Buyers Guide to Highchairs
Feeding chairs and highchairs might not be on your radar until your child is six months, but when you do buy one, it’s important to pick the right model to suit your home and your needs. Some toddlers grow so attached to their chairs they become a useful place to sit and play and not just a mealtime essential.
Early efforts to feed your child first foods might happen with you sitting on the floor, spooning mushy carrot to your baby while he sits in his lounger. But soon you’ll realise that a) this is a killer for your back, and b) that lounger needs washing after every meal! This is where the right highchair (or feeding chair) comes in.
Important things to consider before you buy a feeding chair
- Where are you going to feed your baby?
Are you going to feed your baby in the dining room or the kitchen? If style is important to you you’ll find no shortage of designer options – space age models in curvaceous coloured plastics like Mamas & Papas’ Loop and the Bloom nano, all-wooden chairs like the Tripp Trapp or the Danchair, or more conventional metal-framed high chairs available at many high street stores that come covered in funky patterns.
- Do you want to feed your baby at the table?
Many families find that raising their baby to the level of the table so that their child can eat with everyone else (even if they’re eating different food) encourages a more enthusiastic eater. Look for a highchair that either comes with a tray that can be easily taken on or off, or a model that is designed with just a safety harness so the chair can pull straight up to the table.
- How easy is the chair to clean?
A small amount of pureed apple can go a long way when your baby is getting used to eating! Look for chairs that have removeable trays or where the top of the tray can be easily taken off and either washed or put in the dishwasher. Also if you go for a chair that has a fabric seat, make sure it can be removed and put through the laundry. Note that pale fabrics or plastic covers might stain with heavy use.
- How much floor space do you have?
In order to be as stable as possible for your child, the feet of a highchair are often spread out, but this can mean that you’re stumbling over its legs all the time, especially in a small kitchen or flat. There are other highchair options which sit on much more compact bases, so think about this before you buy one.
- Can you leave the highchair out all the time?
If you don’t want to have the chair opened and at the table all the time think about how easy the model you like is to fold away. Is it tricky to fold down and open up? Also, when folded, does it stand on its feet or does it need to lean against a wall? A free-standing model when folded will be easier to keep stored either in the corner of the room or in a cupboard.
- Do you want to use it beyond the toddler years?
Models like the Stokke Tripp Trapp can be used for years. Take the front bar off, pull the chair to the table and adjust the footrest as your child grows, until it becomes a chair suitable for adults, too.
- Get more out of the chair.
Models like the Mothercare own-brand convertible chair can be reconfigured into a table and chair suitable for toddlers to eat or play at.
How much should you spend?
More conventional highchairs (wide based, four-legged, metal and plastic models with padded seats and a large tray) will cost you between about £50 and £90. Designer models in wood which can reconfigure and last until adulthood will cost £150 to £190, and super-duper designer chairs that look like something from Star Trek will cost around £200 to £300-plus! However you’ll find chairs in all kinds of styles and materials for all price tags inbetween.
If you don’t want the expense or the space-consuming hassle of a highchair, you can get booster seats that are secured to the top of a regular chair. Even if you go for a normal highchair for home, these can be handy for visiting friends or for taking to restaurants with you because they fit onto most normal dining chairs. Models like the Totseat (around £22) and the Phil & Teds Me Too Portable Highchair (around £32) are good options.
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