When your little one finally starts to sit up confidently on his/her own, it’s time to start feeding him/her in a highchair. A highchair is especially useful if you prefer to have meals at a dining table, as it allows you to continue eating while feeding the baby, plus he/she can join in with the rest of the family at the table.
Highchairs come in a wide variety of styles, features, and materials, which can make the process of selecting the right one for you seem daunting. If you’re not sure what to look for, read on for a helpful buyers’ guide.
Types of high chairs
The type of highchair you go for will depend on your needs as well as your personal taste. Here are the most common types of high chairs:1. Standard high chair
These are typically cheaper than other high chairs. They are lightweight, which make them effortless to carry around. Some models fold flatter than other types of high chairs, allowing for easier storage. Standard high chairs usually come in a basic shape and often don’t include too many add-ons. This can make them relatively easier to clean.
Some of the features you may find in a majority of standard high chairs include a removable food tray, padded cushions to enhance your little one’s comfort, and a basket underneath for storage. On the downside, these high chairs are generally less versatile than other types. They may also not allow for the adjustment of the seat height.2. Multi-functional high chair
These allow for height adjustability which offers extra flexibility – you can feed your little one at a higher level, and toddlers can sit at a lower level when feeding themselves. Most multi-functional high chairs are foldable in spite of their extra padding. On the downside, some models can be heavy and unwieldy to use and move about. Their large footprint makes them feel stable, but they take up a lot of room, which makes them unsuitable if you’re short on space.3. Portable high chair
Travel or portable high chairs are a great option for day trips or holidays with your little one. There are various designs available, including chair harnesses which are made of fabric and can be attached to a dining chair using the provided straps; and fold-up, box-shaped booster seats, which as the name suggests, are box-shaped and fold out to create a mini-booster seat that you can strap to a chair.4. Combination and convertible highchairs
These have the advantage of longevity – some models can be used as furniture for children of up to five years old. They are especially great for kids starting to eat on their own – it allows them to be more independent and gain more confidence. On the downside, these types of high chairs are big and bulky, and won’t be an ideal choice if you have limited storage. In addition, some models can be difficult to assemble and tricky to swap between modes.
What features should I consider when buying highchairs?1. Harness
You should be able to secure your baby in the high chair at all times. Most high chairs will come equipped with a five-point harness, but some models have a three-point harness (so it fits around the waist and between the crotch, but has no shoulder straps).
Most models will also feature a solid crotch bar (also known as a pommel) that helps to keep the baby from slipping forward out of the chair. This comes in handy if you use a removable tray so that you can move the high chair to the dining table.
A well-functioning five-point harness should be able to keep your wriggly baby from standing up or climbing out of his/her high chair when properly adjusted and fitted.2. Tray
During weaning, a high chair that features a tray is especially useful – and, truth be told, the bigger the tray, the better. Some trays come equipped with places to hold a sippy cup, while others have removable tray inserts which make cleaning up after feeding time much easier as all you have to do is remove the top layer to give it a thorough wipe-down. You want to keep an eye out for nooks and crannies where food can be squished into and make cleaning particularly difficult.
A tray that is adjustable and detachable is a useful feature worth considering, as it will create some extra space for your little one as he/she grows. A removable tray can also be useful because without the try in place, you can push the high chair up to the dining table and have your little one be part of the action, allowing them to observe other family members and learn how to act at a dinner table.3. Ease of cleaning
As you might know, weaning is a messy process, regardless of whether you choose to go for purees or baby-led weaning. If quick cleaning is a priority, look for wipe-clean vinyl, plastic, or PVC covers. Fabric covers will need to removed and wash, so they may not suit you if you often clean up as you rush out to work. You also want cushion or seat padding that is easily removable and machine-washable.4. Adjustability
A high chair that you can easily adjust makes mealtimes a bit more effortless. Whether you plan to use the high chair just for the baby years or beyond, many models offer the ability to adjust the height of the seat as needed, adjust the straps to accommodate a bigger toddler, or even adjust the height of the footrest. You want to make sure that you can make these adjustments quickly and easily so that you can take full advantage of this feature.5. Padding and comfort
Some high chair models are ergonomically designed to support your little one’s spine and posture, while others feature seat padding for added comfort. If you want to go for a cushioned seat, make sure that it is easy to remove and clean as they can easily collect crumbs and debris.
All in all, you want to choose a high chair that is sturdy, stable, and able to withstand heavy use, spills, and regular cleaning. You’ll also want to decide whether you want a highchair that is designed primarily for use within your home, or a multipurpose type that you can take with you wherever you go. Finally, always take the time do as much research as possible before making a purchase.