Best High Chair 2018
Last Updated: . Our pick for the Best High Chair 2018 is the Graco Blossom 4-in-1 high chair. We compared and tested 29 other high chair models before settling on the Blossom.
Scroll down for our picks for Best Budget-Friendly High Chair, Best Modern High Chair, Best Urban/Space Challenged High Chair and Best High Chair for Grandma’s House.
New to crib shopping? Read our 7 Things No One Tells You About Buying a High Chair for advice and tips.
The Graco Blossom takes the crown this year with a modern design and a slew of helpful features. Among the Blossom’s best tricks: it converts to a toddler booster chair that straps to a regular kitchen chair for older kiddos.
Reader feedback on this chair has been very positive. Yes, the Blossom is pricey at $145 to $170, but worth it. One bummer: the Blossom doesn’t fold away for storage. And the restraint bar for the chair is attached to the tray, not the chair, as we’d prefer. Despite these drawbacks, we recommend the Blossom for its utility and value.
The Best High Chair
Graco Blossom 4-in-1 High Chair
The Blossom offers parents four different transformations from high chair to toddler booster (straps to a regular dining chair) to youth chair. Priced between $140 and $170, this all-around great buy has six position height adjustment, three position recline and removable foot rest.
More on the Graco Blossom
Graco’s Blossom 4-in-1 Seating System strikes a modern pose compared to other high chairs, thanks to its L-shaped frame. Graco packed this model with just about every feature you can imagine. Among its best tricks: it converts to a toddler booster chair that straps to a regular kitchen chair for older babies. And yes, you can use it both as an infant feeding booster and a youth chair simultaneously for two children of different ages. Hence the 4-in-1 functionality.
The Blossom starts as an infant feeding chair. Note how the infant is reclined:
Then a regular high chair (basically the same chair, but not reclined):
Next a toddler booster that attaches to a kitchen chair:
And finally a youth chair which can be used with the toddler booster so you can seat both a preschooler and an older infant/toddler:
The chair has three reclines and six height levels, a dishwasher safe tray with insert, adjustable footrest and removable seat back insert. The seat pad is machine washable too.
Flaws but not deal breakers
A couple of items to note that make the Blossom a little less than perfect:
- It’s pricey. Yes, $140-$170 is a chunk of change (especially compared to the Fisher Price SpaceSaver, which is under $50). But for a traditional high chair, we found the features worth the price.
- The Blossom doesn’t fold away for storage—so you better like how it looks and have space in your kitchen or dining area. Good news: the Blossom is easy on the eyes.
- The anti-submarining bar is attached to the tray—we prefer it attached to the seat. It’s safer to take off the tray and walk a couple feet away to the sink when the bar is on the chair.
Also Great: Joovy Nook
Joovy is best known for its strollers, but its Nook high chair ($90) is worth a look. This is a straightforward high chair that is simple, does the job and isn’t too “baby-ish.” The Nook is what the brand bills as a “no nonsense” high chair. You get a dishwasher-safe insert, swing open tray and compact fold. But that’s it—it doesn’t morph into a toddler chair or a toaster when you’re done feeding baby. No wheels, but there is a five-point harness for safety.
Joovy refreshed the Nook for 2017 (now the Joovy New Nook, $120) with better tubing, a squared off seat, travel handle and submarining protection attached to the seat. Now the Nook boasts a larger tray plus three depth adjustments to address the large gap between baby and tray that plagued the original Nook.
The new Nook’s tray swings out and the chair can be folded with the tray attached. It still comes with a second tray. The new Nook still has the five point harness, plush seat cushion and compact fold. The chair doesn’t come with wheels, but for $120 this is a high chair we can definitely recommend.
Best Budget-Friendly High Chair
Best Budget-Friendly High Chair. If bare bones is all you need, an IKEA high chair the fits the bill. The Antilop high chair costs an astonishing $15 for an metal and plastic chair with anti-submaringing bar molded into the seat and three-point safety belt. If you want a tray, that’s another $5; a seat pad is $7. So even when tricked out, the Antilop with tray and pad is $26.
IKEA has a second high chair, the Blames, which sells for a mere $60. This mostly wood chair comes with the plastic tray and safety belt at no extra charge.
Both high chairs are clearly designed for older kids (no recline, for example) and don’t have five-point safety belts which we prefer. That said, parents generally give the Antilop great reviews, noting it’s really easy to clean. If you have multiples, two or three $26 complete Antilops may just be what you need.
Best Modern High Chair
Best Modern High Chair. The Skip Hop TUO convertible high chair ($160) strikes a mid-century pose with beechwood legs and footrest that contrast with the light and dark grey seat and tray.
At $160, the TUO is much less expensive than other modern entrants like the Bloom Fresco ($450), which is a pleasant surprise. Beyond the no-skid feet and dishwasher safe insert, the Skip Hop TUO is basically designed to look pretty. It doesn’t fold up, recline nor adjust for height.
The TUO was released in 2017—reader feedback has been very positive. We had a chance to test drive a TUO at a recent trade show and thought it was well made.
One caveat: the TUO seat has lots of nooks and crannies that will collect food. Cleaning this chair will not be a joy—it would be nice if the TUO 2.0 came with a seamless seat pad and tray.
If you’d like your modern high chair to adjust up or down, we’d suggest the Boon Flair debuted quite a few years back, in 2007, but we still think it’s one of the best modern style chairs on the market. The Flair’s unique pneumatic lift gives the chair “effortless height adjustment” just like a barber chair.
The seat is seamless, meaning clean up is easy compared to other high chairs and it has a dishwasher-safe tray. The Flair retails for $230, at the high end, but comparable to other modern-style chairs. The only negatives: the Flair has no recline and the tray is rather small.
Best Urban/Space Challenged High Chair
Best Urban/Space Challenged High Chair. Is space tight in your kitchen? The Fisher-Price Space Saver ($40-$50) lives up to its name. This model features a full-size tray and three-position recline—plus it converts to a toddler booster (check out the photo below). If you are short of space (think New York City apartment), this is a great choice.
Detractors point out that once you strap this thing to a chair, you can’t push the chair under the table—hence defeating the space saving concept. We see that point, but still think this is a great solution for urban condos with little space to store a bulky high chair. Reader feedback on the Space Saver is very positive—we recommend it.
Best High Chair for Grandma’s House
Best High Chair for Grandma’s House. For grandma’s house, a simple Cosco Simple Fold ($30-$35) should do the trick. No, it doesn’t have the bells and whistle of $100+ chairs, but Grandma doesn’t need all that. You get a seat with wipeable seat pad, double tray, 3-position tray adjust and slim fold. This chair doesn’t recline, so you can’t use it for kids under six months. Also, the chair doesn’t have wheels but is easy to clean.
Why Trust Us
We’ve been rating and reviewing high chairs since 1994. In addition to hands on inspections of each high chair, we have also visited manufacturer facilities and met with safety regulators—and when we travel, we pay our all of our own expenses. We also evaluate consumer reviews posted on sites like Amazon, as well as our own message boards. Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Baby Bargains is your independent and unbiased source for expert baby gear reviews. We’ve been writing and reviewing baby gear since 1994. Yes, that long!
How we picked a winner
We evaluate high chairs with in-depth inspections, checking models for overall quality and ease of use—for example, measuring tray distance and seat height to make sure babies won’t spill all over themselves. We also gather significant reader feedback (our book, Baby Bargains has over 1 million copies in print), tracking high chairs on quality and durability.
Besides interviewing parents, we also regularly talk with retailers to see which brands are most trustworthy and other key quality metrics. The reliability of gear manufacturers is another key factor—we meet with key company executives at least once a year. Since we’ve been doing this since 1994, we have developed detailed profiles of major high chair brands that help guide our recommendations. See below for links.
7 Things No One Tells You About Buying A High Chair!
1. There are three types of high chairs: basic, multi-function and modern.
Here’s the run-down:
• Basic high chairs are sold in chain stores and aimed at parents on a budget or grandparents looking for a basic chair for occasional visits. These high chairs typically run from $30 to $100 and have few features. You won’t find wheels, recline or adjustable height on budget chairs. Most budget chairs are foldable and come with a wipeable chair pad and single tray.
• Multi-function high chairs offer deluxe features and will morph into additional seating options as your child grows. Ranging in price from $100 to $250, multi-function chairs feature double trays, seat recline, adjustable height positions, foot rests, machine washable pads and wheels. More expensive chairs might have toys, designer fabrics and other upgrades. Multi-function means these chairs can often convert to toddler seats that attach to your dining room chair.
• Priced from $200 to $450, modern style chairs sell parents on an aesthetic. To borrow a term from fashion, these high chairs are “statement pieces.” Seamless molded seats look futuristic with pops of bright colored pads. They may or may not have wheels, but some have pneumatic lift systems (like a barber’s chair). Even though modern chairs are pricey, you aren’t guaranteed the amenities see in multi-function chairs—often missing are double trays, compact fold, recline, etc.
2. Suprise! That dishwasher-safe tray may not fit in your dishwasher.
Most high chairs today come with a dishwasher-safe tray or tray insert that may claim to snap off and pop into the dishwasher for clean-up . . . but does it? In our reviews of high chairs, we’ll note some models whose dishwasher-safe trays are too big to fit in an actual dishwasher. A word of advice: measure the bottom rack of your dishwasher and take that dimension with you when high chair shopping.
3. The X-Factor for any high chair: how easy is it to clean?
Here’s a tip some first-time parents miss: make sure the high chair you buy has a removable, washable seat cover OR a seat that easily sponges clean. In the latter category, chairs with vinyl trump those made of cloth. Vinyl can be wiped clean, while cloth typically has to be washed. This might be one of those first-time parent traps: seats with cloth covers sure look nicer than those made of vinyl. But the extra effort to machine wash a cloth cover is a pain . . . and some cloth covers can’t be thrown in the dryer. That means waiting a day or more for a cover to line dry.
Watch out for seat pads that have ruffles or numerous crevices–these are food magnets and a bear to keep clean. What color cover should you get? Anything but white. Sure that fancy white leatherette high chair looks all shiny and new at the baby store, but it will forever be a cleaning nightmare once you start using it. Darker colors and patters are better.
Of course, keeping a chair clean involves more than just the pad–look at the seat and tray itself. Avoid models with numerous crevices and cracks. Seamless seats and trays are best. FYI: Many high chair trays claim they are dishwasher safe, but have cracks that let water collect inside the tray. This can be a mold hazard, as it is hard to get the tray to properly dry. We will note models with this issue in the reviews section.
4. You don’t have to buy a high chair for quite a while.
Although you may decide to register for a high chair during your pregnancy, you won’t need one for at least four or five months after your baby is born. Why? Babies don’t use high chairs until they start eating solid food. Pediatricians don’t recommend starting solids until at least four months of age. And if your baby isn’t ready for solids till six months of age, that’s still developmentally normal. If you don’t have a lot of storage space, don’t get a chair before you need it. And you’ll get the latest model if you wait.
5. One word: wheels!
If you have a small kitchen, you might not need a high chair with wheels, but if you plan to feed baby in the dining room and need to wash up in the kitchen, look for a chair with wheels. That way, you aren’t tempted to walk away from your baby with the detachable tray, leaving them unattended. As you’ll see in our Safety Alert section below, this can lead to kids escaping the harness and falling. Remember, though, that you want wheels that lock and unlock easily—they should move when you want them to but stay in one place when feeding baby.
6. Safety standards for high chairs are voluntary.
Unlike with cribs and mattresses, high chairs only have voluntary safety standards. In Safety Alerts below, we discuss some of the shortcomings of this voluntary system and what you as a parent can do to make your child safer in a high chair.
7. Multiple trays are really helpful during clean-up.
We love high chair trays that come with a tray insert. That way you can clear up most of the mess quickly without releasing the main tray. You may still have to wipe down the main tray a bit, but most of the food will be on the insert.
Here’s the good news about high chair safety: the latest Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data shows that very few babies die in high chair accidents (a rate of one or less per year). Injuries, however, are another story. In 2014 (the most recent year statistics are available), the CPSC estimates that high chairs were the #4 cause on the list of injuries to children under five requiring an emergency room visit. That number: 11,000 high chair accidents.
In late 2015, the CPSC proposed new mandatory safety standards for high chairs. Currently, high chair safety standards are voluntary; this proposal would make standards mandatory. Within the report, the CPSC analyzed high chair injuries and made recommendations for mandatory rules based on that analysis. As you might guess, many injuries associated with high chairs were caused by falls. Thankfully, there is quite a lot you can do to prevent a fall in your kitchen or dining room:
- Always use the harness. We like five-point harnesses (like those in a car seat), rather than three-point (waist and crotch) so baby can’t wiggle out and stand up. Never remove the tray without also removing your child. We know, it’s easy to just pop off the tray and run it over to the sink for a minute, but kids are wily. They can wiggle out of a lot of straps and restraints if left to their own devices. Instead, consider wheeling or carrying (if you can) the high chair to the sink, then take off the tray.
- Passive restraints to avoid submarining under the tray. Most high chair injuries occur when babies are not strapped into their chairs. Sadly, one to two deaths occur each year when babies “submarine” under the tray. To address these types of accidents, new high chairs now feature a “passive restraint” (a plastic post) under the tray to prevent this. Below, the white submarine restraint is positioned between the legs of the orange pad:
- Some high chair makers attach this submarine protection to the tray; others have it attached to the seat. We prefer posts are attached to the seat (see photo above). Why? If the post is on the tray and the tray is removed, there is a risk a child might be able to squirm out of the safety belts (which is all that would hold them in the chair). If it is attached to the chair, it’s always there to help block an active baby. By the way, some wooden high chairs only seem to have a crotch strap— no plastic post. Again, not much is keeping baby safely in the chair. But let us reiterate: even if the high chair has a passive anti-submarine restraint, you STILL must strap in baby with the safety harness with EACH use. This prevents them from climbing out and falling.
- Additional injuries occurred when chair frames or legs broke, seat supports failed and screws came loose (also a potential choking hazard). Since these problems are caused by manufacturer defects, you may think there isn’t much you can do to prevent them. However, we recommend parents carefully read and follow assembly instructions. Consider looking for unboxing videos online to supplement written instructions. And put a reminder in your phone to check screws and bolts once a month to be sure they haven’t loosened. If you’re considering a used high chair, check the CPSC’s web site for any recalls of the chair you’re considering and check for missing parts.
- The report also noted some injuries (bruises and lacerations) occurred when children ran into pegs on the back of the chair which are used for hanging the tray when not in use. These are meant to be convenient storage, but often are projecting out from the back legs at just the right height for toddlers. If your chair comes with these pegs, we recommend removing them. Or folding the chair and putting it out of harm’s way.
- Finally, the CPSC high chair report also assessed high chairs in restaurants, many of which do not adhere to the volunteer safety standards. For example, the report notes that restaurant high chairs often failed the anti-submarining test. That means babies can slide through the front openings or the sides and get their heads caught or fall right through to the floor. Stability was also a potential issue. The report was concerned that the narrow profile of many restaurant high chairs might lead to tipping and falling. We are also concerned that many restaurant chairs either don’t have harnesses at all or only use three-point harnesses. There are hook-on chairs we recommend for parents who want to provide a safe seat for baby at a restaurant without using the restaurants high chair.
Reviews of 25+ High Chair brands
The Best High Chair
Graco Blossom 4-in-1 High Chair. The Blossom offers parents four different transformations from high chair to toddler booster (straps to a regular dining chair) to youth chair. Priced between $140 and $170, this all-around great buy has six position height adjustment, three position recline and removable foot rest.
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