Thinking of buying a highchair for your baby? There are lots to choose from, but which is the best highchair for you and your baby? Here’s a guide to what’s available.

Useful features

Before you rush to buy your highchair, there are a few really useful features to look for. These can help you decide whether to spend that little bit extra to make life easier. They include:

  • A tray that’s detachable for cleaning, but that can stay in place when you fold the highchair
  • A highchair tray with rounded edges so food can’t get stuck in corners
  • A well-padded highchair seat for your baby’s comfort
  • Easy-to-clean contoured padding
  • An easy-to-fold mechanism. (You’ll probably need to get the highchair out and put it away several times a day)
  • A harness that isn’t too fiddly

Highchair safety

  • Before buying a highchair, check that it is stable when assembled. Babies tend to throw their weight around as they get older, so the highchair must be placed on an even floor so it won’t tip over
  • The highchair harness should have a crotch strap as well as shoulder and waist straps to prevent a wriggly baby from sliding or climbing out
  • Make sure your baby’s fingers are well out of the way when you attach the highchair tray
  • Position your baby’s highchair well away from heat sources, including radiators and hobs, plus other hazards such as saucepan handles,electrical cables, small items like coins and pen lids and anything breakable
  • Stay with your baby at all times while they’re in their highchair

Standard highchairs

If you’re on a budget and looking for a no-frills highchair, a standard type will do the job. Standard highchairs tend to have one fixed height. Some don’t fold; others have a simple folding mechanism. Some have a feeding tray that’s detachable, making it easier to clean.

Pros of standard highchairs

  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Standard highchairs are usually lightweight
  • Less bulky than multi-functional highchairs, so easier to store (if there’s a folding mechanism)

Cons of standard highchairs

  • Limited use age-wise
  • Difficult to store if they don’t fold down
  • Less versatile than other highchairs
  • Having a fixed height makes them less adaptable. You may not be able to sit at a comfortable height when feeding your baby

Multi-functional highchairs

A multi-functional highchair can have up to six different height positions. This means you can move it from room to room, house to house or home to restaurant and you can adjust it to the height of your own seat. The position that reclines slightly is really useful if your baby is only just holding their head up. Multiple recline positions help widen the scope beyond just feeding to making it useful for playtime or even an after-dinner nap. Some multi-functional highchairs have a multi-position tray that can be adjusted as your baby grows.

Pros of multi-functional highchairs

  • The adjustable height means you can feed your baby at a level that suits you, wherever you are
  • Your baby can sit at the table with you once they no longer need the feeding tray
  • Most multi-functional highchairs are foldable

Cons of multi-functional highchairs

  • Multi-functional highchairs are often more expensive than basic models
  • Some are a bit cumbersome and can be heavy
  • They’re usually quite bulky (even the foldable ones), so may not be the best option if you're short on space

Convertible highchairs

If you’re looking for a highchair that will last until your baby is a toddler, a convertible highchair is a good choice. These start off as a highchair but turn into a lower toddler feeding seat and then, in some cases, a chair and table for an older pre-school child. They’re usually wooden.

Pros of convertible highchairs

  • They start at a similar price to multifunctional models, but last until your baby is a toddler, so they’re great value for money
  • They can blend in well with your own furniture
  • Convertible highchairs offer toddlers more independence

Cons of convertible highchairs

  • They don’t all come with a baby safety harness, so you may need to buy one.(Look for safety standard BS6684:1989)
  • Some aren’t foldable
  • Those that do fold are usually bulkier than other types
  • They can be fiddly to convert

Portable highchairs

If you eat out in restaurants and cafés where highchairs aren’t available, a portable highchair is a great idea. There are four basic types.

  • Travel highchairs: Similar to full-size highchairs, but smaller and on very short legs, these highchairs strap on to a dining chair
  • Clamp-on seats: These clamp or screw on to the edge of the table top. They’re usually fabric, lightweight and easy to carry around
  • Seat harnesses: Fabric supports that literally bind your baby to a dining chair. They don’t give any extra height so are more appropriate for older babies and toddlers
  • Folding booster seats: These strap on to dining chairs. They’re made from rigid plastic and usually fold down making them more portable
    • Pros of portable highchairs

      • They allow you to eat out without the hassle of taking a full-size highchair
      • Some fold to a handbag size
      • Some can be used instead of a standard highchair at home

      Cons of portable highchairs

      • Most aren’t intended as a full-time replacement to a highchair
      • Your baby has to be able to sit properly unaided
      • They are usually only suitable for babies up to a certain weight (check the manufacturer’s instructions)