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Expectant Mom's Resource Center Manufacturers' Websites SHOPPING MALL Product Features

Product Features

High Chair

Fifty years ago, one company introduced its first juvenile product, the first all-metal high chair. It had a "chromium finish, with choice of red, yellow, blue or green upholstery and trim to harmonize with any kitchen color scheme." It featured a leather safety strap, weighed 25 pounds and didn't fold in any way, shape or form.

Wow! What a difference a half-century makes! Now plastic is in and high chairs are loaded with features: they fold, recline, adjust in height, have one-hand tray adjustment, fasten on tables and sport fashionable colors and designs. They're multi-use, anti-tip and totally progressive.

So how do you pick the best high chair from such a diverse line of items? Well, first and foremost, make sure that all the high chairs you consider meet JPMA certification standards. Approved high chairs have locks to prevent folding, pass tests to make sure the tray doesn't disengage too easily, meet drop test criteria, have certain restraint systems, include particular warnings on labels and in the instructions and much more. (You can contact the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association for a brochure outlining the requirements for high chairs and other products.)

Next, consider the range of ages you want the high chair to accommodate; the high chair category today covers a broader range of children than ever before. For example, high chairs have for years converted for use at the table by older children. This was taken to the next step with the introduction of the hook-on chair for older tots (plus they were portable!). More recent features are a reclining seat for infants and adaptation into a youth chair for use at tables and desks. But, for example, if you prefer to use a carrier for feeding a baby, you may not want a high chair with a recline feature. Evaluate your needs before you go shopping.

The latest trends in high chairs include the use of more plastic and less steel for a lighter-weight product that has a cleaner look; larger trays that are dishwasher-safe; fashionable materials; casters; and multi-use products that convert to separate play tables. Identify those features that are "musts" for you before you go shopping.

And don't forget grandparents. They might not need a fancy high chair, but they can probably use something simple they can fold and store easily between visits.

Since a high chair isn't something you necessarily need right away (like a crib or car seat), you can sign up at the baby registry, do your homework and wait for a sale or store mailing. Think twice before using a second-hand seat-newer seats usually have lots more features, meet more stringent standards (such as fairly new stability and child restraint requirements) and may be easier to clean. Check to see if any local stores hold information classes for expectant parents-you may get valuable information.

When you look at high chairs, be sure to test them—try out the one-hand tray and the recline, test the sturdiness, examine the restraint system. See if the store posts JPMA requirements; this is a good time to compare any second-hand high chair you may be considering to current models. And ask for manufacturers' phone numbers and web sites. Many web sites have good information on the company's products, and some even have coupons. Happy dining!

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