Need to know
- You don't need to spend a fortune to get a good high chair
- Expensive high chairs may have some extra features
- Some expensive models can be impractical, difficult to clean and even unsafe
If you're in the market for a high chair, you've probably noticed that prices vary dramatically from one product to the next. Although simple models such as the Ikea Antilop (or its many clones) can cost $25 or less, designer high chairs from brands including Stokke, iCandy and Bloom can set you back from $300 to $600.
But do you really need to spend hundreds of dollars to get a good high chair? It's easy to be swayed by fancy features and eye-catching designs, but most seasoned parents will tell you that safety, convenience and ease of cleaning are what matter most.
To make life easy for you, our experts have tested more than 60 high chairs, looking specifically at these factors. And it turns out the more expensive product isn't always the best.
Benefits of a high-end high chair
A high chair may be a practical item, but it's also a fairly large piece of furniture that's frequently on display in your home, so the way it looks can be important.
"Some expensive high chairs are real showpieces that can complement a modern kitchen, with striking wooden or chrome designs," says CHOICE children's product expert Kim Gilmour.
Some of the features can be more hassle than they're worth
But she also points out plenty of decent 'copycat' models available for much lower prices.
For example, if you like the Scandinavian look, you could shell out $369 for the Stokke Clikk. But for less than half the price, the Mocka Jenson ($130) and the Childcare Osmo ($149) both have a similarly sleek look and scored significantly higher overall.
The Mocka Jenson and Childcare Osmo look similar to the Stokke Clikk, but are less than half the price.
"Many expensive high chairs have added features which could make mealtimes more comfortable for you and your baby, such as an adjustable height and reclinable functionality that lets them be used from birth," says Kim.
But, once again, she says there are many cheaper models that can do the same job for a fraction of the price.
For example, the Bloom Fresco ($599) lets you recline and swivel it, and also adjust the height of the seat and footrest. But the $99 Childcare Orb DL scores higher overall and is reclinable, has a height-adjustable seat and, unlike the Bloom, is foldable too.
Converts into a toddler/adult chair
It can definitely be worth paying more for a chair that your child will continue to use into their toddler years and beyond.
Kim says many CHOICE members are particularly happy with models such as the Stokke Tripp Trapp ($378) which, although more expensive at first, can be very handy and good value in the long run.
One consumer, Megan, told us that she loves her Tripp Trapp so much she bought another one for her second child.
"100% worth it," she says. "I love it. Not a bad word could be said about it. And I think I get more use out of it than a cheaper one."
There are cheaper lookalike versions of the Tripp Trapp out there, such as the Mocka Soho Highchair ($120), but it didn't score as highly as the Stokke.
The Bloom Fresco is difficult to move around.
Downsides of high-end high chairs
Although some of the features boasted by designer chairs sound impressive, they may not actually be very useful. Kim gives the example of the Bloom Fresco ($599), which is feature-packed but can be a drag to use.
"It looks very stylish, but it weighs 14kg, so it's really difficult to move around," she says.
What's more, some of the features can actually be more hassle than they're worth.
"The fact that the Bloom can swivel 360 degrees may sound cool, but if you haven't locked the seat in place, you might find food flying into all four corners of your kitchen," she says.
Difficult to clean
Attractive design features can sometimes be the very things that make a high chair a nightmare to clean.
One consumer, Kaylee, told us she wouldn't recommend her Chicco Polly high chair, which she bought for about $300.
"The material has ripped and it's a pain to clean as it's double layered, and the crumbs get caught in all the bottom components, so you physically have to upend it and shake it to clean the crumbs out," she says.
We've included discontinued models as many are still for sale on second-hand marketplaces
And even some of the products that look easy to clean can prove deceptively tricky in this regard. For example, the sleek wooden Leander chair ($380) scored just 20% for ease of cleaning, while the harness on the Stokke Tripp Trapp ($378) is prone to staining.
($129) are two of the easiest-to-clean models in our test.
Our safety testing has shown that expensive high chairs aren't necessarily safer than their budget counterparts either. (We've included discontinued models, as many are still for sale on second-hand marketplaces.)
Models that failed major safety tests
Cybex Lemo ($516) Has an unsafe gap that could crush a baby's finger if the seat-locking mechanism is accidentally released. The mechanism is easy to release from outside the chair (e.g. by another child).
Joie Mimzy 360 ($300 – discontinued) Tips over backwards too easily.
Leander Chair ($380) Completely missing a safety harness (you can buy an optional safety bar for an extra cost) and also has sharp edges on the upper front edge of the seat.
Models with more minor failures
Baby Bjorn ($350 – discontinued) Has a three-point harness but no lateral (side) protection.
Bloom Fresco ($599) Has an unsafe gap that could trap a child's fingers.
Peg Perego Siesta ($479) Has potential finger-pinch points.
Kidsmill Up! E3 ($399) The sides aren't high enough to ensure a child doesn't fall out.
If safety is your priority and you're on a budget, there are plenty of affordable models that score 100% in our safety tests, including:
- Childcare Uno ($29)
- Kmart Prandium High Low Chair ($20)
- Kmart Anko Flat Fold High Chair ($39)
- Kmart Anko Folding High Chair ($32 – discontinued)
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.