How we test high chairs
By Anna Studman
Which? is the only reviews website that puts high chairs through a range of tough safety and durability tests based on British Standards.
Whether your budget is £50 or £500, we have Best Buy high chairs that have passed our independent, rigorous safety checking, been scrutinised by our lab test experts, and impressed our parent testers, their babies and toddlers by being easy to use.
This means we can give you a verdict on the best high chairs you can trust to help you shop with confidence.
The best high chairs are not only safe, sturdy and easy to use, they also come with useful features to make feeding time easier and less stressful.
Every high chair goes through the same tests in our lab, so you can directly compare their strengths and weaknesses.
Our reviews answer common questions, such as:
- How safe is the high chair? Is it sturdy and stable?
- How easy is it to put together?
- Can I get my baby in and out easily?
- Is it a pain to clean?
- Should I buy it?
Go straight to our high chair reviews to discover the best and worst models, or read on to find out more about our testing.
How safe is a high chair?
Our lab experts check that all high chairs meet the relevant British Standards, including:
Construction We check how well made the high chairs are, looking out for any shoddy finishing, sharp edges or burrs.
Strength and durability We run tests to check the strength and durability of all the important parts of the high chair, such as the locking mechanism for folding high chairs, the tray and the harness, to make sure it won't fail while your little one is sitting in it.
Harnesses A key safety feature, but there are a wide range. A fiddly one will mean you're less likely to bother using it, whereas a good five-point harness will be easy to use and keep your baby safe and secure.
Stability Using a test dummy to simulate a child, we test the forward, rearward and sideways stability of the high chair, to check that it won't topple over and also assess the risk of potential finger traps.
Tray drop tests Trays are removed and dropped on each side, to see whether they break. A broken tray is no use to anyone, and it could be leave sharp edges or small parts that could fit in a baby's mouth.
Footrest tests We apply a weight to the footrest, to replicate a toddler climbing on it, or using it to stand up when in the high chair. We've seen some fail at 10kg, which is around the weight of a one year old.
Impact tests We whack each high chair with an impact hammer to see if it falls over and if anything breaks. Any bits that do break off, we'll check to see how small they are and how sharp to check whether they could pose a danger to small babies.
How easy is it to put together?
It's probably not the first thing on your mind when choosing a high chair, but once you get it home you've got to get it up. Sometimes it's easier said than done.
Assembly In their very own flat-pack nightmare, our assessors scratch their heads over annotated diagrams and pictorial instructions to see just how long it takes to assemble each high chair.
Instructions We rate the quality of the instructions and how long it actually takes to put the high chair up and screw everything together – things you can't really tell just by looking at a high chair in the shops.
Tools needed We even check for any tools you'll need to use, and check whether any vital parts are missing.
Moving and storing Once it's all set up, we get our parent panel testers and experts to fold up the high chairs and move them about, to see just how easy it is to do. We also check how much room they'll take up for storage – will the high chair fit in a cupboard or will you have to prop it up against a wall?
What's it like to use day to day?
Our testing is based on real-life use, so you can ignore the marketing blurb and find out what it's like to use a high chair on a day-to-day basis. Will the one you choose be the toast of breakfast, or a kitchen nightmare?
Folding/unfolding Nothing goes unnoticed by our eagle-eyed parent testers. Parents and carers with children from eight months upwards are let loose on the high chairs to give them a thorough test. We get them to fold and unfold the high chairs to see how easy or difficult this is.
Adjusting the high chair From trays to seat heights, our parents use all the high chair's settings to get a real feel for how smooth, or not, it is to adjust the high chair.
Harness A good harness will be easy to get onto your child and hold them safely and securely. Parents give their view on how easy it is to use the harnesses on their children and highlight any fiddly bits or frustrations.
Expert assessment Once our parents have finished, our high chair experts also get hands-on with the chairs, providing an ergonomic insight to each chair, so you'll have an idea of how supported and comfy your child will be.
The seat Getting a wriggly baby or a feisty toddler into the high chair seat is no mean feat, but that's exactly what our parents do. Is there enough space or are the gaps too narrow?
How easy is it to clean?
Let's face it, weaning a baby is a messy task, regardless of whether you opt for purées and baby rice, or take the baby-led weaning route. You'll be surprised where raisins can end up and how far a baby can spit blueberry purée. There's only so much cleaning a baby wipe can do.
Cleaning With cloths and brushes at the ready, our experts wipe and scrub bolognese sauce and banana purée from the covers, trays and harnesses to see which ones are easy to clean. We pay particular attention to those hard to reach places where food can get trapped, such as seams and tray inserts.
Crumbs High chairs are sprinkled with crumbs, all over the coverings and crevices, to find the places where they could accumulate and to check how easy these parts are to clean.
Stains Will your high chair end up tinged orange with bolognese, or will it sparkle like new after you've cleaned it? Our stain assessment reveals the easiest high chairs to keep clean.
High chairs must score 70% or above to earn a Best Buy
Should I buy it?
To help you decide, we give each high chair a total test score, so you can easily see which are the best and worse and directly compare models with each other.
The score we give each high chair is made up of a combination of the elements of our tough tests, ignoring price, and is broken down as follows:
- 60% ease of use
- 25% cleaning
- 10% features
- 5% assembly
High chairs which score 70% or above earn a Best Buy – excluding travel high chairs and booster seats.