Mealtime with your little one can feel like an exercise in futility, especially when you are juggling soupy semi-solids and a squirmy eater. Holding them in your lap and feeding is not ideal and messy. The greatest solution for mealtime with your child is a high chair.
High chairs make feeding your little so much easier and a little less messy. High chairs come in portable and freestanding models. Many are made for sitting at the kitchen table. However, if your kitchen table is counter height or if you eat at a breakfast bar, you are in luck. There are many adjustable styles available to keep your child secure while they are enjoying tasty eats.
If you’re in a hurry below is a snapshot of all the high chairs reviewed. More thorough reviews are further down in the post.
Having a counter height high chair gives you a variety of options when feeding your baby.
In general, high chairs are a common baby item and are considered a necessity for most households. If you are wondering if one is really worth the added cost and space, here are some reasons to consider adding a high chair to your baby gear arsenal.
If you are concerned about how you will juggle feeding your little one and holding them, high chairs are an ideal solution. Your child is in one place, safe, and ready to eat.
No Bending Over
Bending over can cause harm to your lower back over time. Also, holding your little one can cause strain on your neck and shoulders.
Use of Both Hands
When you are not holding on to your child, you get the rare ability to use both of your hands either to make more food or a feed and cleaning combo.
Easier to Get More Food
With your little in one place, getting them additional food as needed is much easier. If your counter height high chair is in the kitchen, it is ideal for cutting up more apple or mash them some more banana. You can keep an eye on them while you do these things.
Introduces Your Child to Family Mealtime
Mealtime looks different for every family. Whether you all eat in the kitchen, around the dining room table, or even while watching your favorite movie. A designated seat like a high chair can signal to your child that it is time to eat. Sitting in their chair helps them establish a routine and learn your expectations.
Begins to Teach Table Manners
As your child grows older and gets the hang of eating, you can use mealtime to instill table manners before you have to undo undesirable habits.
Uses Outside of Mealtime
Counter height high chairs do not need to be used solely for mealtime. There are many fun activities to do with your child while in a high chair. If your toddler can tolerate being in the high chair for an extended amount of time, you can set up games, sensory activities, art projects, and more. This will help expand their learning and buy you time to make dinner or change over the laundry.
Features to Consider
Counter height high chairs raise the bar for ease of feeding, but not all are created equal. Brands are often set apart by what features they have to offer. Here are some features to look for.
Dimensions of counter height high chairs can vary by brand. Consider the footprint you have available for the chair and where you will be using it the most. Some high chair bases are more expansive than others and may take up more of your floor space.
Ones with u-style legs or wheels are likely to need a larger area than high chairs with four chair-like legs. If you have a tight space, you may want to consider a high chair on a pedestal or one that goes on top of an existing chair.
Moving anything while holding on to your baby can be a difficult task to maneuver, regardless if the item is bulky or not. Finding a high chair that can be portable may be an essential trait to look for if you plan on going out a lot. Look for one that folds up easily and will be able to fit into your car. Stand-alone models might not be the best option if you do a lot of traveling. The most portable high chairs tend to be those that can strap to a table or an existing chair.
If your movement is more along the lines of from the kitchen to the dining room table, look into models with wheels. These can be easier to maneuver from one part of the house to another and can even go out onto your patio or porch with ease- barring any steps, of course. With wheels, your little one can stay comfortably in the chair if you are moving a short distance, or you can set their food down on the tray while the chair glides across the floor, and you hold your baby with your other hand.
Ease of Use
Simple to use chairs will help you feed your child, making it almost like you have an extra pair of hands. Look for features like a tray that can be removed with one hand. This will leave you with one hand free to hold onto your baby. Also, look for one that is simple to strap your child in and easy to unbuckle. Spending too much time securing your child can frustrate you both and lead to meltdowns in a hungry child.
Chairs with simple out of the box construction are also ideal. The less part you have to put together, the faster you can put it to use. Also, sometimes the instructions that come with baby items can be confusing, so having a straightforward assembly can go a long way.
Many high chairs are plastic construction. These days the plastic used is most often BPA free and deemed safe for use with children. These high chairs often come with a removable insert to make the seat more comfortable for your child to sit in. The padding is made from various materials from polyester blends, cotton, to even waterproof fabric and vinyl.
You will want to have a fabric that you can wipe up quickly and will not have to be tossed into the washing machine after every single meal. Removable padding is also a plus for when it is finally time to stick the cushion in the laundry to remove significant stains. Look for ones that are machine washable and dryable to make the turn around time faster.
If you are not too keen on a plastic high chair, some options are made of different materials. More modern looking high chairs are made with a metal base that comes up into a molded seat, which is generally plastic. If you are looking for more of a classic material, there are a few styles available in wood. Wooden chairs have clean lines and come in many finishes. If you are on the fence on the topic, you can read more about plastic vs. wood here.
Sometimes the tray-style makes more of an impact on your decision than all the other features. Who wants to be juggling a hard to use tray while trying to keep your hungry child happy?
Swingarm trays stay connected to your child’s high chair and rotate out so you can place your child in the seat. Many swing arm trays have a one-handed release to make it easier for you. These are convenient since they stay connected to the high chair. You do not have to look for a place to set it, and you don’t have to wonder where it has disappeared to.
Removable trays slide off of the high chair with either a one-handed release, usually at the front of the tray, or with a two-handed release located on the bottom of either side. Removable trays make cleaning less of a chore, and some even have inserts that go inside them that snap off so you can take it to the sink to rinse the excess food off. Some are even dishwasher safe.
There are even counter height high chair models that come with magnetic bowls so your child cannot remove the bowl or plate from the tray while eating, which comes in handy if your child likes to throw everything on the floor.
Some children do not like their feet to dangle while they are in a chair. They feel uncomfortable and will move around continually trying to find a sitting position that they are comfortable in. A footrest gives your child a place to put their feet. Having their feet on a surface helps them feel more secure and helps to promote good posture.
It also keeps their body stable, allowing them to focus on eating their food correctly, helping to mitigate choking. Adequately chewed food will also be better digested. Another plus to a footrest is if your child is comfortable in their seat, they will stay in it for more extended periods. This allows you to get them to eat the food you set in front of them, rather than pick at it.
Easy to Store
Many parents do not like to have their child’s high chair out 24/7. If you do not have a lot of space in your eating area, a foldable high chair would be very useful. To fold, you usually pull the lever up to pull the legs in flat, bend the seat over, and it folds in half. You do not even have to take the tray off of models specifically designed to go flat. You can store it in another room, cabinet, or even a closet with the high chair flattened.
Portable high chairs are also easier to store. These models strap onto an existing chair, have a smaller tray, and an overall smaller footprint. When portable high chairs are not in use, they can easily be stored on a shelf or even above the fridge.
Easy to Clean
“How hard will this be to clean?”- is a question that many parents ask when hunting for baby gear since you know that cleaning will be inevitable. High chairs are no different. Since your child will be eating in the chair and likely getting food everywhere, cleaning will be a significant factor. Some trays have a removable insert, making it much easier to clean after your baby is done eating their food.
Many models have padding or a cushion that can be removed and put into the washing machine. It can either hung to dry or placed in the dryer. Waterproof fabric is also quick to clean between washings. If the padding is not removable, a material like vinyl can be more simple to wipe up.
If your chair has a reclining back option, ensure that you can remove that part to free the trapped bits of unwanted food. It is also helpful if the straps can be easily removed since you may need to clean those as well.
Spending money on items that your baby will use short-term may seem like a stretch, but more high chair manufacturers are making the seats adjustable so they will grow with your child. There are even high chairs that will go from baby all the way up to teen if that is more your speed.
Typical chairs can be adjusted from baby up to toddler, going from a recliner stye seat to an upright booster. Tray tables are also an adjustable feature on some styles. The tray table can slide from the very end on the seat to up close to your child’s stomach.
Height is another adjustment that can be made. Chairs can have telescoping legs or a removable section in the leg, making it a shorter chair. There are also models where the seat portion detaches from the base, and it becomes a table and chair set.
Even though there is a tray in front of your child, most all in one counter height high chairs come with some sort of method to ensure your child is absolutely secure.
In a rule that took effect July 19, 2019, the US Government requires all manufacturers to have some sort of restraint on a high chair for your child, either in the form of a harness system or a passive restraint method. They also added additional safety warnings and considerations. The rule was deemed necessary since there have been 271 high chair related incidents from January 2011-September 2017. Here are a few standard securing methods.
Harness and Restraint System
Harnesses keep your child completely secure in the high chair. They would have to be Houdini to get out the 5-point harness. These harnesses are similar to the harnesses used in car seats. The shoulder straps come down and hook into the two buckles that go into the belt coming from the sides around your child’s hips.
These buckles meet together in a single button release that comes up from the bottom of the chair between your child’s legs. This keeps your child from slipping out under the tray and keeps them upright. The shoulder straps also help with fidgeting. When you have the straps over your child’s shoulders, it is more difficult for them to lean over, crane their neck, and try to twist around. Ideal if your child is a climber.
Three-point harnesses cover three points of contact on your child. They can come up over your child’s shoulder and meet at a single button by their stomach, or they can go around your child’s waist and meet in the middle.
Crotch restraints only go between your child’s legs. These can be three-point style, or they can be passive restraints that are pre-molded into the seat. Some models come with it pre-molded, and with others, this part needs to be assembled. This type of restraint only keeps the bottom half of your child secure, so their arms and upper body are free to move around. If your child does not like their arms to be restrained, this may be the best option for you.
If your high chair does not come with straps or you want to add additional straps to your seat, you can purchase a universal set to add to your pre-existing chair.
Best Counter Height High Chairs
With so many options, it is hard to know which way to go. Here are the best we found on the market.
Graco Blossom 6-in-1 Convertible Chair
Graco has made more advancements in convertible baby gear over the last couple of years. Their high chairs are no exception. The Blossom has 6 different height adjustments with 3 different options for reclining. It grows with your child from a reclining infant seat all the way through their stages to a youth chair.
The removable tray is dishwasher safe, and so is the attachable insert. The tray can also be removed by only using one hand. The seatback is also adjustable to keep your child comfortable as they grow and can be entirely removed once it is no longer needed.
The chair has a footrest to keep your child’s posture aligned and helps them stay comfortable in the chaiThe base includes wheels for easy moving from room to room. The booster seat can also be removed from the base and placed on a kitchen or dining room chair. The base can then be used for a smaller child.
- It can be used from baby all the way to youth-up to 60 pounds
- The tray and insert are both washable in the dishwasher
- Has wheels for easy maneuvering
- The footrest is height adjustable
- To store, you need to break it into multiple pieces
- It can be hard to clean between the different layers.
Cosco Simple Fold High Chair
If you are looking for a counter height high chair with an easy to fold process, this may be the chair for you and your family. The Cosco chair is straightforward. It has a 3-position tray with a three-point harness to keep your child secure.
This chair can hold a child up to 50 pounds and fold flat when you need to store it away. A single lever releases to make it flat and snaps back into place when you want to use it again. The sleek design also makes it easy to put in the car for travel. The seat is easy to wipe down, as is the tray. The tray also has a cup holder so you can keep track of your child’s favorite mealtime beverage.
- Lightweight for travel
- The chair is collapsible for storage
- Simple Assembly
- Small footprint
- Seatback and height is not adjustable
- Seat cushion is not removable
Joovy Nook High Chair
The Joovy Nook gives you the ease of feeding your child with one hand while offering sleek looks and functionality. It is a compact chair that still looks attractive in your kitchen or dining area. The seat cushion is made of leatherette material that can be wiped down to get rid of messes.
It arrives fully assembled. The swing-open tray can be moved with one hand and has 4 different positions. A five-point harness keeps your child in place in the chair. The seat is also molded, so your little one will not slide forward while removing their straps. It has a contemporary design to fit in with your style. It folds down to a compact size so you can store it easily in a closet or cabinet.
- Swing open tray
- Compact fold
- 5-point harness
- The Chairpad cover is difficult to remove
- The seat does not recline
Ingenuity Trio Elite 3-in1
The Ingenuity Trio adjusts from an infant seat to a toddler and finally into a youth seat. The youth seat and booster can be used for two different children at the same time. The seat pad, tray, and insert all can be removed and washed.
Everything else can be wiped down with soapy water and dried. The tray has four different locking positions, which allow it to grow with your child. To keep your child secure, the seat comes with a 5-point harness. The wheels allow it to easily be moved from one area of your home to the other.
- Swing open traySimple to assemble, no tools required
- Easy to clean
- Wheels on all four legs
- The tray insert is removable
- Takes up a lot of floor space
- Does not have a molded middle piece, so they need to be buckled at all times
Abiie Beyond Wooden Chair
A modern twist on the traditional wooden high chair, this model by Abiie has many admirable features. Starting with the chair frame itself, it can transform from a toddler chair into a dining room chair in less than 20 seconds, with the ability to hold up to 250 pounds. If you find yourself a chair short when having a large gathering, this chair will come in handy. There are no extra tools needed to adjust the chair.
The high chair gives you the choice of a three or five-point harness depending on what you and your child prefer. It also can be adjusted with their size as they grow. It is straightforward to clean this minimalistic chair since every inch is reasonably easy to reach. The cushion is stain resistant and waterproof for easy wipe up of spills. The tray cover is also dishwasher safe for easy mess removal, and it can be taken off with one hand.
Before assembly, the wood used in making the chair is sterilized with anti-microbial heat, ensuring that the chair is safe and healthy for your little one.
- Adjustable height can be used at any table
- Removable chair cushion, which is replaceable as needed
- The tray table is one-hand removable and dishwasher safe
- Sturdy construction
- The chair is not collapsable
- The table tray is shallow and may not hold kids plates and silicone style bowls
Stokke Tripp Trapp Chair Complete
If you want to go all out in comfort and style for your child, the Stokke Tripp Trapp may be the way to go. This chair is made to grow with your child and ensure they are comfortable at all times. There are many different variations of the chair, all highly rated by consumers. If you are just starting out with your little one, this model may be the way to go. The complete bundle comes with the chair, baby set with harnesses and gliders, the tray, and cushion.
The chair has clean lines and a smaller footprint. The footrest and seat are both completely adjustable to fit your child as they grow. It can support a baby all the way up to an adult. The cushion can be machine washed as needed and is suitable for children up to 3 years.
- Easy to clean
- Adjusts with your child over time
- Has a footrest to promote eating well
- Removable harness
- Tray does not have multiple positions
- Price- it is an investment
Chicco QuickSeat Hook-on Chair
If you are looking for a chair that is easy to travel with and is for a small footprint, the Chicco Quickseat may work. The tray snaps onto dining tables to provide your child with an instant place to sit.
With one pull, it cinches on and is secure. The chair is cloth construction and has its own tray. The tray is simple to wipe down as needed.
The seat cover snaps off and goes into the washing machine to clean. It folds down completely flat and even has a carrying strap.
- Lightweight and travel friendly
- Small footprint
- Carrying handle
- May not fit on every table
- Only rated up to 37 pounds
The most important thing to consider is the floor space you have available for your high chair. When you look at product reviews, the buyers seem shocked about how much floor space the high chair is taking up. Assess what area you have realistically and then scale your other needs from there.
Your child will need to be comfortable in the chair as well. A chair with padding and a footrest will likely keep your little one happy for the duration of mealtime. Easy to clean padding and trays will help keep you happy and sane.
Five-point harnesses are best for keeping you little one secure. However, they are not great for babies who want a full range of motion in their upper bodies. A three-point harness or crotch restraint may not be safe if your little one is a climber.
With most baby items, deciding which high chair is right for your baby can be difficult. Take your baby’s personality into account before choosing, and you should find as close to a perfect fit as possible.
Looking for more gear for your little one? Head over to our Gear Guides Section to see more comparisons.
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