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High Chair Buying Guide

Katlyn Joy |26, November 2012


A key item in your baby gear list is a high chair. Today's parents can choose from a wide variety of models, from traditional high chairs with assorted bells and whistles down to the bare bones types, to European high chairs that are trayless and are pulled directly up to the table, to booster seats and latch on portable types that hook to the dining table.

What kind of high chair is best for your family will depend on your tastes and needs. For instance, a family that never uses their dining room table will have little need of portable or booster models. Those who desire decor that is free of duckies and teddy bears may prefer a more modern sleek look in what essentially will be a piece of dining room furniture for a time.

If you are more thrifty-minded and are considering a second-hand high chair, be certain the manufacturer's label is still adhered to the chair and readable. You need that information to determine if a recall has been issued for the seat Also make sure no bolts or sharp-edges are present and that the strap is still in working condition There should be a bar to be between baby's legs to prevent slipping and serious injury.

When baby is able to lean forward in the infant seat or exhibits the upper body strength and coordination to do so on occasion at least, it is time for a high chair. For younger infants, some traditional high chairs lean back to a more comfortable position for those with unsteady neck muscles.

Things to Check when Buying a High Chair

1. The dimensions.
If you live in a small apartment you will likely need a chair that can be folded up easily but also will not extend too far out onto the kitchen linoleum when in use. You don't want to be tripping over the high chair risking injury to both yourself and baby.

2. The materials.
While that cotton seat may look lovely with your dining room decor, after endless dumpings of oatmeal, peas and apricots it will look considerably less attractive. Choose materials that wipe off easily and are durable. Not only the seat needs to wipe clean easily either; you will be wiping down the tray, the legs, every part of the high chair with certain regularity. Anything too detailed or fancy will likely be prone to hold onto spills and crumbs.

3. The tray.
If you opt for a seat that has a tray, spend some time checking out the ease of use in the store. Can you put it on and remove it easily? Will it require two hands? Is the latch to move the tray out of reach and sight of the baby? You'll be surprised how deftly a baby can move when it comes to escaping such places. You also want to be sure that the tray will be easy to clean. Some models are dishwasher-safe. Make sure the tray won't pinch baby's fingers either. S.ome contain bells and whistles like a feeding tray or toys that attach to keep baby busy while you're preparing their cereal.

4. Stability.
Make sure you know the weight and height limits of the chair and keep those in mind. Once baby gets into toddlerhood and is a perpetual motion machine, you need to know that the seat isn't going to tip over with your child's antics. Also consider whether the antics of an older sib might throw the chair over easily. However, if you have a premium on space, realize that the wider the base of the chair the more stability it will provide. Sometimes you have to give a little in one criteria to meet a more important one, as in safety over space.

5. The safety harness.
High chairs come with either a three point harness which meets minimum standards or a five point which is not required but definitely safer. The five point runs from shoulders to waist and crotch, which the three point goes up between the legs and around the waist. Some seats convert from a five point to a three as well. If you can go for the five point, do so for safety's sake.

6. Adjustability.
Today's high chairs frequently allow for height adjustment and sometimes will recline as well. You may pay more for this feature, but it will allow for a longer use period and more comfort for baby. Play around in the store with adjustment settings to see how usable they are and how easily they work.

7. Buckles.
Make sure the buckle works easily with one hand but that baby won't be able to manipulate it. This should be easy to clean as well because it is most likely to become quite soiled. Also, you don't want baby to get fingers pinched in it.

8. Portability.
Many high chairs come with wheels, which can be a big help if baby may sit in the living room or kitchen or dining room depending on the family's needs. However, baby can learn to bounce and lean to move the seat along, so make sure the wheels can be locked into place to keep the high chair from becoming locomotive. Some models are meant to be portable, such as the types that clamp to the dining room table. These can be great for families out on the go, but safety wise they are questionable. There are variables such as weight, table stability and such and such tips overs and spills that result can be dangerous. You may want to instead purchase an insert that can fit over a restaurant high chair seat.

9. Storage.
Some seats contain toys, special bars to hold a washcloth or set a bowl, or other such features. Some models are meant to fold up easily and especially flat. If you need one that stores easily and as compactly as possible, check it out at the store.

10. Style.
The high chair is one item that you will see often so if you are a fashion conscious mama who needs everything to be stylish and sleek, don't settle for clunky ducks or colors that clash with your decor.

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