High chairs: which is best for my baby?

High chairs

High chairs: which is best for my baby?

by Anna Studman

High chairs come in a variety of different guises. Find out the pros and cons of each type to make sure you buy the best high chair for your baby.

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High chairs should all do one most important thing – keep your little one safe and secure while he or she begins to explore the wonderful world of food.

Children are usually ready to start using a high chair at between six and nine months old, once they can sit up unaided. Parents tell us they usually buy a high chair when their baby reaches around five months old.

But, as with other baby products, there's a huge amount of choice out there. Prices range from just a few pounds for a basic high chair to a few hundred pounds for multifunction or convertible high chairs that will grow with your child or come with multi-height settings and varied-position trays, and are more like a piece of furniture than just a high chair.  

Buy the right high chair to make meal times less stressful for the whole family, including your baby. Which? tests every high chair for safety, ease of use, assembly and cleaning.

Choose the high chair type that's right for you from all the different types below. Then browse our high chair Best Buys

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Standard high chairs

A standard high chair is one of the most basic styles available and tends to have one height position (so you'll need to decide if that height is right for you before you buy). You can buy lightweight fold-up versions, and models with useful extras such as a detachable tray.

Prices usually start at around £50, though we have found some for as cheap as £9.

Pros

  • Tend to be cheaper than other high chairs
  • Usually lightweight, so great if you'll move it about a lot
  • Some fold flatter than other types, so perfect for storing

Cons

  • Basic, no-frills option
  • Less versatile than other high chairs
  • Non-adjustable seat height

Multifunctional high chairs

These offer a lot more than standard high chairs. You can move the seat up, down and back, according to where you prefer to feed your baby. Many have five or six height positions – particularly useful for mums, dads and all the family to be able to get involved at mealtimes. Most come with varied-position trays to match.

Prices start at around £80.

Pros

  • Height adjustability offers extra flexibility – you can feed your baby at a higher level, and toddlers can sit lower down when feeding themselves
  • Most are foldable, even with the extra padding
  • Not much more expensive than a standard basic model

Cons

  • Some models can be heavy and cumbersome to use and move
  • Can be quite large, so not the best option if you're short on space
  • The extra padding can be fiddly to keep clean

Combination and convertible high chairs

This group of high chairs covers two different types. The first kind can be used as a high chair for younger babies then unscrewed and turned into a toddler-sized chair, then a child-sized seat and low table, for when your child can feed himself. Then there are convertible high chairs, such as the Stokke Tripp Trapp and Little Saints HiLo. These can't be split into separate pieces of furniture, but can be adapted as your child grows by adjusting the high chair. Most high chairs in these groups are wooden and fairly bulky, but they will last longer.

Prices start at around £100.

Pros

  • Last much longer than other types, some can be used as furniture for children up to five
  • Some toddlers feel more grown up – and eat more happily – with their own chair and table
  • Wooden high chairs look great and are a popular choice to match other furniture and decor

Cons

  • They're big, bulky and won't be a good choice if you have limited storage
  • Some can be difficult to assemble and fiddly to swap between modes
  • More expensive than other options

Portable high chairs

Travel or portable high chairs are a great choice for holidays, especially if you're off to a restaurant and can't be sure there are high chairs available, or if you're likely to be visiting child-free relatives or friends.

There are various types available, including chair harnesses which are made of fabric and attach to a dining chair using the straps supplied, and fold-up, box-shaped booster seats. These, as the name suggested, are box-shaped and fold out to create a little booster seat which straps to a chair. Some even come with trays.

Fabric chair harnesses cost from just £10.

Pros

  • Lightweight and easy to fold
  • Easily transportable, some pack up small enough to put in a changing bag
  • Some – though not all – can be used instead of a standard high chair at home

Cons

  • They don't come with any fancy features, such as trays and cup holders
  • Some babies may not like using the fabric harness seats
  • They're not as sturdy as a standard high chair

Find out about the most useful high chair features in How to buy the best high chair