The Only High Chair You’ll Ever Need
- What: The Best High Chair
- Why: Super easy to clean and huge space and money saver
- Where: Amazon
Trying to choose from the many models of high chairs for your baby registry? My best advice: wait until you start feeding your child solid food before investing. By then, you’ll know your child much better. If you simply can’t wait or really need someone else to make the investment for you, I still only have one recommendation.
I’ve used a lot of high chairs. For the most part, they have three things in common: they offer lots of bells and whistles, they end up coated in food grime and who wants to know what else, and they take up lots of real estate. Some high chairs offer a folding option, but I have never once folded up a high chair when it’s not in use. If you’re absolutely set on that option, at least look for one with a one-handed fold. Your other hand will probably be occupied.
Most high chairs come with a cover of some sort. There tend to be two varieties of cover materials. You can wipe down the waterproof material of the first kind, which usually goes on top of some sort of foam so the hard plastic looks more comfortable. The second fabric kind you can throw in the washing machine in an attempt to make the unidentified stuff that’s possibly growing on it identifiable again. To be clear, I’ve wiped down many high chairs but never washed the fabric.
Both kinds of covers can hide all sorts of goodies underneath in the nooks and crannies. Since all high chairs come with at least a three point restraint system (that means a belt that goes from both sides and buckles between the legs versus a five point system which also has shoulder straps), food can collect all sorts of cracks and valleys underneath the cushion or cover.
Save yourself some space. Don’t buy the high chair until you need it and it will be one less thing taking up oodles of space you used to have for adult use. By the time your baby is eating solids, you will probably be able to put at least one other space sucker into storage and only pull it out as wanted.
Save yourself some hassle. Get a booster seat type high chair that attaches to a regular dining room chair. I highly recommend this one from Fisher Price. It will last from when your baby starts sitting up (which generally happens between four and six months) until they are in kindergarten. It comes in a basic option that includes a tray. The tray, unlike most regular freestanding high chairs, actually fits into a dishwasher. Other high chair trays may fit in there, but not with anything else at the same time. Once your kids is older, the high chair seat acts as a booster.
The fancier version offers a height adjustment, so the seat height is taller for younger babies and you can lower it as baby gets older. It also features a removable pop up tray and a tray cover. I’ve never used the tray cover, but the additional tray (this tray doesn’t connect to the seat, but simply snaps on top of the one that does) came in pretty handy when I got sick of waiting for the dishwasher or wiping off the main tray in between frequent feedings. The second tray covers the entire surface of the tray. The only downside to the extra tray is that once baby get older, they may be able to pop it and everything on it off as well. The main tray can resist all baby, toddler and preschooler attempts to dislodge it. You can see the extra tray piece and cover, as well as the extra height adjustment in the legs sticking out, in the image below.
If you have trouble snapping the tray on to either version, check two things: that the buckle straps aren’t hanging over the sides, preventing the tray from snapping all the way down, and that the tray is lined up evenly on both sides. The tray has three different depth settings no matter which seat you pick, but if you try snap one side into the second setting and the other into the first or third, it won’t snap into place.
The booster seat has no creature comforts like a cushion or liner. Instead, I wipe it down after meals with a baby wipe. (If you don’t already have a pack adorning your dining room table or wherever you are feeding baby, put one there immediately and save yourself some additional hassle.) It takes about thirty seconds if you do a very thorough job and looks as good as when it came out of the box.
This particular seat is also super lightweight and transportable. The backrest folds down into the seat and the tray locks into place over it. I’ve managed to fit one into a checked bag for traveling with no problem, and you can still stuff the hollow bottom with other things. With two buckles, one to go around the back of the chair and one to go underneath, it can attach to almost any chair quite securely. It’s small enough to shove into the closet or under the bed at grandma’s house, and only takes a few moments to grab and attach for occasional use.
Save yourself some eyesore. For attaching it to a chair with a wooden bottom, you can probably skip this step. Otherwise, throw a towel you don’t like over the seat of your dining room chair before attaching the booster seat high chair combo. Then when the towel gets nasty, you can flip it over and it will look presentable enough even for your in-laws. Or you could wash the towel and stick another one under there. I’ve found hand towels are just the right size for our dining room chairs, but that depends on your furniture.
We invested in a very affordable IKEA wooden chair named Stefan. Stefan held our booster seat sans towel for all three kids, until they got wily enough and strong enough that they could tip poor Stefan over with a good push off the table using their feet. You can solve that issue two ways: move the chair out of reach of the table, or upgrade them to a heavier dining room chair. Our regular dining room chairs have much more heft to them and can’t be tipped over, but they are also covered in white fabric and we wanted to save ourselves from as many stains as possible before switching chairs.
Either of the two models should work great. We happen to own three, two regular and one fancy, and to my surprise, the trays do not transfer between the basic and fancy models. That could have changed since we got ours. You can pick based on features, or you can pick like I did: based on which colors you like most, offend you least, or go best with your dining room decor. (Bonus points for having any coordinated dining room decor by the time your baby starts trying solid foods.)
I also tried the Fisher-Price Spacesaver High Chair, which attaches to a regular chair, but I hated it. It took up a lot more room, as unlike the Healthy Care Booster Seat, I couldn’t push the chair under the table anymore. And it had a cover and lots of cracks and valleys underneath the cover to collect goop, whereas the basic booster seat boasts a smooth surface. It did offer a nifty recline feature, but once I strapped it to the chair, that feature became obsolete.