Whether you're traveling somewhere that isn't kid-friendly or simply want an alternative to sticky, crumb-encrusted restaurant high chairs, a portable high chair is a convenient solution. Lightweight and small enough to carry, portable high chairs may sit on existing dining chairs or hook on to table edges to provide a safe spot for babies and toddlers to dine. And, if you have a small space, a portable high chair can act as a permanent seat while taking up a lot less real estate than a full-sized chair.
The perennially popular Fisher-Price Healthy Care Booster (Est. $25) is easy to tote to grandma's house, and reviewers say you can't beat the price. It's suitable for children roughly 6 months up to a generous 50 pounds. The chair comes only in green and blue. The slightly pricier Healthy Care Deluxe Booster (Est. $35) has more color choices including gray, brown and red.
The Healthy Care Booster straps directly onto existing dining chairs with two straps: One goes around the bottom of the chair, and the other goes around the back. Parents say it's easy to attach and stable once in place, but they save the most praise for ease of cleaning. There is no fabric, making the seat especially easy to wipe down, and the tray is dishwasher-safe. The tray is easy to remove, but reviewers note you'll need two hands to do it.
There aren't a lot of extra features on the bare-bones Healthy Care Booster, but parents like what it does have: It folds for travel, it's lightweight at about 4 pounds, and a detachable shoulder strap makes it easy to carry. It's also versatile, as it can be used without the tray or seat back for older children who simply need a boost at the dinner table. The tray has three positions to accommodate growing babies, but since it just has a three-point harness, it's not the best pick for big-time squirmers. Buyers who would appreciate height adjustment and a snap-on tray lid will want to spend a bit more on the deluxe version, which adds those features.
Parents who prefer a less bulky hook-on chair for travel rave about the Ingelsina Fast Table Chair (Est. $70). Recommended for children from 6 months up to 37 pounds, it doesn't require a dining chair for use – just a standard table to clamp onto. It comes in nine colors, including black, navy, green and pink.
Testers with BabyGearLab.com say the Fast is very easy to secure to any table up to 3.3 inches thick, with couplings that are easy to tighten, though they warn it isn't suitable for glass tabletops or pedestal tables that are only supported in the center. It also folds flat for greater portability. The seat cover is removable but hand-wash only, and many parents wish they could throw it in the washing machine. Still, most say the fabric is stain-resistant, so it doesn't require deep cleaning often.
Like the Fisher-Price Healthy Care Booster, the Fast is lightweight at just over 4 pounds. It comes with its own travel bag and also has a small storage pocket on the back that parents say is great for stowing bibs, utensils, or small toys. The chair does not come with a tray, and while most parents say it's unnecessary, the Fast Dining Tray (Est. $12) is available separately for those who want to keep their tabletops a bit cleaner. The Fast has just a three-point harness, but the seatback is deep enough to keep most small children in place, experts say.
For the ultimate in portability, the Totseat (Est. $30) is a fabric harness that can slip over dining chairs to contain older babies and toddlers during mealtime. Suitable for children roughly 6 to 30 months, it weighs just half a pound and can be folded or balled up to fit inside a diaper bag. At least eight bright, kid-friendly patterns are available.
Testers with TheNightlight.com love the Totseat's versatility, saying it "can fit on virtually any style of chair with a round, square, or open back." Parents echo this, reporting that Totseat seems to work regardless of where they end up dining – the fabric can be buttoned and shortened for smaller chair backs, extended for larger ones, and clipped for a secure fit. An extra strap even provides extra stability if slats are too far apart. The seat is also machine-washable for easy cleaning.
Totseat comes with its own carrying pouch, and reviewers say it's a great backup highchair for families that travel. However, reviewers note that the harness design means babies and toddlers will be sitting quite low compared with the tabletop, and there is no tray to catch messes.