When it comes to parenting, it’s no secret that transitioning baby from the breast or bottle to solid food is messy business. That’s why having a highchair that can stand up to heavy-duty use is a must-have in my baby gear arsenal. Thankfully, the Ingenuity SmartClean ChairMate Chair Top Highchair fits the bill perfectly.
Upon pulling the chair at out of the box, I was instantly struck by the streamlined aesthetics of this compact seat. This ain’t the highchair your mama fed you in. The absence of a puffy, overstuffed seat, cheap-looking plastic and kiddish print land this seat squarely in the modern age.
The materials affirm the up-to-the-minute vibe as well. The chair is made of a lightweight but durable plastic with a smooth sheen that feels sleek and sturdy, while the seat pad is a cushiony, EVA foam. (My seat pad is slate gray, but for color-lovers, the chair also comes in a vibrant green, pink and aqua).
The compact design feels equally fresh. Ideal for the home where real estate is at a premium (and isn’t that every home once baby comes along?), the ChairMate has all of the features you could want in a highchair but with a space-saving design. As the name suggests, this highchair is made to secure to an existing dining chair, which I was able to do in a snap—literally. Pull the straps around your dining chair, snap the clasp and baby’s mealtime ride is ready to go in seconds. (The chair came out of the box nearly ready to go. All I had to do was pop the seat into the base and strap to the chair.)
The multitude of adjustable features gives the ChairMate long-term appeal, as it can grow with baby or fit future siblings. The chair offers four height positions so it can fit comfortably next to any table, as well as two recline positions. The adjustable five-point safety harness and straps keep baby secure (and my mama’s mind at ease), while the tray offers three locking positions. (This is a must-have feature for my chunky monkey baby.) When baby is ready to belly up to the table, simply remove the tray and adjust the chair to the proper table height to utilize the chair as a booster.
Speaking of removing the tray, the only major drawback I have noticed so far is that you must use two hands to remove or adjust the tray. Although it touts a “one-handed tray removal,” the clips on either side of the chair get caught in the prongs and won’t seem to release without gripping it on either side with two hands. Not a deal breaker by any means, but it has led to some noisy moments when I’ve had to set my hangry baby down to take off the tray in order to place him in it.
Once he is in place, though, my guy loves this seat. Even when it’s not mealtime he is content to sit quietly observing his siblings or playing with toys on his tray. While I can’t personally vouch for the seat’s comfort factor, his contentedness lead me to think it gets high marks. My chunky monkey is in the 90th percentile for his weight, so his belly and thighs need plenty of room to spread out. Many of the highchairs I’ve tried have squeezed his little legs to the point of making him cry or whimper when I try to slide the tray on. With the ChairMate, there is still plenty of room to keep his legs comfy (and his blood circulating!).
With all the ChairMate has going for it, it might seem tough to pick a favorite feature, but not so. Hands down, the best part of the SmartClean is that it stands up to its name. Every bit of this chair offers easy clean up, from the removable, wipeable seat pad with minimal nooks and crannies to the five-point harness and straps, which can be tossed into the washing machine. The tray also features an insert that is dishwasher safe. Really, if things were to get seriously messy—I’m looking at you, spaghetti—you could just hose this puppy down, seat pad and all.
So, while I can’t say that I’ll ever actually look forward to mealtime with baby (or at least the clean up afterwards!), the ChairMate makes one of my least favorite parenting jobs a little less icky. For that reason, it is a clear winner in this mama’s book.
To buy: buybuybaby.com