it accidentally.
The Fisher-Price SpaceSaver High Chair has everything that a full-sized high chair does without the huge full-sized size. Most of the parts are easily removable and can be put back together in a breeze. On top of being easy to take apart and hide away whenever you no longer need to actively use the high chair, you also get the added convenience of this particular high chair being incredibly easy to put together. The assembly is simple and plain to read.
Since portability was a big factor, we made sure that the Fisher-Price SpaceSaver High Chair was made for portability ahead of time. It’s so small that it can be secured pretty much anywhere, but the parts come off of it as well, just adding to how small it can become and how much space it can save.
The best part is the fact that there’s a removable seat, back, and tray, the feeding tray insert is dishwasher-safe, and it has a secure harness made out of material that’s still easy to clean even though that part of the high chair is a more fabric material. The recline feature, along with the height and tummy adjustment capabilities, are just a few of the many reasons we have this ranked in as our number one pick.
Not only does the Fisher-Price SpaceSaver High Chair meet all of the criteria, but it meets all of the requirements and then some. For example, it has the added bonus of being small enough to fit in places that a standard high chair normally wouldn’t be able to. It’s half the size and takes up half the space of a regular high chair, but it still manages to have all of the features of a full-sized high chair in play.
Our Second Pick
Mountain Buggy Pod Clip-On Highchair
It’s no surprise that if we have a number one pick, we also have a runner-up. That’s not to mention the other contenders we also decided to mention. For our second pick, though, we have the Mountain Buggy Pod Clip-On Highchair up to bat, available in three different colors. This was almost our number one choice just for the versatility of its use alone. You can use it just about anywhere, and because it’s so small and takes up so little space, you still have plenty of room for other guests and family members to visit with.
The Mountain Buggy Pod Clip-On Highchair weight only 2.2 pounds, and it’s so compact that you can store it easily in a diaper bag, purse, the trunk of the car, in the pouch behind the front car seats, and much more. The aluminum frame that has reliable, padded back support is the foundation of this highchair, with sturdy aluminum clamps that have non-slip grips and a shoulder harness system that’s easy to get the hang of and clip and unclip your baby with.
Not only can you tote it around easily no matter where you go, but this highchair comes with a recyclable carry bag as well. You can store the highchair and a few other things in this small bag. This particular high chair is designed for all uses, so you can take it into restaurants, out to a picnic table, or even just at home without any hassle.
It’s easy to use, secure enough to hold your baby without you worrying, and so compact that when baby isn’t strapped in, you sometimes forget it’s even there.
Budget Portable High Chair Pick
Heaven’s Bliss Baby Portable High Chair
We have a few frugal moms on our team that are able to find the most affordable options for us. It’s no surprise to find a mom on a budget, even when looking for high chairs, so there’s nothing wrong with finding the best budget high chair out there. We came to the conclusion that the Heaven’s Bliss Baby Portable High Chair is the most reliable solution to an affordable high chair.
The set-up for the Heaven’s Bliss Baby Portable High Chair is a breeze, transforming easily from a travel bag into a harness that properly secures your child to a chair comfortably and reliably. It’s fully adjustable, too, so you don’t have to worry about your little one hurting from the restraints or anything. It even comes in three different colors for a more versatile array of options.
Sometimes, our number one may not be able to fit the specific situation you’re trying to resolve by getting a portable high chair. We’ve come up with some specialized choices for your convenience.
High Chairs for in Restaurants
Chicco Caddy Hook On Chair
This particular high chair is perfect for a night out in a busy restaurant where you know there won’t really be enough room for a regular high chair, but you won’t stand for the little one to just stay with a sitter. The Chicco Caddy Hook On Chair can work with table skirting up to 5 ½ inches, with rubberized grips where it would dig into the table to prevent marks or pinched fingers. It’s only 7 pounds and folds flat and effortlessly for convenient storage for travel.
High Chairs for Infants
Summer Infant Support-Me 3-in-1 Positioner, Feeding Seat and Booster The 3-in-1 positioner by Summer Infant is designed as just a standalone positioner for complete infant support with a soft foam insert. However, being a 3-in-1, it also works as a booster seat with a dishwasher safe feeding tray. Chair straps do come with this seat, making it a perfect option for infants well into their much later baby development stages.
High Chairs for Outdoors
Summer Infant Pop n’ Sit Portable Highchair
The folding frame of the Summer Infant Pop n’ Sit Portable Highchair is lightweight, versatile, and the points at the bottom are designed for resistance against certain elements. The 3-point safety harness is reliable and the fabric is washable and removable, making for easy cleanup.
We didn’t feel right mentioning what we thought was the best portable high chair without mentioning all of the high chairs that made it so close to that number one spot. After all, one of the high chairs we decided to rule out for first place may be the perfect choice for another parent, so it all comes down to preference.
Best Portable High Chair for Babies a Little Older
Fisher-Price Deluxe Booster Seat
The Fisher-Price Deluxe Booster Seat has straps that adjust to just about any chair and straps that also adjust to just about any baby or toddler, given the right size range. There are no crevices for crumbs to escape to, and the feeding tray snaps on and off easily, so the cleanup for this particular booster seat is simply a breeze. It rivalled fairly for the number one spot.
Baby’s Journey Babysitter High Chair Pad
Whether you’re in a restaurant, at a family event, or somewhere else without a high chair, you can turn any chair into one with the high chair pad from Baby’s Journey Babysitter. It’s a portable pad that securely straps the baby to the chair that sticks out on top of the pad. It’s easy to clean, especially since it’s machine washable. This high chair actually almost made the cut for the budget pick.
Best Portable High Chair for Travel with Toddlers
Munchkin Travel Booster Seat
The highly raved about and reviewed Munchkin Travel Booster Seat comes with a storage compartment. This allows you to store any items you need on the go, like bottles, diapers, and other essential baby gear. The retractable legs have added stability from their rubberized surface. With a maximum weight limit of 50 pounds, this particular booster seat is recommended for children a little older than what most high chairs are capable of handling.
Best Portable High Chair for Camping or Outdoors
Cosco Simple Fold High Chair
It’s simple to snap together and simple to fold away and forget about, one big thing we liked about the Cosco Simple Fold High Chair. The 3-point harness is capable of securing a child up to 50 pounds. This type of high chair is mostly geared towards travel convenience, though, because it folds completely flat and the seat is made out of a material that’s incredibly easy to clean. It comes in three different designs. The Cosco Simple Fold High Chair fell just shy of the number one spot.
Commonly Asked Questions About Portable High Chairs
It’s normal to have a few questions that we may not have already covered. Whether it’s in regards to the portable high chairs themselves or your baby in relation to the high chair, we’ve really tried to cover all of our bases. We thought an additional FAQ section would be in order.
How Long Can a High Chair Be Used?
The usual age that children stop needing to use a high chair to eat is some time into age 3 or 4 for especially small children. Just because your baby outgrows the high chair, though, doesn’t mean they have to rely solely on the chairs and tables around them when eating. Using a booster seat will easily allow your baby to transition from the high chair phase to the regular dining phase of their life.
How High Can a High Chair Be Safely?
While it’s obvious that there are a multitude of high chairs that come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, it’s better to understand the safety recommendations so you don’t accidentally get one that’s just a bit too high up for baby to comfortably sit at. The average high chair now sits at 3 feet, but for a portable high chair anything over that is usually pushing it.
What Ages Are Appropriate for High Chairs? Booster Seats?
When baby can finally sit up on their own, they’re ready to transition to a high chair. This usually starts between 4 and 6 months of age, although there are certain high chairs that are specifically for even younger ages. From 4 to 6 months all the way to 3 to 4 years of age is the average range of use for high chairs. Babies can transition to booster seats as early as 18 months, but the average age is 2 to 3 years old.
Which Material for a High Chair is the Best?
The most common materials that high chairs are made out of are metal, wood, and plastic. Out of those three, there are really pros and cons for each of them. It depends on which factors are most important to you. For example, metal and wood high chairs have the tendency to be more uncomfortable but last longer. Plastic high chairs are lighter and more versatile but have the potential to have phthalates or BPA unless you purchase a chemical-free plastic high chair.
What Type of Restraint is Recommended in a High Chair?
There are 3-point, 5-point, or lap belt straps for restraints on most high chairs. In most situations, you’ll want to stick with either a 3-point or 5-point. A lap belt is more for children that are almost out of their high chair phase and reserved almost entirely just for them, since most high chairs aren’t made with lap belts anymore to begin with. The 3-point restraint is the industry standard and the 5-point restraint is a little something extra for added reassurance and peace of mind. It all depends on what you’re after.
What if the Baby Won’t Get in the High Chair?
Though most babies will easily get into a high chair and allow themselves to be strapped in with little to no resistance, some children simply refuse to be restrained. Many parents resolve this by just having the child sit on their laps to eat. This, in turn, ends 9/10 times in laps covered in food and drinks. Instead of just having them sit on your lap to eat, ruining your clothes and preventing you from eating at the same time in most cases, a booster seat or high chairs without straps in them are sometimes good solutions.
In this situation, it’s important to not give in or cave, mostly because resistant children require the utmost patience. Try putting toys on the feeding tray of the high chair, distract them with the classic choo-choo feed method, dance or sing, or anything else you can think of to get them to calm down, behave, and be fed in their high chair accordingly.
Wrapping It Up
A portable high chair goes a long way if you take care of it properly and understand how to use it before you even open the box. High chairs are extremely useful devices that moms and dads are extremely thankful for throughout some part of their child’s life, whether it’s when they’re just a baby or a toddler. Whether you decide on our number one choice, the Fisher-Price SpaceSaver High Chair or a different portable high chair altogether, just getting one in general will make your life that much easier.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.