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Choosing The Best Option
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High Chairs Shopping Guide:
Having a new baby is a time of intense joy and sleep deprivation. Taking good care of your child is a priority, but it’s significantly easier if you’re set up for success before the new baby arrives.
Having a good high chair is one of the simplest things you can do to make early childhood easier. Your child will use a high chair for years. Some chairs can even serve your new baby as they grow into a toddler.
Picking the right chair isn’t easy. There are lots of products on the market and it’s hard to know what features will be most useful unless you’ve used a high chair before.
In this buying guide we’ll help you focus on the most important safety features and talk about some optional perks that can make a good chair.
Important Safety Features
There are several safety features that should be at the top of your list as you consider different high chair options.
Harness and Crotch Bar
The basic safety features all high chairs need to have are a harness, and most high chairs are also required to have a crotch bar.
These features are especially important because, without them, your new baby can slide through the bottom of the high chair while they’re eating or if they fall asleep in the chair. If your baby does start to slide, both the harness and the crotch barrier will catch them so they can’t get stuck in the chair or fall through.
Currently a 3-point harness is all that’s required for most safety certifications. However, we recommend a five point harness (one with shoulder straps) because they are harder for your child to undo, preventing them escaping on their own or standing up and unbalancing the chair.
Look for chairs with certifications from ASTM International and JPMA. Both groups specialize in evaluating safety features for infants and young children. They check the crotch bar, harness, and any buckles or other important safety features.
Smooth Edges and No Pinch Points
Ideally your high chair should have smooth, rounded edges. Plastic and metal are good options since they are less likely to be scratched or become rough and pose splinter risks.
You should also check to make sure there aren’t any tight spaces or areas where your child could pinch their hand or get their finger stuck. Tray and accessory attachment points should have very small or no gaps, also to avoid pinching.
Vinyl is a common cushion liner since it’s easy to clean and relatively comfortable. But it can rip and degrade over time, even becoming a choking hazard if your child often picks or tears at the cushion.
If you do decide to go with vinyl or a similar type of fabric, you should plan to replace the cushion and cover when they start to show signs of wear. Otherwise, some high chairs are made with rubber or other tear-resistant fabrics that are safer for your child and don’t wear as easily.
Other features are less important than major safety features but are still worth factoring into your decision.
Grow with Me Chairs
Grow with me chairs are designed to convert easily into a booster chair and later, a smaller child seat. Some can even be used as your child’s first desk or computer chair.
These chairs are convenient because they reduce the amount of child-specific furniture you need. They’re also usually highly durable, so they’ll last for years and you might even be able to use the same high chair for future children.
Collapsing or Travel Features
Another convenient feature that is especially important if you travel a lot or live in a small space is a high chair that can fold up for easy storage.
Look for chairs that have a locking mechanism when they’re set up and standing so your child can’t accidentally fold the chair. A lock that keeps the chair tightly folded is also good.
Ideally you should experiment with opening and collapsing the folding chair before you buy it so you can look for pinching hazards before you bring it home. It should also be easy for you to fold the chair but difficult enough so your child can't do it.
We’ve all gotten sleepy after a satisfying meal. Babies and toddlers are the same way and often nod off after eating.
Reclining seats let you move the seat back so your baby can nap safely, without needing to wake them up and move them to a crib or other furniture.
Reclining seats can also make it easier to bottle feed your baby since they allow for a better angle for eating and make it easier to hold the bottle.
Many high chairs offer adjustable height settings so you can pull the high chair up to the table, set it up next to a chair, or use a height that makes it easy to keep an eye on your child while you do chores.
Like most of the other features on this list, it should be easy enough for you to adjust quickly but not so easy that a small child could operate it on his/her own. You should also test to make sure your desired height locks in place and that the chair doesn’t easily fall or tilt over.
Trusting Our Top Pick
Navigating the many choices for every consumer purchase can be challenging. Our team spends hours doing research, combing through forums, and reading consumer reviews on even the most basic of household items, and we summarize that information in clear, precise comparisons.
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