The lowdown on high chairs
Finally, your baby or toddler is old enough to join you at the dinner table. How do you choose a high chair that won't topple over or cause a curious baby to wriggle out of his or her harness and into harm's way? Babies will spill and throw food, so choosing a high chair that's easy to clean is also important.
That's where our high chair reviews can help. Our experts test high chairs to the Australian standard, and we also use real baby food to see how hard they are to clean.
Our expert testers
With 15 years of experience, our expert testers are the bees' knees of children's product testing. They've seen all the brands and varying high chair configurations on the market, and have put each to the test. Our lab is NATA-accredited to test high chairs against the standard.
How we choose what we test
We test a huge range of high chairs, from the ubiquitous $30 Ikea Antilop to $300+ models from brands like Chicco. Our priority is to review what's for sale in the shops, so usually you'll see us test big brand models from major nursery or department stores. We also try to include a couple of interesting models from smaller manufacturers during each round of testing.
We survey manufacturers to find out about their range of models and we also take member feedback on board when putting a buying list together.
Our buyers then purchase products as you the consumer would, either in-store or online. This is to ensure that the products we received have not been tweaked or tampered with in any way.
How we test
Safety is a vital part of our testing. We test each high chair against the Australian Standard for high chairs, AS 4684:2009. The standard also requires for compliance with at least one of the international standards, so we refer to the European Standard EN 14988. We also see how easy they are to use and clean.
Our testing includes:
- a side and rear stability test to see if the high chair will topple over
- assessing strength of construction, including strength of the tray when force is applied
- looking for a finger pinching or entrapment risk while operating the high chair
- looking for gaps and/or holes that could trap a finger, or any parts that could be a choking hazard
- checking whether the chair comes with a five-point harness and adequate side and back protection
- checking whether the locking mechanisms are secure enough to prevent a child falling out.
Ease of use and cleaning assessment
You've told us that it's important that a high chair is easy to clean . We apply Weetbix and milk, spaghetti and tomato sauce and baby food to different areas of the chair (the tray, seat back and padding, as well as the harness). We then let it dry overnight and rate ease of cleaning for each of these areas on a scale from "very easy" (residue is easily removed using a kitchen cloth) to "very hard" (needs thorough scrubbing or washing). This is then converted to a score.
We also note how easy it is to assemble and operate the high chair.
We recommend a high chair that passes our key safety tests, regardless of whether or not it's particularly easy to clean. So if ease of cleaning is important to you, check out the cleaning assessment score and our good and bad points to help you decide.
Reputable high chair manufacturers will have their products certified to the Standard. Sometimes, after we inform them of failures, they'll supply us with an independent report which says they've met the Standard. Manufacturing problems or inconsistencies do arise, and we usually stand by our findings based on the sample we received. In most cases companies will take our comments on board and rapidly address the problems we find.
Test criteria explained
When rating performance, we place a large emphasis on safety and will only recommend products if they pass major safety tests. Performance consists of 70% of the overall score. The cleaning assessment makes up the remaining 30%. If a high chair is particularly hard to clean, its overall score may not be high enough for us to recommend it, even if it does pass all safety tests.
- Recommended high chairs may have some very minor failures. For instance, due to the nature of many high chair designs, most can't meet the definition of a "permanently attached" harness because they need to be removed in order for you to adjust the straps. If the high chair is fine otherwise (and has a five-point harness), we'll still recommend it.
- Models that score 60–65% for performance may still be worth considering. They may have some minor safety failures such as finger entrapment hazards in hard to reach areas, or some slightly sharp edges.
- Models we don't recommend have not passed our key safety tests. Perhaps the high chair has an inadequate side height, it toppled over during the stability test, or it broke during strength testing. We list these failures in our bad points.
Ready to buy?
Check out our guide to buying a high chair, then see our high chair reviews.