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For babies and parents, the high chair can be quite a busy place. Not only does it serve as the central location for mealtimes, it’s also where your child will begin experimenting with different flavors and textures as they grow their palates.
A high chair’s primary purpose is to provide a safe, comfortable place for your baby to enjoy mealtime. Your child is ready for a high chair when they can sit up unassisted and when they can control their head and neck—usually between 4 and 6 months of age. (Read more about when your baby is ready to start solids.)
When it’s time to begin looking for a high chair, you might feel overwhelmed by the variety of options on the market. Here are a few things to consider while searching for the right one for you and your baby.
Types of high chairs
The style of high chair that’s right for your family depends on a few different factors, such as whether you’ll store it away when it’s not in use and if you’ll be feeding your baby at the table. No matter which style you choose, be sure your high chair is sturdy, stable and easy to clean.
- Traditional. Traditional high chairs are about as basic as it gets and are made from wood, plastic or metal. They don’t fold up for storage and lack the extra benefits and features that their more modern counterparts have. However, most traditional high chairs are lightweight, less expensive and might appeal to those who appreciate simplicity in design.
- Full-feature/convertible. Modern high chairs look similar to traditional models but include more features that allow your baby’s experience in the seat to be more comfortable. The height of the chair, angle of the seat, height of the tray and footrest height can all be adjusted to accommodate your child through the toddler years. Additionally, full-feature high chairs fold easily for storage.
- European-style. Because these chairs typically don’t have trays, they can be pulled up to the table to make mealtime more inclusive for your baby. Most offer adjustable seat and footrest height, so your child can use the chair as they grow.
- Clip-on. Also referred to as space-saving high chairs, these seats snap, clip or hook onto a dining or kitchen table. The compact size and portability are great for smaller spaces and traveling. The high chair also gives baby a front row seat to sitting with the family at mealtime.
Regardless of the style you decide on, be sure to look for the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) seal of approval on the high chair or its packaging. A JPMA sticker means that the manufacturer has met their safety standards, as well as the standards of ASTM International (formerly American Society for Testing and Materials). While this certification isn’t a guarantee, it does ensure that your high chair has gone through rigorous safety testing.
Keep in mind how your time and daily schedule might affect which high chair you choose. Some chairs feature a dishwasher-safe tray, so if cleaning up by hand isn’t for you, look for this feature. Considering an option with wheels? Make sure they lock in place or aren’t able to roll when your baby is seated.
Lastly, if you’re hoping to use your high chair from babyhood through toddlerdom, look for adjustable height in the seat and footrest. Keep in mind that while you might feed your baby away from the table now, you’ll likely move them to be with the rest of the family during mealtime as they grow.
Try it before you buy it
A lot of times we purchase high chairs without considering the baby. Both high chair and baby comes in all shapes and sizes. Consider bringing your baby with you when shopping for a high chair and trying each type of high chair to see what fits best.
Is your baby squirming, slipping or not sitting comfortably? Try adjusting the seat or harness. If baby still seems uncomfortable, it might not be the right fit.
Lastly, just remember that happy babies typically equal successful eaters.