Are baby feeding chairs really necessary?
Yes! but only once your baby can sit unaided.
The feeding chair gives a safe place for your baby to eat and explore food. It is a practical item and I found it convenient to use.
There is no doubt about it, having a child is expensive business. They will eat up your hard-earned cash, so it’s wise to look at the options before committing to a purchase. Being able to decide whether something is a want or need can help save some money.
In my case, using a bib and letting my daughter sit on my lap or the couch was fine up to a point. I invested in a feeding chair when she could hold her head up and was on solid food. I liked the idea of easier clean up, less food on the floor and her being able to sit with us for meals as a family. My daughter also loved being in it, she had her own space and could take her time playing and exploring with the food.
Whilst researching feeding chairs, I found out about sensory play which is an important factor when getting a high chair. Sensory play builds nerve connections within the developing brain’s neural pathways, which trigger a child’s inclination for completing more complex learning tasks.
The feeding chair gives a space for your child to feel, interact and squish their food. I used to look on in horror as the time-consuming meal that I prepared was savagely destroyed in a few seconds but the delightful look on my daughter’s face was worth it.
From a parenting standpoint, I found that my knowledge of baby products increased dramatically. I became a walking encyclopaedia of knowledge but I felt overwhelmed with the sheer number of options. Rather than asking what the best feeding chair is, I asked myself what feeding chair would be most suitable for my daughter’s needs. This helped to narrow down the search and I soon realised that feeding chairs that are more expensive aren’t necessarily better.
When do you need a feeding chair?
You don’t need a feeding chair until your child is eating solid food and can hold their heads up. This varies from child to child but is generally around the 6 month mark. The investment is worth it as your child can use it until they are 2 or 3 years old.
The recommended age for the product will be listed by the manufacturer. I waited until my daughter could sit up by herself before putting her in the feeding chair. I felt that she was ready at 6 months old because at this stage she would not slump over and would be able to keep herself upright.
For my own peace of mind, I decided to buy a new feeding chair rather than a second hand feeding chair. This was a personal choice and meant that I could sleep at night knowing that it was sturdy and had a returns policy.
What to consider when looking for a feeding chair?
I narrowed it down to 5 points to consider when researching a feeding chair:
1. Safety – How safe is the chair? Will my child fall out? Is there a harness?
2. Space and storage – How easy is it to set up and fold away if needed? Is it going to take up a lot of space?
3. Cleaning and hygiene – Is it quick to clean? Is it easy to clean the various parts?
4. Versatility – Can it be used for other purposes when my child out grows it?
5. Cost – Am I getting value for money? Are there any specials?
What are the different types of feeding chairs?
Let the research begin!
The types of chairs are endless, and the options can be overwhelming. Highchair, lowchair, foldable, booster, spacesaver etc.
Being the conscientious type I did my due diligence but I was soon down the YouTube review rabbit hole and I forgot what I was looking for.
So I narrowed my options in the following categories:
- Classic high chair
- Clip on high chair
- Booster chair
- Table type chair
- Bonus! Camping style feeding chair
I’ve already done the research for you so let me show you some of the best type of feeding chairs available. I cover all the points to consider for each category, top tips, conclusions and a nice calmness tip at the end of the article!
Firstly, the classic high chair is the type of chair that most people think of:
1. The classic high chair.
The classic high chair is a self-contained chair as it does not need to be attached to a table like a clip-on feeding chair. This is good if you decide to feed your child whilst sitting on the couch. I used to do this a lot with my daughter.
We didn’t have a set dinner time and my wife and I would eat at different times. The high chair worked out great when we were sitting on the couch watching a tv show and feeding my daughter whilst she sat happily in her chair. I was always next to her when she was eating to make she didn’t wriggle or rock the chair.
The high chair also worked out great for us for when we wanted to sit at the table together and take a break from the screen. We actually ended up making it a routine to sit at table and eat together. It may lead to getting a second serving of mash potato on your face…whether you asked for it or not.
A nice basic high chair would be something similar to this:
The Contempo is a slim folding high chair, so it’s easy to store and perfect for travel. The Contempo high chair also comes pre-assembled, so it is ready to use the moment you pull it out of the box. The dishwasher-safe, pull-out tray insert makes clean convenient. Plus, it comes with a bonus machine-washable seatpad for even easier clean-up.
At only 7.5″ wide, when folded, the Contempo high chair can be easily tucked out of the way when not in use. The 3-position, one-hand recline and the 6-position height adjust allow you to make little one as comfy as possible for mealtimes.
TOP TIP: I used a waterproof silicone bib:
to make the clean-up even easier. Plastic bibs are one of the best creations ever made and I looked like a genius when I decided to buy one! With the fabric type bibs they were a pain to constantly rinse before putting into the washing machine. These bibs were great for camping; the clean-up was a breeze just using washing up liquid. They are also an excellent thoughtful gift for new parents.
You can let your child eat at their own pace whilst you still enjoy a meal at the table. This was a huge plus for me. My daughter would happily play with the food and keep herself entertained.
As my daughter got bigger, I no longer needed to feed her and could just leave the plastic bowl or snacks on the tray for her to take when she wanted to. Occasionally I would use the flying aeroplane spoon coming in for a landing trick…usually when broccoli was involved.
One important factor to consider with a high chair is how sturdy it is. If your child likes to wriggle excessively a fixed height chair may not be the best option due to the height from the ground. One way to safe guard from this is to put some play mats underneath and around the chair. Also stay close to while your child gets used to sitting in it.
TOP TIP: To avoid these extra steps and for peace of mind, go for a height adjustable high chair such as:
The multifunctional, ultra-compact high chair easily accommodates a child’s growth. From birth, the Siesta can be used as a recliner or as a high chair for feeding, playing and resting. The removable tray and multiple height positions allow child to sit right at the table. The Siesta follows a child from birth through the toddler years
As the child grows, the five recline positions and nine height positions provide a perfect spot for relaxing, eating or playing. Dinner will truly be a family affair, as the Siesta’s multiple height settings and removable tray allow child to sit at the dinner table. It’s a smooth move from one room to the next with the Siesta. Floor-friendly caster wheels allow for an easy transition from kitchen to playroom, and automatically lock for safety. When it’s time to put the Siesta away, it folds quickly and compactly. The fabric can quickly be wiped clean with a damp cloth.
Space and storage:
Being foldable was a very important selling point for me. Being able to take it to a grandparent’s place or to stop the child from climbing up it by folding it up and keeping it in the corner.
An important safety factor for me was the harness and the leg room. Take your time to get the harness comfortable and ensure there is enough leg room for your little food critic.
If you are averse to plastic or want the chair to last longer, a wooden variation may more suitable. For the fashion conscious, the wooden high chair also stands out less and blends in more with your furniture. A good example of a wooden high chair is:
Keekaroo’s wooden high chair offers the safe seat your child needs during mealtime. The High Chair is ideal for children aged 6 months to 250 pound. The High Chair includes a wooden tray with BPA-Free plastic tray cover, passive crotch restraint and 3-point safety belt. The Keekaroo High Chair is made with a plant based lacquerer finish. It is JPMA certified to the highest ASTM standards for the safety of your child.
Cleaning and hygiene:
To give it a civilised look and functionality, the little tray is removable and allows for easy clean-up. The whole tray can slide out or the top of the tray can be lifted out and washed very quickly.
As your child gets bigger, the chair can be used as a table. As my daughter progressed out of the high chair, she would put her teddy bear in the seat and pretend to feed him.
This will be related to the features and materials that the feeding chair is made of. The standard plastic chair or a wooden chair.
This is the type of chair that I went for and it worked well for our needs. Take some time getting the harness right otherwise your child will be squirming about and be put off by the chair. My daughter loved having her space and I loved the easy clean up and ability to fold the chair. Although my daughter has now out grown the chair, she still uses it as a table and uses the tray for her tea parties.
2. Clip/hook on highchair:
Clip/hook on high chairs are basically seats which hook or clip onto the dinner table. In my travels I saw this type most commonly available at restaurants, mainly due to taking up the least about of space. If you are worried about one damaging your table, look for a chair than has rubber end points on the hook. Also make sure the table is sturdy.
The Inglesina Fast Table Chair is designed with parents and babies in mind, from its quick set up at most tables to its durable construction. This baby high chair will allow for a quick and easy mealtime whether at home or on the go, and includes an integrated travel-friendly carry bag. The table chair features simple twist-tight couplings and is compatible with most types of tables up to 3.5” thick, and leaving them scratch-free. The Fast Table Chair is comfortable too; featuring a lifted backrest, firm seat, and fabric covered wide tubes. Traveling is hassle free with this baby chair; the fold-flat closing system was designed for easy setup and hassle-free operation. The optional dining tray accessory features deep borders surrounding the eating surface to help keep food on the tray, and snaps easily onto the Fast Table chair’s arms.
Check the weight guide lines on the individual chair. For peace of mind before putting your baby in, use something of equivalent weight such as a watermelon.
Some chairs only fit table thickness of 1.5 inches and others offer greater flexibility. This is a key point to look at in the description section of the product.
Space and storage:
If you want less clutter go for this type of chair. You can leave it permanently attached to the table and its non-obtrusive.
As it clips on and off easily, storing away in a cupboard is an option. The chair can easily be put in a car and taken with you on family trips.
Cleaning and hygiene:
There is no tray to clean and the lining can easily be wiped, hand washed or put in the washing machine. Making clean up quick and easy.
It does what it says on the box and other uses are limited apart from your child feeding their teddy bear!
These generally cost less than the other type of chairs due to less features that can be added.
This is a great option to have. There are some variables to consider and reconsider if you are expecting to take it travelling, for instance the weight and thickness of the table. There is less clean up as there is no tray and it is quick and easy to put your child into.
Some more great hook/clip-on chair options:
Designed in Italy, Chicco’s 360-degree rotating hook-on chair has an innovative seat that locks in 6 positions for happy and interactive mealtimes.
Face baby toward mom for one-on-one feeding. Face baby out to keep him happy and let others entertain him. Face him forward toward the table for regular mealtimes with snap-on tray. Snap on serving tray provides a neat and clean surface for meals at home or away.
Washable fabric seat pad and dishwasher-safe tray make clean up easy. Rubber grips clamps to table quickly and securely negotiating table skirts up to 5.5″ thick. With a compact fold and deluxe carry bag, the Chicco 360 is great for picnics, restaurants or the grandparents!
Adaptable dining in an ultra portable high chair
Have lobster at the table every day! An award winning travel high chair, lobster flat packs into its own compact carry bag, measuring just 14″ x 13″ x 3″ (Folded dimension in bag 13.7 inches x 13.4 inches x 3 inches) . Clip lobster on to almost any table or bench top at home or on your travel adventure, and keep your baby clean, safe and part of the family sitting right up at the table!
Lobster is super easy to take with you when dining out with your baby. The lobster fabric is durable & wipe clean, and slides right off the high chair frame for hand washing. A dishwasher-safe food tray slides between the clamps to protect your table surface from food spills.
A 4-point safety harness with padded shoulder straps keeps the wriggliest of babies safe & secure in their high chair. Super strong ‘lobster claws’ with rubber grips secure to the table using a ‘twist on-and-off’ clamp mechanism – easy for adults, not so easy for kids.
The satin finish aluminium frame and robust, easy care fabrics are strong and durable. The deep, padded seat provides all the comfort and postural support your baby needs.
Not suitable for use on glass top tables, tables with loose table tops, table leaves, single pedestal tables, card tables, camping tables, or tables with rounded or beveled edges or lips
3. Booster feeding chair:
This is an interesting chair in that it grows with your child. You can use it on the ground and as they grow bigger you can attach it to the chair.
The Trio 3-in-1 Deluxe High Chair, is the only chair you’ll ever need because it’s three chairs in one! Three modes of use include a full-size high chair, booster seat and toddler chair… all in one chair! Its versatile design makes it perfect for dining at home or a restaurant. The Sahara Burst fashion is perfect for boys or girls and complements your home décor.
The EasyClean removable and dishwasher-safe tray features four locking positions and a removable bolster insert for a better fit as baby grows. The high chair and booster seat include a five-point harness and the toddler chair has a three-point harness to keep baby secure. The high chair accommodates toddlers up to 50 pounds and includes a machine-washable seat pad for easy clean up. When used as a booster and toddler chair, the Trio 3-in-1 Deluxe High Chair can even seat two children at the same time.
These are fantastic for the fact that your child is low to the ground. It is easy for them to get in and out of. When attaching to the chair ensure the straps are fastened securely ad the chair is sturdy. As with all feeding chairs check the recommended age and weight. Make sure your child can hold their head up and sit upright.
Space and storage:
Light and easy to carry and store away. Like the clip on seat I like the portability of the seat.
Cleaning and hygiene:
The tray is removable for quick and easy cleaning. Also be sure to clean the harness and other nooks and cranies.
Your child can also use it as a table. It doubles as toy feeding chair for their teddy bears.
Usually cheaper than high feeding chairs.
All in all, a very versatile chair that will grow with your child. If you are hesitant of your child being up high and possibly toppling over, with this chair you can start them low to the ground and build up. Eventually securing the seat to a seat when they get a little bigger.
Be sure to fasten the harness attached to the chair securely and make sure the chair is solid.
Some great examples of a booster feeding chairs:
With the Fisher-Price SpaceSaver High Chair, you get everything you love from a full-size high chair but in a portable size that fits easily on most dining and restaurant chairs!
It has two height adjustments and three recline positions to keep your baby comfortable, and you can transform it into a toddler booster when your little one is ready. And, keeping this high chair clean is super easy, too! The deep-dish design helps keep your little one from pushing food off the tray, and the spill-resistant seat pad and harness are machine washable. Plus, the seat, tray and bonus tray insert are all dishwasher safe.
This portable booster seat is the perfect way to bring children to the table at home or on the go!
The convenient carry strap and compact fold make this seat easy to take along to restaurants, on vacation, or to visit family.
Pocket Snack features easy-to-clean surfaces, three tray positions, three height adjustments and a three-point harness. Two straps secure it to most dining chairs, and rubberized feet help keep it from slipping.
- Quick set-up; easy and compact fold
- Sturdy metal legs adjust to three height positions
- Removable tray adjusts to three positions
- Three-point harness
- Anti-slip, non-marking feet
- For children up to 50 lbs
4. Table type chair:
Useful for when your child is a little bigger. They usually have a small table attached to the chair.
- Recommended for ages 3+ years
- Made of engineered wood and fabric
- Sits low to the ground for easy access
- Features removable cup holder for art supplies and fabric storage bin
- Scratch-resistant finish protects the colorful graphics
- Wipes easily clean with a dry cloth
Usually doesn’t have a harness so you need to supervise your child all the time.
Space and storage:
These are usually solid units and not foldable. They also take up the most space compared to other feeding chairs.
Cleaning and hygiene:
The tray part is usually fixed and so must be wiped.
This is where the chair shines….it can be used as a table and chair for when your child is bigger. Although this requires patience when supervising whilst they are still growing. You may end up getting one of these anyway down the line so its good to know the options out there.
I found out about these chairs whilst searching for a table for my daughter. They are fantastic, although not targeted at younger children they are fantastic for when they get slightly older. My daughter started to use this type of chair when she was about 3 years old. She could get in and out easily and used the table to eat and as a space to paint and draw.
5. Bonus!: Camping feeding chairs
The 5-point removable harness makes your stable baby secure and comfortable as he/she sits upright in the cushioned seat. As your baby grows, a flap on the seat can detach to reveal two leg holes perfect for letting your little one stand with support. The chair can then be used through toddler and big-kid ages (up to 75lbs), either with or without the snack tray & canopy.
Features & Benefits
- Angled platform feet w/ 8 points of contact for stability.
- Removable 5-point harness.
- Protective leg enclosure with netting or storage area under the chair.
- Removable sun canopy.
- Durable polyester fabric is not treated with flame retardants.
- Removable plastic tray.
Feeding Chair Top tips:
We often purchase high chairs without considering the baby. High chairs and babies come in all shapes and sizes. Consider bringing your baby with you when shopping for a high chair and trying each type of high chair to see what fits best.
This way you can see if they like the chair, happy babies typically equal successful eaters. You can go into any baby store and try out the demo models. Is your baby squirming, slipping or not sitting comfortably? Try adjusting the seat or harness. If baby still seems uncomfortable, it might not be the right fit.
Place a doll in the chair to practice the harness. The less you fuss with this, the less you will bring attention to the fact they are fastened in. I used one of my daughter’s cuddly toys to practice and then adjusted it for Elsa when I put her in the seat.
Be at one with the mess and don’t try to make sure everything is neat and proper. I encouraged my daughter to eat by herself as much as possible. She interchanged between using her fingers and a spoon. I used plastic bowls as the bowl often went airborne and so did some of the food.
I had some pressure from extended family to feed her with the spoon and eliminate the mess on her hands etc. I tried to “diplomatically” explain the necessity of sensory play. There was inevitable comparisons to other children of the same age that could this and that, blah blah. I tried to relax and inevitably covered my face in butternut in unison with my daughter, viva la veggie revolution!
If space is not an issue I would go for the height adjustable high chair as my daughter had a good experience using it. And then keep a hook on chair in the car for holidays or visits to restaurants.
If you have a strong table and want your child to really be part of meal times go for the hook on seat.
If you want something versatile that can be used on the ground and on a normal chair go for the booster style.
If you want to wait a bit before deciding, using a breastfeeding pillow is great idea. We actually used one on the bed to prop our little one up. I talk more about it my post, An Illustrative Guide: 35 Ways Days Can Support Breastfeeding Mums.