So you’ve bought the cot, the buggy and all the other little bits you didn’t realise you would have to buy for baby. You think you’re sorted, but baby then hits weaning stage and you are suddenly faced with endless choices of Highchairs! You would think it would be a simple choice of colour & pattern, but no, as with all things ‘Baby’, it is a bit of a minefield.
Where do you start, what things should you be looking for? Whether you are buying new or second-hand, here are a few points to take into consideration:
Is it Safe? There are many different styles of highchair, but one of the most important things to look at is how sturdy it is. A wider base will provide more stability, although obviously it will also take up more floor space. The harness, as well as going around the waist should also preferably have a strap to go between the legs and straps to go over the arms. Some harnesses may not have the leg strap, as you may find the tray of the highchair or the highchair itself has a moulded part that will go between the child’s legs to stop them slipping under the tray. If you are buying second hand, ensure the straps are intact, not worn in anyway and are clean.
Are all parts easy to clean? It may seem silly, but make sure all parts of the highchair are accessible for cleaning. Food will get absolutely everywhere! Make sure it is easy to wipe down and ensure there are not too many crevices where food will get trapped. Some trays are dishwasher safe, but if you are looking to clean it in your dishwasher, do make sure it fits in your machine!
Check the tray. A one-handed release tray makes life simpler, so ideally look for one that has this. If you are buying second-hand, make sure the release works properly, the tray slides easily, but also that baby cannot release it themselves, or get fingers trapped in them.
Is it portable? If you are happy for the highchair to stay where it is, then this is not so much of an issue. But if you intend to store it away after each meal, or move it to a corner, then you need to make sure it is easy to manoeuvre. Some highchairs come with wheels, but do make sure that these lock securely, as you do not want to be chasing it around the room at mealtimes! You also have to think if you will need to use it anywhere else – will you be taking it to Nanny’s, friends or restaurants? If so you will need a small compact one, such as a booster seat that attaches to a chair.
Wooden or Plastic, Solid or Folding? Highchairs come in all sorts of shapes, styles and materials. For some people, the look of the highchair is quite a major factor. As it tends to be an essential part of your day, most highchairs become part of the furniture. You may want to take this into consideration when you are choosing one. Although the bright, funky, bold pattern may look lovely in the shop, will you hate it when it takes up residence in your dining room or kitchen? If looks are important, you may want to consider a wooden one. However, be aware that these may not be suitable for a younger child as they tend to be designed to use at a table and may not have a tray attachment and will not have the tilting mechanism. Wooden highchairs tend not to be as padded as other ones, so do take this into consideration too. Do you need your highchair to fold up? If it is going to have a permanent place at the table, then you probably will not need a folding chair. If you do decide to go for a folding one and are buying second hand, then do make sure all the mechanisms work properly, that it fold easily, but also make sure there is no risk that it could fold whilst the child is in it.
Finally, you need to decide where you will use the highchair. If baby is to sit at the table with the rest of the family, then you need to make sure the chair will adjust to fit up to your table. You will not necessarily need one that has a tray. If you want something that grows with the child, then you may be better looking at a ‘cube’ chair. This is a stacking highchair that converts when the child is older, to become a separate chair and small table. If you are looking for one that you can use for activities other than eating (for example, play doh or painting), then you need to make sure you have a big tray that is easy to clean.
There is a lot to think about when choosing a highchair, but bear these pointers in mind and think about what you intend to use it for and how you want it to blend into your living space. There are highchairs to suit every budget and are readily available on the second hand market.