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27 July 2021

How to buy the best high chair

From harnesses to high chair safety: everything you need to know before you splash out on a high chair for your baby
Hannah Fox
Mum feeding baby in high chair

The best high chairs will keep your child safe and secure at mealtimes 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.

Below you can answer the questions in our quiz to narrow down what type of high chair you might need.

Alternatively, you can go straight to our high chairs reviews

Types of high chairs

Standard high chair – eg Ikea Antilop

Pros of a standard high chair:

  • 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.

Cons of a standard high chair:

  • Basic, no-frills option. In the very cheapest standard high chairs you might need to pay extra for things such as 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 that while your baby is smaller, food could fall down between the tray and your baby, making more mess.

Prices usually start at around £50, though we have found some for as cheap as £14, including the Ikea Antilop (pictured above). 

Read the full Ikea Antilop review.  

Multi-functional high chair – eg Chicco Polly Magic

Pros of a multi-functional high chair:

  • 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 of a multi-functional high chair:

  • 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.

Prices start at around £135.

Read the full Chicco Polly Magic review.

Combination and convertible high chairs – eg Stokke Tripp Trapp

Pros of combination and convertible high chairs:

  • 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 of combination and convertible high chairs:

  • 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

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 but a Stokke Tripp Trapp will set you back at least £200.

Read our Stokke Tripp Trapp review.

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. There are also fold-up, box-shaped booster seats which, as the name suggests, are box-shaped and fold out to create a little booster seat that straps to a chair. Some even come with trays.

Pros of portable high chairs:

  • 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 of portable high chairs:

  • 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

Fabric chair harnesses cost from just £10.

Read the full Gro Company Chair Harness review.

Discover what some of the best high chairs can offer in our guide to the Top 5 high chairs.

What high chair features should I look out for?

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 have a three-point harness (so it fits round the waist and between the crotch, but has no shoulder straps). 

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 a wriggling baby trying to stand up or climb out.

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 removable tray inserts – making cleaning up much easier as you just remove the top layer to wipe it down. Watch out for places where, say, peas 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 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 easily put your child in the chair, and you can also push the high chair up to the dining room table so your little one can join you at dinner rather than being further away.

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 that say hand-wash only. Our advice is to choose a model that's wipe-clean, or comes with machine-washable covers.

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 you find easy to use and that won't become annoying.

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.

Let's face it, weaning is a messy business, regardless of whether you opt for baby-led weaning or go for purées. 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.

In our tests, all the high chairs 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.

How much do I need to spend to buy a 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 around £70. 

Browse our pick of the best high chairs

Are cheap high chairs any good?

A cheap high chair (less than £40) can be perfectly adequate for many parents, so long as they’re not looking for snazzy features or stylish designs or large amounts of adjustment options.

However, you’ll still get the basic folding design, chair padding, tray (which can be extra on some pricier models), and a footrest. They’re usually made of plastic with an aluminium frame, so are lightweight and fold, which can be a real bonus.

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 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 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 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 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 yet sit up unaided. 

Know what you're looking for now? Take a look at what we've rated the top 5 high chairs