The best traditional high chairs are designed expressly for babies from 6 months old to toddlers. Parents should look for seats that include a five-point safety harness, a passive-restraint crotch bar between the legs, a tray that is easy to remove and easy-to-clean materials. A reclining function is also useful for naps and bottle feeding.
The Fisher-Price Rainforest Healthy Care (*Est. $130) and Peg Perego Prima Pappa Best (*Est. $250), as well as the Oxo Tot Sprout (*Est. $250), Boon Flair (*Est. $280), and Inglesina Zuma (*Est. $300) high chairs all come with five-point safety harnesses. The Rainforest and Zuma harnesses can be converted to three-point systems for older children. All of these high chairs have passive restraints at the crotch to prevent a baby from sliding out of the seat.
The bases of these chairs differ as well. The Boon Flair's pedestal base resembles an inverted trumpet bell, and reviewers say it fits under tables without sacrificing stability. By contrast, the wooden base of the Oxo Tot Sprout resembles a stepstool; the Fisher-Price Rainforest Healthy Care and Peg Perego Prima Pappa have traditional metal bases that fold outward like a ladder. Only the Inglesina Zuma chair, which has a sleek Z-shaped base, earns a few complaints from owners, who say the protruding rear of the base may pose a tripping hazard.
The Fisher-Price Rainforest Healthy Care, Peg Perego Prima Pappa, and Boon Flair all have four casters at the base, enabling you to wheel the chair around while your baby is seated. The wheels are lockable on all models, but a few parents say that the Boon Flair's wheel locks are not totally effective on hard floors. The Inglesina Zuma only has front wheels -- allowing you to move the chair, but only when it's unoccupied -- and the wheels lock securely.
Experts say the top-rated high chairs should be easy to clean and -- ideally -- equally easy to operate with one hand. According to reviews, the Fisher-Price Rainforest, the Boon Flair and the Oxo Tot Sprout all are very easy to clean. The Fisher-Price Rainforest and Boon Flair have a single, removable tray insert that fits in a dishwasher; the Boon Flair comes with two. The Oxo Sprout's tray is larger than the others and won't fit in all dishwashers, but parents say it does an exceptional job catching food and is easy to wipe clean.
The Fisher-Price Rainforest Healthy Care, Oxo Tot Sprout and Inglesina Zuma all have trays that parents say can be removed with one hand. By contrast, Peg Perego says the Prima Pappa's tray removes with one hand, while parents say it does not. The Fisher-Price Rainforest also has removable harness straps that are dishwasher-safe, as are the attachable toys.
All of these seats come with removable padding that can be wiped down. Parents have no complaints about the nonabsorbent, closed-seam padding of the Rainforest, Sprout, Flair (which comes with an extra seat pad), or Zuma. Reviewers praise the Oxo Sprout's smooth, easy to wipe down wood and plastic surfaces, the sleek and modern Boon Flair's seamless bucket seat, as well as the Inglesina Zuma's relatively nook-free seat.
By contrast, parents describe the Peg Perego Prima Pappa as a total failure in the cleanup category, with numerous nooks and crannies in both the frame and the plush padding for food to hide in and a tray that is too big for the dishwasher.
Adjustability is also an important feature. Of the high chairs discussed in this report, the Boon Flair high chair offers the most advanced height-adjustment system: a pneumatic lift that allows for continuous, lockable height positioning. The Fisher-Price Rainforest Healthy Care and Peg Perego Prima Pappa, with their traditional folding bases, offer seven height adjustments; the Inglesina Zuma offers eight. The Oxo Tot Sprout offers only three height adjustments, but it receives praise for easy adjustability.
Convenience features can make or break a high chair, parents say. Some prefer a chair that reclines to accommodate younger infants that are still bottle feeding (and for the occasional post-meal nap). The Fisher-Price Rainforest Healthy Care and Peg Perego Prima Pappa both recline and accommodate babies from the newborn stage and up. The Inglesina Zuma high chair also reclines but is rated for babies from 3 months old and up.
Other parents consider the product life of the chair more important than other features. For example, the Oxo Tot Sprout has a 60-pound weight capacity and converts into a toddler chair for children up to 5 years old. By contrast the Zuma is weight rated to 33 pounds (around 36 months), meaning it won't be of much use past toddlerhood. The Prima Pappa is rated to 45 pounds, and the Boon Flair and Fisher-Price Rainforest are rated to 50 pounds.
The Rainforest, Prima Pappa, and Zuma all collapse for storage. The Zuma has telescoping legs that enable it to be lowered to fit under a table for storage, while the Rainforest and Prima Pappa offer a narrower, taller fold, more suited for storing in a closet or up against a wall. The Boon Flair and Ox0 Tot Sprout high chairs don't fold.
The Fisher-Price Rainforest Healthy Care, Peg Perego Prima Pappa and Inglesina Zuma all carry one-year warranties (typical among manufacturers), while the Oxo Tot Sprout carries an seven-year warranty for all wooden and plastic parts as well as a two-year warranty for seat cushions and harness straps (an industry best). By contrast, the Boon Flair carries only a 90-day warranty. However, Boon representatives say that this relatively short warranty is due to warranty coverage abuses and that the company will be responsive to any issues that arise with its products when contacted directly.
It's not the sleekest or most fashionable high chair, but the Fisher-Price Rainforest Healthy Care (Est. $130) offers the best range of features, ease-of-use and safety for babies at a reasonable price. Experts and parents praise the Rainforest Healthy Care for its adjustable height, easy one-hand operable recline, ability to fold and reliable casters. The seat's five- to three-point convertible harness is easy to use and clean, the removable feeding tray makes prep and clean up a breeze, and the attachable toy adds greatly to the baby's enjoyment.