I’m a minimalist when it comes to camping: I don’t believe you need a lot of expensive gear to enjoy the outdoors. However, after having my second kid, I’m starting to appreciate the merit of some extra gear – and that includes baby camping chairs (aka portable high chairs or portable booster seats).
Note that most portable baby chairs won’t work well for camping. From my own experience and what other outdoorsy parents have said, there are only two baby camping chairs really worth considering: the Ciao Baby portable chair and the Summer Infant portable booster. I’ll get into why these are the only two I’d consider.
Is It Worth Bringing a Baby Camping Chair?
The minimalist in me says, “Can’t you just hold your baby?” You could.
But there are some damn-good reasons to bring a high chair for your baby:
- You don’t want to hold your baby while attempting to feed her pureed peach mush with one hand.
- You don’t feel like getting aforementioned peach mush all over you.
- You were hoping to skip bath time while camping, which isn’t happening if baby gets covered in food.
- You’d like to leave baby someplace secure for a few minutes while you do camp tasks like gather clean dishes.
Aside from eating, the baby camp chair is also nice to have for playtime. You can put your baby in the chair around the campfire (at a safe distance, of course). That leaves your hands free to poke the fire. And who doesn’t like to poke the fire?
DO NOT Get These Types of Baby Camping Chairs:
Wrap Baby Chairs:
These chairs suck for camping because:
- You’ll need an adult chair to wrap baby onto. Doesn’t that defeat the point of bringing a baby chair?
- Baby will still be too low to eat at the table with you.
- They are made from FABRIC. This isn’t an issue when you are at home (and have access to your wonderful washing machine). But do you really want to worry about cleaning gunk off of it while camping?
Hook-on high chairs:
These are great for when you visit other people’s homes. But, for camping, these chairs have some serious problems:
- You can’t safely hook them onto most camping or RV tables.
- They only make sense if you are 100% sure that you’ll have access to a picnic table.
- It can’t be moved anywhere else, like in front of the fire.
Portable high chairs or boosters without food tray:
- Don’t count on being able to push a high chair under a table while you are camping, especially if you are at a picnic table!
- Boosters only make sense if you have a secure adult chair to put it on.
- Without a tray, where are you going to put snacks or toys to keep baby occupied?
Folding High Chairs with Only Two Legs
- Not stable on dirt or sand! You need a baby chair with 4 legs for stability.
- They usually aren’t made to be portable and are bulky and heavy.
The Two Portable High Chairs Actually Suitable for Camping
It’s got smart design features like a material which you can wipe down and a cup holder. The 5-point safety harness is good for squirmy babies who might try to climb out of their high chair.
The dimensions are 23″x23″ at the base and 32 inches high. The height of the tray is 26” from the ground. The total weight is about 8lbs and comes with a carrying case. It’s suitable for ages 6 months (or whenever your baby gets full head control) to 3 years old/35lbs.
Why it works for camping:
The Ciao Baby is really sturdy and can even be used on sand. For camping, it is awesome because it is so easy to clean and folds up/down easily.
What doesn’t work about it:
A lot of parents complain that the Ciao Baby tray slants towards your baby. The makers have a video which shows how to fix this problem. However, it might still slant if your baby is heavier.
If you are really worried about the tray slanting, then the Summer Infant Pop and Sit high chair is a good alternative (made by the same company as the booster below). It has a plastic tray that won’t slant.
However, Summer Infant high chair is a bit too high for camping, doesn’t have a 5-point harness, and lots of people complain that the leg holes are too small. For these reasons, I’d still go with the Ciao Baby.
Get the Ciao Baby high chair if: You will be bringing a folding camping table or eating at a picnic table. You can buy it here. It costs about $60.
What is it?
The Summer Infant Pop and Sit is a booster-type chair, which means it can be attached to a normal chair. Unlike lots of booster chairs though, this one also has its own legs so you can put it on the ground.
I like that the tray is made from plastic, so it is actually firm enough to hold its shape. No issues with it slanting forward (which is not the case with the Ciao Baby high chair). You can remove the tray if you want it to be just a chair.
The travel booster quickly pops open (hence the name) and is lightweight enough to be carried. The dimensions are approximately 15×14 inches and 15 inches tall. It weighs roughly 4lbs. It is suitable for 6 months up to 37lbs.
Why it works for camping?
It’s basically a mini camping chair for babies. That means baby can lounge with you around the fire (I repeat, at a safe distance of course!) or while you eat picnic-style on the ground.
It’s made for camping and outdoors activities, so the material is durable and stain-resistance. You can clean it by wiping it down with a baby wipe.
I also like that it is low to the ground. Even if she somehow managed to tip out of the chair, she isn’t going to fall very far.
What doesn’t work about it:
The straps are sewn on the seat, which mean that they don’t do a good job of holding your baby. If your baby is squirmy, a 5-point harness would be better.
If you are thinking of putting this on a picnic table bench, think again! You could rig it by turning the chair sideways on the bench and tying it down, but it’s risky. Play it safe and either put baby on top of the picnic table or eat on the ground.
*If you put this on the ground, your baby will be able to reach whatever sticks, leaves, and dirt is down there too! While eating some dirt is probably good for your baby’s immune system 😉 some things could be a CHOKING HAZARD.
Luckily, this problem is easily solved. Just put the high-chair on a sleeping pad or blanket so baby can’t grab anything she could choke on.
Get the Summer Infant booster if: You will be eating picnic-style on the ground, or if you want to be able to put baby closer to the ground, such as when you are all gathered around the campfire. You can buy it here. It costs about $25.
Which Baby Camping Chair to Get?
There are a lot of other portable high chairs which could work for camping (let me know if there’s one you’ve tried for camping with your baby and liked!). However, I’d still advise against camping baby chairs which are wrap-style, hook-on style, or don’t have 4 legs.
->Get a folding high chair if you will be eating at a table.
->Get a booster chair if you’ll be eating on the ground.
(If you still need a sleeping bag for your baby, check out this post about baby sleeping bag options)