Feeding baby can be messy! Feeding baby can be fun! High chairs take the mess out of the feed while maxizing the fun!
High chairs are an essential piece of baby gearóone that will be used multiple times a day for years. From his first pureed peas to a hearty helping of Momís meatloaf, heíll spend a lot of quality time in the high chair. So itís a good idea to pick a high chair thatís not only safe and functions well, but one that fits into your lifestyle and the design of your home.
Where do I start when picking out a high chair?
As with everything else, start with what you like. Baby high chairs come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are made of different materials.
- If youíre looking for a high chair that complements your dining room set, select a wooden high chair in the same finish as your set. Many parents find these classic chairs more aesthetically appealing than other options.
- If you want a high chair that will grow with your child, look into the benefits of a convertible chair. These chairs convert from a traditional high chair to a youth chair or to a study or office chair.
- A plastic or metal high chair is a good option for parents who want a foldable, portable model.
- First, look for a chair with a removable tray, preferably one that uses a one-handed release. You donít want to have to get your child in and out of the chairóor try to clean the chairówith an attached tray to work around.
- Make sure that the tray has a raised lip at the edge to catch the inevitable spills.
- While wooden high chair trays can be wiped with a damp cloth, itís especially convenient to purchase a plastic tray protector to safeguard the wood finish and also to make clean up a snap. Select one thatís dishwasher safe for the ultimate in convenience.
- If youíre going to be moving your high chair a lotóbetween rooms, for exampleóselect one thatís lightweight or has wheels. If it does have wheels, make sure that you can lock them into place.
- Check the overall height of the chair and the seat height to ensure that your child will be able to sit at a similar level as the rest of the family. Your best bet is a chair that offers adjustable heights that you can change as she gets older or depending on where sheís eating.
- If your child doesnít like sitting still, consider a high chair with removable toys that can keep your little one entertained while you cook.
I like the style of wooden high chairs, but are they comfortable?
Parents use wooden high chairs all the timeóthatís the kind most restaurants provideóand babies donít seem to find them uncomfortable. But if you donít relish the idea of hard wood pressed against your baby at meal times, consider purchasing a high chair cover.
- Look for baby highchair cushions that come in colors and prints that coordinate with your kitchen or dining decoróor that simply catch your eye.
- Make sure the cushion is easy to wipe off, machine washable, and comes with easy-to-fit ties that secure the pad to the high chair.
- Check that the high chair pads accommodate your safety straps.
What do I need to know about high chair safety?
The first line of defense is to purchase a solidly constructed, sturdy high chair. Select one that meets or exceeds U.S. safety standards and/or is JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association) certified.
- Look for a base thatís wide enough to prevent tipping.
- Your high chair should have an easy-to-use safety strap, which will encourage you to actually use it. Safety straps are important for keeping baby from slipping under the tray or from climbing up and potentially falling out of his high chair the moment your back is turned.
- If your high chair doesnít have a safety strap or you need to replace an old strap, you can purchase a safety harness separately. Choose a harness made of durable material with an adjustable strap.
- Checking the weight limit of the high chair is something many parents overlook. Remember that your six-month-old lightweight will still need to use her chair when sheís a toddler. And if you select a chair that grows with your child, itís especially important to look for a realistic weight limit.
- Because it serves as your childís eating surface, a non-toxic finish on your high chair is a must.
- Make sure thereís no exposed hardware or rough wooden edges on your high chair.
The benefits of a booster seat
Though youíll undoubtedly use your high chair for years, there will come a time when your child is too big for itóbut not yet big enough to sit at the table. For this transitional time, a booster seat is a big help. When selecting your booster seat, look for a thickly cushioned seat, both for comfort and height, one thatís made of easy-to-clean material, safety straps to hold your child securely in place, and a second set of straps that attach the seat firmly to the chair.
The Bottom Line
Your child will use a high chair for a long time, so select one that meets safety standards, has a style and functionality that you like and has a cushion to keep your child comfortable during mealtime. Booster seats are a great way to transition your child from high chair to dining room chair.
Our Mom Expert
ďI loved the look of a wooden highchair, but my husband thought a plastic-framed model seemed more convenient, so thatís what we bought. Unfortunately, the vinyl cushion ripped when my second child was using it, so when baby number three was ready for a highchair, I convinced my husband that we should get a gorgeous cherry highchair (which has lasted through the rest of the five kids, by the way). He came around when he discovered that the wooden high chair was a lot easier to clean; food didnít get caught in the vinyl creases of the non-removable padding. Through the years, Iíve tried not to say ĎI told you so!íĒ
Caron Webber, 37, is the mother of five children, ages 2 to 12.