Congratulations - your baby is ready to join you at the table in his or her own special chair! A high chair fills so many different purposes: it is a place to eat, a place to play, a place to explore food, and a place to sit and socialize with the rest of the family. Your baby will use this special chair for a long time so you want to make sure you choose the right one. But there are so many options out there that it's hard to know where to begin. We've pulled together the best 5 high chairs for 2016. To decide between the dozens of options out there, we needed the chairs to be:
Versatile. Just like a good convertible car seat, the best high chairs on the market grow with your baby, from infant to toddler and right through the later years. Some chairs start as stand-alone high chairs that you pull right up to the dinner table, then the seat/booster portion pops off and straps to your dining room chair, first with the tray attached and then without the tray (using your table instead of the tray). Good examples of this are the Graco Blossom 4-in-1, or the Ingenuity Trio 3-in-1. Some others provide a full range of adjustability so that you never need to use one of your dining room chairs; instead, they have an adjustable seat and foot-rest height that can suit from baby all the way up to basically an adult (like the Abiie Beyond, the Keekaroo Height Right or the Stokke Tripp Trapp). These are the best ergonomically supportive chairs, recommended by physical and occupational therapists. The reason these professionals care about the ergonomics of a high chair is that it turns out that the position of your baby is very important for supporting swallowing, digestion, and posture. The more upright your baby the easier to swallow and the less likely they will get indigestion and gas during or after eating. But the most ergonomically appropriate high chairs also tend to be the most expensive. We consider each high chair's versatility and support in our reviews below. By the way, speaking of versatility if you're looking for a convenient travel high chair that will stuff into your diaper bag and can attach to basically any chair, be sure to check out the My Little Seat Travel High Chair (pictured to the right).
Durable & Cleanable. If you want your high chair to last several years, and maybe even be used by several children, it needs to be durable. Many high chairs have flimsy tray mechanisms, unreliable caster wheels, and height adjustments that break after a few months. There are also several high chairs out there without easily removed parts and covers for cleaning. High chairs get disgusting - Cheerios crumbs, spilled milk and juice, squished fruits and vegetables, and rotting purees. The last thing you want is a chair that doesn't make cleaning convenient. Trays should pop off and clean easily (and in the dishwasher if possible), cloth covers should be washing machine friendly, and there shouldn't be too many nooks and crannies to capture and store crumbs. Turns out that's a lot to ask for in a high chair under $250, but we try our best to find you the biggest bang for the buck. Our best high chairs list only includes options with a strong reputation for making durable products, and options that are relatively easy to keep clean.
Comfortable and Stylish. There are always trade-offs between how cute and stylish a baby product is, and how comfortable it is. Just like a great pair of shoes, you want to find the perfect balance between something that will look great and you actually will want to use. If you want to use the high chair for an infant, you need to make sure it has the appropriate supports and harnesses; you don't want a drooping baby and floppy head in an unsupportive chair. If you're going to use a high chair for an infant to start food exploration, you want a chair that has sufficient padding (just like a good infant car seat) and a 5-point harness. If you're looking for a baby over 6-8 months, they will likely be a bit better at supporting their head and body and you won't need as much padding for comfort and support. Then there's the style aspect. That's a hard one, and a matter of personal preference. We at mommyhood101.com tend to like the more contemporary designs, with sleek lines and simple designs. But many of our readers like the more traditional styles, like the traditional spindle wooden high chairs. So we give you our best of list below, and do our best to find the options that will appeal to the widest set of parents!
Safe and Sound. High chairs come with a range of harness options and features, and vary in their stability and fit. All infants should be secured with a five-point harness to prevent sliding out, falling out, or climbing out. Toddlers will likely only need the lap belt portion, and preferably a strap that goes between the legs to prevent sliding down (this can also be accomplished with a leg divider built in to the seat). In addition to securing your baby, you also need to worry about tipping risk. Babies can be movers and shakers, so you want to make sure the high chair is stable with a wide base of support to prevent tipping. If your baby kicks against the edge of your dining room table you want the high chair to roll back or do nothing, not tip backwards. We take safety very seriously here at mommyhood101, and tried our best to find the high chairs that should keep your baby safe and sound.
#1. Abiie Beyond Wooden High Chair & Tray. At the top of our list for several reasons, the Abiie Beyond is a great compromise between an expensive rigid upright ergonomic high chair (like the Tripp Trapp) and a more traditional plastic (like a 4-in-1) high chair. This high chair is versatile, comfortable, safe and secure, durable, and easy to clean. It is perfect for babies from 6-months and up, but can be adjusted to suit even an adult (at an extreme) with its awesome slot-based adjustment system. The chair uses the popular contemporary ergonomic design but with smaller babies in mind, including padding, 5-point harness, a bar between the legs (to stop sliding), and an adorable and detachable easy-clean tray. The simple design makes it easy to clean with minimal nooks and crannies to capture and collect food, no cloth cover to become crusty and dirty, and it also has an antimicrobial finish to prevent the nasties from building up on the wood surface. The tray is dishwasher friendly, the cushions are water resistant, and the wood is biodegradeable beech sustainably sourced in Europe. The 5-point harness can be converted to a 3-point harness as your baby grows. But one of best things about this high chair is that it's truly versatile: you can adjust the seat height and foot rest height to ensure awesome support for a range of ages. Keep that back upright and those knees at a 90-degree angle with the feet flat on the foot rest, and you've got yourself some awesome ergonomic support to help with posture, swallowing, and digestion.
#2. Graco Blossom 4-in-1 High Chair. The Graco Blossom is Graco's best high chair, coming in around the same price as the Abiie. We think choosing between the Graco and Abiie comes down to two things. First, if you want to do infant feeding in a high chair (like with a bottle), this high chair has the correct padding and three recline settings for newborn babies. The Abiie, in contrast, is recommended only for about 6 months and up. The second primary difference is the ergonomics/posture issue. Notice how the back is not quite straight up enough, and there is no foot rest. So this option doesn't promote good posture (and digestion or swallowing) like the Abiie. But where it doesn't have the posture support, it makes up in versatility, convenience, and comfort. This high chair converts in several ways: use it as a full-on high chair (as pictured, up to 40lbs), an infant feeding booster (attached to your dining chair, up to 60lbs), a toddler booster (without the tray or high back, up to 60lbs), and a youth chair that can position kids up to about the 4th birthday (or 60lbs). So that's quite good, though the weight limit is much lower than the Abiie. It has six height adjustments to accomodate most table heights (even a kitchen breakfast counter or pub-style table). It is also very comfortable with its supportive seat and thick padding. Also some very convenient features, like a tray that removes with only one hand, and a tray liner that can go in the dishwasher. You can also machine wash the seat cushion, which is very helpful. Another great feature is that it can seat two kids at the same time. For instance, if you have kids about 1-2 years apart, the baby can be in the high chair while the toddler uses the included booster attached to a dining room chair. So overall you can't go wrong with this chair unless you're interested in more ergonomically appropriate chairs like the Abiie, Keekaroo, or Tripp Trapp. If you want a great Graco high chair without the 4-in-1 versatility, we recommend the Graco TableFit.
#3. Ingenuity Trio 3-in-1 Deluxe High Chair. This is a very similar option to the Graco Blossom, but without the detachable booster seat to put on your dining room chair. Instead, the booster is attached to the legs and wheels, which sometimes makes it difficult to pull the growing baby up to the table (since the wheels can hit the table legs or sides). Outside of that, it does a very similar conversion, and here are the three stages: first, it can be used as a full-on high chair (as pictured) with three recline positions (and a removable infant pad). Second, it can be detached from the legs/wheels and attached to a dining room chair (with the back, and tray if wanted). Third, it can be used as a booster seat that is still attached to the legs and wheels. Regardless of how you're using it, there is a 50lb weight limit, 10lb less than the Graco. The Ingenuity uses a clever design to switch between the 3 stages, with the high chair seat itself attaching atop of the booster part, with the booster part permanently attached to the legs and wheels. Like the Graco, this design allows you to use the high chair seat attached to a dining room chair and the booster at the same time (in case you have 2 kids about 1-2 years apart from each other in age). The tray and tray insert are dishwasher friendly, and the cover/pad is washing machine friendly. It is safe, with a 5-point harness for infants and 3-point harness for toddlers. Cons? Well, the high chair overall isn't quite as sturdy as the above options, and it's not the same ergonomic quality as the Abiie, Keekaroo, or Tripp Trapp. Also, we found it odd that the wheels don't actually spin, just slide across the floor (so I guess they're not really wheels at all!). And it doesn't fold for storage, but neither do most of our other options (but see #4). Overall, a great high chair option with some small drawbacks and a great price.
#4. Best Folding Option! Joovy Nook High Chair. This is a bit different from the other options on our list. It's not as versatile in terms of having a detachable seat or booster, or the multiple height adjustments with suitability into really high ages. Like the Abiie, this high chair has a minimum age of 6 months, but it only goes up to a 50lb weight limit. But it is also the lightest and most compact on the list. Coming in at only 15lbs, and having the ability to fold down to 24" x 28" at only 9" thick. So you could throw that into your trunk, into an overhead bin on an airplane, in the back of a Wrangler, or in the closet for storage. Grandparents love this option for when the grandkids visit! So it's great that it folds, but you lose some of the other height, recline, and size/age versatility of the above options. But it also has some unique features that are worth considering. First, the tray includes a removable insert for the dishwasher and a little cupholder area that's great both for sippy cups or bottles but also as a little bowl for snacks. Speaking of the tray, it also swings out so you don't need to lift it off and put it somewhere just to get the baby out. There is also a foot rest to help with posture a bit, and the back isn't excessively reclined. Regarding safety, we liked the 5-point harness, the bar between the legs to stop the baby from sliding down, and the nice sturdy and wide stance (even though at first glance it looks like it wouldn't be). The only downfall other than the ones we've already listed is we think it would be beneficial if the tray would come in a bit closer to the baby. As is, there is a bigger gap between the baby's belly and the tray than with most other options. Not a big deal, but worth mentioning. Overall, this is a great high chair, and the best folding high chair on the market (especially for only about $120)!
#5. Boon Flair Pedestal High Chair. Here's something fun and different! It looks mostly like a novelty item, but we were actually impressed by its functionality. It's expensive, and it's really only something you buy if you love it and it fits your style/decor. Remember those old-timey barber shop chairs that lift up and down with the pneumatic pedal? Well, this is just like that! Using the pedal, it the seat height can be adjusted from 21" to just over 26" tall. A mix between retro and modern, this high chair comes in a bunch of colors that "pop." For safety, it includes a 5-point harness, the bar between the legs to stop baby from sliding down, and the heavy wide base design makes it very stable and sturdy. Speaking of that big round base, it actually has caster wheels hiding underneath it, so it won't scratch your floor and you don't need to lift it up to move it around. A nice thing about the round base is that it slides easily under basically any table type without hitting the legs or sides. Another really cool thing is that the upper part is made from a single piece of smoothly molded plastic, so there are no seams or cracks for food to fall into. Weight limit is 50lbs, with the chair itself being quite heavy at 28lbs. It has a detachable tray cover that can go in the dishwasher, but the pad should be hand-wiped when removed for cleaning. We like that it has a small built-in foot rest, and that the back isn't excessively reclined. Recommended for kids over 12 pounds (maybe about 4-5 months old). Overall, this is a fun, expensive (about $240) high chair that is guaranteed to get the "where'd you get that!?" from all your visitors. Worth it if you like it!