Fitting random baby gear in a small living space feels like a constant jigsaw puzzle. The high chair, in particular, has been the bane of my small space existence. Multiple times a day I’d stub my toe or trip over our much lauded Ikea Antilop chair.
So I recently went on the hunt for a folding high chair that I could tuck away between uses. We can’t even comfortably fit a dining room table in our small space so our high chair options are limited, to say the least.
We never intended to still be living in our small grad school apartment but an unexpected hyperemesis pregnancy and a pandemic threw off our plans. Now, with over a year of experience living with an actual baby in tight quarters, I know what to look for in space-efficient baby gear.
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Below is a list of the best options I’ve found for folding high chairs that work for families in small living spaces. Foldable high chairs are likely your best bet in a small space because they are designed to be tucked away when not in use. Many options can also double as a travel chair – serving double duty means one less baby item you have to buy and store.
Even if you don’t live in a small space, collapsible high chairs can be very useful and more unobtrusive in your home. They also make great high chairs for grandparents’ houses where they’ll only be used sporadically.
When Will You Need a High Chair?
If you are living in a small space, you may want to wait to get a high chair until you actually need it. For most families, you won’t use a high chair until your baby is around 6 months old. Your baby should be able to sit unassisted prior to introducing food, which usually happens around 6 months (and of course have your pediatrician’s okay before introducing new foods).
Features to Look for in a Folding High Chair
The variety of different high chair models available is almost endless. In general, there are four main styles of high chairs to be aware of:
- Standard High Chairs: The stand alone chair that people envision when you say ‘high chair.’
- Booster Chairs: Mini chairs that you strap onto a dining room chair.
- Clip-on Table Chairs: Seats that clamp on and hang off your dining room table or counter.
- Foldable Travel High Chairs: Collapsible high chairs that fold up small for portability.
How do you narrow down chair type will depend a lot on your goals and space. For example, we don’t have a dining table so a stand alone high chair is our only option.
Here are some key features to consider when making your high chair selection:
- Cost: There are enough low-cost high chairs available that your budget should your first consideration when narrowing down high chair options.
- Space: You probably wouldn’t be on this page if you weren’t already considering space limitations when looking for a high chair. Do not underestimate how much you will trip over your high chair if it is in the way.
- Easy to Clean: How easy a high chair is to clean is a huge, big deal. So many high chairs have nooks and crannies that range from ‘super annoying’ to ‘impossible’ to clean after every meal. Cleaning needs to be high on your high priority list.
- Portability: Do you hope to move your high chair around your house? Would you like one chair that you can use both at home and also on-the-go?
- Baby Position & Max Weight: You want your baby sitting up straight and able to rest their feet. That said, you can simply add rolled up towels to most high chairs to achieve good posture. Keep an eye on maximum weight limits if you hope to use your high chair through toddlerdom.
With these features in mind, let’s move on to some great options for folding high chairs for your small space.
Best Stand-Alone Folding High Chair: Graco Slim Snacker
Maximum Weight: 40 lbs
Most people end up with a traditional stand-alone high chair. They’re classic and easy. Luckily there are a handful of full high chairs that fold down like beach chairs.
The Graco Slim Snacker tops the list since it is an affordable, simple and functional option that will work best for most families. You can fold it one handed by pulling up an a strap in the chair, much like many strollers fold. The chair itself weights 17 lbs so it is manageable to move around.
The seat can recline, a feature some families look for for smaller infants. And it is machine washable, a feature every family should look for since babies are crazy messy eaters.
- Cosco Simple Fold: Cosco offers a budget stand-alone folding chair that is similar to the Graco. The price is great, but its seat is not removable making it harder to clean. It also doesn’t have a true foot rest.
Best Folding Travel High Chair / Booster Chair: hiccapop OmniBoost Travel Booster Seat
Maximum Weight: Hiccapop says it has been tested up to 250 lbs.
The hiccapop OmniBoost travel booster is a great option for those in small spaces. Of course, travel high chairs are ideal for small homes and apartments because they fold down very, very small. Moreover, using one strapped to a chair instead of a traditional high chair means you won’t need a second chair for being on-the-go (saving even more space).
The hiccapop OmniBoost tops the list of travel high chairs because of its versatility. Unlike the the Ciao Baby, it can be used on the ground or as a booster on a chair. It also has a machine washable seat, giving it a leg up on its competition, and easier to use straps.
- Summer Infant Pop-n-Sit: The Summer Infant chair is very similar to the hiccapop but is not machine washable. Some people say that the harness system is not as well positioned as the hiccapop, though we haven’t had any issues with the strap-positioning on our Summer Infant. I’ve also been able to wash it up well with a damp rag.
Best Clip-on Chair: Inglesina Fast Table Chair
Maximum Weight: 37 lbs
The Inglesina Fast Table Chair is a small hanging chair that clamps down to the side of a table or counter top. Not only does it take up so little space while in use, it folds down further when stored away. They even sew the carrying bag into the chair so you can’t lose it.
The Inglesina stands out among other clip-on high chairs because it works with tables of varying thicknesses, up to 3.5 inches thick. It is also machine washable and easy to clean. I got our Inglesina secondhand and it was absolutely caked with old food; it came out of the wash looking brand new.
If you will primarily use your high chair at a table or counter-top, a clip-on chair like the Inglesina is the smallest and most inconspicuous high chair option available. However, if you plan to do regular outdoor or picnic-style eating, you’ll be better served by a more versatile travel booster, like the hiccapop.
Note that the American Academy of Pediatrics offers a number of cautions when using a hook-on high chair. The chair must be secured and locked on, and the table must be heavy enough to support the child. The child should also be positioned so they cannot kick off against the table.
- Chicco 360 Hook-On Chair: The Chicco 360 is a hook-on high chair that allows you to rotate your baby to multiple positions. This is handy so you can have the baby face you when seated side-by-side. It is more expensive than the Inglesina though.
Easiest to Clean Chair: Primo Folding Chair
Maximum Weight: 30 lbs
The Primo high chair is has a simple plastic seat that makes it easy to wipe down after a meal. Not only does the chair fold, it can also convert to a small toddler chair once your baby outgrows the high chair. This second life as a toddler chair helps extend its usefulness since it otherwise has a slightly lower weight limit than most high chairs.
There are a few off-brand chairs that mimic Primo’s design. Note that the Infans chair doesn’t disclose a weight limit. The Han-MM chair has a higher weight limit (50 lbs) but I was not able to find any outside information about this brand. While I’m totally fine with off-brands for a lot of things, high chairs carry a fall risk so I err on the side of caution.
- Baby Bjorn: The Baby Bjorn high chair is similar to the Primo but it was not available for purchase at the time of this writing. It is not clear whether it will restock in the future.
Folding High Chair with Best Amenities: Joovy Nook
Maximum Weight: 50 lbs
Joovy Nooks are great folding high chairs for those who don’t want to sacrifice higher end features just because they live in small spaces. It boosts a big oversized tray that makes meal time easier. The best part? The tray swings open so you can easily put your baby in.
A swing open tray may not seem like a big deal but it is. Compared to our Ikea high chair, where you have to slide the baby in the leg holes from the top, the Joovy Nook is a dream to use. It is a feature that gets more and more valuable as your kid gets bigger and more opinionated. The tray is also fully removable in case your kid wants to be pulled up to the table instead.
The Nook is more appropriate for families who are okay with getting their high chair “decently clean” instead of “totally spotless.” The seat cushion is removable on the Nook for machine washing, but it is not the easiest to get off. Like most high chairs, it has some nooks and crannies but I still feel like I can get it clean wiping it down.
- Peg Perego Siesta: The Siesta offers a ton more features than other folding high chairs. It’s seat height, foot rest, and tray are highly adjustable to get the right fit for your baby and your table. It also reclines to multiple angles so it can be used as a seat for newborns. Wheels on the base allow you to easily move it while baby is in it, and it folds small and is self-standing when collapsed. However, it is the most expensive chair on this list.
Wondering what other baby gear works well in tight quarters? Check out this guide to baby items in small spaces.