After 40 hours of testing, including cleaning up pureed sweet potato and crushed Goldfish crackers from 13 high chairs, we’re confident that the simple IKEA Antilop will make mealtimes easier than high chairs that cost 10 times as much. We talked to dozens of parents and read hundreds of online reviews, and we concluded that a great high chair should be simple to use and, above all, painless to clean. Fifty-four test meals later, we’re sure that the Antilop is the easiest of all.
At 7.9 pounds, the IKEA Antilop is much lighter, smaller, and easier to move around than most high chairs but still sturdy, durable, and comfortable. Its smooth plastic-and-steel construction is simple and functional, lacking the grime-collecting fabric or crumb-catching crevices that cause problems in other chairs. Compared with some competitors, it can accommodate slightly bigger kids, but it’s not a chair that kids can continue using as they get older. Assembly is simple, although removing the Antilop’s tray isn’t as easy as with some competitors. The price, at around $20 currently, is impressively low, but you’ll have to buy the chair in person at IKEA or else pay extra for shipping.
The BabyBjörn High Chair shares a clean, Scandinavian-inspired design with the Antilop and has a couple of nice additional features, including the ability to fold for easy storage and an adjustable tray that curves right around the baby’s tummy to stop food from spilling onto the seat. But unlike the Antilop, it can’t pull up to a table with its tray removed. It’s a little tougher to clean, its seat is smaller, and it has a much heftier price tag, too.
If you want a high chair that blends in with adult furniture and can serve you well from 6 months through the end of childhood and beyond, we recommend the Stokke Tripp Trapp. It’s much pricier and more complicated than our top pick, requiring add-on purchases for use with infants and some effort to assemble and adjust. But it’s far easier for bigger kids to climb into by themselves, and it’s an unusually attractive piece of furniture that you might keep forever—or have an easy time selling secondhand.
The simple, compact Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat buckles to an adult chair and makes for a versatile travel chair or a spare chair to keep at Grandma’s house. It’s extremely portable and can work as either a high chair with a tray or a booster pulled up to the table. It isn’t as comfortable or as easy to clean as the Antilop, with buttons and seams that can collect grime or allow spills to drip through to the adult chair underneath. But it is easier to clean and less expensive than other chairs of its type.
Table of contents
- Why you should trust us
- Who should get this
- How we picked
- How we tested
- Our pick: IKEA Antilop
- Flaws but not dealbreakers
- Runner-up: BabyBjörn High Chair
- Upgrade pick: Stokke Tripp Trapp
- Also great: Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat
- The competition
- Safety tips for all high chairs
Why you should trust us
I spent nine hours researching high chairs, starting by identifying any models with safety concerns and consulting with Dr. Heather Felton, a Louisville, Kentucky, pediatrician and a spokesperson for the American Association of Pediatrics, who is an expert in safety and injury prevention. I also spent several hours researching high chair safety online, using the US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s database, to see which chairs had been recalled recently and why.
I conducted an informal survey of two dozen parents across the country to determine what high chair features were most important and to learn about chairs that people both loved and hated. I researched chairs online to find the top choices of reviewers such as Consumer Reports and BabyGearLab, both of which last carried out comparative testing in 2015, and I considered the results of parent surveys on sites such as BabyCenter. I also researched the top sellers on the websites of Amazon, Target, and other top retailers, and read scores of online customer reviews.
I interviewed product designers, marketers, and owners at five companies that make high chairs, among them Domenic Gubitosi, director of product design for the babygear division at Fisher-Price, and Peter Opsvik, the Norwegian designer of what’s arguably the world’s most famous high chair, the Stokke Tripp Trapp.
Personally, I’m a former newspaper reporter with more than 15 years of experience interviewing experts in countless fields, including health, parenting, and safety. I’m also the mom of two very messy eaters. Between them, I’ve used a high chair or a booster seat—and cleaned one up after a meal—more than a thousand times.
Who should get this
A high chair is one of the few baby-gear items that are pretty much necessities. Most babies begin eating solid food around 5 or 6 months, and start using a high chair at the same time. Some families put the high chair away before a child turns 2, while others continue to use the chair through toddlerhood, or sometimes beyond if it’s a booster or a convertible model. In all cases, a high chair will help keep the child—and the child’s food—in place and contained during mealtimes.
We approached this guide with first-time parents in mind. But families who have found their current high chair to be frustrating and permanently covered in grime might want to consider a different chair that’s easier to use and clean—especially if kid number two is on the way.
How we picked
Our research and interviews showed us that a truly great high chair has several attributes:
Safe and stable: A high chair must first of all be stable and secure, so initially we focused on safety to narrow the field, and later we used the expert knowledge we collected to evaluate each finalist for stability.
Pediatrician and injury-prevention expert Dr. Heather Felton told us that safe high chairs should not feel wobbly at all. Some chairs have three-point safety harnesses, which buckle just around the legs and at the waist, while others have five-point harnesses, which include shoulder straps. The type of safety harness doesn’t necessarily make a chair safe or unsafe, Felton explained, but “all of the straps that come with a high chair should be used.”
One way to evaluate whether a chair is safe is to see if it has been certified to meet Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association safety standards. Manufacturers choose to participate in this program, which tests chairs independently according to safety standards from ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials). For high chairs, these tests include using a child test dummy to evaluate restraining systems; checking the load and stability of the chair; looking at whether the baby is protected from any exposed coil springs or protrusions; and seeing if the chair has any holes or openings that could pose entrapment hazards. Most—though not all—of the chairs we eventually tested have JPMA certification.
We discovered that the American Academy of Pediatrics warns against chairs that clip to a tabletop for everyday use, because using these chairs involves so many variables—the table must be stable and heavy enough to hold the weight of the baby and the chair, the caregiver needs to lock it properly, and the baby may be able to kick and push if they can reach part of the table with their legs. Despite the fact that it’s possible to use these chairs safely—and we know that many parents do use one as a primary chair—we decided not to include clip-on chairs in this guide. But we plan to consider them for future guides focused on chairs specifically for travel.
Easy to clean: After talking with dozens of parents about their high chair experiences and reading hundreds of online reviews, we concluded that ease of cleaning was the factor that made most people love or hate their high chair. The tiniest diners love smearing hands full of sticky puree everywhere they can reach (including behind their heads), and once they become tots they may still be overturning entire bowls of Cheerios and milk more mornings than not. A high chair has the potential to drive a parent crazy if it has too many crevices where crumbs can collect, spaces underneath the seat where liquids can pool undetected, or a seat cover that you can’t easily throw in the washing machine after a diaper leaks all over it. We ruled out all high chairs that had seat covers, fabric components, or foam elements that were not either machine washable or dishwasher safe. We also rejected chairs without dishwasher-safe trays or tray liners.
Compact and manageable: Many families have limited space and will appreciate a high chair with a smaller footprint, as well as something that they can either fold or disassemble for long-term storage. The design of some chairs makes them easy to trip over, even if they’re not huge. And frequent travelers will appreciate a chair that is light and easy to fold or take apart quickly to store or throw in the trunk.
Designed to make meals easier and more pleasant: Of course, a great chair should also be easy for a baby and a parent to use, be comfortable enough to keep a baby happy through mealtime, and—ideally—not be a total eyesore. Though some people might like extra features such as a seat that reclines or a chair that adjusts to different height settings, we concluded that those features were not necessary for most people, as they merely resulted in price and convenience trade-offs and didn’t add a lot of value.
A good value: We found that high chairs range widely in price, from as little as $20 to north of $500. Though we didn’t make price alone a criterion for elimination, many parents we spoke to who had bought pricey high chairs ended up wishing they had something simpler and easier to clean.
We scanned through dozens of high chairs online, considered about 30 popular models carefully, and eliminated the ones that had many negative customer reviews that specifically described how difficult they were to clean. This process left us with a lineup of 13 high chairs. The contenders included upright chairs (some standard and some with extra features like multiple height settings or the ability to recline); wooden “grow with me” chairs, which you can adjust to fit children of different ages; chairs billed as “modular,” which you can convert for use in multiple ways; and one “space-saver” booster, which buckles to an adult chair.
How we tested
To start, I timed the two-person assembly of each of the 13 high chairs, noting any particular difficulties or frustrations. This process consumed three and a half hours of my life. I measured each chair’s footprint and considered how easy it was to fold, roll, or lift out of the way between meals.
I then spent 26 hours evaluating the high chairs in everyday conditions with my two daughters, using each chair for at least two meals, and using the chairs that worked best for dozens of meals. I paid attention to how easy or difficult it was to get my tiny testing assistant—7-month-old Emilia—in and out of each chair, and I noted how tough it was to clean up after a regular meal, including when she’d smeared avocado on all reachable surfaces. I also checked to see how my almost-3-year-old daughter Elise fit in each chair. If the chair included the option of adjusting or converting to work for a preschooler or a bigger kid, I tried that out with her.
Our pick: IKEA Antilop
The IKEA Antilop, with its smooth, rounded plastic seat and tray, was easier to clean, simpler to use, and, at $20 currently, less expensive than every other high chair we tested. Although this model is lightweight, it’s also sturdy, and its clean lines and neutral white-and-silver design look presentable with just about any decor. It stacks easily with the tray removed (great for parents of twins or closely spaced kids, or for daycares), and it’s a breeze to assemble or take apart for storage or travel. While it has none of the extra features that many high chair designers consider standard—such as different height settings or a reclining seat back—it is versatile in several important ways.A combination of features makes the Antilop the easiest to clean of all the chairs we tested. Unlike modular chairs such as the Graco Blossom 4-in-1 Seating System or the Fisher Price 4-in-1 Total Clean High Chair, the Antliop has no hard-to-reach areas where liquids can pool. Its rounded seat is one piece of plastic, with no crannies, cracks, or seams where grime can hide. It uses no fabric (unless you spring for the optional IKEA Pyttig back pillow, which is simple to attach, has a cover that is easy enough to throw in the washing machine, and after a couple of months of use seems to be nearly impossible to stain). The Antilop’s tray fits in the dishwasher, and the safety straps are relatively easy to remove and toss in the washing machine. You can bring the entire chair outside and spray it down with a hose, too. When it comes to keeping a high chair clean, less is more.
Unlike the trays on most high chairs, the Antilop’s tray is designed to stay attached most of the time. We found that this design made starting mealtimes simpler and easier, and it reduced clutter around the kitchen and dining room. Many chairs, including perfectly fine ones we tested such as the OXO Tot Seedling High Chair, require caregivers to remove the tray, buckle in the baby, turn around and pick up the tray again, and then finally slide it into place. With the Antilop, you can just plop the baby in and fasten the straps, and you’re all set. The tray’s 1-centimeter raised edge prevents many (but definitely not all) spills from ending up all over the floor, as well.
The 7.9-pound chair is lightweight yet sturdy, and with its tray removed, it’s easily stackable. It is very easy to assemble—we clocked two minutes. All you need to do is slide the chair’s legs into place and click on the tray. It has a small, 22-by-24-inch footprint and a three-point safety harness, meaning no shoulder straps to get messy. It doesn’t have wheels, but it doesn’t need them because it’s light enough for you to easily pick it up and move it around. (Many of the other chairs we tested weighed 25 pounds or more—we could easily see why their designers added wheels.)
The Antilop has a simple, plain, but attractive look, with a white molded-plastic seat and tray and silver-tone steel legs. While the chair is about as basic as can be, you can modify it in two important ways: First, the optional Pyttig back pillow gives babies who are first learning to eat solids a little boost up to the tray, although the cushion quickly becomes unnecessary for many. Second, the high chair can also work without the tray if you prefer to push it close to the table so that your baby or toddler can eat there with the rest of the family.
Other parents tend to agree with our findings. One reviewer on Amazon, a parent who wanted a small-footprint chair with no fabric to get stained, writes in appreciation of its light weight and cleanability: “That makes it perfect to just throw into the tub to hose down if necessary. Otherwise, a wet towel keeps the chair looking fresh.” The same reviewer discovered this chair in use at a restaurant, and we can confirm from firsthand observation that the Antilop can withstand the daily demands of restaurant use without breaking, staining, or suffering other problems.1 Another Amazon reviewer writes, “I have 3 kids and this is, hands down, the best high chair I have owned.” Most of the negative customer reviews of the chair (from purchases on Amazon) are complaints regarding poor packaging or parts missing from the shipment.
The Antilop, which IKEA introduced more than a decade ago, has become such a budget favorite that clever folks on Etsy have come up with ways to get parents to spend more, creating $16 silicone placemats that fit perfectly inside the tray (making cleanup even simpler) and selling $35 handmade cushion covers in cute fabrics.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Parents of older babies and toddlers will find that the IKEA Antilop requires some cooperation from your child, since you must slide their little legs into the holes on the one-piece seat. This means the chair is not so great for heavy toddlers (whom you will have to lift way up and slide in, much like when you’re using a typical wooden restaurant high chair) or for kids who kick and protest being put in the chair. Though IKEA does not provide a specific age or weight limit for its chair, we found that an almost-3-year-old was more comfortable in our runner-up pick, the BabyBjörn High Chair, than in the Antilop.
The Antilop does not fold or adjust in any way. It stands at a fixed but comfortable height that you can pull up to the dining table (the tray sits at the 29-inch mark). Parents who want a high chair for eating at a breakfast bar or taller counter will need to get a different high chair, such as the OXO Tot Seedling. The Antilop does slide around a bit, too, as does the light BabyBjörn chair, but the wheeled competitors (except for the Seedling) were worse about this in our tests.
The tray does not adjust to move closer to or farther away from the baby’s tummy, so more food may fall onto the seat than in a chair with an adjustable tray, such as our runner-up pick, the BabyBjörn High Chair. (IKEA’s optional back cushion helps with this problem, and it can bring smaller babies closer to the tray and allow them to sit up straight.) The seat puts no padding under a baby’s bottom, but in our experience it was comfortable enough for our little tester, who did not arch her back and fuss, as she did in some other chairs.
In contrast to the seat backs on many other chairs, the one on the Antilop does not recline. We didn’t consider this function to be a requirement, as most parents will use a high chair for feeding solids, not for giving bottles or naps. Also unlike many chairs, the Antilop lacks a footrest. We found this omission to be in the chair’s favor in many ways, since most chairs’ footrests are too low for babies to reach until they nearly outgrow using the chair, and they just end up collecting food splatters and spills.
Removing the tray for the first time will likely leave parents wondering if it is intended to come off. It’s a common question posted to online forums, and we’ve seen a few YouTube videos showing how to do it: You push down with one hand on the center of the seat and then yank the tray with force (harder than you might think). Once you get the hang of it, the tray is easy enough to remove and then snap back in after you run it through the dishwasher. Trying to remove the tray when the baby is in the chair, however, is dangerous, and IKEA warns against this behavior in stickers on the tray itself.
The company modified the chair’s safety straps in 2012 after a recall; the restraint buckle opened unexpectedly, causing three kids to fall and suffer minor injuries. Any parent getting an Antilop as a hand-me-down or buying one used should check the manufacturing date.
Also of note: The IKEA chair is not certified to Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association safety standards, unlike the majority of high chairs we looked at—including the BabyBjörn, Stokke, Fisher-Price, Joovy, Keekaroo, OXO, and Graco chairs. IKEA, which has stores in 48 countries, does maintain that its products are “designed and tested to comply with all applicable requirements in the countries where they are sold.” We would have considered the voluntary JPMA certification an additional endorsement; on the other hand, we did not consider it a strict requirement, and, subjectively speaking, we also tested a competing chair that felt less secure for a 7-month-old in spite of its meeting the JPMA requirements.
Perhaps the most significant flaw for many potential buyers: Purchasing this chair for $20 requires a trip to IKEA (you can also buy it through the IKEA website, though shipping fees vary). Many IKEA products are now also available through Amazon, but often for an absurdly inflated price. The Antilop does not come with a warranty.
Runner-up: BabyBjörn High Chair
The BabyBjörn High Chair shares many excellent qualities with the IKEA Antilop, including a clean, stable, Scandinavian-inspired plastic-and-steel design that is light (11 pounds) and easy to scrub or wipe down, with no grime-prone fabric covers or crannies or hidden areas to collect juice or milk. It improves on the Antilop in some ways—the tray fits a kid better, the tray cover comes off more easily, and the chair folds for storage or easier floor sweeping. Like the Antilop, it is simple and quick to assemble (it took us two minutes), it has a small footprint, and it doesn’t recline or adjust to different height settings. The downside: You could outfit an entire daycare with our IKEA pick for the cost of one BabyBjörn, which has a list price of $300 but is more typically available for about $175.
The BabyBjörn, which is JPMA certified and has been around since 2012, is an improvement over the Antilop in a few ways. Its adjustable tray fits neatly around a baby’s tummy and has a dishwasher-safe, easy-to-snap-on-and-off tray cover that simplifies cleanup—the Antilop’s tray is hard enough to remove that many people don’t even try. Unlike the Antilop, it can fold to lean against the wall when not in use, which is great for putting it in long-term storage, doing some kitchen-floor cleanup, or just making a confined dining area feel less cluttered. Also unlike the Antilop, this chair has a footrest—it was a little out of reach for my 7-month-old and too short for my almost-3-year-old, but it will likely work well for kids in between.
This chair, which is a Consumer Reports recommendation (subscription required) and a BabyGearLab top pick, has a tray that stays attached but lowers so that you can put the baby in, secure the safety straps, and then raise the tray back into position. While the removable tray cover was easy to clean in our tests, we found that some other parts of the BabyBjörn were a little tougher to clean than on the Antilop. The safety straps do not come off, for example, and the footrest can collect drips. Plus, the tray is part of the frame, so you have no option to bring the baby up to the table with the rest of the family.
Some parents also think this model feels too small for bigger kids, and it does look tiny next to many bestselling chairs. This feedback is common, said Bridgette Kovacevich, the marketing manager for BabySwede, which distributes BabyBjörn products in North America. Today’s high chairs “tend to be over-sized and bigger than baby so it looks very different in comparison,” Kovacevich told us, noting that the BabyBjörn chair is designed to fit babies from 6 months to approximately 3 years. My almost-3-year-old fit fine, although she looked huge in this chair. I actually found it easier to get her secured in this chair than in the Antilop, although she (like many big kids) prefers being right up at the table with us, which is not an option with the BabyBjörn.
Last, the price of this model is far, far higher than that of our top pick, which may seem like a leap. We considered many chairs at a price somewhere between the approximate $20 of our top pick and the nearly tenfold increase for this model, but we disqualified them for various reasons you’ll find in the Competition section. The BabyBjörn chair does not have a formal warranty.
Upgrade pick: Stokke Tripp Trapp
The solid-beech Stokke Tripp Trapp is the only chair we tested that is truly comfortable and easy to use for both infants and preschoolers who are ready to climb into a chair by themselves. It’s also the only high chair we tested that has been part of an exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, thanks to its iconic 1972 design by Norwegian Peter Opsvik. Its aesthetics are clearly a draw, and inseparable from its value. Unlike the IKEA Antilop and the vast majority of other high chairs, the Tripp Trapp is a piece of furniture you might keep forever, as its dozen configurations allow it to grow from a first high chair for a 6-month-old to a toddler seat to a chair appropriate for most teens and even adults.
We compared the Tripp Trapp against two other wooden, adjustable chairs with a similar footprint—the Keekaroo Height Right High Chair and the Svan Signet Complete High Chair—and found that the competitors had heavy wooden trays or clunky bentwood infant seats and were really better suited to kids age 3 and up. The modular plastic-and-metal chairs we tried (the Ingenuity Trio 3-in-1 High Chair, Graco Blossom 4-in-1 Seating System, and Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Total Clean High Chair) were comfortable for babies but converted into awkward and at times unsafe chairs for preschoolers because of their wheeled bases and footrests, which weren’t suitable for climbing on. The Stokke’s footprint is comparable in size to that of the IKEA Antilop and the BabyBjörn, our other picks.
High chair footprint comparison
|High chair||Dimensions (inches)||Footprint area (square inches)|
|IKEA Antilop||24.5 by 26||637|
|BabyBjörn High Chair||21 by 21.5||451.5|
|Stokke Tripp Trapp||18 by 22.5||405|
The JPMA-certified Stokke Tripp Trapp was extremely comfortable for my 7-month-old, and the recycled-plastic Baby Set attachment was easy to secure and went right in the dishwasher for cleanup. The chair was even better for my preschooler, who could climb into it herself. The safety gliders that attached to the legs allowed her to push away from the table without tipping and to get down on her own. In general, we found the chair very easy to clean, although the safety harness needs a screwdriver to remove and the screw is tough to reach without taking the chair’s seat out, so parents will have to put in some effort to keep it grime-free. During our testing, though, the safety straps and buckle did scrub free of all stickiness and stains. Overall, the Stokke seemed the sturdiest of the 13 chairs we tested.
Opsvik’s intent with the Tripp Trapp, which he designed in 1972 for his then 2-year-old son Thor, was to bring little ones right up to the table to eat with the rest of the family. “On a Tripp Trapp chair, smaller children sit on a higher seat than the taller ones and these reduced height differences have improved the interaction between children and grown-ups around the same table,” he wrote in an email. “Mealtimes have become more relaxed, and children find it easier to concentrate on the activities taking place around the table when the physical environment has been adapted to their size and needs.”
I tested the Tripp Trapp with the add-on Baby Set, which consists of a plastic seat and back that attach to the chair’s wooden slats. My little tester loved being at the table next to us and her big sister. Note, however, that without a tray, all of the mess ends up on the tabletop, so a placemat is key. Stokke sells a Table Top Set for $90, but I’m partial to the inexpensive Summer Infant Tiny Diner placemat. Parents who want their baby to eat apart from the table can buy an optional $50 Stokke plastic tray that is lightweight, dishwasher safe, and easy to attach to the Baby Set. Stokke also sells optional $45 fabric cushions for the chair’s seat and back.
Once you get all the infant add-ons, the $250 Tripp Trapp can become a $400-plus chair. But you could forgo some of those extras (the tray, for example, may not be necessary if you want the baby to eat at the table). It may help justify the investment to know that the resale potential for used Tripp Trapps is strong—in New York, for example, the chairs often sell on Craigslist for more than $100. The chair’s designer, Opsvik, told us he enjoyed how sustainable his creation had become. “I have heard it said that a big competition facing Tripp Trapp in certain Scandinavian markets is the second-hand Tripp Trapp. People inherit a Tripp Trapp from family or friends or buy it on the equivalent to eBay.”
Compared with our top pick, obviously, the Tripp Trapp is far more expensive, but we believe it still delivers a great value. In many ways—the long-term functionality, the versatility, the overall quality—it is incomparable. We can make comparisons on weight, though, and the Tripp Trapp, at about 15 pounds, is heavier to move around than lightweight plastic-and-steel chairs like the IKEA Antilop or the BabyBjörn. It also had a longer assembly time (36 minutes) than many other chairs we tested, although we found it easier to put together and adjust than similar wooden competitors. It comes in 10 colors, both brights and neutrals, and in lighter “natural” and darker “walnut” wood finishes (all the chairs are made of beech). The wooden chair has a seven-year warranty when you register it.
Also great: Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat
The Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat, which buckles to an adult chair, is smaller, lighter (4.7 pounds), and easier to travel with than our top pick, making it a great second chair to keep at Grandma and Grandpa’s house or to take on a trip. This inexpensive model cleverly folds into a compact little package with its own carry strap, and it can work either as a high chair with a tray or as a booster seat pulled up to the table. But it’s not as comfortable or as easy to clean as the IKEA Antilop, which we prefer for everyday use.
We studied the half-dozen readily available chairs of this type and concluded that the Healthy Care Deluxe would be the easiest to clean (many similar chairs have large, often ruffle-lined fabric components). It also offers good versatility for a low price. This JPMA-certified chair, which Fisher-Price released in 2004, can adjust to three heights; that versatility is helpful when you’re using it as a booster seat, since some kids need a higher boost to reach the table than others. The tray also has three positions. We tested the Deluxe booster, which includes a snap-on lid so that the tray stays clean when stored away, but the booster is also available without the tray cover for less.
Fisher-Price has updated the colors but hasn’t felt the need to change much else since the model’s 2004 debut, said Domenic Gubitosi, director of product design for Fisher-Price’s babygear division. “It is super space efficient, it’s just this nice contained little unit,” he said. “It’s probably not the seat you use every day.”
The Healthy Care Deluxe can work with or without the tray, either as a booster seat pulled right up to the table or as a space-saver high chair. This flexibility makes it appropriate for 6-month-olds, toddlers, and preschoolers (my own preschooler liked it pulled right up to the table during a visit to Grandpa’s house). Many parents will hold on to this chair after their child outgrows it and keep it in the closet so that they can bring it out when a baby visits.
Like the IKEA Antilop and the BabyBjörn High Chair, the Healthy Care Deluxe has no fabric to wash and is simple to put together (we took less than two minutes). The tray insert goes right in the dishwasher—although we did find that it stains easily—and the seat itself is small enough to clean in the sink. Still, this chair was harder to keep clean than our other three picks, primarily because food and liquid tended to fall through the booster seat to the adult chair below. The seat also has some buttons, grooves, and other parts that collect grime, and it isn’t the most comfortable seat for smaller babies.
This chair, which comes in four colors, won’t win a beauty contest. But if the tray isn’t attached, you can push the adult chair right up to the table, hiding the booster from sight. As with other chairs designed for use next to the table, parents need to make sure babies aren’t able to kick or push on anything that could cause them to tip themselves over. The Healthy Care Deluxe does not come with a warranty.
The OXO Tot Seedling High Chair, which has five height settings, was the best adjustable chair we tested. This sturdy, no-nonsense, relatively inexpensive (currently about $120) chair has a streamlined look and is relatively easy to care for, but we found it harder to clean, heavier, and bulkier than our top picks. Unlike all of the other four-wheeled options we tested, when the Seedling’s wheels were locked, the chair actually stayed in one place. It performed pretty well during our tests, but although the seat cover was easy to remove and wash, it required air drying, leaving us without a cover for the baby’s next meal. The chair is also bulky and heavy (25 pounds), and the tray took on a little water when we cleaned it in the sink. If you eat at a taller counter or use a high breakfast bar, however, and need a chair with adjustable height, the Seedling is a great choice.
The best thing about the Joovy Nook (about $120 at this writing) is that its tray opens and swings out to one side so that the caregiver doesn’t need to take it off and then put it back on when seating the baby in the chair. This design makes mealtimes much easier than with high chairs sporting a separate tray that you have to slide off each time. (Our top pick and runner-up pick, the IKEA Antilop and the BabyBjörn High Chair, also have trays that stay in place while you slide the baby in or out.) The Nook also folds flat with one hand and leans nicely against the wall. The worst thing about the Nook is that removing the seat cushion for deep cleaning is extremely difficult. With the help of a YouTube video, I finally did remove it, but the process wasn’t something I’d care to repeat.
Fisher-Price’s 4-in-1 Total Clean High Chair, which typically costs about $140, was new in 2016. Offering different height settings, this design is a modular chair that includes several parts stacked on top of one another. You can use it as a regular high chair, a space-saver high chair buckled to an adult chair, a booster seat, or a youth chair. The Total Clean has a seat, safety straps, and both a tray and an insert that can go right in the dishwasher. In our tests, it did feel great to just put all of that in my dishwasher’s bottom rack and press the start button, but those weren’t the only parts of the chair we had to clean. Crumbs, food, and liquid fell through the removable space saver and booster seat to the bottom youth-chair seat, which remained connected to the base. And even with the wheels locked, this chair slid around my floor quite a bit.
The Graco Blossom 4-in-1 Seating System, which usually sells for about $190, is similar to the Fisher-Price Total Clean but isn’t designed to go in a dishwasher. It’s also a stacked, modular chair, so it offers the same versatility and drawbacks, including an awkward, wheeled youth chair. But it’s harder to get clean than the Fisher-Price Total Clean, since only the trays go in the dishwasher. During our testing, grape juice dripped through to the seat at the bottom (a mess that would go undetected unless a parent lifted off the space-saver high chair seat to check). The footrest area has slots, so parents can adjust the footrest height, but in our tests food got inside them and was difficult to get out. This chair is among the most popular modular high chair options on Amazon, but we recommend our picks and even the first few competitors before it.
The Ingenuity Trio 3-in-1 High Chair was one of Consumer Reports’s top picks (subscription required) in 2015 and is the best-selling high chair on Amazon and at retailers like Walmart and Babies”R”Us. It was the least expensive modular chair we tested, selling for about $100 at the time of our review, and it did look and feel a little cheaper than similar models we tried. The tray was slightly tricky to slide on: Several times I thought it was secured and it wasn’t, so my baby was able to push it right off herself. As with most other wheeled models we tried, the entire chair slid all around on my wooden floor even when the wheels were locked. When we used it as a kid chair, it was just as awkward as the other modular chairs, and although the footrest clearly wasn’t designed for a preschooler to climb on in order to get in the chair, that’s exactly what my daughter tried to do. Still, the Ingenuity outperformed other modular chairs in one big way—no juice slipped through to the bottom seat.
The Graco Duo Diner LX Highchair (about $150 currently) is a modular chair that doesn’t try to turn into a youth seat at all; it can work only as a regular high chair, a space-saver chair buckled to an adult chair, or a booster. That means it has no hidden seat at the bottom to collect sticky liquid. On the other hand, the high chair seat itself is much heavier and even more like a car seat than the other modular chairs, so it’s more difficult to take off and bring to the sink. The most annoying areas to scrub clean were, yet again, the footrest and footrest-adjustment slots.
The Phil&Teds Poppy High Chair looks like something out of The Jetsons and is reasonably priced at about $120 currently. But underneath its Aerocore seat cover, it has many hidden gaps, crannies, and slots in its plastic seat frame that in our tests collected spilled juice and were a big pain to clean. If parents don’t remove the seat cover regularly, things could get gross quickly. My husband and I also both stubbed our toes, hard, on this chair’s legs at least once, and the shoulder straps slipped off our baby’s shoulders even after I crossed them behind her back as it showed in the manual. One other issue to note: Online information that Amazon lists as being from the manufacturer suggests that the Aerocore seat cover could go in the dishwasher, but the instruction manual suggests scrubbing with soap and water instead. Turned out that it wasn’t a good idea to put the cover in the dishwasher—it warped when I did so.
The all-wood Keekaroo Height Right High Chair (about $190 at this writing) has a similar system for adjusting the seat and footrest as the Stokke Tripp Trapp, so it can see use throughout childhood and as an adult chair. It will likely work just fine for children age 3 and up, but it does not seem ideal for the youngest eaters. In our tests, the wooden tray was very heavy and clunky to slide in and out, and the combination of the seat height, the tray placement, and the three-point harness allowed my 7-month-old to lunge forward in the chair (the Stokke and the other wooden chair we tested, the Svan Signet Complete, both have a five-point harness). The chair is JPMA certified, but it didn’t feel comfortable to use with my baby, even though she can sit up fine on her own. Keekaroo does sell an Infant Insert that it bills as being for babies who have trouble sitting up, but many customer reviewers say it gets food stuck underneath.
The Svan Signet Complete (which currently sells for about $200 for the chair itself plus $70 for a baby kit that makes it usable for infants) has a bentwood frame and can adjust to last throughout childhood, and even for adult use. We found this chair harder to assemble and adjust than the other wooden chairs we tested. The wooden baby guard and bar that went between the legs were more difficult to use and less comfortable for my baby than the plastic Stokke baby set, and the Svan’s wooden tray (which had a difficult-to-remove plastic cover) was heavy. The safety harness just hung on the chair, so in our tests it kept getting stuck underneath my baby when I tried to get her buckled in. The straps did come right off the frame easily and could go in the washing machine, but otherwise this model was a pain to clean. The design included deep grooves and slots that were hard to reach with a sponge and even with a scrubbing brush.
Before testing, we ruled out a few other popular chairs, including Peg Perego’s Prima Pappa Diner and Siesta, because their seat covers were not machine washable. Others, such as the Evenflo Convertible High Chair, which converts to a table and chair for a toddler and appears to be easy to care for, had online reviews that revealed major cleaning issues. “There is a recess in the seat about the size of two quarters that collects nasty and is very difficult to clean. Drill out the bottom,” suggests one Amazon reviewer. “The tray has a green post that collects water in the dishwasher. Drill a hole in the bottom.”
For safety reasons, we also ruled out the Inglesina Fast Table Chair—a popular compact chair that gets great reviews and has ranked as one of the best high chairs for travel—before testing. In making this decision, we also eliminated other models that clip to a table (including the Phil&Teds Lobster Portable High Chair and the Chicco Caddy Hook On Chair). Though we will likely consider these chairs in a future guide focused on travel chairs, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend clip-on chairs for everyday use because they can be dangerous if the caregiver doesn’t make sure that the table is stable and heavy enough to hold the baby’s weight, or if the baby can reach part of the table to kick and push the chair loose.
Safety tips for all high chairs
Falling is the most common high chair accident that lands a child in the emergency room—usually because caregivers don’t fasten the safety straps that come with the chair or leave them too loose, explained Dr. Heather Felton, a Louisville, Kentucky, pediatrician and injury-prevention expert.
“Injuries from high chairs are fairly common in general. About 24 children are treated in the ER every day in the US, or about 1 per hour,” Felton wrote in an email. “Most falls happen when a child is climbing or standing on the chair. The most common types of injuries are to the head and neck, with closed head injuries, including concussions, being the most common.”
It’s important to follow the specific safety instructions that come with each chair. For example, it’s not safe to try to remove the IKEA Antilop’s tray while a baby is in the seat. The BabyBjörn’s tray table must always be locked when the baby is using the chair. The Stokke Tripp Trapp manual explains that the chair is not for use on rough surfaces and uneven floors, such as areas with rugs or tiles, because the chair needs to be able to slide backward. With both the Tripp Trapp and any booster, such as the Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe, in which a child is buckled to an adult chair, parents need to watch for frames underneath the table that the child could push their legs against, causing themselves to tilt backward.
With any high chair, Felton reminds parents to make sure the parts are locked in position. “If there is some kind of locking mechanism, make sure that you hear it lock before putting your child into the chair. This also includes any wheels that may be on the feet of the chair,” she told us.
(Photos by E. Katie Holm.)
- Louisville pediatrician, expert in safety and injury prevention, and spokesperson for the American Association of Pediatrics, email interview, May 16, 2017 ,
- brand marketing, Graco, phone interview, May 18, 2017 ,
- director of product design for Fisher-Price, babygear division, phone interview, May 18, 2017 ,
- marketing manager for BabySwede, the licensed North American distributor for BabyBjörn, email interview, May 24, 2017 ,
- designer of the Stokke Tripp Trapp and author of "Rethinking Sitting", email interview, May 31, 2017 ,
- owner of SCS Direct, maker of the Svan high chair, phone interview, May 15, 2017 ,
- High Chairs, Consumer Reports, 2015
- The Battle of the Best High Chair, BabyGearLab, May 21, 2015 ,
- 2017 Moms' Picks: Best highchairs, BabyCenter, 2017