As a parent, you quickly realize you develop preferences regarding baby products.
While some products are gimmicks, in my opinion, high chairs are one many people can’t do without. As your child gets older, they need a place to eat, especially when introducing foods or going the baby-led weaning route.
High chairs offer a safe, secure place for your little one to eat and make mealtimes easier. I always enjoyed being able to pull my kids up to the dinner table, so they didn’t feel like I separated them.
Also, letting a child sit upright and feed themselves helps develop vital gross and fine motor skills crucial for their development.
However, they aren’t perfect, and I don’t blame you for searching for the best high chair alternatives. For example, several high chairs on the market are priced so incredibly high that I can’t justify spending part of my child’s college tuition on something they use for a short time.
Luckily, you don’t have to get a fancy high chair because there are several options to explore before adding one to your shopping cart.
Before I dive into the list of the best alternatives, let’s look at the common problems you have with most high chairs.
The Problem with Most High Chairs
Traditional high chairs take up a lot of space and can come with a steep price tag. For something that you don’t use except for a few years, you might question whether it’s worth it.
In addition, high chairs aren’t ideal for traveling or small spaces like an apartment. I can tell you I never brought a full-sized high chair on a road trip or checked it on an airplane. (Can you do that?)
So, before I found the best high chair alternatives, I was left to feed my kids on my lap on vacation or rely on restaurant high chairs, which aren’t found in all establishments.
One of the aspects of high chairs I always disliked was that it seemed impossible to clean every crevice in which my kids managed to stick food. I used the same high chair for all three of them, so I’m sure my youngest shared a seat with dried-up food that my oldest refused to eat.
While high chairs are undoubtedly practical, alternatives are excellent, especially if you need something portable or don’t want to put down a couple of hundred dollars. So here’s a look at the top seven high chair alternatives.
The 7 High Chair Alternatives
1. Chicco Caddy Portable Hook-On Seat – Best for Portability
- Priced well
- 3-point harness for safety
- Proximity to tabletop
- Not suitable for young babies
- Cover difficult to remove
- Doesn’t fit all tables; check measurements before ordering
The Chicco Caddy Portable Hook-On Seat comes in six colors and easily hooks onto most countertops or dining tables. In addition, you can twist to tighten the seat to ensure a secure hold. While other brands offer the same concept, I loved this one and passed it along to a friend when I no longer needed it.
I would also bring the hook-on seat to restaurants because I felt my kids could reach the table better than a standard high chair. So, if you want the baby to feed themselves, I recommend this option. I also had it at my grandparents’ houses because I knew they didn’t want a high chair.
One of my favorite features is it collapses, so it can easily fit in your car and even a large suitcase. You’ll also appreciate it offers an easy storage alternative and won’t have to figure out where to keep it when not in use.
I had this same chair and appreciated that I could remove the cover and throw it in the wash. While the cover is tricky to remove, I liked the thorough cleaning it got when I put it in the washing machine.
Finally, unlike most high chairs, the padded seat offers a comfortable spot for your little one.
2. Cosco Simple Fold High Chair – Best Folding High Chair
- 3-position tray
- Eight design choices
- It folds flat and stands on its own
- 3-point harness straps
- Holds children up to 50 lbs
- Wipeable fabric
- You cannot adjust the seat’s incline
- The seat cover is not removable
You’ll love the Cosco Simple Fold High Chair if you want a full-size high chair but don’t want something taking up extra space. One thing that always frustrated me was I never had an excellent spot for the high chair when not in use. Enter the innovative folding high chair.
The handy highchair folds flat and can stand independently, so you don’t have to worry about leaning it against the wall. In addition, it’s perfect for toddlers, as it has a weight limit of 50 pounds.
I also like that you can wipe the seat clean, so you don’t have to take it off to get a thorough cleaning, which you can’t take off on the Cosco. So while I have never traveled with a full-sized highchair, I see no reason this can’t fit in a minivan or large SUV after you collapse it.
Finally, one drawback is the seat permanently sits in a reclined position, which could be better for ensuring the baby sits upright while eating.
3. Ingenuity 2-in-1 Booster Seat – Best for Small Spaces
- Removable tray
- Four color options
- Dishwasher safe tray
- Max weight 50 lbs
- 3-point harness
- Buckle can be hard to access
- Will not fit narrow dining chairs
You can use the Ingenuity Booster 2-in-1 Seat on the floor for activities or dining chairs for feeding time. The removable tray allows the child to sit independently or at a dining table and securely straps onto the chair.
You can wipe the compact booster seat and store the tray under the seat when not in use. In addition, you can utilize the Baby Base when your little one is younger and remove it when they can hold their head up without assistance.
A booster chair is one of the best high chair alternatives because it doesn’t take up extra space, but the 3-point harness provides the security you want. Finally, you can put the BPA-free tray in the dishwasher to ensure it’s clean.
4. Vine Portable Baby Chair – Best for Traveling
- Highly portable
- 100% Cotton
- Adjustable straps
- Fits chairs up to 16” H and 19” W
- Machine washable
- Folds up into its own bag (included)
- Not ideal for small infants
- Max weight is 33 lbs, so not suitable for older kids
- Not 100% escape-proof, so not perfect for extra-wiggly kiddos
Pending your infant is at least six months old, you’ll love the ease and portability of the Vine Portable Baby Chair. Unfortunately, young babies aren’t strong enough to sit in the portable baby chair.
I find the portable chair perfect if you travel often, need an extra seat at grandma’s, or don’t have a lot of space at home.
The portable seat slips over the top of your dining chair and straps in the back and on the bottom. After you put the seat in place, lower your baby into the front and securely strap them. You can adjust the straps to ensure they are not leaning forward.
This seat gets bonus points from me because you can throw the whole thing in the wash.
5. Simplay3 Toddler Tower – Best for Toddlers
- Non-skid rubber stoppers on the base
- Not suitable for infants and non-walkers
- Takes up space
I found toddler towers to be a unique concept, but I wanted to avoid paying the high price tag. However, you can get the Simplay3 Toddler Tower for less than $100, which is significantly less than others.
The toddler tower, as opposed to a booster chair, allows your child to safely stand at the counter while fully enclosed, and has three adjustment levels, so it can grow as your child does. In addition, it has a maximum weight of 60 lbs, so you will get several years out of the toddler tower.
I also appreciate the non-skid rubber stoppers on the base to prevent the tower from sliding around. If your kids are anything like mine, they can’t stand still for long periods, so I don’t want them sliding across the kitchen.
A toddler tower is a fantastic option if your little one wants to feel like a big kid, but you want to ensure they stay safe. While your newborn won’t get use out of it, you can feel confident knowing your toddlers will get plenty of use.
6. KABOOST Under the Chair Booster – Best for Older Kids
- Collapses and stores easily
- Hidden/Out of view
- Little kids feel like big kids
- Two height options
- The child is not strapped in
- Not ideal for small children
- Not lightweight for local transport (3.5 lbs)
The KABOOST Under the Chair Booster is the perfect high chair alternative if your child prefers a regular chair. Instead of adding a seat on top, you snap the adjustable feet on the bottom, and your child can sit at the tabletop.
The innovative device fits 4-legged chairs (curvy, square, or round legs) and has a maximum weight of 300 lbs.
What’s fantastic is that no screws or drilling are required; you take it out of the box, and it clips right onto your chair’s legs. In addition, there are two height settings, so you can adjust them as your child grows.
You also don’t have to worry about scratching your floor, as the non-slip feet are rubberized for extra protection. Unlike traditional hair chairs, the chair booster won’t take up space in your home, and you can quickly put it away when an adult needs the chair. (However, it is ideal for older persons who have trouble getting up from a chair.)
Finally, you can bring it to restaurants if you know your child doesn’t like sitting in the high chair or booster. I never wanted the boosters at restaurants because my kids always slid down, as if dining with kids wasn’t hard enough.
7. SUNMALL Portable Cushion Booster
- Washable cover or wipe clean
- Straps to chair
- Easy to attach and remove
- Food can’t hide in the flat cover
- No security without harness straps
- Not ideal for small children
- It doesn’t fit all types of chairs
Another high chair alternative I used was the SUNMALL Portable Cushion Booster because of its portability and versatility. While I probably wouldn’t pack it in a suitcase (although I could), it was the perfect booster to bring on road trips or going to someone’s house locally that I knew didn’t have a high chair or booster.
The cushion booster makes for a great toddler chair as they transition from needing the harness to wanting to be independent. You can put the cushion on your dining room chairs or your breakfast table’s chair to help give your little one a boost.
Your kids will love mealtimes because they can sit at the table like everyone else but also have the security of a stable cushion. While there aren’t harness straps to keep your child secure, the cushion booster has two buckle straps you attach to the back and bottom of your chair.
I got the cushion booster once I was comfortable with my children sitting in a chair and not falling off, although my 8-year-old still does that for fun. But I digress. While kids are clumsy, waiting on the cushion booster is best until your child has thoroughly developed their gross motor skills and can sit in a chair for extended periods.
Kelly is a mom of three who finds joy in writing about her parenting experiences and filling in others about the must-have products and the ones you can leave on the store shelf. With a bit of humor, Kelly tries to laugh off the messy side of parenting and, instead, focus on the beautiful moments it brings. Originally from South Florida, she now calls Northern Virginia home and looks forward to connecting with readers through The Place for Parents.