Hook-on High Chairs vs High Chairs vs booster seats.
Updated: Jan 16
Every parent who is on the lookout for a seating solution for their child will go through this phase where they wonder what on earth is the best choice: a hook-on High Chair, a regular High Chair or a Booster Seat. How do you know which category to pick from and what details to look for?
One thing is for sure, the sea of products and opinions certainly aren’t helping all that much! Since so many parents struggle with this topic, we decided to put all the relevant information necessary to make a well informed decision in this blog post.
After reading this article, you will have a clear understanding of the differences between the categories as well as all the benefits and features they have to offer. Once you found a category that best fits your family’s life story, it will be easy to pick the right match for both you and your child’s best interest.
Hook-on High Chairs vs High Chairs vs Booster Seats. What are the main differences?
Before we go into the details let’s first have a look at the general description of each category to make sure we are on the same page:
Hook-on High Chair
A Hook-on High Chair, also known as a clip-on High Chair is a small and compact seat that can be attached onto a table- or countertop by means of an integrated set of clamps. This Hook-on High Chair allows your child to join you directly at the table.
The Hook-on or clip-on High Chair relies on a suitable table- or countertop for it to be used. Unlike a Booster Seat you cannot use it on the floor or in combination with a dining chair as it has no stable foot or base to keep it in an upright position.
Regular High Chair
A regular High Chair is a small seat with long legs that safely and securely elevates babies or toddlers to match the height of a sitting adult. It allows for an ergonomically pleasant interaction between the parent and child during spoon-feeding.
This type of High Chair is fully stand-alone and doesn’t require any of your existing furniture. It comes with its own tray, allowing your child to have its meal just about anywhere in the house. Unlike the Hook-on High Chair, it doesn’t allow your child to sit directly at the table as the tray acts as a sort of buffer.
A Booster Seat is a compact seat with a wide base, that you can either use on the floor or in combination with your kitchen or dining chair. It allows your child to comfortably sit by itself during playtime or while being fed.
This type of seat can be used as a stand-alone product on every flat, ground-level surface or in combination with a chair, where you need to use a set of straps to firmly attach it. This type of seat can be used with or without a tray and thus allowing your child to sit closer to the table.
Hook-on High Chairs vs High Chairs vs Booster Seats. What are the use cases?
Hook-on High Chair
Hook-on High Chairs are mostly used by parents with a cozy home or parents who love to go out and about as the Hook-on High Chair is very compact and easy to handle, making it ideal for travels. It is a great tool to make your child feel part of the family during meals as she or he will be eating from the same “big tray” as everybody else is doing.
The main use is for feeding sessions but the Hook-on High Chair lends itself perfectly as well for play time when all the adults are sitting at the table. Ideal for when grandparents are visiting as it allows them to interact with their grandchild without the need to sit on the floor.
Regular High Chair
Regular High Chairs are for those of you parents who have enough space at home and are looking for a “fixed” spot for your child. High Chairs come in different sizes and with different features like foldability, however, when they are in use, they all take up a considerable amount of space due to their long legs that are required to obtain the height and stability.
Besides their main use case, which is feeding your little one, they are also very suitable to briefly park your child in while you are doing some other stuff in and around the house. For example, many children find it very pleasant to watch dad or mom while they prepare a meal. For parents it gives you peace of mind to have your sprout sit nearby.
Booster Seats are ideal for parents who love to have a bit of versatility. They are compact and light, making them very suitable at home but also for short trips to friends and family. Booster Seats can be fitted on almost all chairs, except for stools and bar stools (that would be a bad idea, learn more here) and if there is no chair to fit it on, you can just place it on the floor and have a Japanese style dinner with your little one.
Just like the above two baby seats/chairs, feeding is the main reason Booster Seats came into existence. When used on the floor, they can be a fun way to interact with your child during short sessions of playtime.
Now that you have a clear understanding of what the different categories are and what they are mainly used for, it is time to have a look at some of the most important features that any category should have and compare them to one another to see which scores best on safety, cleanability, ergonomics and price.
Which is the safest, a hook-on high chair, a high chair or a booster seat?
Before we dive into this section, it is important to understand that much of the safety of these categories depends a lot on the way these chairs are being installed and used. Therefore, always make sure to read and fully understand the user guidelines before you place your child in a seat, whether that be a Hook-on High Chair, a regular High Chair or a Booster Seat.
Hook-on High Chair
In the early days of the Hook-on High Chair, this type of product was considered quite dangerous as it lacked the necessary features to firmly lock it in place. In the meantime, a lot has changed as modern day clip-on High Chairs are provided with a strong frame and a very sturdy set of clamps to ensure your child cannot push itself off the table..
For the clip-on High Chair, it is very important to do a proper installation each and every time you are going to use one. The downside is that, for its stability, it relies a great deal on the type of table or counter that it is mounted on. (for an in depth, illustrated look at the safety of a Hook-on high Chair, please read this article we wrote here). For example: loose and glass tabletops are not suitable for this type of High Chair.
If installed correctly on the right kind of table or counter, this type of seating is a very reliable and safe option for your child to sit in during meals and playtime.
Regular High Chair
As with the Hook-on High Chair, the regular High Chair has also come a long way in terms of safety. Regulations are tightened and manufacturers are going all out on safety as a single accident can ruin a brands reputation (which of course isn’t nearly as bad as having a child that got hurt because of product errors.)
The benefit a regular High Chair has over the clip-on and the Booster Seat is that it works only as a stand-alone product. This means that the manufacturer has full control over the stability and thus the safety of the High Chair.
It also decreases the room for human error as there is no installation required like in the other categories. In that sense, we think that a regular High Chair is still the safest option out there. This is especially true for wooden ones as they have a very stiff frame. (for an in-depth comparison between plastic and wooden High Chairs, please read this article)
Baby Booster Seats are a bit of a special case as they can be separated into two types of safety zones:
When used on the floor, there is not that much to worry about as the way down is very short and the chances of tipping over are really low. (which doesn’t mean you should leave your child unattended)
When installed on a dining or kitchen chair, there is a bit more room for error. Here you have to make sure that the straps for mounting are properly installed and with enough tension to make sure the Booster can’t slide off the dining chair seat. It’s also a good thing to make sure you are using a stable chair that isn’t easily tipped over when your child starts rocking sideways.
In summary it is fair to say that the regular High Chair is the safety winner followed by both Hook-on High Chairs and Booster Seats as they both rely on your good judgement and the quality of the furniture it is mounted on.
Regardless of the type of category you will look in, always check if the product you are buying has the JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association) certification label on it. This ensures you that the product complies with all the safety standards set by the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials).
These standards are designed to minimize the risk of injury or intoxication through the use of baby products. In other words, this label gives you peace of mind as it lets you know the product has been rigorously tested by an independent lab.
Which is easiest to clean, hook-on, High Chair or Booster Seat?
If you are completely new to parenting, this topic might come to you a bit as a surprise. But you can be sure that it is worthwhile considering you will be doing a lot of cleaning, every single day, for a couple of years.
Of course, in each category there are extremes as some models are just easier to clean than others. In this paragraph we will cover the general cleanability of each category to give you an overall idea what to expect.
Hook-on High Chair
Hook-on High Chairs are a walk in the park when it comes to cleaning. They are the most compact High Chair category, the tray is usually your kitchen table (which needs cleaning anyway) and the seat is just a fabric that in most cases, is machine washable.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of the Hook-on or clip-on High Chair is the fact that it has no legs. Not only does this mean less surfaces and corners where dirt can get trapped, it also means that cleaning the floor underneath is super easy.
Regular High Chair
The regular High Chair is a bit of a different story when it comes to cleaning. Sure there are models with machine washable padding and straps or with dishwasher safe trays but the frame and those long legs will catch a ton of dirt during the, often funny, food excursions of your little one.
After you are done inspecting the complete High Chair, you can look for a spot to park it because it will be in your way to clean the kitchen floor. Luckily there are some clever solutions to help you keep the floor underneath a High Chair clean, you can learn more in this article we wrote.
Most Baby Booster Seats are very easy to clean. They are small compared to a regular High Chair and most of them have materials that are easy to wipe down with a damp cloth and some mild detergent. That is the good news, the bad news is that the chair on which you are mounting the Booster Seat is the thing that gets hit the hardest during meals.
Make sure that the chair you use is easy to clean and has no crevices or folds that can collect food or you will be growing some mold in there! To alleviate any cleaning frustrations, you can always use an old towel to place underneath.
In terms of cleanability, we have to say that the Hook-on High Chair is the absolute winner, followed by the Booster Seat and then the regular High Chair. It might not seem like a big difference but if you are cleaning it 2-3 times a day, it will start to feel like a serious pain!
If you would like to know how to keep your baby seats clean and to do that in a healthy way, please read this extensive article with cool tips and tricks to make your life as a parent easier.
Which is most affordable? A hook-on high chair or regular high chair or booster seat?
To answer this question we have to look at the lifespan of the product that you are about to purchase. The longer your child can make use of a seating solution, the cheaper the product gets over time.
Hook-on High Chair
Hook-on High Chairs hover between a $30-$130 price range and can be used from the age of 7-9 months until your child is about 3 years old, or when reaching the maximum allowed weight limit. So, over a lifespan of about 2.4 years it will cost you between $12,5-$54 per year.
Regular High Chair
Standard High Chairs can be found for as little as $20-$50 and fall in same age limitations as the Hook-on High Chair. So, this will cost you about $8-$20 per year, which is not a bad offer!
Of course, these were the very basic models of High Chairs and they offer little extras. As soon as you go into foldable, convertible or grow along subcategories. The prices look very different and can range from $40 up to hundreds of dollars. (find out more here about all the subcategories in this other article we wrote)
Grow-along High Chairs are quite interesting though. Even when they cost you alot more in terms of total purchase price ($70-$300), your child can use these types of High Chairs for much longer as they serve as a baby seat, a youth chair and even a chair for adults. Let’s assume this chair will be used for about 70 years, then the cost per year would be between $1-$4.2.
Baby Booster Seats are as affordable as they are basic. They can be found for as little as $20 and max out at around $50 and they offer the same lifespan as a Hook-on or a regular High Chair. This means the cost per year is about $8-$20.
As you can see, affordability really depends on the angle you are looking at it. When you look at the overall purchase price, the Booster Seat and regular High Chair are the winners, followed by the Hook-on.
When you look at it as an investment for the long run, than the more expensive grow-along High Chair is the better option. In any case, if you have multiple children that are a couple of years apart, you can simply reuse the first seat that you bought and save some extra money for other stuff.
Which is more ergonomic for my baby, a hook-on high chair, a high chair or a booster seat?
When it comes to High Chair ergonomics, we tend to think only about the influence this might have on our children, which is a logical thing to do. However, as a parent, you must not forget that a lot of the ergonomics is also geared towards you. After all, you are the one who is managing all the logistics of installing and preparing, placing your baby into the chair, feeding, taking your sprout out of the High Chair and cleaning up afterwards.
So, in that respect we looked at all three categories and compared the level of ergonomics not only for your child, but also for you.
Hook-on High Chair
Hook-on High Chairs are very comfortable in the sense that they work a bit like a hammock. It is just fabric that is wrapped around a metal frame, meaning there are no hard or stiff parts your baby will be sitting on. However, ergonomics is not just about comfort, it is also about being able to maintain the right posture.
This is where the hook on is lacking a lot compared to the other categories. The back isn’t shaped to provide enough support for your child and none of the models we found have a footrest. It might seem of little importance but it actually has a much bigger influence on your child’s behavior than you might think.
In fact, for some children this is a make or break for their acceptance of the High Chair. When a footrest is not present, it can be hard for your child to find its balance, which results in an unpleasant feeling and a lot of resistance for the use of that particular Hook-on High Chair.
To know if your child is sensitive to having a footrest or not, the only thing you can do is to give it a test and see what happens. For more information about the importance and influence of a footrest on your child’s behavior, please have a look at this article we wrote here.
From a parenting perspective, the Clip-on High Chair is very ergonomic. Because your child will be sitting with you directly at the table, interaction is pretty easy, regardless of the height of the table. You can just scoop up your chair right next to your little one and enjoy the feeding session or playtime.
The only disadvantage is that with most of the Hook-on models you cannot turn your child directly towards you for a face to face interaction. The only version that has this feature is the Chicco 360 Hook-on Chair, you can check out the price on Amazon here.
Regular High Chair
In the space of traditional High Chairs there are so many sizes and shapes that it is very difficult to judge them all as one category with the same level of ergonomics for your child. Instead we will give you some general features that provide your child and yourself with the level of ergonomics you need to make High Chairing a pleasant experience.
For your child it is important to have a footrest that can be adjusted as she grows. Other than that you should make sure the chair has no sharp edges, brims or little crevices where fingers might get stuck. Padding is a nice to have but not a necessity as young children have enough cushioning by themselves. (yes baby fat is not only cute but also very useful)
As for the parenting part, you can look for features like a tray that can be removed with one hand, a set of castors to easily maneuver the High Chair around the house and in case you want a foldable High Chair, look for a frustration free mechanism.
In this category we highly recommend to look at the grow-along High Chairs as they offer the best ergonomics, especially in the long run. One that we personally love is the Abii Beyond wooden High Chair. It is still affordable, it looks timeless and it comes from a company that is thinking about the future of your children. To learn more, please read this article here.
Baby Booster Seats share a similar problem like the Hook-on High Chair in that they don’t have a footrest. In addition to that, the seating surface of the chair on which it is mounted often pushes in the calves of your child’s legs, which of course is everything but comfortable.
Other than that, most Baby Booster Seats are designed with soft and rounded shapes and with a cushioned seating surface for your child to be comfortable and unlike Hook-on high Chairs, the back support of Booster Seats help your child to maintain a proper posture.
For you, the parent, the fact that you can mount a Booster Seat on a chair allows you to place your child in just about any direction by just moving the chair, however, the achievable height mostly depends on the height of your dining chairs, which is not always ideal for feeding.
The best Booster Seat in terms of ergonomics is the Upseat as it is the only Booster Seat on the market that is designed to encourage a proper posture with a natural curved spine. You can learn more in this article here or have a peek on Amazon for the price here.
The clear winning category is the category of regular High Chairs as in here you will have the best chance to find a seating solution that best fits all the needs of both you and your child. You are not relying on any of your furniture for it to work and the manufacturer has all the space available to offer you the best possible experience in a single product.
Next up is where we would place Hook-on High Chairs because they are very convenient and give your child enough space to wiggle its legs. Making your child feel like being part of the family during meals is also a great way to offer them comfort.
Booster Seats are last in line because there are just so many other factors determining how well they function form an ergonomic point of view. It’s not to say that they are bad, they are just not as good.
Hook-on High Chairs vs High Chairs vs booster seats, a quick overview that sums it up.
You have made it this far and that is good, because now you understand all the key differences between Hook-on High Chairs, High Chairs and Booster Seats. Since it is a lot to digest whilst not losing the overview, we’ve created this recap in the below table so it’s easy for you to have all the necessary information at a glance.
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