Buying baby equipment secondhand has its pros and cons, but if you get it right, you might save hundreds of pounds. If you’re buying a highchair - whether it’s from a car boot sale, NCT Nearly New Sale, an ad in your local paper or websites like eBay, Gumtree and Preloved – or even if you get it for free through Freecycle, you need to make sure it’s not only in good condition but safe to use.
How do you check that a secondhand highchair is safe?
Highchairs sold in the UK have to conform to safety standards, usually indicated by a number on the packaging. The standard BS 14988-1 was introduced in 2006 specifically for highchairs, replacing BS 5799 and DD ENV 1178-1.
Highchairs are usually suitable from 6 months, but some are designed to accommodate younger babies. Don’t assume it can be used for a younger baby based on what the seller tells you – check the manufacturer’s instructions.
To assess the condition of a highchair, you should try folding it and unfolding it first – do cast an eye on lock and catches while you do this.
Check the frame for missing screws or bolts, then look out for flaking paint and rust.
Once opened and in place, the highchair needs to feel sturdy and stable. If it’s in good working order, try sitting your baby inside and check the harness.
It’s important to have a good 5-point harness as the tray alone won’t hold your child in securely. With a 5-point harness you have two waist straps, two shoulder straps and a crotch strap. A 5-point harness is more effective than a 3-point harness, where the shoulder strap might slip off. If not suitably restrained, your child may attempt standing up in the highchair or climbing the backrest, resulting in the highchair toppling over. A baby can tend to slump and fall asleep in a highchair, so if not restrained, they might slide under the tray and fall to the ground. If the harness is no good, check the attachments and see if you could replace it with a new one – spare 5-point harnesses are sold in nursery stores. If it’s a recent model you might still be able to get that specific harness from the manufacturer.
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Cosmetic checks can highlight safety issues. Is the padding in good condition? It’s okay if the padding is a bit faded, but the foam used to pad it should be contained so it doesn’t present a choking hazard. Are there are any sharp edges and wood splinters or plastic cracks that might pinch your baby’s probing fingers? Consider finishes such as paint - harmful lead paint has been recently discovered in some children’s products, which have been subsequently recalled.
What about recalled highchairs?
A list of recalled products can be found on the Trading Standards website. Other sites you can try are Recalled Products and UKRecallNotice. You can also Google the brand with the word ‘recall’. Most major manufacturers offer lists of recalled products on their websites
What features are useful in a secondhand highchair?
These are extra features that might make a highchair more versatile:
- D-rings. You can use them to add an additional harness
- A removable and adjustable tray. This allows easy cleaning and a better fit so your child is sitting snugly
- Removable covers and straps. This makes cleaning easier and allows replacement in some instances.
Our step-by-step buyer's guide to highchairs, plus overview of the types of highchairs on the market, will help you find out what other features you need, be it new or secondhand you're looking to buy.
Buying secondhand alternatives to highchairs
Booster seats, clamp-on seats and travel highchairs are portable alternatives to the standard highchair. These are strapped on a chair or attached to a table by a locking system. They’re generally fitted with a harness to restrain your child.
Check the straps of a booster or travel highchair and the grips and screw-in clamps of a clamp-on seat are in working order.
For other features they have in common with standard highchairs - such as removable trays, folding mechanisms or padding - the same checks as above should be followed.
Our buyer's guide to travel highchairs and booster seats has more advice on the features you need to look for.
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