Best High Chair for Special Needs – Finding the right highchair for a child is tough enough but add in a feeding tube and it gets really difficult! I have gone through a massive number of reviews from real moms of kids with feeding tubes, and here is a list of the top 12 recommended highchairs. These highchair recommendations really vary as far as price, so I am starting this list with the lowest price and ending with the highest. Please note that price does not always indicate the best option. In reality the lowest price chair may work best for you, it really comes down to the features that will benefit you the most.
Starting to introduce your baby to solids – or weaning, as many people call it – is such a special milestone, and a fun time of exploration for your little one. And, as with everything baby-related, there’s loads of kit that goes with it. One thing you’ll definitely need is a high chair – but there are loads on the market, so where to start?
Well let’s begin with when to invest in a high chair. Baby and child nutritionist and co-author of How to Wean Your Baby (£10, Amazon.co.uk), Charlotte Stirling-Reed, says it’s never too early to start getting your children involved at mealtimes.
The Fisher Price Space Saver is designed to be used on top of a dining chair, but it can also be used on the floor. This chair is designed for babies and toddlers. One mom said she is able to still use it for her 4-year-old child who is 3 feet tall. According to their website, the tray and tray liner is dishwasher safe so clean up is relatively easy. Some other benefits include the pommel, 3 recline positions, and the 5-point harness.
- All the features of a full-size high chair in half the space for portable and easy-clean eating
- Adjust as your baby grows from infant to toddler with 3 recline positions
- Deep, extra-large tray with tray liner has one-hand release and helps keep food off the floor
- Dishwasher-safe tray and tray liner, plus machine-washable seat pad and 5-point harness
- Portable with sturdy base and straps that fit on most dining chairs
The ingenuity highchair looks like a regular highchair, but it is actually 3 styles in one. It is a highchair, but it is also a booster chair and a toddler chair. So, this chair can go from infant to toddler up to 50 pounds.
The benefits of this chair include the tray being dishwasher safe, 3-point and 5-point harnesses, and on wheels to be able to move easily.
- Wipeable and washable design for easier cleaning
- Convertible high chair becomes booster and toddler seat
- Keeps little ones secure with 3 point and 5 point harnesses
- Extra soft seat keeps baby comfortable. Wipe the metal frame with soft, clean cloth and mild soap
- Accommodates toddlers up to 50 pounds
3.Graco Duodiner DLX 6
This highchair also has 3 different transitions that start at a reclining highchair to toddler highchair to a booster seat for toddler. The maximum weight is only 40lbs though.
- Stage 1: infant highchair with 3 position recline provides the right position for baby's comfort
- Stage 2: traditional highchair with a machine washable seat pad
- Stage 3: infant booster attaches to a dining room chair to bring baby right up to the table
- Stage 4: toddler booster provides the perfect seat as your baby grows, for use at home or on the go
- Stage 5: youth stool gives your growing child their own seat at the table
- Stage 6: seat 2 kids at once by using the infant booster and youth stool together for family mealtime
- 3-Position footrest adjusts as your child grows, 2 front wheel
The Graco Blossum is another highchair that transitions into 6 different positions that can go from infant to toddler up to 60lbs.
The benefits of this chair include front locking wheels, 6 height positions, dishwasher safe tray.
What special needs moms had to say:
- works well if you have 2 small children and only want one setup (multiple ways to make this work)
- reclines too much and unable to maintain a 90 degree
- hard to clean with the fabric seat
- JPMA certified
- Adjustable foot and seat plate
- Finished with a low VOC plant-based lacquer finish
- If device is required to bear full body weight, or is used for leverage, it is recommended that a traditional permanently foot rest be installed.
- 3-point safety belt keeps your child safe
- JPMA certified
- Available in natural or mahogany wood color
- Adjustable foot and seat plate allows chair to seat from 6 months up to 250 pounds
- Made from sustainable rubberwood and finished with a low VOC plant based lacquer finish
This chair from Chicco is a great choice if you’re short on space. It can rotate 360 degrees and lock in 6 different positions to fit in even the tightest kitchen spaces. It uses sturdy rubber clamps to attach to counters and tables up to 5.25″ thick.
While the fabric is machine washable and the tray is dishwasher safe for easier clean up, many reviewers warn that this chair is mostly fabric and babies are messy. So if you have to hike up and down apartment stairs to the nearest laundromat to do your washing, this chair might not be for you.
- 1-pull tightened cinches QuickSeat securely to dining tables. The folded Dimensions are 17 x 8 x 13.5 inches
- Snap-on tray offers a portable, easy-clean eating surface
- Seat cover snaps on/off easily for washing. Able to accommodate table skirts up to 5.25 inches. Use only on tables 0.75 to 1.5 inches thick. Do not use on glass table tops, loose table tops, table leaves, card tables, single pedestal tables, or with tablecloths or placemats
- Compact fold and carry strap offer travel-friendly convenience
- Equipped with a 3-point harness
This very modern looking highchair comes with 8 adjustable height positions, 5 recline positions, and 2 footrest positions. It only goes up to 50 lbs though. It does have a very soft padding and can be stored standing up.
What special needs moms had to say:
- easy to clean except if food gets into the leather stitching
- it is very tall
- not for small spaces
- EZ-Seat: The High chair can be transformed to any height position to use as a Toddlers chair or as a traditional dining chair for all ages, all within less than 20 seconds! It's economical and instantly provides an extra chair to your home when needed. No tools needed for adjustment.
- Safety: Heat Sterilization. The High Chair wood went through a state-of-the-art pressure-assisted high-temperature sterilization at 248 °F (120 ° C) ensures a hygienic environment for your child.
- Dual Restraint System: The restraint system can be adjusted for a 5-point harness or a 3-point harness, keeping your loved one secure and comfortable.
- Ease of Cleaning: The chair is designed with several easy access points for parents to clean up. The stain-resistant cushions make cleaning a breeze. Just a quick wipe with a damp cloth will remove any mess or dirt left by your child. The cushion is waterproof so unexpected spills aren't absorbed. The one-hand removable tray cover is dishwasher safe.
- Warranty: 3-year Manufacturer’s Warranty included with optional low cost 1/2/3 years extended protection plans.
Features to Consider Before Purchasing
To ensure a proper fit, desk height should be measured before purchasing a desk. A height-adjustable frame allows for a good fit now and in the future. The more adjustability, the better the individualized fit. The Smirthwaite Height-Adjustable Tilt Study Desk features height adjustability along with an adjustable angle desktop.
School, Home, or Both?
School activity chairs range from basic models that look like standard chairs to chairs with multiple optional accessories and adjustability. Many models have wheels, and some are designed to fit under a school desk. Most school activity chairs also function well at home. Many are adjustable in depth, height, and angle, and can be used for everyday activities with children who have mild to severe levels of physical challenges.
Most activity chairs have a high-low base that adjusts up and down, making transfers in and out of the chair easier. A high level of adjustability ensures the most customized fit for the user, even as they grow.
Different children with different conditions have different needs. Chairs without sides have padding for postural support, but they don’t restrict movement. They are for people who can sit up independently and don’t need much support. The tilt-in-space feature takes the pressure off areas that are at risk for developing pressure wounds.
Combining supportive seating with mobility, pediatric activity seating with wheels opens up opportunities for children to go to another learning area or outside with peers during the school day. Having a wheeled activity chair is also great when on-the-go to keep kids posturally supported while enjoying the experience of travel.
Chair Growth Capabilities
Investing in a chair that can expand and adjust to fit a growing child will make the chair useful for much longer. As time goes on and your child grows, you have the opportunity to add options that will make the activity chair a better fit as time goes on.
Children with cognitive challenges aren’t always aware they need to keep a positioning belt fastened. A seating system that keeps the child positioned correctly, whether they can independently get themselves settled or rely on a caretaker, frees them to concentrate on schoolwork.
Sensory and Perceptual Skills
Deficits in sensory and perceptual skills can negatively impact vision, balance, and visual perception. Seating that addresses these deficits can assist the user in keeping the head up and in a midline position, with the trunk and limbs in proper alignment.
The standard weight capacity of pediatric activity chairs usually ranges between 100 and 150 pounds.
Personalizing your child’s activity chair will meet their physical needs for postural support, cognitive support, and body movement management. Foot rests, arm rests, head rests, and harnesses are all available to create the safest, most comfortable, most supportive environment.
Q: What is a floor sitter?
A: A floor sitter is a pediatric activity chair that can easily be moved from one area to another, all while staying close to the floor. Providing postural support, a floor sitter allows the child to be included in floor time with peers.
Q: Who would benefit from a pediatric activity chair?
A: Any child with special needs that might need some additional assistance in sitting up straight can benefit from the support of an activity chair. Encouraging proper position, body alignment, and helping to develop muscle strength, all while the child engages in daily activities, adds to the quality of education and social interaction for kids with special needs.
Q: What’s an activity chair used for?
A: Pediatric activity chairs are designed to help children with special needs sit comfortably with proper postural positioning and body alignment while participating in activities with their peers. They are designed for functional positioning to provide stability and trunk support, or for restrictive positioning to correct posture and control involuntary movement.
Q: What is a high low activity chair?
A: A high-low (hi-lo) activity chair is so versatile that it can be like having more than one chair on a single frame. High-low chairs can be for eating, reading, homework, or craft projects, and if you have a model with wheels, your high-low chair can take you most places.
Q: What is an adaptive chair?
A: An adaptive chair is a comfortable, alternative seating option that encourages proper positioning and posture for special needs children. It allows for increased peer interaction, which benefits physical and mental health of the user.
Q: What is a tomato chair?
A: A tomato chair is created by Special Tomato, which has a line of mobility and seating solutions for kids with special needs. All the company’s cushions are formulated from a waterproof yet breathable proprietary blend resulting in a soft, durable, latex-free material. Tomato chairs have a soft inner core that allows children to sit comfortably for longer periods.
Q: What is a Tumbleform chair?
A: Pediatric Tumble Forms feeder seat systems provide proper seat positioning for children with special needs. They provide long lasting anti-microbial protection for the life of the system. There are multiple designs ranging from stroller to mobile floor sitter to feeder seat, to seat positioner.
Q: What is a feeder seat?
A: A feeder seat is an alternative to a wheelchair or stander, and can be used for meals or any short-term activity at home or in school. A feeder seat makes transitions easy and are available with or without a base.
Pediatric activity chairs give kids with special needs the opportunity to participate in activities with their peers and family members, while their postural support needs are being met. Pediatric seating helps facilitate peer connections. Adaptive chairs ensure special needs students are properly supported while enjoying daily life activities. Rehabmart carries an extensive line of pediatric seating systems, including quality equipment from Smirthwaite Products.
Pediatric activity chairs that are correctly sized, provide the appropriate level of support, and allow for as much independence for students as possible contribute to the quality of life and overall health and wellbeing of kids with special needs.
What is a pediatric activity chair?
A pediatric activity chair, also known as an adaptive chair, special needs chair, pediatric positioning chair, sitter, or therapy chair, helps a child with special needs sit comfortably. Providing adjustable support and positioning, these chairs come in a wide range of styles, sizes, and accessories. Designs that “grow” with a child will be useful for years to come, while static versions will be outgrown before they are worn out. These pediatric activity chairs allow a child to enjoy daily activities with peers and family members while maintaining proper posture and body alignment and helping develop stronger muscles. Pediatric activity chairs include classroom chairs, corner chairs, kinder chairs, floor/infant sitters, portable seating inserts, and other specialized active seating designs like t-stools, roll chairs, and therapy chairs.
The right high chair for your family is the one that makes feeding your baby easy, safe and fun — so once you’ve ensured that a high chair that meets safety requirements (more on this below), it’s really about your family’s budget, your style and how you plan to use your high chair. Consider the following to find the best fit for you:
- The amount of space you have. You’ll need to be able to easily maneuver and reach the chair so you can feed your child while he is sitting in it. Those with smaller kitchens may want a more streamlined model, a portable high chair that attaches right to the table or boosters that attach to your dining chairs.
- How long you can use the high chair. Depending on the chair, he may be able to use it from infancy right on through the toddler years. These days, many high chairs easily grow with baby, converting from an infant seat to a toddler booster and then to a chair.
- How easy the high chair is to clean. At some point, when your baby becomes a toddler, he will start to learn to feed himself. You’ll need a high chair that’s easy to clean because — trust us — there will be spills, splatters and crumbs. Consider a high chair with removable parts or materials that can be wiped down easily to make cleaning a breeze.
- The tray type. Adjustable? Removable? Dishwasher safe? Look for a wide, sturdy and removable option that offers easy clean-up.
- The high chair’s portability. This is especially important for families with smaller kitchens. Some traditional models are not easy to store, which means they’ll take up coveted space in your kitchen and dining room. If stashability is important, add it to your checklist.
- Comfort. After all, an uncomfortable baby is not likely to be interested in mealtime at all. Soft, washing machine-friendly padding or a well-shaped seat will help baby stay comfortable and ready to eat and explore.
- Your personal style. Though it shouldn’t be your main focus — safety always comes first! — high chairs are essentially furniture. Depending on your style, you may be drawn to different materials, colors or designs.
High chair safety tips to remember
Your baby’s high chair should be a safe place for him to explore food in all its textured, tasty glory.
So you can focus on the food and not any scary incidents, experienced moms, as well as The American Academy of Pediatrics, give the following advice:
- Never leave baby unattended in the chair. This should be a given, but baby might topple the chair or choke if eating while not supervised.
- Always make sure baby is buckled up. Your high chair should have, at the minimum, a T-style strap that goes across baby’s lap, through his legs and connects in the middle for a snug, secure fit. Curious little ones have been known to go exploring — and that can be dangerous. Just attaching the lap table is not enough to make sure baby’s secure.
- Make sure your chair is a safe distance from the table or other edges. Baby loves to stretch his legs and push, and that could mean an unexpected fall.
- Look for a chair that doesn’t tip over easily. You want to ensure that, even as baby gets bigger and more boisterous, he won’t be able to topple the chair.
- Always follow height and weight guidelines. They’re set for a reason, and following them will ensure your baby is sitting safely.
- Make sure any casters or wheels lock. You want to make sure baby doesn’t go for any strolls without you.
- Be super careful when folding and unfolding your chair. “Safety features such as locks will ensure they stay in place when assembled,” says Brittany Ferri, an occupational therapist based in Rochester, NY. And make sure baby is at a safe distance while you’re folding it back up. You don’t want little fingers or toes to get caught in hinges or locks.
- If you’re using a portable chair, make sure your table can support it. Check to verify that any table you’re clipping a portable chair to can support the weight of the seat — and baby — before securely attaching the chair.
How we made our picks for the best high chairs
We scoured through the comments from users of the What to Expect community to find their favorite high chairs and used the above guidelines to narrow down the best picks. We also considered input from our editors on the ones they have tried and loved with their own kids — resulting in a curated selection of the best high chairs currently on the market.
What are features that are important in a special needs highchair?
In general highchairs that work best for special needs are ones that have the ability to recline, easy to clean, supportive, and are comfortable to sit in. Depending on your child’s diagnosis, other features may become very important too like having a foot rest, supportive for low tone, 5 point harness, and a large weight limit.
Not every special needs child has the same issues, so the highchairs on this list will be helpful for some issues but not helpful for all.
Will Insurance pay for a highchair?
Every health insurance provider is different in what benefits they cover and what they will not cover. You can look under the DME (Durable Medical Equipment) benefits on your insurance policy for more information. Insurance typically only covers medical grade adaptive chairs, not the highchairs typically available in stores.
I recommend that you call your insurance provider and ask what they cover. Some will explain that they need a prescription from a doctor and for what highchairs they will cover.
Even if you think they will not cover a highchair, I still recommend you call because some will cover part of one or give you a referral that may save you some money.
We all know that mealtimes with little ones can be challenging. There’s the food throwing, the wiggling around, the refusal to wear a bib and, of course, the dreaded post-dinner clean-up operation.
However, having the right highchair on hand can help make the experience a little bit more manageable. To put it simply, highchairs provide a safe place where babies and children can sit when eating, raising them to table height so they can be part of mealtimes, plus giving them a secure place to play when you’re prepping food or in the kitchen. The best ones are easy to clean, have simple but stables straps and a decent-sized tray. Many also now offer additional uses – turning into a newborn rocker (take a look at our best bouncer chairs, swings and rockers) or an older child’s table and chair. For on the go, take a look at our best travel highchairs and booster seats.
Here at MadeForMums we’ve tested more than 90 highchairs, analysed the market and taken into account feedback from parents to create our top recommendations of the best highchairs available. They can help make weaning and feeding a doddle, so the only thing you have to worry about is deciding what to cook!
Highchairs are generally suitable from around 6 months, or when your baby can sit up on their own and you begin weaning. However, we’re increasingly seeing a new generation that come with extra padded inserts and recline functions to make them suitable from birth – useful if you have pets or rampaging toddlers around and want to keep your baby off the ground (although obviously you need to be closely monitoring your baby at all times).
If your kitchen is on the smaller side, you’ll want to find a compact highchair that can also be folded up and stored away neatly. Some traditional highchairs have flared legs that often cover a large surface area, which is fine if you have a large kitchen but can be a trip hazard if not.
There are plenty of highchair options that are compact and light when folded, so are easy to fit in the boot of your car. And there are some seats which come without legs and are designed to be attached directly to your existing kitchen chairs or table. Many of these even have their own carry case – and are a good option if you regularly eat somewhere where highchairs aren’t available. Just be aware that they don’t provide the same comfort and support offered by the big padded chairs.
A lot of highchairs can now be converted into various formats – from traditional highchair to booster seat and child seat – as your little one grows. Of course, these come with a higher price tag, so it’s worth considering whether you want one long-lasting, investment product to do all of these jobs or prefer to buy different, cheaper styles over the years. Mealtimes can get very messy, particularly during weaning, and how easy your highchair is to clean is a key question. Do you want a simple plastic or wood wipe-clean model or are you happy to machine-wash fabric covers? Be aware if there are lots of nooks and crannies for food to get pushed into, and check whether the tray can be easily taken off. Removable straps are also very handy so you can pop them in the washing machine every so often.
Never underestimate a toddler’s ability to wriggle out of highchairs – it’s a well-known fact that little ones would give Houdini a run for his money when it’s time for dinner. For this reason, we recommend choosing a highchair that has a 5-point safety harness, as a lap belt alone may not be secure enough. You can buy an attachable 5-point harness if yours only has a lap belt. The harness should conform to safety standard BS 6684: 1989.
Are you planning on moving your highchair from room to room? If so, weight is something to bear in mind – unless the model comes with wheels.
Best High Chair for Special Needs – A school special needs activity chair facilitates a culture of inclusiveness, which benefits the entire class, not just the disabled student. By enabling a student to better participate in classroom activities, a special needs activity chair fosters ever-important social connections and peer interactions that contribute significantly to a child’s growth and progress. This valuable piece of equipment also allows the teacher to focus on teaching, confident their disabled student is properly supported and equipped to participate as fully as possible in-class activities.
“It’s actually great to get little ones involved from an early age, to help them learn from watching you eat and to get them excited for a time when they can join you in eating,” says Stirling-Reed. “You can get your baby sitting in a highchair from an early age, using a newborn attachment set or stuffing the highchair with cushions so they can be a part of the meal.”
And when can babies actually start eating solids? “Once your little one is sitting up more or less by themselves, can hold their own head and neck, and is developing hand and eye coordination, they might be starting to become ready for solid foods,” Stirling-Reed says.
So now that your baby is ready for a high chair, what are the most important features to look for? Stirling-Reed advises: “Look for a highchair that is comfortable for baby and which has an adjustable footrest, high back and a removable tray, so you can pull baby right into the table with you for mealtimes. It’s also great if they adapt and grow with your baby too, so that they last a lot longer.”