How to Buy a Baby High Chair
Few pieces of baby equipment are subjected to tougher conditions than the high chair!
After all, baby's high chair will be pressed into service at least three times a day for several busy, messy, active years—adding up to roughly a thousand uses in a single year! You will be scrubbing that high chair more times than you can imagine, and moving it countless others. It will undoubtedly receive its share of bumps and bruises along the way.
There are dozens of different baby high chairs on the market, and they vary widely in terms of quality, durability, safety, features and style. How can you identify quality construction? Safe design? How do you know what features you need? Read on!
At One Step Ahead, we've been evaluating high chairs for more than a decade. Based on our experience—combined with the advice of consumer experts—we recommend that you look for the following characteristics:
Sturdy, quality construction
- Look for a wide, stable base (or "footprint") for stability.
- All four legs should touch the floor evenly—no tipping or rocking.
- The seat cover, if there is one, should be thick, not flimsy, to hold up to wear and tear.
- If the seat cover is vinyl, the heat-sealed seams should be smooth and flat, not scratchy against baby's legs.
- If the high chair legs have folding hinges, make sure they feature a dependable locking mechanism.
- Look for a large, wrap-around tray that operates smoothly on its tracks.
- A reliable restraint system is crucial. We prefer the five-point harness, which secures baby at the shoulders, waist and crotch. (A crotch strap is very important, since it will keep baby from slipping or sliding under the tray.)
- A molded center post-positioned in the center of the seat between baby's legs-is also a desirable option, since it also prevents baby from sliding.
- The tray should be smooth underneath, with no sharp edges or hanging pieces.
- There should be no small pieces on the high chair (such as plugs for metal tubing) that might come loose and pose a choking hazard.
Easy to clean
- Look for a removable, easy-to-clean tray with a large lip that helps keeps food contained. (Some trays may even be cleaned in your dishwasher.)
- The seat should be easy to clean. A cloth seat cover should be removable and machine washable. A wood or vinyl seat should be easily wiped clean.
- Remember, the fewer nooks and crannies in the design, the easier it will be to keep free of debris.
Easy to use
- Evaluate accessibility. You should be able to get baby in and out easily. The tray should slide in and out smoothly, preferably with one hand. An adult should be able to fasten and unfasten the harness quickly.
- If the chair is a folding model, find out how simple (or complicated) the folding process is. Also, is there a place on the frame to hang the tray?
- If you plan on moving the high chair from room to room, a wheeled high chair is a good choice for you. However, make sure the wheels lock for safety if you elect this feature.
You want a high chair that will accommodate baby as he or she grows, and may even be used as a toddler booster seat. Look for:
- A generously sized seating area.
- A seat that is height adjustable. (Eventually, you'll probably want to remove the tray and have baby sit with you at the table.)
- An adjustable footrest for growing legs.
- Some parents also like a seat back that reclines.
With so many styles available, you'll want to find one that compliments your own. You may find yourself drawn to a state-of-the-art import that offers luxury features...or a timeless wooden highchair with simple, classic lines. If space is an issue in your home, you'll also want to consider the chair's dimensions, both folded and unfolded. You may opt for a space saver high chair, which simply straps to a kitchen chair.
The key: think it through for before you buy!
At One Step Ahead, we've tested dozens of baby high chairs over the years. We review manufacturer's specifications and make sure high chairs comply with ASTM (American Society of Testing Materials) Standard Consumer Safety Specifications for High Chairs. In addition, we subject every high chair to a vigorous workout. We rock them and bump them...fold and unfold them...and put trays and harnesses to the test.
In other words, our high chairs have been carefully inspected for quality, safety and functionality.
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