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Cheap Highchairs Buying Guide
New parents quickly learn that they only have about six months before they'll be scouting for cheap highchairs. The market is saturated with a vast assortment of cheap highchair options produced by the usual players in the baby gear market, like Graco, Fisher-Price, Safety 1st, Cosco, and Evenflo.
As you start shopping, you'll definitely notice differences between less costly and high-end models. Cheap high chairs are usually made with a metal frame and a soft cloth-covered seat. They won't win awards for aesthetics, but they're functional (most have adjustable seats, and many fold up, sport wheels, and come with removable tray inserts), easy to assemble, and relatively durable. Pricier high chairs generally feature more contemporary design (see, for example, the angled wood of the Stokke high chair or the cocoon-like Bloom Fresco), serve multiple purposes as your child grows (a base that converts to a play table, for example, or a chair that can be rocked for sleeping and later transformed into booster-like chairs that pull up to the table), and boast an assortment of frills (like detachable battery-operated lights and toys).
Aesthetics and functionality aside, the most critical qualification for a high chair, cheap or otherwise, is a JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association) certification. JPMA is a national trade organization for the prenatal-to-preschool industry that ensures a high chair produced by its members meets standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ATSM). What this means: High chairs should have no sharp edges and include easy-to-see warning labels, appropriate locking devices to prevent unintentional folding, and straps that can withstand a force test (an older child can't break or pull the straps out of the bolts). The high chair should also feature secure caps and plugs, break-resistant trays, and legs wide enough for stability but not so wide as to cause others walking near the chair to trip. We confirmed that all the best and good cheap highchairs on our list are JPMA-certified. By the way, experts say that more high chair-related injuries stem from improper use than from poor design, but always be on the lookout for product recalls. Other important features to note on a cheap high chair include the range of seat adjustments, the type of safety harness, and the weight capacity.
We selected our top picks based on value, features, and performance. For best cheap highchairs, we like the Cosco Flat Fold High Chair (starting at $35, Amazon) because of its no-frills simplicity, portability, and super cheap price, and the Fisher-Price Space Saver Feeding Chair (starting at $43, Amazon) because of its efficient no-legs design and secondary purpose as a booster. In the good cheap high chairs category we put the Graco Meal Time Folding High Chair (starting at $75, Amazon) because of its relatively cheap price, convenient storage possibilities, and favorable parent comments, and the Safety 1st High Chair Plus LX (starting at $75, Amazon) because it gives you lots of bells and whistles at a very reasonable price. Two models that don't get our vote are the Badger Basket High Chair (starting at $81, Amazon), a stylish wooden high chair that isn't all that user-friendly, and the Combi 3-in-1 Hero High Chair (starting at $75, Amazon), which falls short in the build-quality department.
Basic budget highchairs can be found at the usual big box outlets or online. If you buy online, be prepared to assemble the chair yourself, which may or may not be a welcome chore. Experts suggest that before settling on a model, go to a store for a physical inspection: poke and prod, test the folding mechanism (if relevant), check out the tray, and look for sharp edges.
Best Cheap Highchairs
Cosco Flat Fold HighchairThis is a basic, no-frills high chair that's easy to clean and easy to fold for storage. Parents like the simplicity and portability of this model with the one caveat that the seat angles back a bit too far for some children; the Cosco Flat Fold is not suitable for infants.
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Fisher-Price Space Saver Feeding ChairA hybrid highchair/booster with a cushy seat for infants, three-position recline, and three-height adjustments, the Fisher-Price Space Saver has no legs of its own and must be strapped to a sturdy chair. Parents like the easy storage and portability, as well as its versatility, although some complain of spills ruining the chair below.
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Good Cheap Highchairs
Graco Meal Time Folding High ChairThis model is the most economical in a line of Graco high chairs, with a seat that reclines and moves up and down. Parents like the easy rolling/locking wheels and folding design for storage and transport.
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Don't Bother Cheap Highchairs
Badger Basket High Chair
The wooden Badger Basket High Chair is a loose imitation of high-price and high-style Euro models, but draws complaints about poor wood quality and finish and a fixed tray that makes it hard to move a child in or out; this model is not designed for infants.
Combi 3-in-1 Hero High Chair Review
Graco Meal Time Folding High Chair Review
Safety 1st High Chair Plus LX Review
Cosco Flat Fold Highchair Review
Fisher-Price Space Saver Feeding Chair Review
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