Buyer’s guide to highchairs

How to pick a highchair that will work for you, your baby and your home.

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What is a highchair?

A highchair is a seat your baby or toddler can be placed in for you to feed them or for them to feed themselves. A highchair really is a chair that’s high – either so your baby can be at table height, or so you don’t have to break your back bending to feed your child and have a handy tray in front for the food.

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A highchair is useful for more than just mealtimes –for example, it can be a safe place for your child to play and feel part of the action whilst you’re busy in the kitchen.

Most highchairs are suitable from around 6 months. This is roughly when you baby can sit up on their own, and when you’ll start weaning.

How much does a highchair cost?

  • For a budget chair – up to £40
  • Mid-range – around £50 – £140
  • High end – £150-£400
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What style do you want?

There is a huge choice of highchairs. The main styles you’ll come across are:

Does it fit with your kitchen style?

High chairs get cooler and funkier every year, with space age cocoon styles, minimalist lines or sleek wooden pieces. Or you may prefer a more traditional style, which tend to be cheaper and more padded.

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How much space do you have?

If you have a compact kitchen – some might say small, we call it bijou – you’ll need to find a high chair that either folds up neatly or has a small base area. Some traditional high chairs have wide feet that could take up half of a small kitchen!

If you’re looking for a foldable high chair, check if it stands up on its own when folded – otherwise you’ll need somewhere to lean it against (and may worry about it being pulled over once your child is on the move).

With some high chairs, you’ll need to remove the tray in order to fold it, which can give you an additional storage headache.If you need to stow the highchair between meals because space is tight, want to keep it the grandparents’/childminder’s or want to throw it in the back of the car for trips away, an option that folds easily and compactly will be ideal.

How easy is it to lift your baby in and out?
High chairs have different mechanisms for getting your baby in and out. With some, you can remove or pull forwards the tray to give you a wider area to slip your baby in. Others are not flexible. Chairs without trays generally have the widest area in which to fit your baby into the chair. Best advice: take your baby with you if you can when high chair shopping, and try getting her in and out. Also, practise removing or moving the tray, undoing the straps and folding up the chair, if it goes flat.

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Do you need it to be portable?

If you just want to move the highchair room to room, look for a lightweight option or an option with caster wheels. If you want to take it when you stay with family and friends, something that folds to a compact size, or that can have the legs removed to fit the car boot would be suitable.

There are also dedicated travel highchairs, boosters (including folding boosters) and clamp-on seats designed for taking out, too. Some of these feature a travel bag or carry strap to make carting them about easy.

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Do you want a fast-clean highchair?

If quick cleaning , or cleaning up as you rush out to work, is a priority, look for wipe-clean plastic, vinyl and PVC covers. Fabric covers will need to be removed and washed, so require a little more effort.

A removable tray that you can stick in the dishwasher, or a tray that can have the top insert removed to reveal a clean surface underneath are both handy features.

Remember the more padding there is, the more nooks and crannies for food to get trapped in. This is fine if your child’s in nursery – you’ll probably only have to do a thorough clean once a week. However, if your baby’s very messy or has all their meals at home, a smooth wipe-clean surface, be it plastic or wood, will provide an easy-to-clean everyday option.

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Before you buy a highchair with vinyl-covered padding, run your fingers around the edges of the cushions to check there are no sharp edges that could hurt your baby.

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