What is a booster seat or travel highchair?
A booster seat or travel highchair is a portable seat for feeding your baby or toddler when out of the home. Whether you enjoy eating out a lot or just need a solution for a holiday, it takes the stress out of eating in restaurants with babies and toddlers, and ensures your lap and arms are free to eat your own meal. It also takes away the worry of if there will be adequate seating provision for your child when you get where you are going.
There are four main types to choose from:
- Travel highchair – quite like a normal highchair, but without the long legs. It sits on a dining chair and is strapped on. It will usually fold to a conveniently small size.
- Booster seat – it also straps onto a dining chair and can be either a foldable or unfoldable design. Like the name suggests, it gives your child a ‘boost’ in height.
- Fabric seat harness – a piece of fabric you put around your baby with clip restraints that fasten at the back of a chair. They are easy to fold, but don't give your baby any height to reach the table.
- Clamp-on seat – a seat that attaches to the edge of the table rather than a chair, so your baby is at table height.
How will you have to carry it?
If you need to carry it around in a small space, such as a changing bag, a fabric seat harness would work well. It’s very compact once folded and won't add much to the weight of what you’re already carrying.
If you have a buggy basket you can store it in then you have a bit more choice and could find either have a foldable booster seat, small booster seat, flat-folding clamp-on seat, flat-folding travel highchair or a seat harness are fine.
If you’re usually driving to wherever you’re eating then it doesn't really matter what you choose. However, if you’re packing for a holiday, remember to take into account all the other baby paraphernalia that will have to go into the car boot, too!
Before you decide, check the weight, folded size and whether it comes with a carry handle or a bag you can easily transport it in. Even if a product is light, it won’t be easy to carry if it’s a cumbersome size – especially if there’s also a buggy, toddler and changing bag to juggle!
Do you want up-to-the-table feeding?
If you like your baby to be part of the action, right up at the table, look for a clamp-on seat or a travel highchair with a removable tray. Both choices allow your baby to sit as near to the table as possible.
Does your baby need height?
If your top concern is whether your baby will be at a decent height, you’ll want a style that gives your child added height. A clamp-on seat is the best option for ensuring your child is right at table level.
However, a booster seat, which comes with a built-in padded cushion, is other option, reducing the distance between the chair’s height and the table’s top. You can choose between foldable or non-foldable, depending on how compact you need it to be.
A travel highchair is another good alternative. Depending on brand, it will fit most chairs, but it’s worth checking the adjustability of a model you like before you buy.
If you’re not worried about your child being at table height and are more concerned with securing them to a seat then a fabric harness will be a suitable option.
Do you eat out at different places?
If you need a flexible option to work at a range of different places, you need to consider:
- Does it have adjustable securing straps, so it can work on different chairs?
- If it’s a clamp-on seat, can it attach safely to many different table types?
- Is it height adjustable?
- If it comes with a tray, can it be removed?
If you’re only planning to use it at a few fave places or a relative’s home, you’ll know roughly what the chair and table type and height are, so you don't need to invest in such a flexible choice.
Also, if you’re going to be using it a lot, make sure the covers are washable or that it’s easy to wipe clean.
Do you need a solution for more than one child?
If you have twins or more than one child under the age of 3, two travel feeding solutions will be needed.
The first thing to consider is weight. Even if you’re driving to the restaurant, you don't want to load yourself up with two children, two highchairs and a changing bag and find yourself unable to get through the restaurant door.
Secondly, factor in the size of the products. Ability to fold is a high priority, and means you’ll be carrying less bulk.
Lastly, consider how easy each product is to set up. Rapid options will mean you can seat one child while wrangling the other seat and/or child!
If your children are different ages, consider two different options. A travel highchair or clamp-on seat for your baby, who needs more support and height, then a fabric seat harness for your toddler, as they are older they won't need a height boost.
Where do you start?
To save you time and help you make sense of all the different options, we have in-depth product reviews of travel highchairs and booster seats, which included weight and folded specs.
To save you even more time, we’ve hunted down 10 of the best travel highchairs and booster seats on the market today.