From basic Ikea to Stokke Tripp Trapp: high chair types explained
By Anna Studman
Should you splash out a tenner on an Ikea high chair, or nearly £300 on a Stokke? Find out the pros and cons of each type to make sure you buy the best high chair for your baby.
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 weaning. But do you only need to spend around a tenner on a basic high chair, such as the Ikea Antilop, or is it worth splashing out close to £300 for a convertible high chair, such as the Stokke Steps, which can last your child from birth up to his or her teens?
Buy the right high chair and you'll make the transition to weaning a far more enjoyable experience for you and your baby. Make the wrong decision and you could be stuck with a high chair that's a nightmare to get your child in and out of, tips over really easily, traps little fingers and is impossible to wipe clean from baby puree.
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 and budgets below. Then browse our high chair Best Buys.
Standard high chairs – eg Ikea Antilop
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, otherwise feeding your baby could become a pain in your back). You can buy lightweight fold-up versions, and models with useful extras such as a detachable tray.
- Tend to be cheaper than other high chairs – in some cases a lot cheaper
- Usually lightweight, so great if you'll move it about a lot
- Some fold flatter than other types, so perfect for storing
- Can be easier to clean, as they're usually a basic shape moulded from plastic and often don't include the added extras where food can hide and stain.
- Basic, no-frills option. In the very cheapest standard high chairs you might need to pay extra for things like a tray and padding
- Might not include a footrest, which means little legs are left dangling
- If there's no padding, your baby won't be so comfortable
- Less versatile than other high chairs
- Non-adjustable seat height.
- Might not fold down, which makes it more difficult to store out of the way.
- Tray might not be adjustable which means while your baby is smaller, food could fall down between the tray and your baby, making more mess.
Multifunctional high chairs - e.g. Chicco Polly Magic
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 without getting a bad back from bending down. Most come with varied-position trays to match. Some, like the Chicco Polly Magic, have reclining positions, ideal for a post-feed nap.
Prices start at around £135.
- 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
- 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 – eg Stokke Tripp Trapp
Combination high chairs 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. The East Coast Nursery Combination high chair is one of these.
Then there are convertible high chairs, such as the Stokke Tripp Trapp. These can't be split into separate pieces of furniture, but can be adapted as your child grows by adjusting the high chair. Stokke led the way in convertible high chairs has taken them one step further with the Stokke Steps high chair that still grows with your child (you can see it pictured above in chair mode for when your child gets to more than three years old) but it also has a bouncer for when your baby is younger.
Most high chairs in these groups are wooden and fairly bulky, but they will last longer.
Prices start at around £100. But you can find a cheap high chair in this category: Kiddicare does a combination high chair that costs just £60. Read our Kiddicare Combi High Chair Table and Chair review.
- 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
- 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 – eg The Gro Company Chair Harness
Travel or portable high chairs are a great choice for holidays or day trips out with your baby, 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, such as The Gro Company Chair Harness (pictured above), 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.
- 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
- 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.