When Baby can sit up on his own and is eating solid food -- usually between 4 and 6 months -- it's time to add a high chair to your kitchen decor. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you buy.
Whether it's easy to get your baby in and out is the most important concern. Before you shop, ask your friends if they have a high chair they love. Once you're in a store, test the chairs to find one with a tray that you can operate with one hand. Look at the seat straps to see if they're simple to buckle and unbuckle. The majority of high-chair accidents occur because parents don't use the buckle feature. Remember, as soon as your baby figures out how to pull himself upright, he might try it in his high chair. Using a three- or five-point harness keeps him safe.
Speaking of safety, manufacturers can opt to have high chairs tested and approved by the independent Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. If there's a JPMA seal on a high chair, it's one of the safest.
You'll want your baby to stay seated for a decent period of time. Consider how roomy the seat is, especially if you have a big baby. Is the seat well padded? Is there a footrest?
Babies are notoriously messy eaters, and that means you need to consider how easy it is to clean up the high chair after a messy meal. Most chairs come with a vinyl seat that can be wiped clean. Look at how the cushion and frame fit together and imagine a scenario involving applesauce and crumbs. The fewer seams and crevices, the better.
A recent update in high chairs is a tray-within-a-tray feature, where the top tray pops out for cleaning in your sink or dishwasher. Some high chairs even come with an extra tray so that if one is being washed, you've got another.
Will you move your high chair around, maybe pushing it to the table for meals and then back against a wall for storage? If so, look for a model with wheels that lock to keep the chair stationary when in use. Some high chairs fold up for storage, making it a good choice for occasional use, such as grandma's house.
Originally published in American Baby magazine. Updated 2010.
When you're in a rush—or you grow reliant and trusting—of your high chair, you might forget to strap in your babe or attach the safety locks. This could be a big mistake, since accidents happen all the time. "Whether you're leaving your kid on a high chair for 2 seconds or 2 minutes, ensuring your kid is properly restrained using the safety belts or straps that come with the product can prevent injuries," Zarrilli says. "When kids are buckled in, make sure the straps are secured firmly and tightly."
Looking for specific product recommendations? Here are some of the best high chairs on the market currently:
With six height positions and a five-point safety harness, this is the ideal high chair to have on hand as your baby grows. As a bonus, the tray is dishwasher safe and the seat cover is hand washable, making it easy to move on past dinner. For small spaces, it also folds up easily and fits kiddos up to 35 inches tall. $125, amazon.com
If you want a high chair that doubles (or triples) as more, consider this multi-use option. It serves as a floor seat, an infant chair with a snack tray, a toddler chair, high chair, and, finally, a booster seat! Plus, cleaning it is a breeze thanks to its durable, molded plastic and machine-washable chair pad. $55, amazon.com
As the name suggests, this best high chair converts to suit your child as they sprout through the months. It goes from a reclining infant seat to a conventional high chair to a booster seat. When your first child is old enough, remove the infant seat to use it as a big kid's dining chair. The tray is removable with one hand and dishwasher safe, and 6 height adjustments and 3 recline options ensure Baby is always positioned comfortably for feeding. $165, amazon.com
After conducting consumer research, 4moms found most parents wanted a better tray attachment and overall cleanability, so they made a shift in their design. Magnets secure the tray latches and tray top, making it easy to take it on and off with the only hand they have free while tending to baby. And the added addition of magnets within the tray itself means plates and bowls stay put, making it one of the best high chairs in terms of functionality. $300, amazon.com
This clip-on high chair will hold a baby up to 37 pounds attached to a table, making it ideal for those families who are lacking for space. It features all-steel construction with a 5-point safety belt and double-locking table security. You can use it at home, take it with you when you leave, and easily clean it up after meals. $30, amazon.com