The best high chair has
- A secure five-point harness. Five-point harnesses attach around the waist and go over the shoulders to keep baby from falling or climbing out. Three-point harnesses are more common on portable high chairs, which may be best for older children who are more stable and less squirmy. Some chairs include harnesses that will convert from five- to three-point.
- Wheels that lock. Wheels are a great feature for moving high chairs around the house or the kitchen, but they should lock securely so the chair doesn't move when it's not supposed to.
- A wide base. A wide base helps keep the high chair steady so it doesn't tip, even if baby gets squirmy. Just be sure the legs aren't so wide that they pose a trip hazard for other members of the family.
- A crotch post. A crotch post goes between babies' legs and keeps them from sliding between the tray and seat, a common source of injuries. They may be attached to either the seat or the tray; most parents seem to prefer when they are attached to the seat so they provide extra stability when the tray is removed, and so the tray doesn't tip over as much when it's placed on a table.
- A locking frame. Any high chair that folds should have secure locks when it's open to keep it from collapsing. Some pricier models may have a standing fold, meaning they can still stand by themselves when folded.
- One-handed tray operation. Parents should be able to slide the tray in and out of place with just one hand. That way you can hold your baby while getting the high chair ready or clean your baby while removing them, something that makes life easier for many parents.
- Wipe-clean materials. Fancy fabrics may look nice, but they can be a nightmare to keep clean. Seat inserts for smaller babies are best if they're machine-washable. Trays and tray inserts should be easy to wipe and dishwasher-safe for deeper cleaning. Harnesses should repel stains and detach for easier washing.
Know before you go
How long do you want to use the high chair? For newborns and any babies who cannot yet hold up their head, look for a high chair that reclines flat. An infant support pillow is another nice feature for smaller babies who may not yet be sitting completely unassisted. For older toddlers and preschoolers, look for a chair that can either convert to a booster or be used as a child seat that raises kids up to the dining room table.
Are you short on space? Look for a portable or space-saving high chair. Portable chairs are typically compact enough for travel or tight storage situations. Space-saving chairs fold up and can be stored in a closet or a narrow storage area like beside a fridge. Some can sit directly on a dining room chair, eliminating the need to find a special area just for the high chair.
Do you want to bring baby directly to the table? Look for a high chair that has adjustable height positions and doesn't have armrests that would prevent it from being pulled up to the table.
Do you want to feed your baby at counter height? You will need to find a chair with a relatively high top height position. Another option could be a portable high chair that hooks onto the edge of the counter.
Do you want to entertain baby in the high chair? A seat with a large tray table that can hold lots of toys will make this easier; some even come with toy bars that are able to integrate into the seat. Consider adding a toy tether such as the Baby Buddy Secure-A-Toy (Est. $4) to keep toys or sippy cups from hitting the floor every time they're thrown.