Are “old” or “vintage” High Chairs safe? All you need to know!
Updated: Jan 16, 2021
Ok, admittedly we have a tremendous weakness for vintage stuff. There is just something about the stories it holds that give vintage products so much additional value. A value that is very hard to find in the mass produced products that flood the market nowadays.
The same is true for that heirloom High Chair that has been passed down for many generations in the family. How cool is it to have your child sit in the same High Chair that both you and your parents have used as a child.
But is it a smart move to use these heirloom products to feed your child? Are old/vintage High Chairs safe enough to keep on using them, generation after generation? We did the research for you, below are our findings:
Old or vintage High Chairs rarely meet all the safety standards issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and therefore are considered unsafe to use. Some common issues with older or vintage High Chairs can be found in the lack of a fixed crotch post, no safety harness and the use of leaded paint.
We as vintage enthusiasts understand that throwing away a family treasure is not something that you just do, nor do we believe it is necessary. With a bit of love and elbow grease it is perfectly possible to update that beautiful High Chair to meet those modern day safety standards.
For those of you parents who value the inherited family treasures we will have a look at how to safely integrate these vintage High Chairs back into your lives.
What do we consider “old/Vintage high chairs?”
First things first, what does “vintage” or “old” mean in the world of High chairs?
When we are talking about vintage High Chairs, we mean High Chairs that have been around in the family for at least two generations and are older than 20 years. Often these are High Chairs that have been made by a savvy relative that loved turning wood into pieces of art that collect memories and stories through time.
It is the distinct look and feel, the symphony of imperfections that show a history, the authentic craftsmanship and the rarity that make them so desirable. We are talking about products with a soul that transform every feeding session with your child into some kind of a magical moment where your child can connect with its ancestors. Poetic, right? We really think so!
However, there are some downsides to the story. Back in the days, when everything was different, the safety standards for High Chairs where also different if at all existing. So, in other words: It was more about the good judgement of the person who manufactured the High Chair than it was about any safety standard as issued by an independent organization.
When does old become too old or too vintage to ensure a reliable and safe product?
The overall safety of products increases over time with better regulations, higher standards and more scrutiny. Following this logic, one might think safety levels drop together with the age of the product but this is only true to a certain extend.
You can still find new High Chairs on the market that are not complying with modern day safety standards and that are outperformed by those vintage High Chairs from back in the days.
However, it is also true that for older High Chairs, the chances of a faulty or hazardous construction are also a bit higher, simply because no one did research on what is safe and what isn’t. For example: the use of leaded paint was a commonality in the early days, now it is illegal to use this.
That said, it all boils down to how well a High Chair meets the latest safety standards to ensure a well functioning product with minimum risk of accidents or injuries.
What does a vintage High Chair need to have to be safe?
The latest safety standards update issued by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) dates from 2018. Products that have been released before this date can still be safe, as long as they meet those standards.
For products that have been released after this date, you should still check if it meets these standards as there is no guarantee that it does. As of 2019 it became mandatory for manufacturers to meet these safety requirements.
If you are planning to use and older model or a vintage heirloom High Chair, it is good practice to do a thorough checkup and make sure the High Chair is safe to use. As a parent, this is your full responsibility!
Below are some checkpoints that you can look at and even update on your Vintage High Chair so it becomes safe to use again:
Make sure the High Chair is structurally sound:
Check if there are no cracks in the framework or the seating and back support.
Make sure there is a 3- or 5-point harness to restrain your child in snug.
Ensure there is a fixed crotch post so your child cannot escape through the bottom.
Your child should not be able to remove the tray by itself.
If there is no tray, there should be a frontal or torso support.
There should be side containment.
Forward, rearward and sideways stability is paramount, for this you will need wide base and a sturdy framework. Your child should not be able to rock the High Chair. Make sure that during use, your child doesn’t push itself off from a fixed object like the table or a wall.
The use of safe materials:
In case of wood, there should not be any splinters
There should not be any sharp edges, points or other protrusions that can cause harm. Nails, springs or hooks should be stub and placed in a hidden, unreachable position.
Old layers of paint should be removed and replaced by unleaded, water based paint
Check for scissoring, shearing or pinching as a consequence of moving parts (pivoting trays)
No small parts should be loose (swallowing hazard)
Latching and locking mechanisms should only be reachable by you, the parent
If you would like to find out more, you can also have a look at the CPSC website for detailed information
So, for those of you who have a heirloom High Chair and are a bit savvy, you can use this checklist to update your family jewel and make it safe to use.
Do High Chairs expire and if so, when?
This is a question we often get from fresh parents that are offered an old or vintage High Chair from relatives or friends. It is a valid question as it concerns the safety of your child. So, in short: Yes, High Chairs expire, just like any other product on the market.
However, there is no exact expiring date per High Chair as expiration is caused by two main reasons:
Because the safety standards have been updated and the High Chair doesn’t meet the requirements anymore.
Products are constantly being tested and checked. Based on these findings, the safety standards are being updated when necessary. There is no specific timing for this and products released before an update can still be safe to use. The only way to verify this is to contact the manufacturer and ask them if their product meets those requirements.
Because the High Chair is worn out and the overall product integrity is decreased beyond the threshold of safety.
Depending on the intensity of use, the materials used in High Chairs will decay over time. Plastics become brittle, wood might get splinters and show cracks and metal parts can start to rust, get worn out or show metal fatigue.
Once this starts to happen, you can either replace parts or try to refurbish them to extend the lifespan of your High Chair. However, if you cannot find original parts or the integrity of the High Chair cannot be repaired to its original state, it is time to ditch it and purchase a new one, no matter how much you like it.
So there you have it, the safety of vintage High Chairs in a nutshell. We hope you liked learning with us and perhaps this article inspired some of you to refurbish their vintage High Chair to keep it in the family for a couple more generations.
If you know of anyone who has a vintage High Chair and you think they might like this article, please share it!