Highchairs have come a long way from the standard plastic folding contraptions you may have seen in your own baby photos. And as a result, finding the best one to suit your home, baby and lifestyle, can be a minefield. Ranging in price from £9 to well over £300, how do you know which are worth it, and which will leave you wanting?

Designs vary enormously. Some highchairs are suitable until age two, while others convert to a desk chair and are even suitable for adults. Similarly, some have trays, while others are designed to be used at your kitchen table. And the choice of colours and designs can be overwhelming.

But at the crux of it, the two key things to consider are:

  • Is it safe and sturdy?
  • Is it easy to clean? (Take it from us, weaning is a messy business.)

Although the look of the highchair may feel important, if it doesn’t tick these two boxes, you’ll be tearing your hair out by the second week of weaning. Obviously you need to take budget into account as well. But if you really have your heart set on a designer highchair, most of the high end models are available second hand on eBay or Facebook Market Place for a fraction of the cost.

Our top tip is to head into store and actually test out highchair options for yourself before you buy. How easy are they to fold or detach the tray to clean it? Can you remove the padded seat cover? And check the measurements against your own kitchen table.

Highchair at desk

What are the key features to consider?

Ease of cleaning
Is the tray or baby restraint dishwasher safe? Is the cushion or seat padding easily removed or even machine washable?

Make sure you check reports about how sturdy a highchair is and whether there are reports of product recalls. A highchair that is easy to topple is a stress you simply don’t need. Similarly, how stable are all the other features in the chair? For example, can an older baby easily clip the tray off the chair? Or can they undo the harness themselves? You’re looking for a super stable chair that keeps your mini Houdini safely and securely in his seat without being uncomfortable.

Harness or baby restraint system?
If using a harness, a five-point harness is the safest variety. Double check reports on how the harness fits at six months vs two years old – is it easily adjustable? The lock should be stiff enough so toddlers can’t open it but not too stiff that it’s difficult for you to get baby out if they were choking. Harnesses also get super messy in the weaning days, so a removable, washable harness is an added bonus too.

Some highchairs use a baby restraint system. These tend to be snug fitting plastic seats with a tummy bar and a bar between their legs. A restraint system may allow your baby freer upper body movements and it can be easier to quickly pull them in and out of the seat. Also, solid plastic tends to be easier to clean than a fabric strap.

Harness system

Tray vs. pull up to the table?

We agree with Mumsnetters that during weaning (age 6-12 months) a tray can be a god send. And frankly, the bigger, the better. While it’s lovely to pull baby up to the table with the rest of the family, this makes it very easy for them to swipe food to the floor or grab food from other sibling’s plates that may not be baby friendly. Having them set slightly back from the table with a tray can initially be really handy and also means you can serve their food directly onto the tray before they’re ready to start negotiating a bowl or plate.

However, from 12 months old, many parents enjoy being able to pull baby up to the table to be part of the action, allowing them to watch other family members and learn how to act at a table. Many highchairs on the market today (such as our Best Buy the Cosatto 3Sixti2) have the option to detach the tray and use the chair as a supportive, safe seat at the table for older babies and toddlers.

Seat padding and comfort
Some highchairs are ergonomically designed to support your growing child’s spine and posture, while others come with a squidgy, padded cushion for added comfort. The main drawback to seat cushions is that they tend to collect crumbs and if they’re not made from wipe-clean material, they will stain easily too. If you opt for a cushioned seat variety, make sure it’s easy to remove and clean or you may find mouldy rasins in the creases from who knows when further down the line.

Whether the highchair is ‘just’ for the baby years or beyond, many will offer the ability to adjust the height of the seat to suit your table, adjust the straps to suit a bigger toddler or even adjust the height of the footrest. You just want to make sure that this is quick and easy to do, or it’s unlikely you’ll take full advantage of these features.

How much space do you have?
If your kitchen or dining room is tight on space, you may be better off with a highchair you can fold away when not in use or that doesn’t take up any floor space at all such as the Mountain Buggy Pod. Also check the footprint of the highchair when it’s unfolded (if applicable) to make sure it fits in the space you have available. This is also particularly key if you have twins or multiples as you’ll need more than one chair.

At the table

What does it look like?
If you have a very specific aesthetic in the room you’ll keep the highchair, you may prefer to opt for a more stylish highchair, such as the Evomove Nomi, Stokke Tripp Trapp or Oxo Tot Sprout which all come in a wide range of colours and put sleek style at the heart of their design. But keep in mind, the more designer the highchair, the higher the price tag.

What age does the highchair work for?
Many highchairs on the market last longer than the traditional six months to two years. Options such as the Tripp Trapp, Nomi, Chicco Polly Progress and iCandy MiChair have attachments to convert the chair frame into a newborn padded seat or rocker, suitable from birth. Similarly, these chairs adjust to suit your child beyond the toddler years, often well into their teens as a desk chair or similar. These multifunctional models are often £200 (before purchasing age appropriate attachments), but many Mumsnetters report they’re well worth the money – provided you’re happy to use them for that long.

What’s the budget?
It’s easy to be swayed by the impressive list of features on some of the snazzier highchairs. But it’s important to assess whether the chair really is worth blowing the budget; you and baby might be just as happy with the IKEA Antilop as the Oxo Tot Sprout. Similarly, make sure you don’t get caught out by items such as a harness, tray or even the baby seat being sold separately, making the final price tag higher than originally advertised.

And if you’re still not 100% sure, Mumsnetters are always on hand to give their personal experiences. Head over to the Product area of Talk and ask Mumsnetters what they think.


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