Which travel high chair or booster seat is best?
There are six different styles of portable feeding chair - we show you how to choose the best, how much you can expect to pay, plus mums' recommendations
Which type of seat is best for your needs?
There are 6 different types of travel high chair, and each has a particular function:
- Solid booster seat
This seat ‘boosts’ the height of your child, and attaches to a chair, usually by straps. It can also act as a baby seat on the floor. They're bulkier to transport around than other portable seats.
Example: Mamas & Papas Baby Bud
Best if: you're looking for a sturdy feeding chair that you're going to use regularly
- Travel high chair
A travel high chair is like the seat of a high chair, but without the long legs. It fits on to a dining chair and can usually be folded down to a smaller size.
Example: Stokke Handy Sitt
Best if: you're looking to use on an occasional basis at different venues (such as someone else's house, restaurants) and want something fairly solid and nice-looking
- Clamp-on booster
With two screwable clamps, this chair attaches to the table, so your baby is at table height. Most fold flat but are a bit heavier than fabric seats
Example: Phil & Teds Lobster
Best if: you want a seat that brings your child directly to the table, and securely straps your child in. Clamp-ons fit most tables but not all. They're also slightly heavier than fabric boosters.
- Foldable portable seat
Sitting on a normal chair, this seat raises the height of your child. Some can be very ingenious – folding to become a bag or have space to store nappies, toys and other travel accessories.
Example: Munchkin travel booster seat
Best if: you need an occasional portable seat for eating away from home and don't mind carrying an extra slightly bulky bag.
- Fabric seat harness
The harness is a designed piece of fabric that your attach to a chair and put your child in. They’re very small and light to carry around but don’t raise the height of your child to the table and so their use is limited unless you know the height of the chair.
Example: Totseat chair harness
Best if: you're looking for a cheap travel chair for just the odd occasion
- Inflatable booster cushion
Simply a blow-up cushion, which raises the height of your child. There are no safety straps, so it's only suitable for older children, and not babies or toddlers
Example: Kiddicare inflatable booster cushion
Best if: you're looking for a cheap portable cushion for older children for trips out to a restaurant or theatre
Instant guide - match your needs to a travel high chair type
- I need to use it on a frequent or daily basis = a sturdy booster seat is best
- I'll be using it and carrying it around regularly = look for something secure that folds up small or flat and is light, such as a travel high chair or foldable portable seat
- I'll be using it regularly at someone else's house = solid booster, travel high chair or clamp-on booster
- I don't plan to use it very often but would like something in my change bag just in case = fabric high chair
- I need to raise my baby or toddler's height at different tables = try a travel high chair, clamp-on booster or foldable portable seat
- I need to raise my child's height at different tables = cheap inflatable booster cushion.
I'm confused - isn't a booster seat a car seat?
Yes, it can mean both. When we say booster seat in this article, we mean a booster high chair, eg, a portable feeding seat.
We don't mean the other type of booster seat - which is a basic car seat for children over the age of four or when your child weighs over 22kg.
We’re only aware of one product that you may be able to use for both – the BubbleBum inflatable car booster seat - see the BubbleBum review. The BubbleBum doesn’t fix to a chair but for older children, it will act like a cushion providing additional height for sitting at a table.
How much does a travel high chair cost?
- Budget up to £15
- Mid-range up to £30
- High end up to £50
What our mums say about their best portable high chairs and boosters
MummyAnonymous chose a Totseat for her little one: "My friend has lent me a Totseat to borrow and see if my LO will fit in it. She's too small for most highchairs (incl our own) and we're off on holiday in a week so don't want to be stuck while eating out away.
"My daughter is 14lb 7oz at nearly 7 months. She was fine in the TotSeat, maybe it came up a bit high on her front so was quite high under her arms if you know what I mean, but certainly manageable. I tested it all ways to see if she'd slip out of it at all, but it seemed to work really well.
"So mine was delivered today for our holiday on Monday, can't wait!"
Emily B agrees: "Another Totseat fan here! I love it, we've used it for ages and on loads of different styles of chairs, which is why I like it. We use it at hubby's folks' house and it's just perfect. x"
Gemmiebaby: "We have bought Munchkin ones from Wilkinson's. They are like the ones with the pillow in the bottom but instead they have a pocket to carry things in (which is really handy!) They also have fold out feet so you can give little babies (Alfie is quite small) a boost."
Monkeynuts adds: I've got a Mothercare Booster seat and it's brilliant. It has a 5 point harness and as LO is a wiggler she's really safe in it. It straps to a chair or just sits on the floor so is brilliant for picnics too."
Steph9 also notes it's important to look around before you buy: "I was tempted by the Concord Lima, but a friend told me about the new Flippa folding booster she got in Argos."
"It's great - I love how the tray folds up with the chair -and I now use it for home and out and about!"
4 things you need to know before you buy a travel high chair
Is my baby ready to use one?
Your baby is ready if:
- your baby is at least 9 months and sitting up unsupported and confidently and is eating independently
Your baby may be ready if:
- at 6-9 months, if your baby can sit unsupported, but a highchair may be better for daily, frequent feeding
Can I use a booster seat or travel high chair to begin weaning?
"It’s generally recommended that you use a more solid ‘seat’ to begin weaning," says Alison Alexander, former Prima Baby magazine reviews editor.
"First seats can be a rocker chair as long as it's in a fixed position, a car seat or a high chair.
"Your baby will be safer and feel more secure in a highchair, but as soon as he is self-supporting, can sit upright easily and is beginning to feed themselves then a sturdy booster seat is a great buy.
"It will also let your baby or toddler join in family meals at the table more easily."
When should I use a portable seat?
Booster and travel seats are great to use when:
- you're out and about
- you're travelling on holiday
- you need an extra child seat, for example at a grandparents’ house
- you want your toddler to sit easily at the table
- your child has grown out of a traditional highchair
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