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16 Sep 2020

Five high chair dangers to watch out for

Find out how our testing helps flag potential risks, as well the best high chair features to look out for when shopping
Baby in high chair

If you're about to embark on the weaning journey with your baby, it's not just missiles of squashed carrot and banana that you need to be wary of.

Our thorough high chair testing checks for and unearths all sorts of potential dangers that you should consider when buying a high chair.

Read on to find out which risks you need to watch out for, as well as the most useful high chair features to help you if you're shopping for a new one.

Head straight to our reviews to discover the very best high chairs

Baby's hand

1. Finger traps and sharp spots

A thorough check with a specially designed metal probe helps our lab experts discover if there are any spots where your baby or toddler could get a finger trapped.

This could be especially dangerous if the chair has a lot of give or movement at the joints or folding spots, as that allows a little digit to slide into the space and then get squashed.

Likewise, any rough edges or sharp spots within the reach of your baby, or in a spot that you could catch while setting the chair up, are also flagged and marked down.

If you're concerned by any sharp edges or potential finger traps, stop using your high chair immediately and contact the manufacturer.

2. Choking risks

Our laboratory uses a metal canister designed to mimic the dimensions of a baby or child's throat.

If a piece of the high chair can come loose and then fit into this canister, it could be a potential choking risk for your little one and a real danger.

We've discovered soft padding on Don't Buy high chairs that could be bitten or ripped off and become a choking hazard.

Our experts also assess any buckles or toy bars to make sure nothing can come loose.

Check your high chair for any small parts before using to ensure there's nothing small that can fit in your child's mouth.

3. Wobbly high chairs

A sturdy high chair is crucial to consider when shopping for a high chair.

In our survey, parents picked it as the second most important feature of a high chair* and our tests check the stability of the chair from all angles.

We'd always recommend considering where you position your high chair.

If your child is pulled up to a table, make sure they can't push and rock away from the table with their feet, or if they can, position them with a wall behind them to prevent them falling backwards.

4. Missing parts

The latest UK and EU standard for high chairs was updated in 2017. One of the changes required high chairs that have a horizontal element such as a waist bar or tray, also need to have a fixed crotch restraint (even if the high chair has a harness), to stop your little one sliding under the bar tray and getting caught and injured.

However, we've found some high chairs that either lack this safety feature or don't have an appropriate one, so if your child isn't strapped into the harness, they could submarine under the tray and get their head stuck.

It's an unnecessary risk and one that's not worth taking, so always try to use a high chair with a fixed crotch restraint.

5. Flimsy high chairs

A rowdy toddler and a rickety high chair are not a sensible combination.

Luckily, we carry out a range of strength tests to weed out the weakling chairs from those that will last as long as you need them.

These include impact tests where we bash the high chair with a hammer, tray drop tests to see if the removable tray cracks or shatters easily and footrest tests to see if it will hold out if your toddler decides to stand up on it.

Cheap doesn't necessarily mean flimsy, though. Go to our high chair reviews to compare 70 high chairs.

What to look for in a high chair

Easy-to-clean high chairs

When we surveyed parents in March 2020 about what they felt were the most important features when buying a high chair, 44% said they wanted a model that's easy to clean.

This means no nooks and crannies for food to get trapped, a seat cushion that's easy to wipe down or machine washable and a removable tray that you can put in the dishwasher.

Read more tips on how to clean your high chair, plus a round-up of our tested chairs that are the easiest to clean.

Sturdy high chairs

As previously mentioned, a strong and sturdy high chair is also an important feature for parents.

Look for chairs with a wide base or footprint, with legs made out of quality materials such as wood or metal.

Folding high chairs

Some 24% of parents think the ability to fold your high chair is a useful feature.

A slim-folding high chair can be a godsend for people with small kitchens.

But even if you opt for a non-folding high chair, check the height of it to see if it can slide under your dining table like a regular chair, as that will help keep it out of the way when not in use.

Read our reviews of folding high chairs.

High chairs with a removable tray

Being able to remove the feeding tray on a high chair is handy for two key reasons; it's easy to wipe food waste into the bin and clean it, and it can make it easier to get your toddler strapped into the seat.

Read our reviews of high chairs with a removable tray to find out if removing and reattaching the tray is fiddly, and whether you can click the tray on to the back of the high chair legs when it's not in use.

For more tips, read our guide on how to buy the best high chair.

*March 2020 survey of 1,625 parents with a child under five years old.