Best dining booster seats

Updated April 2021
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Buying guide for Best dining booster seats

If your little one is just about ready to graduate from the high chair but still needs help reaching the "big" table, a dining booster seat can be an ideal solution. Most dining booster seats strap straight onto a regular chair, giving tots the added height and security they need to enjoy meals at the dinner table along with the rest of the family.

Dining booster seats are usually designed for babies who can sit upright without assistance and often accommodate kids right up until the ages of between three and five. While some simply elevate your child to table height, others come with trays to help keep messes contained. Some models are even made to fold down for hassle-free use away from home — lunch at Grandma's house, anyone?

As with most baby-care purchases, choosing the best dining booster seat can be tricky. Safety, comfort, adjustability, and cleaning ease are just a handful of important considerations to keep in mind while you shop. The good news? Our detailed guide covers all this and more. Read on for everything you need to know about dining booster seats. When you're done, browse our top picks.

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If you don't have space for a highchair, consider using a dining booster seat instead. As long as it has a tall backrest, a safety harness, and a tray — and your child has mastered the art of sitting up unassisted — there's no reason not to use a dining booster seat.

Key considerations

Types of dining booster seats

Dining booster seats come in an array of styles. Here are the most popular types.

Standard
These booster seats are quite straightforward and usually feature a cushioned seat, a harness, and chair straps. While many standard booster seats come with backrests, some don't. If a backrest is important to you, keep an eye out for this feature.

Tray
Some booster seats come with removable trays that can simply be wiped clean following meals. If you're all for having your little one join the dinner table but feel a bit apprehensive about the inevitable mess, a dining booster seat with a tray is an option worth considering.

Cushion
Booster cushions consist of a square foam block encased in a removable cover for easy cleaning. These dining booster seats are geared more toward toddlers and bigger kids and don't always feature safety harnesses.

Portable
Portable dining booster seats are lightweight and fold down quickly and easily for on-the-go use. These booster seats often resemble mini camping chairs and can sometimes be used as a standalone feeding chair on the floor as well. Many portable dining booster seats also come with removable trays.

Seat harness
More a sling than a seat, these fabric harnesses strap onto the backrest of a chair, creating a comfy and secure pouch for little ones to sit. Most are highly adjustable to fit different chair sizes and accommodate growth. If you like the idea of a booster seat that can fold down small enough to fit in a diaper bag, a seat harness might be for you.

Clip-on high chair
Rather than sitting on a chair, clip-on high chairs clamp straight onto the lip of a table. These portable high chairs generally feature a lightweight fabric seat and fold flat in between use, making them ideal for travel.

Chair booster
If your child is big enough to sit in a chair without the added security of a harness but still needs some extra height, a chair booster is an option worth considering. Rather than resting on the seat, chair boosters are fitted onto the legs to elevate the entire chair. If you have an older child who's reluctant to use a "baby" booster seat, a chair booster can be a great alternative.

Safety

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) updated Safety Standards for Booster Seats, dining booster seats must be stable and have a secure restraint system. Booster seats shouldn't have gaps that can trap any part of a child’s body, and they must be free of sharp or rough edges that could cause cuts, bruises, or lacerations. Last but not least, booster seat materials shouldn't contain harmful levels of chemicals like phthalates or lead.

While all new dining booster seats are legally required to comply with the CPSC's Safety Standards for Booster Seats as of January 2020, it's still a good idea to check that prospective models adhere to these regulations. Be on the lookout for ASTM and JPMA certification as well. Both groups are well-known for their stringent safety regulations.

Comfort

Sitting still for any length of time can be a challenge for little ones. The good news is you can make things a bit easier for your child by choosing a comfortable booster seat. Extra padding or contouring on the seat, a curved backrest, and a decent level of adjustability can all make a dining booster seat more comfortable. If possible, opt for a model that incorporates all the aforementioned comfort features.

Cleaning ease

While the weekly menu might not be written in stone, you can count on an extra serving of spills and messes at every meal. Save yourself the post-dinner drama by choosing a dining booster seat that's easy to clean. We recommend steering clear of models that have an excessive number of nooks and crannies where food can get stuck. Instead, look for solid surfaces that can be wiped clean with a damp cloth. Removable trays are also worth considering if you have a younger child. Some models even come with removable cushions that can be thoroughly wiped down from top to bottom before being replaced.

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For Your Safety
Pay careful attention to the minimum and maximum age and weight limits on dining booster seats. Dining booster seats come with specific age and weight recommendations for safety reasons. Ignoring or failing to notice them may result in injury.
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Features

Adjustability

Kids grow quickly, and before you know it, it'll be time to adjust your child's dining booster seat. While most booster seats offer some level of adjustability to accommodate growth, this can vary quite a bit from model to model. Whereas some only allow for harness adjustment, a few high-end models offer adjustable height for an improved fit at the table as well.

Removable tray

As mentioned, some dining booster seats come with removable trays to help minimize messes. If you have a younger child or simply like the idea of quick and easy cleanups after meals, a removable tray can be an incredibly helpful feature.

Color and style

Dining booster seats come in a wide variety of colors and styles. While parents often prefer designs that are sleek and simple, cute prints and vivid colors generally hold more appeal for little ones. Choosing something fun and colorful is an easy and effective way to get kids excited about using a dining booster seat.

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For Your Safety
Make sure the chair you're attaching your booster seat to is sturdy and has a high, stable backrest.
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Accessories

Feeding set: The First Years Disney Feeding Set
Getting tots to eat their food isn't always easy. Choosing a fun feeding set or enlisting the help of your child's favorite Disney characters can help win reluctant diners over.

Sippy cup: NUK Learner Cup
Transitioning from a baby bottle to a big kid cup can be a daunting task. A sippy cup will make the adjustment that much easier while reducing spills at the same time.

High chair mat: Taigastyle Baby Splat Mat
Your little one might be ready to part ways with the high chair, but the mess is here to stay (well, for a while, at least). Placing a high chair mat under your child's chair is the best way to keep food off your floors.

Dining booster seat prices

Inexpensive: Standard dining booster seats with simple features and cushion booster seats (both with and without restraints) generally cost between $16 and $25.

Mid-range: You can find a wide variety of dining booster seats priced between $25 and $30. From tray booster seats to portable models and cushions, this price bracket has a lot to offer.

Expensive: Clip-on high chairs, chair boosters, and premium dining booster seats with unique features like removable cushions and adjustable height can cost anywhere from $30 to $70 or more.

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For Your Safety
Don't allow your child to climb in and out of a dining booster seat, as this can cause the entire chair to tip over. If you have an avid climber, remove the seat after meals and place it on the floor or put it away if it can't be used as a freestanding feeding seat.
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Tips

  • Always follow manufacturer instructions. Read the instructions carefully and take the time to make sure your dining booster seat is properly assembled.
  • Position the seat so your child's feet can't reach any part of the table. The highest number of dining booster seat injuries occur due children pushing on table supports with their feet. Pushing and kicking at the table can cause the entire chair to tip over, resulting in severe injuries.
  • Make sure the booster seat is secure. Take the time to make sure the seat is securely attached to the chair before allowing your child to use it.
  • Always secure the harnesses or safety straps. Safety harnesses should be properly secured with a snug fit to keep little ones from slipping out.
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If you're concerned about mess, opt for a booster seat that comes with a tray with raised edges. Food is less likely to roll off, and liquid spills will remain on the tray rather than dripping onto the floor.

FAQ

Q. At what age can babies start using a dining booster seat?

A. Most children are ready to say goodbye to the high chair at around 18 months. At this age, your little one should be steady enough to use just about any type of dining booster seat. However, that's not to say you can't start earlier. If your baby can sit upright without assistance and is reasonably steady, using a dining booster seat shouldn't be a problem. For petite babies and toddlers, look for dining booster seats with high backrests and built-in trays, as these offer the most security and support.

Q. How do I know if a dining booster seat will fit on my dining room chairs?

A. The best way to determine whether a dining booster seat would fit is to measure the seat of your chairs and compare these numbers to the dimensions of the booster seat's base. It's also worth noting that some dining booster seats can only be used on hard seats without cushioning.
 

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