When your toddler no longer needs the protection of a full service high chair, but still needs a little help reaching the table, you can switch to a booster seat.

Booster seats are tiny chairs that strap to a dining chair, offering a little extra height for toddlers who would have to kneel or stand on a regular dining chair. Since standing or kneeling is not a relaxing or safe way to eat dinner, booster seats are a safe alternative.

Booster seats are usually made of molded dishwasher safe plastic, while some are made of molded foam. Most booster seats have a removable seat back and tray that can be put in the dishwasher for cleaning. The removable tray also lets you pull the booster seat up to the table.

Standard features on many booster seats include reclining seat back, adjustable seat height, 5-point harness, removable tray, folding for easy storage, and easy-to-clean surfaces.

Most booster seats have a wide, stable base to prevent the chair from toppling over or rocking while strapped onto a standard sized chair. They should have at least two adjustable straps to hold the seat firmly in place on top of the chair. The straps should tighten easily and clamp securely into place.

A newer self-inflatable booster seat inflates into a sturdy full-size booster seat. This booster seat uses an adjustable lap belt with T-restraint to secure your toddler in the seat. After your meal, simply press out the air and the seat folds up to a size small enough to fit into an average diaper bag. Most come with a self-carrying handle.

Most booster seats are light weight, usually no more than 5 lbs. Many restaurants don't provide booster seats for toddlers too small for a high chair but not tall enough to sit at a table unassisted. Booster seats that fold up into a compact package are great for traveling just in case your toddler needs proper seating.

Once my daughter hit toddler age, she wanted to sit in a normal chair to eat her meals. The only problem was she had to stand during the meal to reach her plate, which made me nervous. I bought the 4-Stage Reclining Feeding Seat by The First Years to give her a boost at the table and to help me relax. The seat gave her a boost and helped her to feel like a big girl. I could strap the booster seat to the dining room chair quite snugly and strap her in, relieving my fear that she would fall onto the floor. The chair was easy to attach and remove and doesn't take up much space when not in use. At the very least, this easy to use, easy to clean chair made our meal times a lot safer.
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