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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Do you want up-to-the-table feeding?
Some highchairs are stand-alone options with their own tray and mean you don’t need to have your baby at the table. Others allow your baby to be pulled up to the table, so your baby can be part of the meal. These can feature a removable tray, so you baby can come right o the table edge or no tray.
Look for adjustable heights so you can match the highchair to your table. A footrest so your baby’s legs aren’t left dangling will also keep your baby comfier and happier for longer.
Will it grow with your child?
Some high chairs have smart features, where the highchair turns into a pre-schooler chair. Others, like the Stokke Tripp Trapp, are able to seat your child into their teens and beyond. However, while these may seem clever ways of saving money, many pre-schoolers are keen to get out of their ‘baby’ chair and move onto ‘grown-up’ seats, and may not want to keep seating in the same chair as they get older, however clever it is.
Does it come with its own inbuilt entertainment?
A high chair can be a useful, safe place for your child to sit while you’re with him in the kitchen preparing his meal. If the high chair has a tray, this can be a great place to pop toys to play with. Some even have play trays, which you can then swap out for the eating tray.
How safe is it?
4 How safe is it?
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) has clear safety guidelines for buying and using a high chair:
- Look for the British Standard EN 14988:2006 safety standard mark
- Choose a chair that has a five-point harness as a lap belt alone is not secure enough – toddlers seem to have built-in sensors about how to pull themselves out of high chairs. You can buy an attachable five-point harness if yours only has a lap belt. The harness should conform to BS 6684: 1989
- Choose a high chair that has a crotch bar or strap, to prevent your baby slipping out
- Look for a high chair that has a removable or adjustable tray, so it’s easy to get your baby in and out
- When using your high chair, position it far enough away from any solid surfaces that your child could kick or push against to destabilise the chair.
Where to star?
To help you decide what highchair will suit your needs, we’ve undertaken in-depth reviews of highchairs as well as booster seats and travel highchairs.
To save you time, we’ve also rounded-up the top-performers: