Portable baby seats

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Make life easier with a safe seat for your baby.

For mealtimes on the go or somewhere for baby to sit and play, a portable seat can make a parent’s life easier. But what should you look for and how do you know which ones are safe to use?

From our test

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The three types

Table seats clamp onto a table edge. That limits where they can be used, but it means they don’t need a tray (though some include a tray). Most can be folded up for easy transport and storage and they are relatively light. Check the thickness of table you’ll mount them to and the clamps to make sure you don’t damage your table – particularly when used close to their weight capacity.

A table seat, chair seat and chair harness.
A table seat, chair seat and chair harness.

Chair seats don’t need a chair or table to mount to, which makes them versatile. They can be placed on a chair or, in many cases, on the floor. Most models have an adjustable seat height and some include a removable tray. They tend to be bulkier and less portable than other types.

Chair harnesses strap around a chair. Consisting of just fabric and straps, they weigh just a few grams, take up next to no space when folded and are very portable. But they need a suitable chair to mount to and don’t have any means of attaching a tray (you’ll need to use the chair close to a table).

Tips for buying

  • Fitting - the seat should fit securely and easily to the chair or table. Most stores (and product websites) have them set up so you can see how they work. Check they will work on the table or chairs you will mount them to.
  • Security - make sure the seat won’t move, or tip over the table or chair, once it's attached and your child is in place.
  • Seat - should have back and side support, and prevent the child leaning too far and unbalancing or falling.
  • Harness - look for a five-point harness with shoulder, waist and crotch straps. The buckles should be easy for you, but not your child, to release. A crotch barrier can be a useful safety feature instead of or in addition to a crotch strap.
  • Tray - if provided, it should be secure when fitted but easy to remove, attach and adjust. Some chairs have a space to store a tray when detached.
  • Washable - the chair should be easy to wipe down and clean. Look for chairs without small nooks and crannies that can trap food.
  • Height-adjustable - some chair-seats can be height adjusted for smaller or larger children.
  • Capacity - check that the recommended age and weight for the seat suits your child.

About our test

There is no Australian and New Zealand standard for portable seats, so we base our testing on some relevant parts of the AS/NZS 2195:1999 standard for high chairs, with a few other tests specific to portable seats.

Our main safety concern is whether a child could fall out. So we check that the sides and back are high enough, that the safety harness held the child securely (the child can’t try to stand up), and that little fingers couldn’t undo the harness.

We also check the stability of the portable seat. If it fits to a table or chair, we check how securely it attaches and that it doesn’t move too much when pushed forwards or sideways. And if it can be used as a floor-seat, we check it doesn’t tip over.

To round off our safety checks, we look for small parts that could be removed and swallowed (choking hazards), gaps that could trap an arm or leg or finger, and any sharp edges or corners.

We won’t recommend a portable seat if it has a major safety failure.

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