The best high chair for your budget won’t be the best one for your baby. If you’re a budget-minded parent who buys used baby gear when you can find it, it may feel as if you’ve hit the jackpot if you’re looking for a high chair for your baby or toddler because there is an overabundance of them at garage sales. Before you pick up an old high chair, you need to know that the safety requirements for high chairs changed recently.
New standards were made mandatory after 18,500 hospital emergency visits related to high chairs occurred between 2015 and 2016. While only two children died in those high chair-related accidents, that’s two too many. The non-fatal injuries included broken bones, including fractured skulls, and skin that was somehow cut open, usually during a tip over event or from an attempt to climb up the chair.
The majority of the injured children were between six and eighteen months old.
You can find a chair that meets the new safety standards for as little as $59 and possibly less if it is on sale.
In our reviews, we provide the pros and cons for each chair that made our list. We also give you one or more similar chairs that you would want to consider before you make your final decision. Use our review to find styles and features you like and save time finding similar high chairs to compare with so you can quickly find the one that suits your needs the best.
5. CostZon 3-in-1 – Best Value in a 3 in 1 (High Chair, Booster Seat, and Table and Chair)
4.1 rating based on 63 reviews
Price is good
The useful life is extended because it converts to a booster seat
Includes high chair, rocking booster seat, plus a table and chair for eating or coloring
The wheels make it easy to move from room to room
It is easy to clean (if it was real messy you could take it in the shower and hose it down)
Tray is dishwasher safe
The height doesn’t adjust
You can’t fold it
All four of these other models can be used as a high chair, and as a table and chair. Except for the Evenflo model, they can also be used as booster seats and recline so you can use them with a child who can’t sit up fully yet.
If you like Be Mindful but want an adjustable footrest and don’t care much about taking it apart to make it into a short toddler chair, consider Asunflower Wooden High Chair Adjustable or the Ashtonbee. They also have a minimalist design that won’t overpower your home the way a large plastic high chair often does.
The Asunflower has the cutest accessories. This bright, cheerful waterproof cover is so inexpensive, you can get several to ensure your little darling always has a clean seat before they begin eating. Of course, we both know it won’t stay clean long.
The design of the Primo Cozy Tot Deluxe is very similar to both the Asunflower and the Be Mindful but it uses plastic legs instead of wooden ones. The advantage is that it folds up for storage while the wooden ones have to be taken apart to travel well.
Converts to a toddler chair which extends its useful life
The feeding tray can go into the dishwasher
Ages 6 months – 36 months
Easy to clean
Tray curves around the baby’s body which will minimize crumbs
The seat is small, so it won’t be good for 36 months if your child is on the larger side.
To save work, clean your baby’s hands and face of smearable foods, then remove the top tray before you fold the under tray down. If you fold the under tray down before you remove the top tray, you’ll get crumbs all over the place. If you remove the top tray before you clean your baby’s hands, you’ll end up with a mess on the under tray.
Compares very favorably to the Baby Bjorn which sells for three times as much.
Compare to Phil & Ted’s Poppy that I didn’t choose because I’d trip over the legs too often.
Ciao! Baby isn’t perfect but if you’re looking for a portable solution that will work at picnic’s, grandma’s house, restaurants, and on the beach, this Amazon’s Choice portable high chair does the job.
Lightweight and portable (just like a camp chair)
Stable and secure
Easy to clean
Lots of color choices
Can be used in restaurants to avoid germs left in their high chairs
Tray slants toward the child, especially when the child gets bigger
Leg holes are small so larger toddlers don’t fit
The slanting tray issue can be solved by using a plate with suction that sticks to the plastic cover on the tray. To clean, wipe the tray. To clean further, hose it off and let it air dry like any camp chair. The chair weighs 7.3 pounds and holds babies from 10 to 50 pounds.
Normally, we wouldn’t include a logo chair in the reviews because you’re paying for the logo as well as the product. These chairs have such high reviews and the reviews address many of the complaints about other high chairs, we decided to make an exception.
Adjustable height including countertop
5 recline positions
Easy to clean
Remove the tray with one hand
Folds for storage
They charge 33% more for the girls’ version ($199 vs $149)
Maximum weight is only 40 pounds
The logos are for the parents since baby won’t be old enough to recognize them.
This is on our list with a caution. Graco is a trusted name in baby products but their Amazon listing is what I refer to as stacked. That means they had other products or earlier versions of this product on the same listing so when you look at the reviews, there is no way to tell if the reviews are applicable to the current product. Their rating is a very respectable 4.6 with 2,259 reviews but those reviews refer to other models of Graco high chairs as well as this one. If I hadn’t noticed this, they would have won the Highest Rated High Chair.
Infant to 40 pounds
Booster to 60 pounds
Can accommodate two children at one time
Very versatile design
Removable tray cover
3 reclining positions
One-handed tray removal
The wheels make it easy to move a sleeping baby when you move to a new location
Practice of stacking products leads to misleading reviews
We liked several aspects of this chair but were unable to get information about a product recall that satisfied us that the problem has been fully corrected. We were able to access other pages on their site but the recall page had a consistent error message.
New Safety Standards Make High Chairs Safer
Manufacturers have known new safety standards were coming since the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published them on June 8, 2018. The requirements mirror voluntary standards that were already in place and made them mandatory effective June 19, 2019.
The new standards apply to high chairs sold on or after the effective date. They do not require anyone, including restaurants, to discard older high chairs so you’ll have to evaluate the chairs offered at restaurants for safety before trusting your child’s well-being to one.
Children who tried to climb into or out of a high chair and those who liked to rock back and forth in the chair caused most of the accidents although some were the result of equipment failures. The standards require high chairs to be sturdier in a way that will help prevent them from falling over backward. They also require a 3-point restraint system that will make it more difficult for a child to try to climb out.
The final requirement is a passive crotch restraint designed to help prevent the child from sliding down in the chair. Some small babies have suffocated after sliding down and being scrunched up too far in a way that impaired breathing.
Chairs that meet the new standards will also have warning labels that are visible when the chair is being used. If you buy a used chair, understand that it may not meet current safety standards. Saving a little bit of money isn’t worth risking an accident that could injure your child. If you absolutely can’t afford a new one, make sure the chair can’t tip over backward and that it has safety straps to protect your child.
Best Features in a High Chair
Safety is the first consideration. If your baby isn’t safe in the chair, none of the other features matter.
A lot of the reviews mentioned that the reviewer didn’t use the straps. We want to caution you to use the straps. You never know when your baby will do something for the very first time. If you’re even slightly distracted, not using the straps can lead to an emergency room visit.
Also, you should never leave your child unattended in their high chair.
BPAs – a lot of products have questions about BPAs. None of the products contain BPAs because the regulations prohibit their use.
Easy to Clean
Mothers of babies and toddlers often feel as if they spend all day cleaning. Young children are messy eaters. Little ones don’t understand the concept of not making a mess. A chair that is easy to clean will save time multiple times every day. Don’t make the mistake I made and buy a chair because you think it will make a nice family heirloom. Those nooks and crannies meant spending a lot of time cleaning the chair.
Washable trays reduce cleanup time after every meal. Fabric may look cute until the first meal. After that, fabric becomes a constant battle to keep it clean. Avoid chairs with seams and other areas where you’ll have to hunt for hidden food. If you miss spilled foods, it can expose your baby to toxic mold.
Ease of Use
Some chairs are so bulky they force you to lean at uncomfortable angles to feed your child. A chair that allows you to sit comfortably close to your child while you feed them will make mealtime more fun.
How easy is it to get your child into the chair? How easy is it to take the tray off?
Many parents are on the go. They take their baby with them to friends and relatives’ homes. If the homes you’re visiting don’t have a high chair, portability becomes important. There are some great portable options in our review.
Some of the chairs have low weight limits. A 17-month-old child can easily top 30 pounds. If you’re okay with needing a new chair before your child is ready for a toddler chair, which might be the case if you’ll have another baby by then, a low weight limit chair may work well for you. A chair that will allow your child to use it until they are ready for a booster seat at the table should have a higher weight limit.
Converts to Toddler Chair
This feature can save you money in the long run but not if you’re going to have another baby by the time this one is ready for a toddler chair.
Although there are numerous high chairs offered for around $100, understand that you won’t get the best chair at this price. There are quite a few reviews from customers who were disappointed in the quality of their $100 high chair where it was apparent they thought that price point put them in the range where they should expect a product of the highest quality in every category.
Disappointment about the quality declined as the price increased, although not entirely, because expectations naturally rose along with the price.
You can get a serviceable, safe chair for around $100 but you’ll be disappointed if you expect it to be perfectly designed and expect every aspect of it to be designed for easy cleaning and ease of use.
The best high chairs begin around $200 and can cost considerably more than that, depending on the brand.
Pay attention to weight limits. One chair had a maximum weight of 36 pounds and indicated it went up to 36 months. My first born was 33 pounds at 17 months. My second born didn’t hit 36 pounds until after she was in kindergarten.
Do you want the chair to blend in with your décor? Do you care if it overpowers your home?
The footprint refers to how much floor space the high chair consumes. The new safety features will make the footprints even larger on many models. It is very easy to stub your toe on a high chair leg, which is bad enough. If you trip over it when baby is using it, it could lead to an accident where you, baby, or both of you are injured.
You want a wide, stable footprint for safety but you also don’t want to constantly stub your toes.
Maintaining Your Child’s High Chair
Even if you buy the best high chair in the world, if you don’t maintain it in good condition, it can pose risks to your child. Many parents take high chairs with them when they take a car trip to visit relatives. Moving the chair adds more wear and tear than a chair left in your dining room receives, but in either case, you should routinely check the chair for issues, tighten any loose screws, and replace fraying straps. This is especially true if it is accidentally knocked over.
Broken frames, legs, buckles
Loose screws (these can also be a choking hazard)
Fraying, tears, cracks, or peeling
Double check the locking mechanisms
Other safety precautions:
Read the instruction manual before you trust your baby in the chair
Use the harness.
You want a 3-point harness at a minimum. A 5-point harness is better.
Make sure babysitters and grandparents follow the instructions and use the restraints
Cleaning Your High Chair
While reading hundreds of reviews, I saw a lot of parents who said, “We just wipe it down with a Clorox®wipe.” This is a health and safety issue. And no, I’m not being an alarmist. The Clorox® website states that “hard surfaces that may come in contact with food” should be rinsed with cleanwater after using the wipes.
Even after learning about this warning, some moms said “Don’t bother. My child is X years old and nothing is wrong with him.”
There are two issues with this logic. One, just because one person does something dangerous and doesn’t get sick, doesn’t mean no one will.
Secondly, research on the development of gut microbiota and two types of health problems are receiving increasing attention: allergies and anxiety. Gut microbiota are non-human life forms that inhabit our digestive system. Humans have a symbiotic relationship with gut microbiota, and we cannot live without them. “An increased risk of allergic sensitization and allergic rhinitis, but not asthma, in the first 6 years of life is correlated with reduced bacterial diversity of the infant’s intestinal flora.” Therefore, killing every germ and bacteria before your baby comes in contact with it might predispose them to allergies, including life-threatening food allergies.
Other Resources for Safety Information
High Chair Accessories
Teaching a child how to eat is a messy business. Your child, floor, high chair, and the child’s clothing can all be covered with puréed green beans or sweet potatoes, which means you spend their nap time cleaning up instead of getting the rest you need.
Some accessories help. Plates with suction bottoms can’t be flung across the room by a toddler who has suddenly decided they no longer love their favorite mushed peas.
The high sides keep more food on the plate and less in your child’s lap or on the floor.
Covering your floor with a non-skid waterproof mat can make cleanup much easier. Although you could use a tarp, they tend to get slippery when something spills on them. This mat will not make you slip and land on your backside in a puddle of strained applesauce.
There are two approaches to bibs. These silicon bibs are good at catching dribbles, but they won’t get it all. If you have more cute outfits than your child will be able to wear before they outgrow them, by all means, let the clothes get dirty. But if your supply of clean clothes is limited, protect them with a full cover bib that will reduce the incessant loads of laundry.
If it is winter and your little one has long sleeves, they have long sleeved versions as well.
The right accessories can help you enjoy this special time in your child’s life. You’re not going to have fun feeding a messy baby if you’re thinking about how much time it will take to clean up the mess.
What methods have you found to keep the mess manageable?