Between bites of pureed peas and finger foods, you’ll scrub down your baby’s high chair hundreds of times. Rather than tear your hair out, buy a chair that makes cleaning simple, while offering a safe and comfy seat for your little one. The OXO Tot Sprout is our pick because of how well it cleans up, and its simple operation. Plus, it breaks with tradition with a modern design, and has several options for wood stains and cushion colors, fitting into even the most eclectic kitchens.
There are several good high chairs on the market, and some not-so-good ones. We sorted through more than three dozen models from well-known and lesser-known manufacturers to pick the best of the bunch. The OXO Tot Sprout ranked well in every category. Flimsy trays, hard-to-maneuver wheels, and tough-to-clean seat fabrics or straps marred some competitors, but our pick stood up well to repeated feedings and cleanings.
Who Should Buy This?
Parents who want a separate spot for junior to sit during meals will want a full-size, sturdy high chair that will accommodate baby from infancy, or about age 6 months, through toddlerhood—and maybe longer. Full-size high chairs tend to be pretty bulky, so keep your space in mind when purchasing a chair. Many wood chairs will fit nicely under a table, and offer a slim rear profile. Some of the plastic chairs we tested did not fit under a table, and jutted out from behind it, proving to be something of a hazard for the sleep-deprived parent or busy toddler.
What Makes A Good High Chair?
The high chair has pretty much always been an elevated seat with straps. Then and now, this essential piece of baby gear has sported a sturdy base, usually made of wood or plastic, with a tray to stow food. Any chair on the market will certainly meet these very basic criteria.
But, to be good—great, even—today’s high chairs need to meet the demands of modern parents. Safety, durability, cleanability, and comfort are must-have features. You’ll probably want something that looks good too.
High-chair-related injuries have increased 22 percent between 2003 and 2010, according to a study published in 2013 by the journal Clinical Pediatrics. Children aren’t always properly restrained and fall. Good high chairs feature a wide, sturdy base to prevent tipping, an easy-to-use 5-point harness, and a post or bar (called a “crotch post”) that goes between the baby’s legs so he doesn’t slip under the tray. If the chair has wheels, they need to be able to lock and swivel easily.
Cleanability is about practicality. The easier a high chair is to clean, the more time Mom or Dad will have for something else. (Like snuggling the baby!) Crumbs fall into tough-to-clean crevices, purees seep into the the seat cushion, mushed carrots stain the tray, and crusty, dried foods spackle the cracks. Get the picture? High chairs can get pretty gross in a hurry. When they come with contoured lines that make wiping easy, seat cushions that can be scrubbed or laundered, and dishwasher safe trays, cleaning is a breeze. An adjustable tray that fits snug to baby’s belly also prevents spills and speeds clean-up.
Cleanability is about practicality. The easier a high chair is to clean, the more time Mom or Dad will have for something else.
Parents’ style preferences are going to vary, but most will want a comfortable seat and a design that either blends in with the decor or matches the other baby gear. There are pricey high chairs on the market, with chrome details, pneumatic lifts, and a $300 to $500 price tag. And, there are chairs in the $50 range, which may lack some of the durability and ease-of-use features. In our research, we found that a good chair can range in price from $100 to $300. After that, you’re mostly paying for design, or like we said earlier, the pneumatic lifts and bling.
how we tested
We combed through page after page of user comments on Amazon, Babies R Us and Diapers.com, watched video reviews and read dozens of blogger reviews to narrow down the long list of high chairs to just a couple of dozen standouts.
From there, we ruled out models without a five-point harness, locking wheels, a secure crotch post, and a sturdy base for added safety.
When it came to real-world testing many of our contenders fell flat. There are a lot of sub-par chairs on the market, that made caring for and feeding a baby more difficult than it already was. Safety and durability were top priorities for us too, so we made sure to try the chairs out with kids, monitoring how well they sat in the chair, and if there were any potential hazards.
The other main area that we spent time on was clean-up. A lot of the contenders were designed in such a way that the seat made cleaning difficult. Random grooves, crevices and other flaws made it almost impossible to clean up. Unless of course, you want to spend your afternoon with a box of q-tips, trying desperately to remove stuck-on carrots during nap time, assuming your kid naps.
Safety and durability were top priorities for us too, so we made sure to try the chairs out with kids, monitoring how well they sat in the chair, and if there were any potential hazards.
From there, we tried out every button, snap and harness adjustment, to find the high and low points in each design. After all of that, a clear top pick stood out.
- Styles: 30 unique options with 5 woods and 6 cushion colors
- Restrictions: 6 months to 5 years or 60 pounds
- Dimensions: 24 ¼ in x 19 in x 37 in
- Safety: Complies with ASTM and CPSIA standards. Chair and cushion are PVC, phthalate and BPA free
- Accolades: Red Dot Award Winner: Product Design – Best of the Best, IDSA International Design Excellence Award Winner: Silver, Spark! Design Award Winner: Silver
Incredibly easy to clean, great-looking and sturdy, the OXO Tot Sprout wowed us in every category. The chair fits kids starting at 6 months, up to 5 years old, with a convertible design. The adjustments are simple: three footrest slots which are removable without any tools, and three seat positions, which pop out from each side. Like their kitchen gadgets, OXO’s high chair has obvious buttons that do their job well. The seat adjustment tabs also require two separate actions, which helps to eliminate the potential hazards of a toddler trying to adjust the seat. On each side of the seat, there are clear age recommendations, so just to stick to those and you’ll be fine.
The seat has a five-point harness that is easily adjustable. The straps can even be removed if you need to clean them up. We were able to remove tomato sauce from our straps without much fuss, based on the manufacturer’s recommendation.
A spill-proof tray works great with kids who aren’t at the table. It manages to hold a small pond’s amount of water before spilling over the edge.
There are multiple positions for the tray, one of which can be pretty much right on top of your kid’s belly.
We loved the design, which is simple and clean, but ultimately very functional. And for parents that have become assembly-averse, this chair was able to be put together in under 5 minutes by unseasoned hands. Grab your allen wrench!
You won’t get the reclining seat, or chrome or some of the other extras on more expensive seats, but the Sprout’s benefit is in its simplicity and long-term value.
the step up
Peg Perego Siesta Highchair
If you really need to be able to fold your high chair flat for easy storage or you have some extra cash to spend on a high chair, splurge on the Peg Perego Siesta. The Siesta is compact and features nine height adjustments, automatic locking wheels, a wipeable stain-resistant seat cushion in six color options, and it folds flat fast. It’ll even stand on its own while folded. Users say that the seat crevices do catch crumbs, but overall it wipes well. It’s a great chair with a larger price tag of $300.
If you're on a budget, we like the Gusto high chair from Inglesina. Unlike many budget seats, this has four legs, which saves space and makes it easier to clean up around it. The tray is dishwasher-safe, and the whole cushion can be removed for cleaning. We like the five-point-harness and the fact that the whole chair folds. Weighing in at 11 pounds, its light enough to move quickly, and thin enough to store in a closet.
We considered these alternatives from manufacturers, but can’t recommend them.
• 4Moms High Chair — We like the concept, but the chair is very small. Magnetic dishes are great, but they’re extra and fairly expensive.
• BabyBjorn High Chair— This pricey chair with a great brand recognition can fold flat, is lightweight, and features a wipeable surfaces, but its tray and seat are small. Even though the seat is made to accommodate children up to age 3, several reviewers say it can’t. With a pricetag that high, it doesn’t seem worth the risk.
• Boon Flair — An expensive, heavy chair that boasts a pneumatic lift height adjustment (like a barber chair) as its distinguishing feature. The lift is problematic, according to many users though, who say it doesn’t work right.
• Chicco Vinyl Polly — The crotch post is attached to the tray, but we might be willing to overlook that if the seat cushion were machine washable. The cushion is wipeable but can’t be tossed in the laundry for a thorough cleaning, which isn’t practical when dealing with baby messes.
• Graco Blossom 4 in 1 — A popular high chair made by an even more popular manufacturer. However, the wheels don’t lock and the crotch post is attached to the tray. The added value of the removable booster seat is less impressive, given that there weren’t many consumer reviews of seat used as a booster.
• Joovy HiLo — Unusual design… Other than that, the chair suffers from having many angles that are hard to clean and some rather unfortunate materials, which look and feel uncomfortable.
• Keekaroo Height Right —Similar to the Stokke, with the same 250 lbs capacity. We found that the harness was tough to use and to adjust, and it has a 3-point design.
• Micuna Ovo — For the price, this chair doesn’t quite live up to its billing. The tray does not swivel (it works only on the EU models) and the seat is very small.
• Nuna Zaaz — The main detractor from this chair is the large gap between the tray and the child.
• Peg Perego Tatamia — For the money, this chair offers great value as a newborn swing and a high chair, but it’s very bulky and cumbersome to move.
• Skip Hop Tuo Convertible High Chair — We liked this when we first saw the prototype, so we’re anxious to test it out in-person. Look for an update on this in the Spring.
• Stokke Tripp Trapp — If you have your heart set on a wooden high chair, the Tripp Trapp earns 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon and many parents consider it an heirloom piece. It can hold up to 300 lbs. and is ergonomically made for comfort and stability. But the Tripp Trapp doesn’t come with a high chair tray and pricey accessories, like the Stokke tray ($50) or the Baby Set infant support ($70), add to your overall costs.
Care, Use, Maintenance, and Repair
Cleaning this chair will be a breeze. Wipe down the cushion or legs with a damp paper towel. The straps and cushion can be laundered and air dried for big messes. The seat cushion is waterproof, so just remove it from the chair and wipe clean. If you need to, you could even rinse it off in the sink. Once those cushions are out, you can focus on cleaning the sides of the chair. A damp sponge, and soapy water should do the trick. Everything on the chair is designed for even the stickiest messes. You can easily wipe each piece.
OXO offers a four-year warranty on all metal and plastic parts and a one-year warranty on the cushion and harness straps. Your receipt will be required for all warranty claims. Replacement or spare cushions are available online at www.oxo.com. To order other replacement parts, contact customer service.
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