Even if you haven’t used one, most parents have seen hook-on high chairs before. In fact, there are many parents nowadays who choose to bring their own chairs to places like restaurants or when visiting friends. If you’re anything like me, your first thought after seeing a clip-on high chair is, are they even safe?
Hook-on or clip-on highchairs are generally safe to use at home or at restaurants provided that they meet current safety regulations (including a three-point harness), and they are correctly installed. The clamps should be secured to a sturdy table at least 3/4 inches thick that is not made of glass or other breakable materials.
This type of chair can be a great product if you choose the right kind and know how to use it, but there are some simple guidelines you need to follow in order to make sure your baby is safe at mealtime. Keep reading to find out the best ways to guarantee your baby’s comfort and safety while using a hook-on high chair.
What is a hook-on or clip-on high chair?
The type of high chair you choose is just another decision you have to make as a parent, and it may seem overwhelming.
A hook-on or clip-on high chair is an alternative to a traditional high chair that can be clipped on to most tables. They are extremely portable and typically pretty easy to clean. It seems obvious that they would be great for times when you’re traveling somewhere that may not have a highchair, but many parents also use them in places like restaurants.
Restaurant high chairs are notorious for having missing or broken straps, and let’s face it- they’re typically downright dirty.
Bringing your own high chair means you know where it’s been and you know what condition it’s in before you use it. They fold up small enough that you can typically keep it in your car for easy access. If you’ve never used a hook-on chair yourself, you may be wondering why anyone would choose that over a traditional high chair.
Hook-on chair vs high chair
The most important thing to know is that traditional high chairs are generally the best product to have if you will only be using it at home. They’re stable, safe, and generally comfortable for babies.
There are many types of traditional high chairs as well and some even have different stages so they can grow with your baby. However, since not all traditional high chairs fold for easy storage, many parents turn to hook-on high chairs as an alternative. These types of chairs are great for travel because they’re portable and easy to store.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of hook-on chairs to see if they’re a good fit for your family.
- Hook-on high chairs are very portable and many of them fold completely flat for easy travel or storage.
- They are usually pretty light, so they are great for when you know you’re traveling somewhere where you won’t have a high chair.
- Depending on the brand you buy, they may be more affordable than other high chairs, which can cost as much as $200.
- Since hook-ons are connected directly to the table, your child may feel more included in mealtime than they would in a traditional high chair.
- It is possible for a baby to push the high chair off the table if you don’t attach it properly or if you choose a brand without a strong clamp.
- They can’t hook on to every type of table, so you’ll have to know ahead of time what type of table you may be attaching it to.
- Most hook-on chairs are not JPMA certified so you have to be careful which product you buy.
- Some do come with a food tray for your baby, but many do not, so you may have to buy an additional attachment to keep your baby from making a mess all over the table.
Looking for the best hook-on high chair for your little one?
The best option for your hook-on high chair will be one that fits your needs and price range.
Prices for this type of chair start at about $40 and will go up to about $100 for the most expensive models. While all models should include the basic safety features, paying more will often get you a food tray, removable seat covers, and extra support for babies that need a little help sitting up. Here are three different models at a budget, mid, and high price point.
This particular model can be had for under $50 and includes a 3-point safety harness, removable cloth cover, and collapses to fit into a car pretty easily.
Here are a few other notables:
- Attaches to a table between .75 and 1.5 inches thick
- Weighs 5.8 pounds
- Maximum child weight of 37 pounds
- 4.4 out of 5 with 1,546 ratings on Amazon
Available for less than $70, the biggest difference between this chair and the first one is that it includes a removable food tray with a cup holder. This is great for times when you are at a restaurant or somewhere else outside the home and you don’t want to have to worry about having a clean food contact surface for your baby to eat off of for dinner.
- One-pull tightener makes it faster to clamp the seat to a table
- Weighs 9.5 pounds (a bit heavy!)
- Maximum child weight of 37 pounds
- 4.7 out of 5 with 242 ratings on Amazon
Coming in at right around $100, this particular clip-on high chair is extremely lightweight, portable, and safe. While the styling doesn’t stray too far from Chicco’s mid-range offering, you can tell that the fit and finish is of a higher quality on this product when you take a closer look. It has padded back support and 4-point safety harness and a much more secure crotch and leg opening which will help keep wiggly babies seated throughout a meal!
- Breaks down smaller than other models and includes a carrying bag
- Attaches to a table from .8 inches to 3.75 inches
- Suitable for children from 3 months to 3 years old (max weight 37 pounds)
- Food tray is dishwasher safe!
Hook-on high chair safety
Out of all the types of hook-on chairs, ones that have a strong device to clamp to the table are the safest ones.
The older your baby gets the stronger they get as well, and your baby can cause the chair to fall if they push hard enough, and the chair isn’t installed properly. To ensure the safety of your baby, only buy a high chair that has both waist and crotch straps – and ideally a three-point harness.
After extensive use, some of the small parts of hook-on chairs can break off, so be sure to check the high chair for any defects before each use, just like you would most other baby products. As of the time of this writing, there are only two brands listed as being JPMA certified.
It’s essential to do your research before deciding which product is best for your family. Also, check out the most recent safety standards for high chairs from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The bottom line is that hook-on chairs should not replace a traditional high chair if you’re able to have a regular high chair in your home. Traditional high chairs are durable, sturdy, and generally extremely safe.
However, when you visit a place that may not have a high chair, hook-on chairs are great to take with you, or even to keep in the trunk of your car in case you may need it.
When can babies use a hook-on high chair?
Hook-on high chairs are meant for babies who can sit up unassisted, so typically they are ready for one around six months and can be used up to 36 months, depending on the weight of the child. Six months is the perfect time to start the baby in a high chair since it is likely around the same time they are starting solid foods.
I dove into this question in much more detail recently. Check out my article on what age your baby can use a highchair to learn more!
What are the weight limits for hook-ons?
Weight limits for hook-ons may vary depending on the product, but most hook-on or clip-on high chairs hold babies up to 37 pounds. Once your child is big enough, you may move them to a booster seat, even if they haven’t exceeded the weight limit of the hook-on chair.
Tips for keeping your baby comfortable and secure
If you’re currently using a hook-on chair or looking into getting one, here are some tips for keeping your baby safe and comfortable during use:
- Always remember to strap your child in securely, using both the waist and crotch straps.
- Hook-on high chairs should never be used on glass tables, or on the table’s extension.
- Be sure the table is heavy enough to support your baby and that it won’t tip over if the baby moves around.
- Only clamp the chair onto tables that are thick enough to support your baby.
- Never clamp the chair onto a tablecloth or a placemat.
- Don’t place a regular chair underneath the hook-on chair because your baby may push off of it.
- Avoid clamping the chair near any table support that your child may use to push away from the table.
- Stop using the chair once your child exceeds the weight limit.
- Always check the manual for specific instructions regarding usage, weight limits, and types of tables the chair can be attached to.