There are few things as entertaining as a baby who’s learning to eat solid foods. From their hilarious expression at their very first bite to the messes they make when learning to self-feed, eating is always an adventure for a little one.
But as they get older, enthusiasm for the high chair begins to fade.
Parents hate cleaning it. Kids hate how far away they are from the table. They want to be a “big kid,” but aren’t quite ready for sitting in full-sized chairs.
A booster seat is a perfect way to keep your child feeling like they’re part of the family at dinner time, while still keeping them safe and secure in a child-sized seat. Here’s what you need to know to choose the perfect one for your growing child.
Quick ComparisonOur Top Booster Seat High Chair Picks of 2019 Read Full Reviews
What is a Booster Seat High Chair?
A booster seat high chair is a child seat that sits on top of your regular dining room chair. It functions much like a high chair in that it provides a safe and secure seat for your child to sit in and also raises their height to table level.
However, while a high chair is a separate apparatus and cannot be pulled all the way up to the table, a booster seat allows your child to sit directly at the table with the rest of the family.
This type of booster seat should not be confused with car safety seats for older children, which are also commonly referred to as “booster seats.”
Why Choose a Booster Seat High Chair?
Booster seat high chairs offer many benefits over traditional high chairs. Some are even designed for use with small babies, making the additional purchase of a full-sized high chair completely unnecessary.
Some reasons to consider a booster seat are:
- They allow your child to sit at the table instead of apart from the rest of the family.
- They allow your child to continue to be secured to the seat during snack and meal times, preventing falls and injury.
- They’re generally cheaper than high chairs.
- They take up less space than high chairs.
- They’re portable.
- They can double as an activity seat and be placed on the floor while putting toys on the tray.
What Should I Look For?
When choosing a booster seat, it’s important to evaluate several factors and choose the one that best fits your needs. Some things to consider are:
- Adjustable Back: If you plan for a small baby to sit in it, you’ll need one with a back that can be adjusted to recline slightly and offer them support. If it’ll be exclusively used with toddlers and older children, a rigid back (or no back at all) is appropriate.
- Chair Strap: Choose one that secures to your dining chair with at least one adjustable strap that can be pulled tight for a secure fit.
- Child Strap: Determine whether you need a five-point harness or lap belt. A five-point harness is the safest option for small babies, while a three-point harness or lap belt is appropriate for toddlers.
- Portable: If you plan to travel with the seat, consider its size. It should easily fold down and fit into your vehicle and should be relatively lightweight.
- Easy to Clean: Let’s be honest — babies are messy. You don’t want a high chair that’s difficult to clean. Choose one made from plastic without a lot of crevices where food can get stuck.
- Tray: Some come with trays so they can function as a high chair, while others don’t. Decide if your seat needs an attached tray (for either eating or playtime), or whether its only function will be giving your child a needed “boost.”
The Best Booster Seats for Eating of 2019
You already have your hands full with preparing meals, getting everyone fed and clearing up afterward — so you want a booster seat that’ll make your life easier instead of giving you one more thing to worry about. It’s worth spending the time to find the perfect seat for you and your little munchkin.
1. Ingenuity Smartclean Toddler Booster
Your little toddler has become independent, but they’re certainly not done growing. This seat takes that into account and adds either 2 (without the foam insert) or 4 (with the foam insert) inches to your child’s height, allowing them to reach the table at any size comfortably.
Since your big kid wants to eat at the table anyway, they don’t need a tray — which also means there aren’t extra crevices for food to get stuck in. That makes clean-up a breeze since you can either wipe down the padding or toss it in the dishwasher.
- It has variable height options (2 or 4 inches).
- It’s BPA-free.
- Small and portable, making it great for smaller homes.
- The foam insert is dishwasher safe.
- The foam insert is not fixed to the chair and may move around.
- Some reviewers remarked that food consistently got stuck under the padding.
- Only appropriate for toddlers and older children.
2. OXO Tot Nest Booster Seat
To make a booster seat easy to clean you need no trays, no crevices, and no corners. This fits the bill with a smooth, easy-to-wipe surface that leaves few spots available for your little one to stash their leftovers.
It has an adjustable three-point harness, along with a strap to secure it to your dining room chair. There are also non-slip feet to keep it safely atop the chair and prevent it from damaging your furniture.
Finally, it’s got a high back and sides to give your kiddo added security as they sit in their big-kid seat.
- It’s super easy to clean.
- It has a three-point harness for extra security.
- Choose from three different colors.
- High back and sides are great for little escape artists or kids who wriggle.
- It doesn’t have a tray.
- Not appropriate for small babies.
- One of the more expensive options.
3. Ingenuity 2-in-1 Seat
Having a tray is brilliant — and this seat gives you the options to use it or not. Not only does it give you a dishwasher-safe tray with a cup holder, but it also gives you a perfect storage compartment for said tray should your little one decide they don’t want to use it anymore.
There will be no further need to find a place to stash the tray when you’re not using it, and no problem remembering where you put it when you want it back.
The seat itself is made of soft and easy-to-clean foam, and can be removed as your baby grows and their chubby little thighs need more room.
And even though it doesn’t have a recline function, it’s designed in a way that helps position babies upright even if they’re not able to sit on their own quite yet. While not appropriate for newborns, it can still be used with small babies.
- It has a self-storing tray.
- Can be used with or without the foam insert, depending on baby’s size.
- Appropriate for younger babies.
- The tray is dishwasher safe.
- The tray is on the smaller side.
- It doesn’t have a five-point harness.
- Some reviewers found the tray difficult to retrieve.
4. OXO Tot Perch Booster Seat with Straps
Mealtime is special, no matter your age. Help your child feel comfortable and confident with this cushioned booster seat. They’ll be able to join you at the table for extended periods without getting fussy.
Designed for children 15 months and up, this booster seat is simple, compact, and easy to clean. Instead of a thin pad for your child to sit on, it has a thick, three-inch cushion built in. It’s soft enough to keep your child comfy, but sturdy enough to give them the boost they need so they don’t sink down.
Our favorite part is the stain resistant fabric. You may think the comfier the material, the more it absorbs, but the fabric of this cushion can be easily wiped down with a damp sponge. The entire cushion is also removable.
Another important feature is the three-point harness system with easy-to-adjust safety straps. They’ll keep your child secure with plenty of freedom of movement in their upper body to keep them smiling and happy.
- Comfortable three-inch cushion will help your child stay seated for long periods.
- The entire booster seat is easy to wipe down.
- If your child is especially squirmy, this may give them a bit too much room to wiggle around in.
5. Fisher-Price Healthy Care Booster Seat
Grows with Your Baby
Children grow quickly and sometimes it’s hard for moms to keep up! We love when baby gear can grow with your child and help them through life’s transitions. It makes things so much easier for the both of you.
This booster seat is such a product. With an easy-to-remove tray, you can use it for years. Keep the tray attached while your child is young and use it as a more traditional high chair and then remove it when your little one is ready to eat at the table.
Along with the removable back seat and tummy adjustment, you can ensure your child fits comfortably through all stages of life.
All of the surfaces are smooth and you won’t find any crevices, so the entire thing is easy to wipe down after meals. If you’re in a smaller living space, this booster seat is a great option for saving some room!
- Features a removable tray and back so you can transform it from a highchair to a booster seat.
- There aren’t any crevices for food to get trapped in.
- Lightweight plastic is super easy to wipe down.
- Because the entire thing is plastic, it may not be as comfortable for long meals.
6. OXO Tot Perch Foldable Booster Seat
Best for Restaurants
Going to a restaurant can be a special treat, but once you have children it can feel like a circus every time you go out. While many places have booster seats or high chairs for children, they aren’t perfect. They can be grabbed quickly, be really dirty, or have less-than-ideal safety straps.
Make eating out simple with this ultra-portable and versatile booster seat. It collapses quickly and has a foldable design that allows you to carry the entire thing with one hand. Keep it in the trunk of your car so you’re always prepared.
One reason this booster seat works well at restaurants is because of the rounded base. It’s designed to fit the contour of most chairs and the no-slip feet on the base means you can place it securely on any type of surface.
Other features include a removable soft skin urethane cushion and a three-point adjustable harness system.
- Fits on any type of chair, so you can use it in any restaurant.
- No-slip feet keeps the booster seat secure.
- The soft, three-inch cushion is especially comfy.
- It doesn’t come with any sort of case, so if it gets messy while you’re on the go, you’ll have to clean it off or wait until you get home.
7. Munchkin Protect Booster Chair Cover
Best Seat Protector
Many booster seats are easy to clean, but what about the chair you put them on? They’re often forgotten and you’re left cleaning up your nice chairs once the booster seat comes off. Save yourself time and frustration with this special chair cover.
It’s made of an extremely durable “grime guard” fabric and is placed directly over the seat of your chair. Not only does it protect against food, it also protects against scratching, which is important if you’ve got a nice set of wood dining room chairs. There are also traction pads on the bottom to keep it firmly in place and help prevent the booster chair from slipping.
We really appreciate this cover is machine washable. If it wasn’t, you’d just wind up with something else to clean, but you can throw the entire thing in the washing machine when it’s time.
If you’ve got a booster seat already but are struggling to keep your chairs clean, this is a good option.
- Fits on most dining chairs, so you can use it everywhere.
- Keeps the booster seat secure while preventing messes.
- Machine washable for quick cleanup.
- It doesn’t come with its own set of straps, so you’ll need an actual booster seat to secure it properly.
8. Fisher Price Spacesaver High Chair
This seat has all the features of a full-sized high chair with the footprint of a booster seat.
It’s designed to let your baby sit at the table with you from the very beginning of their feeding journey, and will grow with them, converting to a simple booster seat when your little one is ready.
The back can be reclined for your infant’s comfort and safety, and the tray is dishwasher-safe for easy clean-up.
It has a five-point harness when used in “high chair” mode, and a three-point strap when the back is removed to convert to a traditional booster.
- Eliminates the need for an additional high chair.
- Secure five-point harness.
- The cushion is machine washable.
- The tray is dishwasher safe.
- Pretty bulky.
- It isn’t the easiest to clean.
- The tray does not lay flat when set on the table.
9. The First Years On-The-Go Booster
This ingenious seat is so small you can leave it in your trunk for spontaneous restaurant trips, dinners with friends, or impromptu playdates.
Designed specifically for travel, it comes with a carrying handle and inflates on its own to give your child a boost at the table. Your child gets 2 extra inches uninflated, and 4 extra inches inflated.
It has a “T” restraint to keep your child safe and attaches to most dining seats with ease via an adjustable buckle strap.
And since they know how good kids are at making mealtime messes, this company had made the seat from a material that can easily be wiped down after meals.
- Lightweight at just one pound.
- It has a three-point harness.
- Designed for travel, so a great choice for eating out with your little one.
- Not the easiest to clean.
- Not really appropriate for everyday use.
- Unfortunately lacks stability; if the child leans far over the side, it could wobble and tip.
Can My Infant Use a Booster Seat?
Originally, booster seats were designed for toddlers and older children who weren’t quite big enough to reach the table while sitting in a regular chair and just needed a few extra inches to “boost” them up. However, today many booster seats on the market are designed with babies in mind.
Booster seats that are appropriate for babies have an adjustable back. Unlike toddlers, babies don’t have very good head and neck control, or enough core strength to sit upright for long periods of time. A rigid, upright back on a booster will cause them to either slump forward (hitting their head on the tray or table) or slump sideways (causing a potential falling hazard).
Booster Seat Safety
When considering a high chair or booster seat for your child, safety should be your top concern. In fact, in the U.S., one child is rushed to the emergency room every hour due to a high chair-related injury, the vast majority of which are falls (source). Thankfully, most models offer several methods of securing your child.
First, they attach to your chair by one or two adjustable straps. Usually one will wrap around the back of the chair and another will reach underneath. This two-strap method of securing the seat virtually eliminates the possibility that the seat will slip off your dining room chair.
Second, they also secure your child. Some (primarily designed for younger babies) have a five-point harness system similar to what you would find in a car seat. Others (for toddlers and older children) have a lap belt that will keep them from toppling out of the seat.
Choose a harness-style seat if you have a small baby, a mini Houdini, or a child who likes to stand up in their seat.
A lap belt is appropriate for older babies with good head and neck control, and for toddlers who are old enough to follow simple commands such as “sit down.”
Keep In Mind
While the idea of an all-in-one convertible high chair and booster seems like a good idea, there are too many drawbacks (mainly due to bulk and cleaning complexity) to make it my top pick. Instead, I love the Ingenuity 2-in-1 Seat.
While it won’t work for your brand-new baby, it’s versatile, portable, easy to clean, and can be used with or without the tray. Plus, it’s got safety straps for both your child and your chair so you know they’ll be safe.
Even though they’re not a baby anymore, your toddler will still be quite the expert at mess-making. Choose a seat that they’ll not only love to sit in but that you won’t hate cleaning. Because I guarantee, you’ll be doing a lot of it.
Moms out there, how do you deal with your little one’s ever-changing mealtime needs? Can you recommend any booster seats to those considering buying one?