The Best High Chairs for Babies - Baby Led Weaning + Toddler Nutrition

The Best High Chairs for Babies

  • October 7, 2019

When you google the best high chairs for babies, you get all sorts of opinions. There’s talk of what is the easiest to collapse, what looks stylish in your house, how easy they are to clean. But there is almost never a discussion about which ones will actually help, and not hurt, your baby’s ability to actually eat! Keep reading to find out what you need to know about high chairs and how to help your baby thrive in them!


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When I was doing some background research for this article I came across several lists by well known baby review sites. How your baby sits in the chair wasn't even a topic of conversation, outside of one site mentioning that a chair paid attention to "small details, like ergonomics"! I don't know about you, but as someone who spends a great deal of my life helping parents figure out how to feed their babies and toddlers, how your baby sits should be one of, if not the main, consideration when buying a chair.

It may sound dramatic, but the chair that your baby uses to learn how to eat does actually matter. And as they grow, problems like fussiness at the table, refusing to eat, pickiness, and so many others can all often be traced back to high chairs and how they're sitting for meals.

The Best High Chair Position for Eating

Most high chairs on the market today don’t actually take into account what is the best position for your baby to successfully eat. Look at most chairs out there, and you might notice that they have a huge back that is often tilted slightly back, a deep seat, and a footrest that isn’t moveable, if they have one at all. So just what is wrong with that?

Hip Positioning

A seat that is tilted back means that your baby is not an active participant in the meal. It can affect your baby’s ability to actually get their hand to their mouth. I always like to equate how we place our babies in chairs with how we sit ourselves. If you sit at the table to eat, you lean forward to take a bite. Your shoulders are over, or slightly in front of, your hips. Because that is how you can most easily and accurately get food into your mouth! 

If you’ve ever leaned back in your chair and then tried to take a bite of something, especially with a utensil, you’ll know it’s hard. If you haven't, try it out the next time you're sitting at the table. It's not easy! And that’s for adults with years of practice eating. So imagine a newly eating baby in a tilted back chair. They're often strapped in tightly so they can’t actually sit forward from the back. And they're trying their hardest to actually get food anywhere close to their mouth. That’s frustrating for them, and often leaves parents wondering what's wrong.

Knee Positioning

Now let’s talk deep seats. Again, picture yourself in a chair with a seat bottom that is entirely too big for you. If you sit your bottom all the way back (which in high chairs we almost always have kids do, and then strap them down so they can’t move…) then your knees aren’t able to bend to 90 degrees.

Now what do you do with your feet? Even if you had a floor you could reach to rest your feet on, you can’t actually get them there, because you can’t bend your knees. We'll all seek stability for our bodies by finding someplace for our feet. Whether you rest them on a part of the table, underneath you, pull them up, cross them somehow, you’re likely to have found yourself doing all of these at some time or another.

As adults we like to talk about how our babies are constantly putting feet on tables, pulling them up, and generally being fidgety. Can you blame them if they can’t actually rest their feet somewhere by bending their knees?

Feet and Ankle Positioning

Let’s pretend that we’ve solved the knees not able to bend issue. Now we get to the part where most high chairs have nowhere for kids to rest their feet. In another adult analogy, pretend you’re sitting at a bar with a chair that is bar height. Your feet can’t touch the ground. What do you do with them?

No one likes feet just dangling! We all will seek stability for our bodies through our feet. Whether we cross them, prop them on a chair rung or the back of the bar, we do whatever we can to make ourselves feel stable. This is exactly what kids are doing when they put their feet places so they aren’t just hanging.

Bottom line is, when you aren’t stable and comfortable, you are distracted from eating. Some babies and toddlers more so than others, of course. But I think we can all agree that we wan’t our babies to be comfortable while they’re learning to eat, and to provide them with the best experience we can. It goes a long ways towards good eating habits as they grow!

What Exactly Are We Looking for in a High Chair?

We want our babies and toddles to have their hips, knees, and feet all at 90 degrees to promote proper eating dynamics and allow your baby to get the most out of mealtimes. Seems like it should be simple enough, no? 

Unfortunately, very few high chair makers have gotten the memo. And even more unfortunately, those that have tend to be on the pricier side.

My Favorite High Chair

My favorite high chair out there, and what most other feeding professionals swear by, is the Stokke Tripp Trapp. It meets all the requirements, and allows your child to fit in their chair properly, starting when they start solids around 6 months all the way through adulthood! That means that while you do pay more for it upfront, you will never need to buy another booster seat or other chair for them as they get older.

Erica Fitch

Lizzie Davis

Lilly Schott

Look at how all these babies fit in their Stokke Tripp Trapps. They are all different sizes, and all fit appropriately!

High Chairs Need to Fit Every Age!

Most high chairs aren’t really designed to fit every single age they're used for. They say they are made for kids 4-6 months through 3 years usually. But those kids are vastly different sizes! There’s no way, unless the chair is extremely adjustable like the Stokke Tripp Trapp is, that all kids of that age range will fit in those chairs appropriately. Something to keep in mind as you’re buying a high chair.

Most chairs are sized to fit toddlers more appropriately. So what are you supposed to do with a newly eating baby, who needs to feel stable just as much as a toddler does? High chairs really do need to adjust in all of the areas I talk about in order for your baby to be comfortable in them!

Most of this information isn’t actually talked about when parents are asking what the best high chairs for babies are, or before they go out and buy them. And if definitely isn’t talked about before parents put high chairs on their baby registries in most cases! So if you haven’t bought one already, do yourself a huge favor and just go straight for a high chair that meets the 90, 90, 90 requirements. That is what will truly live up to the best baby high chair name! I’ve got a list of high chairs I recommend at the bottom of this page.

What to Do If You’ve Already Bought One and Can’t Afford to Buy Another

All hope isn’t lost! You can modify many chairs to at least meet more of these requirements. You might not be able to fix every aspect of them, and unfortunately some chairs are just hopeless from a feeding standpoint. But you can give it your best shot and see if it improves things. 

In general, think:

  •  If baby is leaning back beyond 90°, try propping towels behind them to provide support for upright sitting. This also works to try to scoot baby forward so their knees can be at the edge of the chair and be at 90°. Ensure that shoulder straps aren't too tight to allow them to lean slightly forward when taking a bite.
  • If baby is too short for the tray or table (meaning it hits them above mid torso) try putting towels underneath them to prop them up some.
  • Feet don't reach the footrest? Try small boxes like ziplocs, kleenex, or amazon boxes to tape to the top of the footrests using duct tape. Or even try cut pool noodles. You want them to be able to put some weight on their feet, so a firm surface will be best, but anything is better than nothing.
  • No footrest at all? Try propping a chair under or behind them. Stack boxes in front or use a smaller stool in front of them.

A Note About Trays

You'll notice that I mention a few places the desire to have babies right at the table with us. Bringing your baby to the table is an important part of teaching them to eat, and I love to see it happening right from the first bite.

Having them at the table with you can be huge for modeling how to eat, what to do with plates and utensils, and how to act at the table. It also helps your baby to feel like they are part of the family, and eat just like any other member of the family without the need to be away from the table or with their own tray. You'd be amazed at what a simple switch like getting your child at the table with you can do! 

Some chairs have trays that are not removable, meaning baby can't be right at the table with you. Others it is unsafe, especially for 6 month olds, to be in the chair without the tray. While I don't consider it quite as important as how your child is positioned at the table, I do find it to be a pretty important part of feeding, and something worth considering when buying a high chair. 

Examples of Popular High Chairs

I put a call out to my Instagram followers to send me some pictures of their babies in high chairs to help illustrate my points. For each of the following pictures, I’ll talk about some specific ideas that might help to modify the chair. Keep in mind these are chairs from all over the world, but primarily here in the US. The principles will apply to all chairs regardless of brand though.

Hopefully seeing all the examples of how we don't want babies to sit to eat will help you figure out pretty quickly exactly what to look for when buying a new high chair, or trying to augment an old one. But keep in mind, no matter what high chair you buy, you'll need to keep adjusting it as your child grows. 

Common High Chairs and How to Improve Them

Let's start with the good ones! (I'm including prices, which are approximate at the time of writing, to help give you an idea of where each type of high chair falls on the price spectrum)

Abiie Beyond ($194) This one is fully adjustable and puts baby in a great eating position. Only issue is most babies can't be pulled up to the table without the tray until they are older and sitting much more stably due to the large seat area. The Keekaroo high chair is equivalent to this. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Schuster)

Babybjorn high chair ($329) Puts a newly eating baby in a great position. Biggest concern is it is not able to be adjusted as they grow. 2 and 3 year olds will outgrow this, and likely feel confined as they get bigger. Tray doesn't come off, so unable to pull baby to the table. (Photo courtesy of Carina Quinlan)

Mocka High Chair ($129 NZD) Very similar to the Abiie and Keekaroo chairs available in the US. This is available in Australia and New Zealand. Puts baby in great position, may need to wait until a bit older to have them directly at the table due to roomy seat area. (Photo courtesy of Samantha McGufficke)

Examples of Some of the More Popular Chairs That Will Need Some Modifying

Graco

Graco Mealtime ($90) These chairs are very popular here in the US. Unfortunately, most of them come with very large seats like this one, and no foot rest to talk about for younger babies. To modify, try padding baby with towels behind their back and at the side to prevent slouching and move them forward in the seat. Even if you can't get knees to bend appropriately, try adding a box (using duct tape) to the foot rest to help your baby reach it. (Photo courtesy of Sara Nielsen) 

Graco Duodiner ($129) Alter this one in the same way as the previous one. Prop baby's back with towels so they are sitting with their shoulders over their hips. Allow enough slack in the shoulder straps so that they are able to lean slightly forward to eat. Tape a box or pool noodle to the foot rest to get it high enough for them while they are small. (Photo courtesy of Alyssa Schneider)

Ingenuity

Ingenuity Trio 3-in-1 ($84.99) Add a towel behind baby to help get them to the full 90° and move them as far forward in the seat as possible while being supported at the back. Tape a box around the footrest using duct tape to bring it up and allow them to place their feet on it with ankles at 90°. (Photo courtesy of Brittney Moore) 

Ingenuity Trio 3-in-1 ($84.99) This mom stopped using the shoulder straps to allow baby to sit up fully at 90°, an option to help with recline as long as you feel it is safe for your baby. I would recommend a towel behind baby to help potentially scoot them forward and allow the knees to bend better, as well. Add a foot rest by taping a box to the high chair that will allow baby to rest their whole foot on it. (Photo courtesy of Kelly Stapleton)  

Ingenuity Trio 3-in-1 ($84.99) This high chair is marketed as being able to convert to a booster style seat for older toddlers. The seat for it, however, is so roomy with little to no support that I don't recommend it as a chair for older kids. Instead, try one of the true booster chairs you can find for fairly cheap that will provide more support and help your child feel secure and stable. (Photo courtesy of Amahl McHenry)

Peg Perego

Peg Perego Prima Pappa Diner ($299) From this angle, this appears to be an easy fix. Try taping a box (ziploc bag, one from amazon, anything that is the right height to support your baby's feet) to the current footrest with duct tape. Add towels behind or under baby to prop up if more support is needed to bring baby to a good upright position with properly bent knees. (Photo courtesy of Bri N.)

Peg Perego Siesta ($299) Without using the shoulder straps this baby appears to be at a good angle. However his bottom is so far back in the seat he is unable to bend his knees. Try some towels behind, or even under, to help adjust positioning to get him to 90° at hips and knees. Tape a box to the current footrest to provide him with more stability. (Photo courtesy of Rebecca Robson)

Peg Perego Siesta ($299) Same concerns as the previous example, however with this one it is easier to see the recline. Try propping up with some towels to ensure he is sitting at 90°, and/or loosening the shoulder straps to allow him to sit fully upright. Towels may also help to prop forward and allow knees to be closer to the edge to bend properly. Add a footrest with a box. (Photo courtesy of crissyandmarcos)

Joie

Joie Mimzy (£80-100) I've added the light teal line here to illustrate the angles this high chair is promoting instead of 90° degrees in all three places. I'd recommend moving this footrest back up to the higher position, and for smaller babies using a box to support their feet until they can reach the footrest. Loosen the shoulder straps and prop a towel behind to encourage the shoulders to be right on top of the hips and at 90°. (Photo courtesy of Mel Simpson) 

Joie Multiply (£130) I would focus on propping baby's back up with towels so that he is in a full upright sitting position here. Then add a box to support baby's feet, even if you can't get knees to 90°. For a baby this size, this seat is too big and you are unlikely to be able to adjust enough to get his knees to 90°. (Photo courtesy of ashika_mummydiaries)

Joovy

Joovy Nook ($100) This is another popular high chair here in the US. This one is incredibly roomy for most kids, and doesn't provide much support. Again, try propping towels behind to take up some room in the seat and get hips to 90°. You may also need to add some to the sides of your baby to prevent slouching to the side like this. Use smaller kitchen or hand towels for this to ensure you aren't interfering with their ability to use their arms. Aim to get knees at 90° with towels in back to scoot baby forward, but if unable to accomplish this, still aim to support baby's feet with a box (or several if you don't have one tall enough) that you can tape to the footrest. (Photo courtesy of Blayke Barker)  

Joovy Foodoo ($116) This gives a great view of the recline in these chairs. Strapped in, baby is not able to sit up fully. I'd recommend trying to loosen the straps and prop towels behind their back to get them supported at 90°. Try taping one or two boxes to the footrest to support feet, although it looks like you may have to get creative with fitting them around the stem in the middle of the footrest. (Photo courtesy of np1929)  

Plastic Seats

Ikea Antilop ($20) This is one of the more popular chairs out there. Unfortunately, as is, it leaves lots of room for improvement. The seat is incredibly deep, leaving lots of room for babies to twist around and bring their legs up. Try padding with towels on back and sides, or purchase the extra support cover from Ikea for $6. There is no foot rest for this chair, which has led to many parents finding their own solutions (try googling Ikea high chair footrest hack!) Recently, a few companies have come out with 3rd party foot rests for these. I'd highly recommend purchasing one of those for it if  you are not able to create your own footrest. (Photo courtesy of Edith Foley) 

Evenflo 4 in 1 ($60) This high chair is very similar to the Ikea Antilop. The seat is very deep and roomy, leading to sideways sitting like this. Pad with towels around the back and side to help them feel supported and secure in the proper position. Tape a box on top of the foot rest, or simply strap some towels or a blanket down to provide a little extra height for feet to reach. With a similar size to the Ikea chair, you may be able to use one of the 3rd party footrests made for that chair. (Photo courtesy Caitlin Costantini)

Zoe high chair ($85) This chair has similar issues as the last one. A large seat that doesn't fit smaller babies well. Hip positioning seems to be good from this angle, but knees and feet clearly are not able to be properly positioned for stability. I'd recommend towels behind baby's back to prop forward as much as possible to get knees close to the edge of the chair. Use towels or boxes to attach to the foot rest to make the proper height. This chair might also fit with the 3rd party footrests made for the Ikea chair. (Photo courtesy Abby Ferreira)

Miscellaneous Chairs

Babytrend high chair ($120)  Another high chair with very similar positioning. I'd recommend attempting to use towels to scoot the bottom forward to try to get the knees a little closer to the edge of the seat. Tape a box to the bottom to allow the feet to rest properly on the footrest. (Photo courtesy of Ally Hoyt)

Oribel Cocoon ($215) The large seat on this high chair means there's lots of room for the baby to slouch. I'd recommend propping towels behind to help hips with proper positioning. With sitting further upright, knees will likely go further forward. Tape a box to the footrest to help with support. (Photo courtesy of dinajoness)

Oxo Tot Seedling ($120) With the positioning of this seat post fairly far back, most children's knees will likely not be able to get to 90°. Hip positioning appears ok, but smaller babies would likely benefit from a towel behind their back. Try taping a box to the footrest to allow baby to rest their feet there. (Photo courtesy of Grace Hamilton) 

Booster Chairs (Often the Best Bet for Countertop Height!)

Ingenuity Baby Base ($40) This booster provides good support for proper hip positioning. Smaller babies like this will have a harder time getting their knees to the edge of the seat. Try providing an extra chair or stool in front of the booster to allow for a better footrest, or stack boxes there if baby is sitting at the table. (Photo courtesy of Abby Inglefield)

Phil and Ted's Clip on High chair ($90) These clip on chairs are often the best bet for counter top height tables. Many of them have very deep seats, though, as you can see here. Try placing some towels under your baby's bottom to prop them up so the counter isn't higher than mid torso. Use a smaller stool, boxes, or a chair placed behind them to provide foot support. (Photo courtesy of @Lipsnberries)

Safety 1st booster seat ($30) This one appears to put baby in a good sitting position with hips. Use towels to adjust positioning if baby is leaning too far back or knees don't reach the edge. Use an extra chair, a stack of boxes, or a stool to give baby someplace to prop their feet if your chair isn't big enough. (Photo courtesy of Dusty Cloudy)

High Chairs That Have Been Modified for Better Positioning

Koo-di Duo Wooden High Chair (£130)

With towels propped behind and a place to prop feet, this chair was successfully altered to have the 90, 90, 90 positioning we are after! (Photos courtesy _abientot)

Cosco high chair ($35)

This mom encountered this chair at a vacation rental. By adding towels to both the back and footrest, she was able to improve the upright position, and provide a little support in the footrest area. As she put it, "it's not perfect, but it's an improvement"! (Photos courtesy of Ashley Lamb) 

Stokke Tripp Trapp vs Others

Asunflower wooden high chair ($104) This chair has a very roomy and deep seat, which leads to baby leaning backwards and sideways. ​​

The same baby in a Stokke Tripp Trapp ($250) Look at the difference in the positioning. You can often achieve some of the positioning by modifying existing chairs. But for one that doesn't need modification, finding one that is fully adjustable is key! (Photos courtesy of kseniasts)

Some Other Popular High Chairs

I am often asked what I think about certain high chairs. And while I can't go into every single high chair on the market, it's worth mentioning some of the pertinent aspects of these more popular chairs that I haven't already included.

  • 4 Moms high chair ($300)- Doesn't put baby in appropriate upright position and would likely need to be modified with towels behind the back. Footrest not adjustable.
  • Oxo tot sprout ($250)- Good upright positioning, however with a deep seat and a footrest that doesn't go high enough for most 6 months old to reach, you'll need to modify it some.
  • Nomi ($379)- A great chair designed by the same person who designed the Stokke Tripp Trapp. Is fully adjustable and able to be brought up to the table. A higher price point than the Tripp Trapp, but another great option.
  • Keekaroo Height Right ($207)- Comparable to the Abiie Beyond, it places baby in a good eating position. You might need to wait to remove the tray and pull up to the table if baby is not stable enough without it.
  • Stokke Steps ($399)- Another option from Stokke with some great adjustable features. It will place your baby in a great feeding position, and is a great, if expensive, option.
  • Svan Signet ($170)- This is a chair that can often be found second hand at a good price. It has a fully adjustable footrest that can be safely pulled up to the table. However, it has a very large and deep seat, so often needs to be modified with a towel behind baby's back. From personal experience with this one, it also has several screws right in the food drop zone. Once these screws get covered in food (which is inevitable) it is very hard to adjust.


So Which High Chairs Are the Best?

As I've stated many times, I love the Stokke Tripp Trapp for so many reasons, and it's what I use in my own home. It allows babies to be at the table with you, and meets all the requirements for feeding positioning. The Nomi falls into this same category. 

The Abiie and Keekaroo chairs, while usually not able to safely have the baby at the table with you right from the beginning, would be my next best option here in the US. They provide proper positioning that will help baby to feel stable right from the start. But at only around $50 less than a Tripp Trapp, I'd recommend springing for the extra features of the Tripp Trapp.

And if you're really on a budget? Grab a booster chair that you can augment with another chair or stool for a foot rest, or buy the Ikea Antilop along with the inflatable cushion and 3rd party adjustable footrest. Neither of these will get you the same flexibility and positioning as the Tripp Trapp or Nomi, but they will be better than a lot of other options out there on the market.

At the End of the Day

All babies are different. Some babies will be much more affected by improper positioning than others. But I think we can all agree that as our babies and toddlers are learning how to eat and have a good relationship with food, we'd like to minimize all outside distractions. Being uncomfortable in their chair is a huge distraction! And even if there aren't immediate signs, they may still show up in the future.  

So if you haven't bought your high chair yet, hopefully I've convinced you of the need to place proper positioning at the top of your list of requirements. And if you already have a chair that doesn't place your baby in the proper position, I'd highly recommend attempting to modify it for better positioning if need be. Or make the investment in another chair that will do the job without the need for modifications.

  • Dk says:

    What about the ikea Langur high chair?

  • Renae D'Andrea says:

    You can use all of the things I’m talking about here to pretty much evaluate any chair out there! Just by looking at the pictures on their website, you can see that you’d likely need to pad the back of your baby with towels to support them as it’s got a deep seat. And the footrests aren’t adjustable, so you’d need to modify it to reach your baby’s feet.

  • MS says:

    What are your thoughts on booster seats for toddlers? I like the Stokke but it’s pretty expensive and not sure about investing in it with a 2 year old?

  • Doreena says:

    Hi Renee

    I have been trying to get in touch with you with no luck.

    Im looking for a high chair and wanted to know your thoughts on the IKEA Langur and the Redsbaby HiLo chairs

  • Renae D'Andrea says:

    See above for my thoughts on the langur!

  • Renae D'Andrea says:

    The most important thing is positioning. I’m all for boosters for toddlers as long as their feet are supported and they’re able to sit up at the table properly.

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