Only the other day…Sunday in fact… I sat chatting with a friend of mine who incidentally has a little boy only a couple of weeks younger than Hector. Amongst life with toddler boys, the juggle of motherhood and our professional lives, and general girly gossip we got to talking about those baby essentials that looking back on the early days were really very useful indeed.

She mentioned that she couldn’t have lived without her sling in those newborn days and her Medela breast pump whereas I focused more about those essentials from the six month stage in particular when we were out and about. Weirdly I’d forgotten about so many things and the discussion prompted a bit of a walk down Memory Lane…That said one item that sprung instantly to mind was our portable high chair that we bought for Hector when he was about 8 months old.

Now I love those classic wooden highchairs that populate most cafes and gastropubs these days like the best of them but Hector in his typical lolling fashion (does anyone else’s kid do this?!) used to slide and slouch and slink his way out of them. Perhaps it’s because his highchair at home is so secure, so having the freedom to move when we were dining out was a novelty and one that he was going to make sure he took advantage of. Regardless when it felt like I’d readjusted Hector’s posture and pulled him up one more time, wedged in yet another pillow and started to eat with one hand holding him back whenever we were out, I called time on the wooden highchairs and moaned to Ste that something had to give. More than anything I was terrified he’d fall out and really hurt himself and I really wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself if he had.

It was by chance the following week that we were dining with some other friends when they quickly whipped out their Phil and Teds Lobster for their daughter and suddenly everything was ok with the world again.

Portable highchairs? How had I not know these existed?! Mind blown. Totally practical and utterly travel friendly, these contraptions could literally be expanded and collapsed at the pop of a button anywhere we travelled so long as a table was present. And the best thing about them? They were much more secure (and thus safer!) than the wooden chairs that Hector had been slouching his way out of for the last three months. We needed one and pronto! When I started to research the Lobster for myself I found them to be on the pricey side and just couldn’t justify the £70 price tag. Would the relaxed eating dream be over before it started?

I refused to be defeated. Using Google as my trusty companion I found the iSafe Baby Fast Fit Booster Seat for a bargainous £30 ten minutes later. Result.

Whilst Hector has grown out of the seat now – more from his demand to sit at the table like a proper adult rather than due to the seat becoming too small – our portable high chair served us admirably until I’d say he was about 20 months. We definitely got our wear out of it and it was worth every penny. In fact we’ve saved it for child number two whenever they might come along.

From a stats and figures point of view the chair can take up to 37 pounds – which is equivalent to 2.6 stone or 17kg and it is suitable for most tables up to 3.5 inches thick. The chair is secured by using twist-tight couplings which you essentially twist upwards until the clamps butt up tightly up to the underneath of the table. And when it’s not in use the chair collapses flat and slides away into a reasonably sized carry bag that comes with the product. Comfortable, convenient and super speedy.

I’ve since found out that the cover is removable and can be washed to boot!

More than anything, the chair was snug – not so snug that we had to squash him into it but restricted enough to give him much better support when we were eating. The strap between his legs was wider and the strap around his shoulders and waist was sturdier than restaurant high chairs. Plus we knew that we would always have a seat for Hector even in those eateries that didn’t necessarily provide them as standard. My sister in law mentioned that she’d even considered purchasing one for her home where space is a little bit more restricted – something I hadn’t considered before she’d brought it up.

So there you have it. If your child is a Houdini artist like mine and you want a chair that will contain them for as long as your dinner is hot then I highly recommend investing in one. It honestly is worth every penny.

What baby ‘essentials’ could you not live without? Either currently or from the past? Perhaps it’s something completely random…why not share in the comments box below.