Highchair Buying Guide

For many parents or parents-to-be, the highchair is considered required equipment for child-rearing. And if they haven’t seen a highchair since they last sat in one, they may be in for some big surprises as they see the bells and whistles now available to help a child sit still for a short time or eat a meal safely. Buying a highchair can be a daunting task with all the available features and models.


There are several considerations to take into account when buying a highchair. When do you plan to use a highchair and what do you imagine your child doing in it? While in some families a child sits in a high chair for a short time to eat meals and snacks, the high chair can also provide a naturally confined area for a child’s early finger painting or drawing efforts.

Will the highchair be a semi-permanent fixture placed at one end of the kitchen or dining room table or will it be folded up after each use and moved from room to room and from home to Grandma’s house?

  • Style

    Highchairs come in a variety of styles and with a variety of features that address different facets of the highchair experience. There are plastic frame highchairs, steel frame highchairs, and wooden frame highchairs. There are also restaurant style highchairs, a name for a highchair without a tray, meant to be pulled up to a table. Note that these often have a lower back and do not have adaptations that would make them suitable for infants or very young toddlers.

  • Ease

    A tray that can be put in place and removed with one hand means that your other hand is free to keep control of your child.

  • Mess Reduction

    There are several elements that contribute to keeping the area around an eating child neat:

    • Wipe-clean seat—whether the chair is plastic or fabric, it’s important that spills wipe up well.
    • Easy to clean tray—The tray should be easy to clean, and the high chair should not have nooks and crannies where food scraps or crumbs can be trapped and discovered later by a curious child.
    • Dual tray—allows switching trays for play and food or cleaning one food tray while substituting a second.
    • Dishwasher safe tray or insert—allows you to use the power of the dishwasher to thoroughly clean the highchair tray.

  • Flexibility

    Thoughtful design can add flexibility to your highchair.

    • Multi-system—the ultimate in flexibility is the chair that serves other functions as well. Some can be adapted to the size of different family members, including adults. Some change into a variant child-size living room or bedroom chair. One turns into a table and chair set.
    • Folding for compact storage and/or portability (check to make sure it’s easy to do).

  • Extras

    These are some of the supplementary features to consider when buying a highchair.

    • Rocking high chair
    • Built-in music selection
    • Reclining seat
    • Height-adjustable seat
    • Seat insert to fit smaller child
    • Wheels
    • Pneumatic lift
    • No assembly
    • Style and color choices: Jenny Lind; solid, plaid, design
    • Snack tray insert
    • Under-the-seat basket holder
    • Cup holder

Safety Issues

Although some high chairs feature reclining seats to position babies for bottle feeding, pediatricians urge parents to hold their babies when they are drinking from a bottle. “Bottle propping” is discouraged by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) for a variety of reasons, one being to help prevent Acute Otitis Media (AOM), which is an infection of the middle ear.

Be aware of the high chair as a piece of furniture that a child may climb to try to access other things that are out of reach: being able to fold the chair and store it between uses is one way to prevent this.

home institute 1 Wheels make moving the highchair around the house easier. But for safety, there must be excellent and easy to apply brakes so the highchair doesn’t move when you don’t want it to.

A good restraint system will have a crotch post, as well as safety belts that fasten securely (a lap belt with a crotch T-strap is highly recommended); some models come with 5-point harnesses. The restraint system should be at the top of the list of priorities when buying a highchair.

Highchairs have been recalled for a variety of reasons. Check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission or Keeping Baby Safe web sites for details about highchair recalls, before buying a highchair. Consumer Reports is also a good source.

As with all child safety products, there is no substitute for supervision.

Written by Mary Elizabeth

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