High Chairs

Sunday, 15 June 2008

The high chair is a seat is where infants eat, learn, interact, and become a part of the family dinner ritual. The seat must not only safe and comfortable for the child, but also easy to use and clean for the parent. With all different materials, shapes, sizes and designs it is often hard to know whatís best. We get the low-down on high chairs.


The Basics

  • Safety should be the number one priority when purchasing a high chair, so don’t allow aesthetics to override your decision.

  • A high chair must bear about three years of tough use several times a day, so it’s worth some careful thought before you buy.

  • You will not really need a high chair until the baby’s ready to tackle solid foods, at around 6 months.

  • It is a good idea to wait until you need to buy one, as you’ll have a better sense of what fits your needs and your baby’s personality.

  • Keep the gift receipt if you get one at your baby shower.

  • High chairs are made using a few different materials:

    • Wood are traditional but not as common these days. They are aesthetically pleasing because they blend better with furniture. However, they often cost more, are harder to clean, can stain easily, are heavier, don’t fold, and have limited features. Also, they’re not very comfortable.

    • Metal high chairs typically have a few more features, like folding for storage. They are also easier to clean and lighter than wood, but may not necessarily be any more comfortable.

    • Plastic-Metal combination chairs are usually very convenient and have plenty of features, offering reclining seat backs, adjustable height, padding, removable trays, wheels, and more. They are also lightweight, easy to clean, and easy to store.

  • There are few must-have features to look for in a high chair:

    • The base needs to be wide and steady.

    • Wheels allow you to move the chair around easily.

    • A folding mechanism allows for easy storage. If storage is a big concern, check how flat and easy it is to collapse the chair before you buy it.

    • The seat should allow you to fit your child snugly inside and should be easy to clean.

    • The seat padding should be tough, tear-resistant, and smooth. Check the seams to ensure they aren’t rough or scratchy. You may also be able to find a removable fabric cover to allow for machine washing.

    • Look for a seat that is adjustable as your baby grows, or that can suit a number of table heights.

    • The tray should, wrap around the child in the seat and have high sides to help contain spills and keep dishes from falling off.

    • Make sure you can easily remove the tray for cleaning. Even better are ones with a single clutch release at the front that you can remove one-handed.

    • Some chairs come with two trays – a larger one for dinner, and a smaller one for snacks. But two trays can mean twice as much clean up!

    • Some high chairs may include tray toys (attached to the tray). Make sure these are removable for easy cleaning.

    • Some trays have compartment areas like TV dinners, but this makes them harder to clean, and kids don’t really care about keeping things separated.

    • The chair should have a 3-point (or more) safety belt that fastens around the waist and between the legs. Test the sturdiness of the fabric and the buckles, and make sure they’re easy to use (or you won’t use them, which could be dangerous).

    • A five-point harness is most reliable, especially if you have an active child. It has straps over the shoulders, around the waist and through the legs.

  • The most important thing to consider when buying this chair is the child’s safety. Follow these guidelines to ensure you get a chair that is safe:

    • Regular high chairs should be used only for children who are capable of sitting upright unassisted.

    • Most injuries in high chairs occur because children are not securely strapped in and fall out of the chair.

    • Make sure the chair offers at least a three-point harness. Some also have a have passive restraint bar between legs.

    • Know the minimum and maximum weight limits of the chair.

    • Run your hands over the new seat to check for sharp edges or protrusions.

    • There are no legally mandated safety standards in Canada or US for highchairs.

    • In the US, Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), a national trade organization of more than 400 companies in the US, Canada and Mexico, voluntarily meets standards set by American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM).

    • In Canada, voluntary standards are set by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).

    • Be sure to look for the JPMA or CSA seal, which indicates the chair has passed voluntary safety standards.

    • Voluntary standards include meeting general requirements (no hazardous edges), passing several tests (including drop tests of tray, and load and stability tests), offering protection from pinching and having a restraint system and complete label and instructions.

    • Be careful – one manufacturer may not have all of its different models certified. Look for the seal on the box, the in-store display or the product itself.

    • Check with organizations, such as Consumer Products Safety Commission for recent recalls.

    • Always send in your product registration card, as this is how you will be notified in case of a recall.

    • If you are borrowing or buying used make sure the chair has modern safety devices or that you can add a proper restraint harness.

Other Considerations

  • If space is an issue, you have a few other options than a high chair:

    • Convertible seats change into other products like an infant swing or toddler table and chair. This model costs less than buying all three separately, and saves space, but be aware of any safety recalls.

    • Booster seats can work for sitting babies (5-6 months and older) up to 3 years old. Booster seats fit on a regular chair at the table. Look for a wide base, non-skid bottom, a secure strap for the chair, and a seat belt for the child.

    • Hook-on seats clamp directly onto a tabletop. A cloth hammock seat or a stiff vinyl chair are attached to a frame with cantilever arms. Most fold flat and come with a carry case for travelling. They don’t offer much padding or support, however.


We invited a few families with infants to help us test three high chairs for a few weeks. We tested:

  • Peg Perego (folding chair with wheels and a reclining seat): $220
  • Trama (all wood, Portuguese chair): $220
  • Fisher Price Healthy Chair (with reclining seat and folding legs): $120
  • Graco Easy Care Chair (no frills variety): $45

Chair Test

  • The Peg Perego was popular for its five point harness. It also offers easy, one-handed tray removal.

  • Everyone agreed the Trama was a nice looking chair but there were other problems. The wooden chairs do not recline so pillows need to be put behind some babies to keep them upright in the chair.

  • Fisher Price was a close second to the Peg Perego, offering many of the same features, but without wheels.

  • The testers found the Graco chair to be wobbly. The back does not adjust and it can be difficult to feed a young infant a bottle from this seat.


The Peg Perego was the top pick of our mom testers for its safety harness and easy-to-use tray.



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