When your baby is old enough to start eating food—well, more like play with it—it is time to find him or her a suitable high chair chair. And since your child will be spending a great deal of time in a chair—eating, experimenting, and testing your patience as a parent—it is important to find one that works for you, your budget, and your lifestyle. Easier said than done. Maura Keating offers reviews of four high chairs she tested with her son and with a number of other moms, babies, and young kids.
High chairs reviewed: The Stokke Tripp Trapp, The Svan, Boon Flair chair, and Kuster K1 (Special discount on K1 chair for Kidoinfo readers, see below.)
The Stokke Tripp Trapp looks like no other high chair and it functions like no other high chair. It might be hard to get used to the idea of a high chair without a tray, but once you’ve gotten past the idea, you’ll wonder why you ever thought that you needed a tray. The Tripp Trapp is designed to be pulled up to a table just like any other chair. Dinner time becomes an inclusive activity. My son still plays at dinner, but he doesn’t play WITH his dinner as much as he did once we ditched the tray. He has also joined in with family conversations, paying attention when other family members are speaking and offering his own contributions to mealtime dynamics.
I love the modern style of the Tripp Trapp. It is a stand-out and it makes my kid-friendly farmhouse table look modern and somehow more chic. The chair is available in a variety of colors, enabling you to match your décor with wood tones or to complement or clash with new brightly colored offerings. The Tripp Trapp is designed for use from the time that Baby can sit up through adulthood. I’m not sure if my son will still be using this chair in his middle years, but I know that I’ll find a use for it somewhere in the house. I imagine that it will look pretty cool as an occasional desk chair.
The Tripp Trapp is constructed from solid beechwood and is sturdy enough to withstand plenty of abuse. The chair has a small footprint and doesn’t scream “BABY.” It can be pushed into the table like any other dining chair. The chair is adjustable, designed to enable Baby to sit at adult height at the table, and an adjustable footrest provides extra support and comfort. Now that my son is a little older, he uses the footrest to climb up on the chair himself.
A five-point harness keeps children under three safe in their chair. The buckles are easy for adults to use but have eluded my son so far. We also tested an optional plastic baby rail that provides extra support for children under two. I liked the added security (especially for the youngest users) and found the rail easy to use. Cushions in a wide variety of prints and patterns are available for the Tripp Trapp, but we did not test them. I lean towards easy clean-up, and my washing machine is busy enough these days.
I have to admit that as much as I love the Tripp Trapp, it’s not perfect. The straps are hard to clean. You have to unscrew them from the chair to get them really scrubbed. Crumbs collect in the plastic notch that holds the buckle in place and my trusty hand vacuum can’t reach the inner area. I have to resort to a toothbrush to clean this one part. The rest of the chair cleans up in seconds. There are no other crevices, cracks, or places for disgusting things to hide. The easy clean-up saves me time and what is left of my sanity.
I have to admit—I can’t imagine life without the Tripp Trapp. It is an investment, but it’s worth every penny. It gets heavy use in our house. Between snacks and meals, my son spends a good part of his day eating. We also use it for arts and crafts and play dough and other times that my son needs to sit and concentrate on a project. Some of my friends have trouble getting their kids to sit at the table, but with the Tripp Trapp, my son is able to focus on the activity at hand. Stokke’s simple design is simply the best.
The Details: The Stokke Tripp Trapp, available in a wide array of colors, starting at $250. To find a Tripp Trapp near you, visit the “Where to Buy” link at www.stokkeusa.com
Pass Muster: The Kuster K1 High Chair Gets Good Grades
The Kuster K1 chair is good to go, straight out of the box. Setup was ridiculously easy and the chair folds for easy storage. A handle at the top makes it easy to move the chair from kitchen to dining room to the next adventure. I like the look of this chair. In a beech or white finish, the chair fits in nicely with most modern décor. The adjustable legs ensure that the chair will fit without succumbing to any slopes or unevenness in terrain. If you have a historical house, this chair is perfect. The chair comes with a removable tray so that it can be pushed in to the family dining table when not in use. At nearly two, my son approved of this chair. He enjoys being a part of the family table, so he ate sans tray with the chair pushed up to the table. The K1’s silver arm rests fit perfectly underneath our table and gave my son some additional side support.
The K1 is very easy to clean. It wipes down easily and there are very few crevices for crumbs to hide. Our only problem area was the seams where the footrest fits into the base. Luckily, the footrest can be quickly detached for a separate wipe down. As a toddler, my son is a messy eater. He is used to a chair without cushions so we mostly went without Kuster’s optional cushions. We did pull the cushions out for our baby test and the cushions added support and comfort, as well as softening the look of the K1 for Baby. We tested out the high chair with an active six-month-old intent on eating her lunch. The booster cushion offered too much padding, so we used the cushion only. The cushions are100 percent cotton (no horrible vinyl seams) and cold-water machine washable. The harness can go in the wash too. The adjustable five-point harness is attached to the chair with large buckles that slide in and out of sets of slots that vary for height. The tray with the crotch guard was a tight squeeze with our plump baby friend, and her parents noted that they would probably use the tray solo for daily use.
The adjustable tray is a good size, with a removable cover for easy cleaning. The removable plastic tray cover features a low lip to prevent most disasters (but not all). The tray cover does not fit over the entire tray, leaving the sides of the tray exposed. Since you’ll have to wipe down the seat after most meals, I never found this to be a problem or a deal breaker. In fact, I rarely use tray covers. Rubber circles at the front of the tray are designed to keep bowls and other items from jumping off the edge. I am not sure if they work, but they look cool.
The foot rest is easily adjustable. It slides in and out of the five slots and locks in the back with tabs. My son used the footrest to climb up to the chair on his own—promoting independence and increasing the likelihood that he’d use the chair. My favorite feature was a surprise. I loved the Kuster’s included net basket which hangs behind and underneath the chair. I kept bibs and washcloths in the basket for easy access—no more dashing to the kitchen during spill emergencies! The basket is large enough that toys and other mealtime essentials could live there too.
The Kuster’s age range is listed as six months (or when Baby can sit unaided) to six years. Although the chair might be able to hold a six-year-old’s weight, I cannot imagine a child that age wanting to continue to use a chair that looks vaguely high chair-ish, even without the tray. However, the Kuster K1 is bound to give you years of use through the high chair and booster seat years, looking stylish and making your life a little easier the whole time.
The Details: The Kuster K1 High Chair, available in white or beech: $250, and Kuster K1 High Chair Cushion: $49.99. The Kuster K1 High Chair is available at www.goores.com
Kidoinfo Deal: Readers receive a 10% discount on any Kuster order from www.goores.com by using code kiku10.
The Svan is a looker. Its bent birchwood design is reminiscent of sculpture or high-end furniture design. The Svan high chair looks graceful next to any table and its functionality makes it a practical as well as aesthetic choice. The Svan’s ergonomic design provides maximum support. The footrest and seat are adjustable with an included allen key, enabling you to shape the chair to fit your growing child. Like the Tripp Trapp, the Svan can be used without a tray and pulled directly to the table, enabling Baby to become an active participant in mealtime. Also like the Tripp Trapp, the Svan grows with your child. It can be used from the time that Baby is sitting through adulthood. The Svan has a small footprint and is light to transport (if a little awkward due to its shape), making it rather mobile for a chair that does not fold or roll.
The beautiful shape of the Svan chair, with its appealing curves, creates some very unflattering cracks and crevices when they are caked with food. Luckily, these times have been few for us, and the bolts can be loosened to clean in between the cracks of the chair. I liked the Svan’s optional cushions. They are easy to clean and easy to put on and take off the chair for a quick trip to the washer in the delicate cycle. The cushions, like the chair, are available in a wide variety of colors and patterns. The three-point harness safety belt was easy for adults to master and kept my son as well as volunteer baby testers safely tethered to the chair. I loved that the harness was easily removable for easy cleaning.
If you are buying the Svan for the tray, you might be disappointed with its small size. A dishwasher-safe plastic tray fits over the wood tray to protect the wood and to make clean up easier, but the plastic fits so tightly around the tray that I found it very difficult to remove. The plastic shield does have a good-sized lip that thwarts errant spills and keeps toys from going over the edge. I prefer small trays, so the size of the tray suited us well. I did not like getting my fingers pinched so I avoided the use of the plastic and was careful to clean the tray immediately after use whenever possible.
My son prefers to eat without a tray these days. The Svan pulls right up to the table. My son was comfortable and seemed happy with the fit. We did use the tray with volunteer baby testers who did their best to maximize the full potential of the chair. All parents were pleased with the functionality of the tray and chair, making the Svan the perfect chair for parents who want a chair that can handle it all.
The Details: The Svan Chair, available in natural, white, cherry, mahogany, or espresso finish, starting at $250. To find a Svan Chair near you, visit the “Where to buy” link at www.svanusa.com
More Flair: Boon Serves It Up with Style
I wish I could have been there when the spark of inspiration hit the designer of Boon’s Flair chair. Somewhere between the classic plastic high chair and a barber chair, the Boon Flair was born. The translucent frosted glass colored seat with a white cushion blends easily with any décor. This is a large chair that does not fold down. It will require permanent residence at your dining or kitchen table or dedicated space in a large closet. However, the pedestal base takes up less room than a traditional four-legged high chair, making it easier to fit in tight spaces. Most people who chose the Boon Flair will be happy to leave the high chair out for display. Also, does anyone really put their foldable high chairs away? I could never find the time.
The Flair’s seamless seat is brilliant. Shaped out of one solid piece of plastic, there is nowhere for the mess to hide. With no crevices and no corners, clean-up was very quick—no scrubbing required. The wide, solid pedestal base also made clean-up easier since I didn’t need to clean under the chair. The chair looks comfortable, a bit reminiscent of an Eames bucket chair. A removable foam cushion boosts and supports the smallest beginner eaters. The waterproof cushion is easy to clean (no washing machine needed). Since it is removable, you can also clean underneath the pad without worrying about food residue congealing at the edges of the pad. The seat does not recline, but I have never found the need to recline the seat in a high chair.
The Flair’s tray is on the small side, but we preferred the tray’s compact size almost immediately. The smaller tray makes it easier to clean in the sink, my son wasn’t stretching for items out of reach, and he wasn’t pushing food (vegetables) into no-man’s-land. The tray has a good lip to prevent spills from going over the edge. An included tray liner is dishwasher safe. The tray liner does not cover the entire top surface of the tray, but I rarely had to clean the tray when using the liner. The tray, like the chair, is seamless for easy cleaning. Do note that the tray cannot be submerged into water so you must be careful not to get water into the inside. Some users may find themselves wishing for more liners. The tray fits neatly into two settings on the high chair with two handles that remind me of the triggers on a pinball machine. I wish that there were a way to alter the height of the tray. My son (at twenty months) was too tall for the tray and no matter what I did, breakfast, lunch, and dinner fell in the gap between the tray and my son’s body. Large bibs with pockets helped, but I often had to change his entire outfit whenever yogurt, soup, or cereal was served in the Flair.
One of the coolest features of the Boon’s Flair chair is the pneumatic lift that raises the chair to the desired height with the tap of a large orange button at the Flair’s base. The pneumatic lift makes it easy to adjust the chair when a toddler wants to climb in independently and for minor height adjustments called for by different users who might prefer to feed Baby from a different height. This was a feature that I never considered I would need until the Boon Flair made it so fun to adjust. A footrest will also help older eaters to use the chair independently, but the footrest is not adjustable.
The Flair’s silver pedestal base uses ball bearings and wheels to glide effortlessly across the floor. A brake at the back of the chair stops Baby from drifting away from dinner. The straps are soft and washable. You can even remove them from the seat to clean them. The buckle has a five-point harness that is easy for adults to manage. The straps fit into two slits for different heights at the back of the chair. I love the molded T design. It makes it easy to put an uncooperative toddler into the seat without fear of falling while you adjust the straps. Best of all, Boon is committed to using safe materials on all of their products. The Boon Flair is free of BpA, phthalates, and PVC—one less thing to worry about. Do you need another reason to fall in love? Boon donates 10 percent of their profits to children’s charities. This is some flair that you can afford to get attached to.
The Details: The Boon Flair, Pedestal Highchair with Pneumatic Lift, $229.99 in blue/white and white/orange. To find a Boon Flair near you, click on the “Where to Buy” www.booninc.com