No sooner have you brought your bundle home than the months start flying by and before you know it, it’s time to start solid food. You inevitably begin to think about where your tot will sit and turn your eye towards the multitude of high chair options. But 9 out of 10 are complete overkill and some could even be dangerous. Keep it simple.
#8 Thing you’d be wasting your money on: A huge fancy padded high chair.
Like so much baby gear, the highchair is a good idea gone rogue. Yes, your baby needs to sit up to eat. In fact if they can’t sit up well they are not ready for solids yet. And yes it’s convenient they sit up at table height. And, of course, they need some straps and such to keep them safe. But what they do not need, and what you will regret having to clean, is a highchair built roughly the size and shape of a spaceship, with all the complications and a price tag to match.
What you want in a highchair.
Elevation. Something that will keep your baby at an easy arms reach while you sit on a dining chair, and/or gives them good eye contact with people eating at the table. Good eating habits begin by sharing meals and learning how others enjoy food.
Safety. Legs should be splayed enough to provide stability if baby leans over. A crotch bar should help avoid baby leaning too much. A 5 point harness prevents baby from falling out.
Convenience. You will have to clean this chair. A lot. An easy to clean highchair is a highchair you want.
What you want to avoid in a highchair
Hinges and movable parts that can trap baby’s fingers. A tray that lifts up and down can come at the expense of those chubby digits. Not the end of the world if there’s the odd little pinch perhaps, but still enough of a reason to move the hinged tray way down the list of must haves.
A recline feature. Again, if your baby can’t sit up well they are not ready to eat. Unless you imagine your baby sleeping in the chair…..wait, also dangerous. No need for the recline at all, then.
Loads of padding. This one is the worst. Until you have tried to clean days old food – fresh, pureed and regurgitated – from the crinkly folds of plastic highchair padding you can’t understand just how unnecessary this feature is. Take my word for it. Your baby will be fine without all the padding. If they need it to sit upright, let me say Again, they are simply not ready to eat. Cloth padding may be washable but nothing beats smooth, wipe-able, hose-down-able plastic. Many of the paddings can’t be easily removed. You will tear your hair out before you get them off as often as easily as you’d need.
A large footprint. Many elaborate highchair designs take up a huge amount of room. In even the largest of homes this piece can dominate a kitchen or dining room and in modest homes they can be difficult to find room for at all. Don’t feel guilty about wanting to save some space, the smaller simpler chairs will serve you well and leave room for toys, or a wine rack.
Wheels. While many wheeled examples of highchairs will have a lock, I suspect in reality they aren’t used as often as they should be. A highchair on the move is a highchair that carries a lot of risk in my mind. A leaning baby could start the chair rolling. Personally I’d avoid this feature.
Do you really need a highchair at all?
There are some kinds of highchairs that clip to the dining room table, or that attach to dining room chairs. These are great space savers, but usually are not as easy to clean as a stand alone plastic model. In this instance it will come down to your needs and priorities, space over convenience. But do yourself a favour and walk past the giant padded contraptions altogether,
There’s a certain Swedish furniture maker who make an excellent simple Cheap highchair. While it’s not uncommon for highchairs to cost hundreds of dollars, this one costs just $25 at the time of publishing. Save the money and save your sanity. You’ll be hosing it down regularly I assure you.