Baby Gear Health & Safety

8 High Chair Alternatives (With Pros & Cons)

Most parents will tell you they can’t live without a high chair, and they are as essential as a crib, stroller or changing table.

But if space is limited, you’re on a tight budget or you have an uncooperative toddler, then you’re probably wondering if there are some good alternatives to high chairs out there.

Fortunately the answer is yes, so let’s take a look at 8 of the best chair alternatives, including what you can do if you’re stuck and desperately need a makeshift high chair.

8 High Chair Alternatives

1. Booster Seats

Booster seats are a popular alternative to high chairs, particularly because they take up a lot less space than a regular baby chair.

Booster seats vary from a seat with a built-in harness and other safety features, to more simple versions such as padded seats (which we’ll come to shortly).

Booster seats are a great option if your child needs some extra support to keep them in position and to prevent slipping or falling off while eating.

While they are relatively inexpensive (around $50) and easy to store away, booster seats tend to be more appropriate as a high chair alternative for toddlers, especially when used as a way of transitioning from a high chair.

2. Booster Pads / Cushions

If your child is at the stage where they have the strength to sit upright, and you are only looking for some extra height, then a booster booster pad or cushion may be a good option.

Booster cushions are essentially giant cushions that can be securely fit onto your existing dining chairs.

Because they are well padded, booster cushions tend to provide around 2 inches of additional height when your child sits on one, allowing your little one to use the same type of chair as mom or dad and really feel like a big kid!

Once again, although they are quite cheap, one disadvantage to booster pads is that they are better for older children / toddlers.

3. Folding High Chair

If a lack of space is the reason why you’re looking for an alternative to a traditional high chair, then a good solution could be a folding high chair.

As the name suggests, folding high chairs can easily be stored away after use, so if you wish then they don’t need to live in your kitchen or dining room and take up valuable space when not in use.

These tend to be similarly priced or cheaper than traditional high chairs, and tend to have the same safety features, such as a solid wide base and a safety harness.

A big advantage of these chairs are that they’re very useful when traveling with your baby, especially on a road trip when you can load up a car with all your essentials.

Unlike booster seats, folding high chairs are a good option for younger babies, particularly as most come with a built-in serving tray.

4. Travel Harness Seat

A travel harness is like a portable booster seat.

Travel harnesses seats are also known as portable high chairs, and are made from cloth rather than solid plastic.

For this reason they can be folded away and are therefore very portable – for example you can easily store one in your stroller or diaper bag.

Setting up a travel harness seat tends to be pretty quick and easy – you just slide the cover over the back of the chair and secure your baby in place using a harness.

As with booster seats, travel harness seats (or portable high chairs) tend to be a better option for older babies and toddlers.

Apart from their portability, these seats are inexpensive (think $20), although one drawback is that they often have a maximum recommended weight limit of around 30 pounds, which you child could reach at only 24 months of age.

Related: Deciding What Baby Gear You Really Need – The Complete Guide

5. Hook On Seat

As the name suggests, hook on seats attach directly to your dining table and allow your child to be right up where the action is, instead of sitting away from the table like in a regular high chair.

Because they need to be well-built and sturdy, hook on chairs can cost up to $100, but many parents find them useful as they can be attached to most tables, meaning you won’t always have to rely on a restaurant having a high chair for your little one when dining out.

Having said this, hook on seats aren’t appropriate for use on glass-top tables, and another disadvantage is that they often have a weight limit of around 35 pounds.

6. Toddler Tower

We decided to include toddler towers on this list, but it’s worth pointing out that your child won’t be able to actually sit and eat when in one of these.

Some parents like to use toddler (or learning) towers instead of traditional high chairs when their child is having a less formal meal.

These are a good option for older children who want the freedom to move around and get on and off the tower at their own leisure.

Toddler towers are expensive however (up to $200), so they are not something you’re likely to buy as a replacement for a high chair.

Their versatility means they have other uses however, for example when your child needs a boost in height so they can reach the sink to brush their teeth or wash their hands.

7. Chair Booster

If you are not familiar with what a chair booster is then you’re certainly not alone, as the concept is new to a lot of parents.

Chair boosters attach to the bottom of your dining chairs and safely “lift” up the chair, so that your little one is at a better and more appropriate height to reach the dining table.

Advantages of chair boosters are that you can use your regular dining chairs and the chair booster can easily be removed from the legs of your dining chair when not in use.

Potential disadvantages or drawbacks include the fact that they’re only suitable for older children who can sit safely in a chair without needing the support of safety straps.

8. Sitting On You

When you are totally out of options and really need a make-shift high chair, you could always let your little one sit on you!

Granted, this might be a messy affair, so to make things easier you’ll want to sit up as close to the table as possible, so that any food that drops hopefully falls on the table rather than on your lap.

But when you’ve got no other alternatives, it might be the only way to get your little one to sit in place long enough to eat, and as an added bonus it’s a great way to get some cuddles in!

Tori is mama to 3 year old Isabella and co-founder of Rockinbaby. She has a BSc in Psychology, is a certified yoga teacher and is a working mom. In her free time Tori loves cooking delicious foods and baked treats, entertaining and working out. Learn more about Tori here.

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