How to Choose the Best Full-Size High Chair

Article By:
Jessica Stevenson
Review Editor
BabyGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday


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With endless lists of options, features, fabrics, and designs, how does a new parent possibly know where to start when purchasing a high chair? We put nine top-rated chairs to the test to figure out which options were really worth it, which ones we could pass up, and which ones were great for specific situations, like apartment living.

Types of High Chairs


For this review, we will be discussing stand-alone, full-size chairs, ones that do not necessarily need to be pushed into a table because they have a tray. These types offer everything you need to get baby fed all in one convenient package. Some of them, like our Best Value Award winner the Graco Blossom, are considered "convertible" chairs, meaning they will grow with your child and offer seating options for older children up to 60 pounds. Others, like the Keekaroo Height Right and Stokke Tripp Trapp can even accommodate an adult up to 250 pounds once all the infant inserts have been removed.

Stand-alone chairs will take up some floor space in your kitchen, or wherever you choose to feed baby, and will also have a set of legs attached to a base that offers extra stability. Some of them have wheels, others do not, so be sure if you purchase one with wheels that there are secure braking mechanisms in place.

If you live in a tiny apartment with little extra floor space, or are often on the go, take a look at our Top Pick for Light and Compact, the Baby Bjorn. If you're needing something that takes up even less room than that, consider using a portable product rather than a full-size, stand-alone one. For more information on those, check out our Best Portable High Chair Review.

Keep in Mind


There are several factors to keep in mind when shopping for this type of item. Here, we will go over each area that we specifically looked at when testing and reviewing our nine competitors, and help you break each one down.

Ease Of Use


This is an item that will get used every single day, multiple times a day, so it's imperative that this piece of equipment be easy for you to operate. Additionally, little quirks in a chair that could potentially pinch baby or leave marks are serious deal-breakers. Here are some ease-of-use features to look for when buying a chair, and quirks to keep an eye out for:
  • Harness:
    The five-point restraint released easily with only one hand  a feature we liked to see.
    The five-point restraint released easily with only one hand, a feature we liked to see.
    Most chairs will feature a 5-point harness consisting of two shoulder straps, two waist straps, and a center buckle. Some, however, only featured a 3-point restraint that is just the waist straps with center buckle. Whichever your preference, be sure that the harnessing system adjusts easily enough to get a snug fit to keep baby safe in his seat. Also look for seats that offer a one-hand release, which is a nice easy way to quickly get baby unbuckled.
  • Recline:
    The Graco Blossom at it's fully reclined position.  Notice the seat itself does not shift  only the back of the seat.
    The Graco Blossom at it's fully reclined position. Notice the seat itself does not shift, only the back of the seat.
    Lots of chairs offer a recline feature, but there was a certain type of recline feature that we liked best. Our Editors' Choice Award winner, the Peg Perego Siesta was a great example of this, calling it "Evolved Tilt N Space". Basically, when it reclines, the seat/footrest moves and slightly reclines, too. Other chairs, like the Summer Infant Bentwood offered a recline option, but only the back part of the chair reclined. Imagine sitting in a nice chair, and you recline it back to relax but the footrest and seat don't move at all. You'll feel like you're sliding down to the floor. Uncomfortable, right? We think it's probably uncomfortable for baby, too. Make sure you check this before purchasing a chair if you think this might be too uncomfortable for your child. If your kiddo is not one to fall asleep during/after mealtime, maybe this isn't such a big deal for you. In that case, you may want to read up on our Best Value Award Winner, the Graco Blossom, which had a back recline only. One final warning about reclining: always be sure baby's fingers are out of the way when adjusting their seat back!
  • Height Adjustability:
    The Keekaroo Height Right with infant seat put baby at the perfect height to enjoy a meal at the table even without the tray.
    The Keekaroo Height Right with infant seat put baby at the perfect height to enjoy a meal at the table even without the tray.
    For our review, we tested chairs that had no height adjustments through chairs that had custom height adjustments! Think about where you want to feed your baby. If you like to sit down in your dining room chair and have baby next to you, every stand-alone chair should work for that. If you're more of an on-the-fly, eat-while-I-wash-dishes kind of parent, maybe you want one that can sit baby up a little taller for you, so she's easier to reach. In our case, we enjoyed those, like the Boon Flair, that were able to reach our counter height where older siblings were sitting at stools. Baby sure enjoyed being part of that action, too. Chairs like the Keekaroo Height Right and Stokke Tripp Trapp are great options if you often have your family meals at the dining room table, because although they are not height adjustable, they can be pushed into most tables as easily as your other dining chairs. Whatever your preference, be sure to double check the manufacturer's dimensions to see that the chair will work in your environment.
  • Center Crotch/Safety Post:
    The five-point restraint is easily released with one hand while the passive crotch restraint stays in place as part of the seat.
    The five-point restraint is easily released with one hand while the passive crotch restraint stays in place as part of the seat.
    This is that nifty little bar that goes in between baby's legs and keeps them from slipping out under the tray. We much preferred those that offered a stationary, non-removable center post. Keep in mind that if the post is attached to the tray you will most likely not be able to fit the tray in your dishwasher, and you will also definitely not be able to set the tray flat on your counter. Plus, with the post built into the seat of the chair, it makes it a little less likely that baby will slip out of their harness when they're mad and pulling their stiff-as-a-board move.
  • Comfort Features:
    The cushy seat padding and added insert on the Blossom gave baby a comfortable place to enjoy her meal.
    The cushy seat padding and added insert on the Blossom gave baby a comfortable place to enjoy her meal.
    If you'll be using your chair for a newborn, consider additional comfort features like infant inserts to help support baby's head and neck. Some don't offer any padding at all, but usually allow baby to sit in an ergonomically correct position, so none is really needed. These chairs with no fabric cushions are usually easier to clean as well.

Ease of Cleaning


If you're a first-time parent we have some shocking news for you: Your kid is going to make a mess… every day. And if you think the mess produced by baby food is bad, wait until they start solids. It is so important that this type of product be easy enough to clean, especially since you'll be using it upwards of three times a day. Here's a few pointers to look for when picking a chair that'll be a breeze to clean:
  • Chair cushions:
    After just one meal  the seat cushion of the Summer Infant Bentwood needed to be washed! Simply wiping this fabric clean would not do the trick  so it needed to go in the washing machine.
    After just one meal, the seat cushion of the Summer Infant Bentwood needed to be washed! Simply wiping this fabric clean would not do the trick, so it needed to go in the washing machine.
    If the chair you choose has a padded seat, make sure it is made out of vinyl-like material that is easy to wipe clean. Bonus points for easily-removable seat cushions that you can throw in the washing machine. Just be sure you have enough time to dry them, as most need to be air-dried and ready to be put back on the chair for the next meal. You want to avoid cotton-like fabric that will attract stains.
  • Base: We hate to break it to you, but crumbs will often fall victim to gravity and end up all over your floor. If the base is large, like that of the Boon Flair, crumbs will land on it, and it will eventually need to be cleaned.
  • Buckles: Boy, can these little guys collect food like nobody's business. Make sure the buckles don't have extra nooks and crannies. There's no getting around the fact that you'll have to wipe them down, but it's a lot easier to do if you don't need to break out the Q-tips to do so.

Quality


When it comes to quality, there really is no wiggle room. This is where your baby will spend many hours eating, drinking, napping, and taking in all the chaos. You want to be sure that the overall quality is going to keep baby safe every single time you strap her in. A great measure of quality is a JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association) safety certification sticker. This tells you that the manufacturer has voluntarily included certain safety features, which you can feel good about.

Even if you want to purchase your chair online, we recommend trying to find it at a brick and mortar store first, so that you can go and test it out for yourself. Go shake it, wiggle it around, push it across the floor, adjust the height and recline, take off the seat cushion, play with the tray. Bring baby, too, and see how easy it is to get them in and out. This way, you can see for yourself how sturdy and stable the chair is, and how nice the materials and finishes are. You'll want one with a seat that is fully supportive, which doesn't necessarily mean big, either. For example, the Baby Bjorn has a small back support, but the curve of it and seat depth is just right.

Footprint and Portability


The footprint and portability of a high chair refers to the amount of space it takes up and how well the wheels (if any) function. Some factors to keep in mind when considering a chair's footprint and portability are:
  • Size of Footprint: If it's already a tight squeeze having more than two people in your kitchen or dining area, you may want to pick a chair with a smaller footprint size.
  • Wheels:
    The Baby Bjorn high chair and Peg Perego Siesta both folded up nicely for storage.
    The Baby Bjorn high chair and Peg Perego Siesta both folded up nicely for storage.
    Whether you want wheels or not may just be a personal decision. Keep in mind that just because it has wheels doesn't necessarily make it easier to move around. And if a chair does have wheels, it has to have brakes. Not all the brakes we used were parent-friendly. The OXO Tot Seedling, for example, had a brake lock on each wheel that was so small we had to lock and unlock it using our hands, which wasn't always expedient to do. If you have slightly older children, you will also want to keep an eye out that they are not giving baby inappropriate joy rides around the kitchen while the brakes are unlocked. And finally, having wheels means the chair will move each time you set baby in unless you remember to lock the brakes every single time.
  • Foldability: Sometimes, you just need your high chair to be out of sight for a little while. Maybe you're hosting a party or even just wanting to give the kitchen floor a good cleaning. Either way, you need it out of your way. In these situations, you want to consider a one that folds for storage. Two of our three award winners, the Peg Perego Siesta and the Baby Bjorn offer this convenient feature.

Ease of Set Up


So, you've finally decided on a high chair. Now what? Time to put it together! The excitement of a new baby item sure can fade fast once you open the box and see 1,000 different parts. Well, for the nine chairs we tested, we give it to you straight about what assembly will be like. Of course, having a chair like the Baby Bjorn, which only requires some snapping-in of the leg posts, is great. Other chairs might use screws that can be tightened with Allen Wrenches. Always be sure to read the instruction manual, because some may need occasional adjusting to keep all the pieces tightened.
The Keekaroo Height Right was one of our more complicated chairs to assemble  but was easily adjusted with this included Allen Wrench once it was put together.
The Keekaroo Height Right was one of our more complicated chairs to assemble, but was easily adjusted with this included Allen Wrench once it was put together.


Conclusion


A high chair is one of those nearly inevitable baby equipment purchases. Try to avoid it all you want, but the fact of the matter is that your baby will need to have somewhere they can sit safely to eat. You will have this piece of equipment for many years, and will certainly make many great memories with it, so it's a decision you don't want to take lightly. Our favorite, the Peg Perego Siesta will grow with your baby from infant through toddler, and will surely be durable for years to come. Two other top-scorers were the Baby Bjorn which won our award for Top Pick for Light and Compact, and the Graco Blossom which won Best Value. Whatever your unique needs, there is a safe, functional high chair out there for your family. Bon Appetit!

Jessica Stevenson
About the Author
Jessica Stevenson is a freelance writer and certified Health Coach lucky enough to live in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. She loves all things outdoors, and is well-educated on the importance of keeping her family moving and enjoying the fresh air. Along with their three young children, Jessica and her husband especially enjoy traveling, hiking, and camping. Jessica has been featured on the LiveWell Colorado blog, and is honored to have the opportunity to give BabyGearLab readers a unique perspective on baby products.

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