I’m embarrassed to admit that we have two “high” chairs for my daughter.
When I was putting our registry together, I included a $100ish Fisher-Price stand-alone model as well as a $25 Fisher-Price booster seat, both of which we received as gifts. Back then, it didn’t occur to me that a booster seat with a tray could also be used as a “high” chair, assuming you have a sturdy chair in your kitchen or dining room that the seat can be strapped to.
I had just assumed incorrectly that booster seats were for bigger kids and or travel, and I quickly learned my mistake during a trip to my parents’ house when my daughter was just seven months old. My mom had borrowed one of the Fisher-Price booster seats from one of her grammy friends and it did the high chair job just fine during our visit.
So if I could have a preparing for baby do-over, I’d just opt for one of these three frugal options:
1.) A Fisher-Price booster seat model or another similar product that attaches to a chair. These high chairs of sorts grow with your baby into toddlerhood, are portable and let your little one be closer to the table. They also are more affordable than the stand-alone alternatives.
As Keri Peckham, who blogs at Time is Money Mommy, recently pointed out on Jean Chatzky’s blog: “If you buy a pricey high chair, your baby will make a mess of it, and you’ll be scrubbing $300 plastic.” She instead opted for a $25 Fisher-Price booster seat model, which she says she used “for both kids, so I definitely got my money’s worth.” And this trick seems pretty common among BabyCenter moms.
Of course, there is one caveat to these booster models. As the Baby Bargains book points out (and probably why I thought I needed two high chairs): the back does not recline, so “your baby must be able to sit up on his own to use it safely. (No biggie for most toddlers, but we know some folks consider these boosters as high chair replacements – not a good idea unless your child can sit upright.” However, in my opinion, since many parents wait to start solid foods – and put their babies in high chairs – until their children can sit upright, using the booster model as a high chair should be fine.
2.) A high chair that is like a booster seat. The good news is that if the caveat above bothers you, consider a similar model from Fisher-Price called the “Space Saver” is about $50, has a back that reclines and is marketed as a high chair.
3.) The $20 Antilop model from Ikea. This is a great option if you want a standing model. We’ve been to lots of restaurants with this chair and our daughter seems to love it (the caveat: the tray costs $5 extra and there’s not an advanced five-point harness so it’s definitely for kids that can sit up by themselves).
What frugal high chairs, or high chairs in general, do you recommend and why?