How do you know you need to find the best highchair ever?
Maybe you’re a first-time parent. Maybe your second or third child is ready to try solids, but a slightly-older sibling is still hogging the highchair.
Or maybe you’re realizing that your former mealtime solution no longer works.
Whatever the case, you realize you need a new highchair. Or a better booster seat.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could find something that combines best highchair with a booster that will work for as long as you need it to?
If so, then read on.
What makes the best highchair or booster seat?
- Well, for starters, it fits your wallet. That’s why I’ve got two top picks: my budget choice, and my splurge.
- Second, it will grow with your kiddo so that, with any luck, you’ll never need to buy another.
How NOT to get your best highchair or booster ever
Unless you’re really lucky, you won’t get far following the path we did. My dear husband and I bought our first house together weeks before Kimmie was born, at the same time we were transitioning from DINK (double income, no kids) status to a one-paycheck household.
With home expenses eating up every spare dollar, we welcomed every baby-related freebie that friends passed along.
This is how we got our first highchair, a fancy number with a huge tray, five-point harness, and washable padded cover.
We were very grateful for our friends’ thoughtful generosity. But we soon realized that the chair was a behemoth that wasn’t very user-friendly:
- The padding wanted washing after every meal – not something that was doable given that it was line-dry-only and hard to get on and off.
- Though easy to move around – a handy feature when Kimmie’s mealtime coincided with grownup dinner prep – the chair itself took up way too much floor space.
- The huge tray was super for baby-feeding, but the chair alone didn’t work well for seating a growing girl at the family table.
- Plus, there was no way its hulking mass could come with us when visiting the grandparents.
Ready for your best highchair or booster seat ever?
Maybe you’re ready to buy and want to avoid the mistakes of our first highchair. Maybe your current feeding setup sounds all too much like what I’ve just described.
Or maybe your little one has outgrown your first highchair – or is being booted by a younger sibling ready to start solids.
As Kimmie grew and we learned that Essie was on her way, we realized we needed a better highchair, as well as a booster seat for our growing “big girl.”
I didn’t have time to research the options thoroughly, as I had when picking out Kimmie’s crib and car seat. Luckily for me, I found the perfect answer to all our problems on my first shopping trip: Fisher-Price’s basic booster seat.
- It straps easily and securely onto most any chair. Heck, you don’t even need a chair; we’ve used this unit on the floor, on the ground outside, and even strapped to park benches and picnic-table seats.
- Its solid molded-plastic parts are easy to clean; the tray can even go in the dishwasher!
- Its ergonomically-molded shape holds Baby or Toddler snugly, without the need for any extra “padding” that’s just going to get dirty two seconds after you start feeding the kid anyway.
- Its detachable tray adjusts to accommodate both infants starting solids and larger toddlers.
- Used without the tray, it easily snugs up to the family table to give even school-age kiddos the “boost” they need.
- While sturdy enough for daily use at home, it’s also super-portable: great for play dates or car travel, but small enough that we’ve also flown across the country with it.
- Best of all, its low cost makes it super-affordable.
This basic booster seat worked so well that when Essie was ready for solids, we soon found ourselves staggering the girls’ eating times because this seat, while still great for our growing toddler, was also ideal for feeding our newest solids-eater.
I ditched our hand-me-down high chair and bought a second Fisher-Price booster seat, so each girl could have her own. For Essie’s, I splurged on the “deluxe” model. For about $5 more, the deluxe version has an adjustable-height feature and a removable food tray with a molded cup-holder compartment and a separate cover (both also dishwasher safe).
- Compared to our original behemoth, the tray on the Fisher-Price chair wasn’t as big. Not the end of the world, but less room for Baby’s first adventures in finger-painting. (If you’ve never tried this, put a dollop of plain yogurt on your infant’s highchair tray, add a drop of food color, get your camera ready, and let your budding Picasso explore.)
- In our house, at least, the fact that even Essie could use this booster as an infant made moving BEYOND the chair a desirable goal in both girls’ minds, as a symbol of “big-girl” status. They thus were ready to get rid of their boosters long before they could sit at a proper table height in grownup chairs.
When the girls decided they were both too “big-girl” to use their “baby” booster seats anymore, I noticed a definite uptick in food on the floor – and a corresponding decline in “big-girl” table manners.
Far as I could tell, the drop-off in civilized table behavior stemmed largely from their refusal to sit straight forward in grownup chairs – which, let’s face it, weren’t sized with their tiny frames in mind – even as they no longer tolerated using their boosters. Kimmie, in particular detested sitting face-forward at the table; because her legs dangled without a place to rest, she preferred either standing at the table or sitting sideways, both of which were unbecoming and led to an abundance of food missing its target.
So it was back to the drawing board – er, search engine – as I hunted for a chair that would be too cool for our “big girls” to pass up, while still meeting their not-yet-fully-grown needs.
I vaguely recalled reading, back when I was pregnant with Kimmie, about THE chair to get – if you could afford the $300-plus price tag. This chair boasted itself as the only chair your kiddo would ever need, from infantdom to high school graduation and beyond (use it as a high chair, then turn it into a desk chair!).
A little hunting, and I had it: the Stokke Tripp Trapp High Chair.
Yes, the price tag for an infant high chair was enough to cause sticker shock: the full package, including infant seat, cushion, and detachable tray, will run you over $350 U.S.
And in this case, good things come to those who wait: For parents wanting an option for a bigger kid, you can buy the basic chair WITHOUT the infant trappings for just under $250.
Even better, I found the lime green version on sale for just under $200! Not everyone’s cup of tea, perhaps, but one of my fave colors anyway.
Why the Stokke rocks for life
I decided that after all the outgrown kiddo gear I’d just offloaded at my last consignment sale event, it was totally appropriate to spend some of my earnings on a new chair for Kimmie.
The basic chair comes with the five-point harness, removal of which was the only tricky part of the assembly process. The assembly directions even come with hints about where you might need to set the seat and footrest, depending on the age and size of your kiddo. (Or grownup; the chair will accommodate up to 300 lbs!)
I sold her on the concept by explaining that this was a special “big-girl” chair that was designed to fit her perfectly. Needless to say, this not only convinced her, but was enough to instill a powerful sense of envy in little-sister Essie – who’d recently rejected her Fisher-Price booster, but was even less able to sit at the “grownup” table unassisted than her lanky big sister.
After a few months of successful use from Kimmie, I put the same lime-green yet clearance-priced version on Essie’s Christmas-wishlist-for-gifts-from-doting-grandparents.
Much as the girls love the comfort of NOT having their feet dangling anymore at the dinner table, they’re especially excited about the prospect of having their own special chairs graduate to homework desk chairs someday down the road. (And I have to say, they really are quite comfy, even for a grownup.)
At that rate, the Stokke chairs will be well worth the upfront investment.
Have you tried either of these seats? Or what’s your pick for best highchair or booster seat? Let us know in the comments!