How to buy the best high chair

High chairs

How to buy the best high chair

By Anna Studman

From harnesses to high chair safety: everything you need to know before you splash out on a high chair for your baby.

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The best high chairs will keep your child safe and secure at meal times, and be easy to clean and store. High chairs range in price from just a few pounds to hundreds of pounds, so finding the best one to suit your budget is worth a little research.

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How much do I need to spend to buy a decent high chair?

You don't need to spend hundreds to get a decent high chair, which may be a relief to hear – especially if you've already spent the majority of your baby budget on a pushchair, car seat and baby monitor.

The amount you spend will be largely dictated by the type you want. Lightweight, foldable models are cheapest, while the wooden convertible models cost more, but are made to grow with your child. Our cheapest Best Buy is just £50. 

Browse all our high chairs Best Buys

What high chair features should I look out for?

Harness

It goes without saying that you should secure your baby in the high chair at all times and never leave him or her unattended. Most high chairs will come with a five-point harness, but some will come with a lap strap. Most will also come with a solid crotch bar (also known as a pommel) to help stop your baby slipping forward out of the chair. This is especially useful if you want a removable tray, so you can move the high chair close to the dining table. 

A decent five-point harness, properly adjusted and fitted, will prevent your wriggly baby from trying to stand up or climb out.

High chair tray

As a general rule, our tests prove the bigger the tray, the better. Some trays come with places to hold a sippy cup, while others come with dual-layers – making cleaning up much easier as you just remove the top layer to wipe it down. Watch out for places where raisins could hide or Bolognese can be squished into, all of which can make cleaning a real pain.

A tray that's adjustable and detachable is a really useful feature to look out for, as it will allow your baby plenty of extra space in the high chair as he or she grows. A removable tray can also be handy because without the tray in place you can push the high chair up to the dining room table so your little one can join you at dinner rather than being further away.

High chair padding and comfort

Most high chairs come with a lot of padding. This makes the high chair more comfy for your baby – but makes more work for you when it comes to cleaning. Save yourself as much scrubbing time as possible by opting for a high chair with as few seams, creases and crevices in the upholstery as possible. Watch out for textured fabrics or those which say hand-wash only. Our advice is to choose a model that's wipe-clean, or comes with machine-washable covers.

Adjustability

A high chair that's easy to adjust makes mealtimes a lot simpler. We test and rate each high chair for how easy it is to use on a day-to-day basis, but we still recommend getting hands-on with a high chair in a shop to see how it feels before you buy, as you'll be using it a lot. 

Have a go at adjusting the tray, undoing the buckle on the harness and folding up the seat. You're likely to repeat these actions more than once a day – with a wriggly child in the seat – so it's essential to pick one that you find easy to use and that won't become annoying.

Folding high chairs

Not all high chairs fold up for easier storage, so if you're lacking in space at home to keep one out all the time, it's worth choosing a high chair that folds down easily and with minimal effort. Some can also stand independently when folded (rather than having to be propped against a wall). 

With some high chairs, you have to remove the tray before you fold it, which can become annoying if you're going to have to do this several times a day, although some have handy spots on the frame where you can store the tray when it's not in use.

Ease of cleaning

Let's face it, weaning is a messy business, regardless of whether you opt for baby-led weaning or go for purees. Some high chairs have multiple nooks and crannies where your little one is just waiting to squish Bolognese into or where you'll find raisins weeks later.

All the high chairs we test have Bolognese and banana smeared onto them and granulated sugar spread around the seat – so we get a good idea where dirt and food debris will end up.

Find out more about how we test high chairs.

High chairs safety: what do I need to know?

High chairs have to pass numerous British Standards before they can be sold on the UK market. Which? is the only review website that also carries out a range of these tests to check whether the high chair you're going to buy lives up to the manufacturer's claims.

We test how stable the high chairs are, to make sure any wriggly babies won't topple the high chair over. We whack each chair with an impact hammer to see if it falls over or breaks, and we throw the trays onto the floor, from one metre up, on every side, to see if any bits break off. We also check for any sharp edges or poor-quality finishes.

Stokke Tripp Trapp safety

We've seen lots of reviews and comments from parents who think that the popular Stokke Tripp Trapp is unsafe because, under certain circumstances, it's possible for a child to tip the chair over backwards. Reports suggest that some children are able to push against the edge of a table and force the chair to tip over. 

We have tested this model and it passed all our safety tests. It is possible to push over most high chairs, and manufacturers do say that children should not be left in a high chair unattended as it is unsafe. However, we know that this is not always practical when you've got young children and you're trying to prepare dinner and get things done.

If you're worried about your child pushing the Stokke Tripp Trapp or any other high chair over, we suggest that you place the chair with its back to a wall, which will stop it falling over completely.

Can I put a newborn in a high chair?

No, not usually. When your baby can sit up unaided and has control of his or her head and neck, you can start using a high chair – this is generally around six or seven months, coinciding with weaning. However, some multifunction high chairs include a newborn attachment, which means your baby can be next to you at the table, at the same height as the rest of the family, even if he or she can't sit up unaided yet. 

Know what you're looking for now? Take a look at what we've rated the top five best high chairs

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