Highchairs

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We can help you find one that’s safe and easy to use.

Along with safety, we looked at how easy the highchairs were to assemble, fold and unfold, and clean.

From our test

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Finding a safe highchair

The most common form of injury involving high chairs is when the child falls after trying to stand up in, climb in to or get out of the chair. Other serious injuries can result from having their fingers, toes or limbs pinched or crushed by moving parts or gaps, or choking on easily detachable small parts.

Make sure you check out the chair when it’s set up in the store, and really get in there – rock it to check stability, get your fingers into cracks and crannies, and play with moving parts to check for finger or limb traps.

When shopping, look for chairs which comply with the Australian Standard for high chairs, AS 4684:2009 or the European Standard EN 14988 – there’s a variety of different styles, so you shouldn’t have to sacrifice safety to buy one that looks good in your kitchen or dining room, if that’s important to you.

When you get home, make sure you set up the chair at least half a metre from anything your child could use to push off from and topple over – windows, large furniture, blind or light pullcords, and so on.

What to look for

  1. The tray should be secure when fitted but easy for you to remove and adjust. A removable tray insert is useful – it fits on top of the tray and is easily taken out for cleaning. A cupholder helps prevent spills.

  2. A footrest is important to support an older child’s feet or calves. Adjustable footrests are useful as the child grows.

  3. A reclining seat is useful for babies who can’t sit upright for long. But (except for bottle feeding) don’t have the seat in its reclining position while you’re feeding the baby – it’s a choking hazard.

  4. The seat cover should be easy to wipe clean. A removable seat cover is a plus.

  5. Check for stability. The legs should taper outwards, preferably extending further than all other parts of the chair.

  6. A 5-point harness with crotch, waist and shoulder straps helps prevent a child falling or climbing out of the seat. Shoulder straps that attach to the seat at shoulder height provide more effective restraint than ones that attach to the back of the waist strap. The crotch strap should be anchored close enough to the back that the child can't slip through one side. The buckles should be easy for you, but not your child, to release. Ideally, the harness should be non-removable, or at least require a tool to remove it (such as undoing a screw); this is so that you or your child are unlikely to take it off and lose it, or forget to reattach it.

  7. Castor wheels are useful for moving the chair around. There should be brakes on at least 2 wheels: older children may be tempted to take the baby for a joyride when your back is turned. If the highchair doesn’t have castors check that it’s light enough to move easily (without its passenger).

  8. Check that a child’s finger, toe, arm, leg, or head can’t be caught – especially around the arm rests and tray. Moving parts shouldn't be able to pinch, crush or trap a child's finger, toe, limb or head (or the fingers of an adult folding or adjusting the chair). Also check for sharp edges and points along the edges of the chair and tray, and easily detachable parts (including stickers) that could pose a choking hazard.

About our test

Our safety tests are based on the Australian Standard for high chairs, AS 4684:2009.

This standard also calls for compliance with at least 1 of the international standards, so we refer to the European Standard EN 14988.

In New Zealand, these standards are voluntary, but we recommend choosing a high chair that complies with these standards.

Our safety tests look at:

  • Stability.
  • Strength of construction.
  • Whether there is a risk of finger pinching or entrapment for the child or an adult folding and unfolding the chair.
  • Whether there are sharp edges, points or burrs.
  • Gaps and/or holes that could trap a finger, or any small parts that could be a choking hazard.
    Whether the chair comes with a five-point harness, back and side protection as well as locking mechanisms to stop the child falling out.

We also look at how easy the chair is to clean. We apply Weetbix and milk, spaghetti and tomato sauce and baby food to different areas of the chair (the tray, seat back and padding, as well as the harness). We then let it dry overnight and rate ease of cleaning for each of these areas on a scale from “very easy” (residue is easily removed using a kitchen cloth) to “very hard” (needs thorough scrubbing or washing). This is then converted to a score.

The overall score consists of 70% performance and 30% ease of cleaning.

We also note how easy it is to assemble and operate the high chair. Highchairs tested since 2016 have an “ease of use” score but it doesn’t contribute to the overall score.

Safety failures

Where a highchair fails a safety test, we rate these failures as major, minor or very minor.

  • Major safety failures include those concerning stability, durability, and security of the frame-locking mechanism. When a highchair tips over during the stability test or breaks during durability testing, we consider this a “major safety failure” and these models automatically earn our Don’t Buy status.
  • Minor safety failures are those which can be managed with safe and sensible use. Examples of minor safety failures are finger entrapment hazards in a hard to reach area and sharp edges. Highchairs with only minor safety issues may be “worth considering” but we don’t give them our full recommendation.

  • Finally, we have very minor safety failures. These don’t affect our scores but are issues to be aware of so you can limit potential risk. A common “very minor safety failure” is a harness that’s not permanently attached to the chair at the shoulders, waist and crotch points. Ideally, harnesses should be non-removable, or at least require a tool to remove (such as undoing a screw); this is so you or your child are unlikely to take it off and lose it, or forget to reattach it if you remove it for cleaning. However, for ease of use, many highchairs have harnesses that are easy to remove without a tool, or even a considerable amount of dexterity or skill. This is considered a “very minor safety failure” as there’s no obvious risk if you use the highchair as it’s intended.

A model with only very minor safety failures can still be recommended.

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