Im somewhat embarrassed to admit that I was one of those who spent more time searching for a good high chair than a car seat for my son. Dont get me wrong, Im such a car seat safety pusher that my son is still rear-facing (and will be until exactly 33lb, the limit on his seat), but unlike the clear cut more padding, great safety record of the car seat I chose, there isnt such a clear cut high chair choice.
Too many choices, too little time
From just a basic look, all high chairs looked about the same. A few minor differences in style of padding seemed to be the deciding factor. Unfortunately, things werent so simplistic. From wheels or not, the type of restraint harness, and even the amount of adjustability, finding the right high chair seemed worse than finding the perfect cloth diapers.
I knew from the start that I wanted a 5-point harness. While I had no plans on ever having my son out of eyesight when in the high chair, Id heard of one too many horror stories of children managing to wiggle out of a 3-point harness in seconds, falling all of the way to the floor. Because of our small house size, a high chair that folded up was imperative. A high chair with a vinyl seat pad was a must for easy clean ups, as I wanted to simply wipe the seat with a damp cloth after feedings instead of throwing the whole pad into the washing machine. Of lesser importance came issues like wheels for easy movement and price.
Ultimately, after many hours of searching reviews online and looking at high chairs in many stores, I settled on the Fisher Price Deluxe Healthy Care high chair. Unfortunately for me, this was one of the hardest high chairs to find in stock. After calling around, I finally found one at Target for only $69.95 - the same price as the more available Healthy Care high chair.
While many products have few differences between a base model and a deluxe model, I was not willing to settle for the regular Healthy Care high chair. The Deluxe model differed in a few ways I decided I wasnt going to compromise on.
The Fisher Price Deluxe Healthy Care offered:
3 food tray inserts as opposed to a single one in the base model
Wheels on the legs with locks - the base model had none
Padded seat with no decorative ruffle around the edges to pick up food and an additional pillow head rest, unlike the base model
Ability to fold up when being stored
Removable towel and jar holder
Base tray that promised it could be removed with one hand
7 different height adjustments and 3 different back angle adjustments
Pegs on the frame to store the base tray when folded up
Foot rest for taller children
Once I finally brought this high chair home, I was eager to put it to use. My significant other found that putting the high chair together was a fairly easy task. The instructions, typical of most, were fairly poorly written, but he managed to figure things out without reading the manual. The vinyl padded seat cover was easy to put on, an important aspect considering how many times I knew Id be removing it for cleaning.
Actual use many vary
My son seemed to enjoy the high chair. The Fisher Price Deluxe Healthy Care high chair had more padding than many other chairs Id seen, so while he was unable to tell me, Im assuming the lack of complaints was a vote for the seat being comfortable. The tray position was adjustable enough for him to sit comfortably, yet not allow a huge spot for food to end up in his lap. The back angle adjustments were good, although the reclining option seemed like a waste - I couldnt imagine a child falling asleep in the chair while eating, and would have taken my son out and to bed if he did.
When it came to cleaning, things werent quite as perfect. The vinyl seat was extremely easy to wipe off with a cloth. However, the straps making up the 5-point harness were difficult to remove. This wouldnt have been much of a problem if the straps didnt seem to soak up every single piece of food that came their way. The textured strap material meant that lots of mushy food ended up firmly wedged in, which wiping with a wet cloth simply would not touch.
Another cleaning issue dealt with the base tray and removable tray inserts that snapped in. While the snap in trays did keep much food off of the base tray, the removable trays simply did not cover nearly enough of the base tray. Over an inch of base tray was uncovered on the front and sides - the sides, of course, being absolutely perfect for yogurt covered hands to rest on.
This wouldnt really have been that big of a deal with a better design of a base tray. The base tray of the Fisher Price Deluxe Healthy Care chair, however, has a honeycomb design on the bottom. This made cleaning an absolute pain, as usually there would be little food smears in each little honeycomb hole near the sides. After the washing, if I needed to use the tray before it air dried, drying it off so that water wouldnt drip everywhere was a complete pain. We often found that it was just easier to keep the snap in trays stored away since wed have to wash the base tray even if a snap in tray was used.
Three features I thought Id love ended up being unused. Because the chair frame was nice and light, the wheels were more of a pain than a help. The locks on the wheels did little. Often wed roll the chair to another part of the room and find that all four wheels had been locked. We ended up removing the wheels completely so that the chair would be less likely to move if my son pushed on the frame when not in it. With the wheels off, the chair was much more stable if pushed while it was still very portable by picking it up.
While Id been thrilled that this chair could fold up for storage, I found that two unused features dealt with storage. While the frame did fold inward, only about 4 inches was knocked off of the depth of the high chair. The seat itself was not able to fold nor was it able to be removed. The release to fold the chair up was also extremely hard to use - the way it latched made it stick often, requiring a lot of shaking to get the latch to release and the frame to fold. The pegs on the frame for the base tray ended up being a joke. After the chair was folded, wed attach the tray as directed. It never failed that as soon as we gently settled the chair back, the tray would pop off. If you looked at the base tray, it would pop off and fall down. Before we completely gave up folding the high chair, we gave up storing the base tray on the frame and put it in the cabinets with the snap in trays.
While I saw little use for the towel and jar holder, I attempted to use it anyway. It snapped onto the side of the high chair frame, sticking out several inches. Not only was the holder extremely hard to put on, it was extremely easy to pop off. After a few days of struggling with it, we simply removed it and put it up in storage with the box.
Not all bad
Despite the drawbacks and problems, I was still happy with my Fisher Price Deluxe Healthy Care high chair. The problems Id heard of with children removing the tray never occurred with us. I made it a point to only release the tray using the one handed release located at the front of the tray, as opposed to the side releases that were in easy reach of little hands. Because my son never saw the side releases used, he thankfully didnt learn that he could remove the tray himself. Even using the one handed release (the more complicated option), removing the tray was painless, unlike other cheaper high chairs Id seen.
The Deluxe Healthy Care high chair was not the greatest thing since sliced bread Id dreamed of, but it was by far the best option for the price. Despite not using the inserts and removing the wheels, if I had to do it over again, I would still chose the deluxe model simply because the padding with no ruffle and extra head rest.
If you have an unlimited amount of money, you may find your dream high chair in the $100+ chairs, but if youre on a budget, seek out the Fisher Price Deluxe Healthy Care high chair first.
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