Best Cheap High Chairs
The best cheap high chairs lack frills but pass the test for parent- and child-friendly functionality. We identified four that cost less than $85.
What We Considered
Reviews for the high chairs on our list skew strongly positive. Parents are especially pleased with the value, according to online comments, even though some quibble about minor flaws. The high chairs reviews we read focus primarily on portability, ease of cleaning, and overall functionality.
We Looked At
One appealing feature of budget high chairs is the ease with which they can be moved around and stored away. Parents appreciate the folding design of the Graco Meal Time (starting at $77) and Cosco Flat Fold (starting at $29), according to their high chairs reviews. These models fold flat (or almost so) and suit families that travel or have small living quarters. One parent writes in a post at Amazon that the Cosco Flat Fold works well in a small apartment because it's so easy to move out of sight; another report on Buzzillions tells of hanging this 14-pound model on hooks in a closet.
The Fisher-Price SpaceSaver (starting at $50) doesn't fold (no legs on this one), but at eight pounds and a 18.5x18x16.5-inch footprint, it easily moves from chair to chair to floor and back or to the homes of friends and family, assert reviews on Babies R Us; in between uses, the Fisher-Price SpaceSaver can be stored in a pantry or closet. The Graco SimpleSwitch (starting at $70) doesn't fold either but the two-in-one design affords a similar type of portability. This chair detaches from the legs to become a feeding chair, and parents' comments posted at Walmart note the convenience of a take-it-(nearly)-anywhere high chair.
Wheels provide portability of a different sort. High chair reviews of the Graco Meal Time say being able to move a chair around the house as you go about your chores keeps children out from underfoot and lets them keep a watchful eye on you. A parent post at Walmart also notes that the four wheels on this model have locks, which prevent children who are mobile from making the chair mobile as well. The absence of back wheels on the Fisher-Price EZ Clean (starting at $77) initially gave one new mother pause, a review at Diapers.com says, but adds that her concerns vanished after realizing the front-wheels-only design rolls smoothly and ensures the chair stays put unless pulled by an adult.
The Badger Basket Embassy (starting at $82) is the least portable of the models we researched: it neither folds nor rolls away (no wheels).
In general, the best and good high chairs on our list win plaudits from parents for practicality and durability, especially given their budget prices. We didn't find any reports about struggles to assemble these models, and many say the chore is handled in less than 30 minutes. Still, it's worth noting some minor issues that pop up in the reviews we read. The Cosco Flat Fold isn't suitable for infants because the seat cannot be angled back, for example, and it features a small tray and requires two hands to collapse. A few high chairs reviews of the Graco Meal Time report that it doesn't fold quite as flat or roll quite as effortlessly as its upmarket siblings. About the Badger Basket Embassy, parents tell of struggling to get their children in and out of the seat due to the fixed tray and generally gripe about the quality of the wood and finish.
Convenient features are the hallmark of the Fisher-Price EZ Clean (starting at $77, Amazon) high chair, assert parents' online reviews. A spill-resistant cover that can be removed and thrown into the wash along with straps that are coated for a quick and easy wipe down are among this model's standout components, say posts at sites such as Diapers.com. Some parents consider the front-only wheels an advantage (all the better for stability) and easy to maneuver, but at least one Fisher-Price EZ Clean review at Amazon counters that it's awkward, requiring that you walk along its side when moving it from place to place. A clip-on feeding tray, cushy seat, sturdy build, contemporary aesthetic, and rapid-fire assembly also garner nods of approval in the vast majority of high chair reviews. Still, a few posts grumble that the feeding tray is too tall to fit in the dishwasher and the chair is a tight fit for some children.
The EZ Clean sports a washable and stain-resistant seat pad without crevices, a 5-point harness with smooth straps, and a one-hand removable tray with a dishwasher-safe insert. Comfort features include four height adjustments and three reclining positions. The high chair can accommodate children up to 50 pounds and folds away for easy storage; it weighs about 20 pounds.
The Fisher Price EZ Clean boasts many attractive features -- from the perspectives of parents and babies -- and comes at a very economical price. All in all, this is a value buy.
Graco SimpleSwitch reviews tout its two-in-one versatility and overall convenience. The legs on this model come off, turning a free-standing high chair into a booster/feeding chair that sits on a standard dining chair. At sites like Amazon and Walmart parents commend the design for its alternative and longer-term functionality; aside from serving its traditional purpose at meal times, the Graco SimpleSwitch (starting at $70, Amazon) when legless can be placed on the floor for toddler seating, carted along on trips, and used far longer as the child grows (the weight capacity for booster mode is half again the maximum in high chair mode). Several reviews caution, however, that the base of the booster is quite wide and requires care when choosing which chair to place under it. Parents report the SimpleSwitch is easy to clean, with a seat pad that can be wiped down or tossed into the washing machine and a large, flat feeding tray that thankfully has no seams or indentations. Assembly is accomplished in minutes, according to high chair reviews, and the result is a sturdy piece of baby gear. The tray can be removed with one hand, although a few reviewers report some difficulty getting it to slide in and out.
The seat on the SimpleSwitch reclines to three angles and contains a 5-point harness that converts to 3 points for older children. There is built-in storage for the legs once they're snapped off. The high chair weighs about 20 pounds and holds children up to 40 pounds; when used as a booster/feeding chair it can accommodate up to 60 pounds.
The draw with this model is the option to switch from high chair to booster/feeding chair. Unlike some of the best picks in the budget range, the SimpleSwitch doesn't fold or sport wheels, but its unusual design meets expectations for portability and practicality.
A host of Fisher-Price SpaceSaver reviews extol the practicality of this inexpensive feeding chair. At Viewpoints, for example, one parent raves about the three recline positions that enable one-handed bottle-feeding and upright self-feeding for toddlers. Feeding chairs are designed to sit attached to a regular chair and, as reviews note, they can be pulled right up to the dining table once the tray is removed. This design doesn't take up any valuable floor space, an attribute that appeals to families living in tight quarters or who prefer uncluttered environments, according to reviews at Diapers.com. Parents also appreciate the easy room-to-room (or house-to-car) portability, the height- and angle-adjustable seat, and the neutral colors. A few posts comment on the absence of a footrest, but as one mother points out, that ensures you won't be bothered by incessant kicking. A few reviewers grumble that the seat cover isn't as easy to wipe down as other models and some say the tray doesn't fit into their dishwashers.
The Fisher-Price SpaceSaver Feeding Chair (starting at $50, Amazon) boasts its share of perks even at a budget price. It features three height adjustments and a three-position recline, a dishwasher-safe tray (with cup holder) that can be removed with one hand, and a seat cover that can be wiped down or machine washed. Safety features include a convertible 5- and 3-point harness system. Removing the back turns the eight-pound feeding chair into a booster for older toddlers. The maximum weight for this model is 50 pounds.
Feeding chairs are a flexible alternative to a standard high chair. All you need is a sturdy, regular chair with a back and you're good to go. The Fisher-Price SpaceSaver is a leader in the category.
Graco Meal Time Folding High Chair reviews talk up this budget model's ease of use. As with other chairs we researched this one attracts positive notice for a folding design that lets parents quickly store or move it out of the way. Other features that garner praise in reviews at sites such as Amazon include a tray that detaches with one hand and a seat that slides up and down the legs (but locks into place, of course) for height adjustments. Parents also compliment the seat cover, saying the fabric is comfortable and the pattern is sufficiently cute. And at Overstock they note the ease of assembly. A couple of minor critiques popped in high chair reviews: e.g., the wheels don't roll as smoothly as they should and the tray is too easy for the baby to dislodge, which sends the contents flying.
Graco Meal Time Folding High Chair (starting at $77, Amazon) is among the most affordable in the Graco lineup but still offers desirable features. The seat can be set to four heights and recline at three angles. The seat cover is machine-washable, as is the feeding tray insert; the large tray can be removed with one hand. The leg wheels can be locked and the child secured by a convertible 5- and 3-point harness. It weighs 17 pounds and accommodates children up to 40 pounds.
A modest price, practical features, and strong reviews suggest the Graco Meal Time can meet the needs of high-chair-age children and their parents.
Badger Basket High Chair Review
The Badger Basket Embassy (starting at $82, Amazon) takes a lot of heat in reviews for build quality and design. Parents like the contemporary styling with its S-like side panels and flat pieces for the back, seat, and footrest. And many say they were initially drawn to the budget-priced wooden frame. But once put to use, disappointment settled in. Posts at Walmart and Target reel off a host of complaints: a finish that chips; wood that doesn't hold up to everyday use; straps that don't secure the child adequately; a feeding tray positioned too close to the back of the chair, making it difficult to get the child in and out; and the challenge of cleaning icky-sticky messes off a wooden surface. One Badger Basket Embassy review also notes that the small pieces of plastic that protrude from the bottom on the back legs are easy to trip over despite their intended purpose of stabilizing the chair and facilitating a bit of forward glide.
Nonetheless, the chair's grow-with-the-child options generated a spate of positive comments. Once the feeding tray and safety bar are removed, for example, the Badger Basket Embassy can be pulled right up to the table; with the seat lowered, it can be used as a desk chair for a youngster or a resting spot for a teen or adult. One parent writes that these latter uses seem far more functional than its intended purpose as a high chair.
The seat cover is machine washable and the clear plastic overlay (with cup holder) for the wooden tray is dishwasher-safe. There is a 5-point harness on the seat; he back does not recline, however, and cannot be used when children are bottle feeding. This model weighs about 16 pounds and can accommodate up to 175 pounds.
The Badger Basket Embassy hits the mark for its upscale looks but misses the functionality boat by a wide margin. For practicality, comfort, and ease of use, a different budget high chair would be a better investment.
Other Products We Reviewed
Fisher-Price Precious Planet High Chair reviews indicate the design and features of this basic, full-size model are much appreciated. Stability, comfort, ease of cleaning, portability, multiple seat positions and heights, and colorful styling are some of its virtues, according to posts at Amazon, including one submitted by a reviewer who runs a child-care business. Parents say this folding, stand-alone model isn't particularly bulky and wheels make it easy to roll out of the way. However, we did come across some high chair reviews at Toys R Us and elsewhere about a challenging assembly and the included suction toy that doesn't stay in place. Overall, though, this high chair wins impressively high marks from parents.
The Fisher-Price Precious Planet Healthy Care (starting at $79, Amazon) comes with seven height settings -- all the better for feeding wherever the parent or caregiver happens to be sitting -- and three reclines. The tray can be removed with one hand and set at any of four distances from the back; it's protected by a dishwasher-safe insert. The seat cover is stain resistant and machine washable. The wheels have locks and the seat has a 5-point harness. This model weighs about 17 pounds and can accommodate children up to 50 pounds.
Although the Fisher-Price Precious Planet High Chair hovers near the top of our price range, it is a viable option given the extent of the seat adjustments and the easy portability. Find a sale or coupon and you'll pick up a solid deal on a solid piece of baby equipment.
The First Years miSwivel feeding chair gets the thumbs up in reviews for its small size and big features. Parents report that it edges up right to the table when strapped on a dining chair, slides under the table and out of sight when not in use, and travels well to outings with family and friends. The five-position recline garners strong support in The First Years miSwivel reviews at Toys R Us, where parents say it facilitates infant feeding and the chair's sides provide adequate support. Perhaps the greatest enthusiasm is reserved for the unusual swivel feature, which lets parents set the chair facing in different directions to suit whatever activity is going on; hair styling, for example, according to several reviews at Walmart. Parents also commend the easy cleanup -- cover and straps go into the wash -- although several comments assert the straps are too long and accessible to curious hands and wind up in kids' mouths.
The First Years miSwivel (starting at $42, Amazon) can be set at five angles, two heights, and seven swivel positions; the back comes off to turn the chair into a booster seat. The tray and insert are dishwasher safe, the seat cover is reversible and washable, and the safety harness is a 5-point system. The feeding chair weighs less than 10 pounds and accommodates infants as well as toddlers up to 50 pounds.
This portable feeding chair is undoubtedly a good buy. The swivel feature adds a novel dimension that many families welcome.
Cosco Flat Fold reviews are mixed. Online comments indicate that most purchasers are satisfied with its price, compact size, and portability (it folds flat) but it draws complaints at sites like Walmart and Toys R Us for two design elements: the seat back is fixed in position and the seat cover cannot be removed for washing. Even parents who value the convenience of a quick open-and-shut frame gripe about the lack of seat adjustments. Many reviews say the angle is too steep for young toddlers and inappropriate for infants: and, they add, it allows for even more mess than normal. Reviewers also say that wiping down the seat doesn't leave it clean (stains and bacteria linger, they note) and lament the nooks and crannies where crumbs and grime collect. And yet, a good number of high chair reviews say it's a budget-friendly space-saver that serves its purpose as a basic, no-nonsense high chair; one post mentions having bought several to use at church.
The Cosco Flat Fold (starting at $29, Amazon) has a small frame and folds completely flat for storage or travel. The tray features a cup holder and can be adjusted to three heights; it should be wiped down or rinsed off for cleaning. The seat has a 3-point harness and wipeable pad. This model accommodates children up to 50 pounds and weighs less than 13 pounds.
The Cosco Flat Fold offers few features and sells at a minimal price. It's a decent choice for families in need of a very low-cost, full-size, portable high chair. Supplies seem to be limited, though, so don't delay if this model meets your needs.