If you’re a new mom or dad, you may be wondering if you should buy a baby high chair. While there are reclining models for newborns, at this early stage, high chairs are entirely optional. They do, however, have benefits, regardless of the age of the baby.
Firstly, a high chair provides a safe and comfortable place for your baby to have meals. It will leave both of your hands free, making the job of feeding your little one easier.
A high chair will also allow the family to be close to and bond and interact with the baby at near eye level during meal times.
With a few different types to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one to buy. The aim of this article is to simplify the selection process.
Along with covering the various types of high chair, we will compare their features. We will also look at the pros and cons of each type, and what to avoid. And, most importantly of all, we will cover what you need to know to keep your baby safe while he or she is seated in their chair.
Baby High Chairs Overview
While there are some good quality, cheap high chairs available, most are quite basic. If this is all you require, plenty that will fit the bill. These days, however, many parents look for models that come with convenient features such as extra-large feeding trays and cup and bottle holders.
Some high chairs do double duty, able to be turned into a play table with the addition of an insert that slots in across the feeding station.
Step up to the next price level, and you can buy a convertible model. These have an adjustable height and a detachable feeding tray. With the tray removed, your child will be able to use the chair at the family dining table when they are big enough.
Wooden High Chairs vs Plastic and Metal
High chairs are usually either wooden, plastic or metal.
Many parents have a preference for antique wooden high chairs. They look good, and they are very durable and easy to clean. An older high chair, however, may not have the safety straps and latches that are mandatory these days. A new wooden high chair will give you the benefits of timber in a chair that meets today’s safety standards. The main drawback of wooden high chairs is that they are usually more expensive than plastic and metal ones.
While all current model high chairs must conform to safety standards, some parents feel that wooden high chairs are sturdier and therefore safer, so they will often opt for wood over plastic or metal. Rest assured that any high chair that is JPMA-certified will be safe to use, regardless of its composition.
While there are some great plastic high chairs, the cheaper ones are not always as durable as wooden high chairs. This means you may not be able to use the chair for any other babies you have in the future. Plastic high chairs can also be difficult to clean, and they are prone to staining. If you have your heart set on a plastic high chair, it’s worth paying a bit extra for a high-quality one.
With their sleek and modern appearance, metal-framed high chairs are becoming increasingly popular. Lighter than wooden high chairs but heavier than plastic ones, they usually come with padded waterproof seats that can be removed to clean. The main drawback of a metal high chair is that once your child finds out how much fun it is to bang their spoon against it, mealtimes can become quite noisy.
Two other options are the portable high chair and the hook-on high chair. A portable high chair is used strapped to a regular chair, while a hook on high chair attaches to a tabletop. Both are inexpensive, and they can be folded and popped into your car when you are visiting friends or family or dining at a restaurant. Though primarily designed to be used as a spare for traveling, if you are short on space or money, either chair can be utilized at home.
What to Look for in a High Chair
Next, we will discuss what to look for in a high chair.
A high chair with a padded seat cover will enhance your baby’s comfort. Make sure the cover is waterproof and removable for easy cleaning.
A model with adjustable height and adjustable footrests will accommodate your baby as he or she grows, extending the length of time they will be able to use it.
One of my favorites for value, quality, and functionality is the Graco DuoDiner. (Click the previous link to read a review.)
- Folding capability
A model that folds enables easy relocation and compact storage.
- Broad Base
A high chair with a broad base will resist tipping, making it a safer environment for an active toddler.
High Chair Safety Tips
Keeping your baby safe while they are in their high chair is largely a matter of using common sense. The following high chair safety tips will make your baby more secure and give you added peace of mind:
- Safety Harness
Always use the chair’s safety harness. Without it, your baby could slip beneath the feeding tray and become stuck. He or she could even fall onto the floor and sustain an injury.
Don’t leave your child unsupervised in their chair, even briefly. Have their bib, food and drink ready and at hand before you put them in the high chair. If the phone or the doorbell rings, do not leave your baby unattended to answer it.
If you fold the chair for storage, when you next set it up, make sure it locks securely into position before seating your baby.
Don’t place the high chair near anything your baby could use to push off from and possibly upend it. This means positioning it away from things like tables and kitchen counters.
Also make sure it is well clear of electrical wires and window blind cords, which are a potential choking hazard.
- Feeding tray
When slotting the food tray into place, check first that your child’s fingers aren’t in the way. Babies can move quickly, and they have delicate little fingers that could easily become trapped and bruised, or even cut should they become caught.
- Wear and tear
A worn high chair can pose a danger to your child. For example, a tear in the cover could enable your baby to rip off and swallow pieces of foam, while a worn locking mechanism could prevent the tray from staying securely in position.
Harnesses and clasps should regularly be inspected to make sure that they are in good order. If they are frayed, cracked, or torn, the chair will not be safe to use.
A cracked or chipped tray could harbor germs, or even cut your baby’s tender skin.
Final Thoughts on What to Look for in a Baby High Chair
If you plan on having more than one child, it’s worth paying extra to get a high-quality baby high chair that you can use for each of your children. If you are only planning to have the one child, for ultimate longevity, a convertible high chair will see your child through from when they are a newborn until they are at least 5 or 6 years of age.
It’s fine to buy a second-hand baby high chair, but if you are purchasing it online, arrange to see it before paying for it. This way, you will know beyond a doubt that the chair hasn’t sustained damage that could harm your baby. Test the safety harness and latches. If these aren’t secure, don’t buy it. Also, check that the model hasn’t been recalled.
I hope this article has helped shed some light on what to look for in a baby high chair and that it makes the selection process easier for you.