June 22, 2010

Wooden High Chair Review: Comparison of the Svan, Stokke Tripp Trapp and the Keekaroo Height Right High Chairs

 

Modern Wooden High ChairsIt probably won’t surprise you to learn that I was not satisfied with my initial high chair purchase for my eldest son.  Despite my best efforts, I, like many parents-to-be, did not make the best baby gear choices with Boy Wonder No. 1.  And I mean really, how can one be expected to select all the right accoutrement, having never had a babe before?  Particularly given that most shortcomings aren’t apparent until the gear has been used, rendering it un-returnable?  While many people feel compelled to rationalize and justify their purchases, regardless of their dissatisfaction, I feel the need to rectify these situations.  And with a blog like this, why not?  Thank you, CraigsList, for making this possible.  Here I compare three modern-style wooden high chairs, including the Svan, the Stokke Tripp Trapp and the Keekaroo Height Right High Chair.

 

When I first started hunting for high Chairs, when the little man was around four months old, I quickly rejected all plastic options.  I like modern design and I love the look of the Boon Flair and the Bloom Nano, but neither of these options would meld as much as I’d have liked into my more transitional side of contemporary décor.  At the time, we lived in a 900 square foot bungalow, so I needed something compact, but I didn’t want anything that looked like Laura Ingalls could have slurped her supper in it, either.  

 

Manufacturer SvanSvan High Chair

Enter the uber-elegant, ultra compact Svan High Chair ($260).  The first time I saw it in a local baby boutique, I asked if the floor model was smaller than the actual-sized High chair, because compared to the other chairs it was standing next to, it seemed tiny, like it wouldn’t even fit a real baby.  They laughed at my ignorance and assured me that despite its miniature proportions, it seated the under-three set very comfortably whilst leaving plenty of floor space in one’s kitchen.  I was sold, instantly.

 

In our Svan, we happily made our way through rice cereal, sweet potatoes, pears and other purees, but about the time we started on finger foods, while Huck was still raking rather than pinching, the Svan’s shortcomings became more apparent.  The Svan, as elegant and compact as it is, has roughly 25 nooks and crannies for mashed peas, potatoes, chunky dinner blends and banana remnants to hide, dry and cake in (I might be a little batty, but when I sold it on CraigsList this weekend, I actually felt the need to remove individual bolts and use a toothbrush and a toothpick to get into these crevices).  

 


The "wipe-able" fabric pad ($39.99) was thin and didn’t seem terribly comfortable for marathon lunch and dinner sessions, and, ultimately, did not come as clean as I would have liked when sponged off.  It faded and got a bit more pilled each of the 10 or so times I machine washed it.  The plastic tray was a nice addition, and easy to clean, but it did not completely cover the side rails (which chubby, grubby hands love to grab), necessitating a near-total wipe down of the chair almost every time it was used (roughly 5 times a day—fun).  Furthermore, its narrow width, a bonus for space-saving purposes, resulted in a lot of food on the floor (and consequently a chunkier dog and more wiping for me).  Because of all this wiping and cleaning, the finish, particularly on the footrest, started to show signs of mild water damage and could have used a bit of a sand down and re-finish.  After two years of use, it just seemed like a lot of work for a $300 price tag.

 

Stokke Tripp Trapp HighchairStokke Tripp Trapp High Chair

I love the Stokke Tripp Trapp chair—the design, the finish options, the fact that I would actually keep this chair around to sit on after the kids have gone off to college . . . In fact, I covet a friend’s Tripp Trapp, along with her vintage modern dinnerware and NotNeutral glassware, every time I visit her house, but I think my dear husband would have flipped his lid if I’d spent $400+ on a High chair after recently swapping out my high-end stroller.  To really make the Stokke Tripp Trapp ($265) work from the beginning, you need the baby set ($69.99) to support your babe’s trunk and I’m assuming you’re not the parent who would make his/her child sit on bare wood, so you also need at least one if not two chair cushions ($44).  Furthermore, I know myself well enough to tell you that I am constitutionally incapable of passing up an elegantly designed solution like the PlayTray, but at $89.99 (10 bucks shy of $100 for a piece of plastic!? Really?), that puts the purchase over the top for me, totaling out at about $465.  That, and I really, really didn’t want to deal with a fabric cushion again.  Finding a more affordable option with a sponge clean-able cushion that didn’t scrimp too much on quality and versatility didn’t turn out to be the impossible task I thought it would be, however.  

 

Keekaroo Height Right High Chair Keekaroo Height RIght High ChairThe Svan’s replacement was an unknown name to me when last year my mom replaced the papa-san monstrosity that all grandchildren dreaded sitting in at her mountain house, but I’ve fallen in serious like with the Keekaroo Height Right High Chair over the last several months of frequent/occasional use.  Last week I finally got around to selling the Svan on CraigsList to swap it out and I couldn’t be happier.  The Keekaroo has a good aesthetic, a latex-free molded matte vinyl cushion that’s super-duper comfortable, it cleans up spic n’ span, and is almost infinitely adjustable.   I purchased the chair with a comfort cushion in chocolate, to match Huck’s Keekaroo Café booster seat, and the removable tray for $250 out the door.  Is this a chair I will keep in the family, pass down the generations?  No, probably not, but I just couldn’t justify the expense of an heirloom for this purchase, particularly given that what I really wanted was the convenience of a wipe-able vinyl seat to make five of the 50 messes I clean up on a given day a little bit easier to manage.

- M.


See below for my side-by-side comparison.

 

Feature

Svan

Stokke

Keekaroo

Comments

Color Options

Several

Several

One, natural

I wish the Keekaroo had more wood color options.  My favorite options are Stokke’s bright painted colors and the walnut.  For me, Svan’s stain colors are a bit off, which is why I chose the natural when first I bought it.  

 

Mom Point: Stokke

Cushion

Thin foam, fabric cover

Thin foam, fabric cover

Thick molded foam with matte vinyl finish 

Keekaroo’s Comfort Cushion was its biggest selling point for me.  It’s so comfortable (I’ve actually sat on it quite a bit), easy to remove and wipe clean.  I’m not a fan of the fabric cushions because they’re more difficult to keep clean, start to look worn quickly and don’t seem that comfortable for a baby bum.  

 

Mom Point: Keekaroo

Ease of Cleaning

Difficult

Easy

Easy

As I mentioned above, the Svan has a ton of nooks & crannies for food and gunk to get into, the removable plastic tray cover doesn’t cover the clunky wood tray on the sides and the fabric cushion doesn’t clean up all that well.  The Stokke’s clean lines are highly wipe-able, but I’m giving this one to the Keekaroo for its easily removable tray and easily removable, wipe-able cushion.

 

Mom Point: Keekaroo

Footprint

Small

18” x 19”

Medium

~21” x 21”

Medium/Large

18” X 24”

If you need a small but safe chair, the Svan is for you.  It fits easily in tiny eating areas and blends away.  The Stokke has such an airy design that it feels almost as small as the Svan.  Though I love the Keekaroo, and the color and design help it occupy less visual space than conventional chairs, the Keekaroo is a bit of a clunker compared to the Svan and the Stokke–glad I have room for it.  

 

Mom Point: Svan

Heirloom Quality

Maybe

Definitely

Probably Not

If you want to pass your child’s high chair down through the generations, the Stokke is the chair for you.  It has beautiful, classic lines and is constructed of high quality materials.  I think in most cases the Svan could be an heirloom, but that slight water damage on the footrest made me wonder. . .  I’m 100% sure the Keekaroo will hold up, but I just don’t see keeping it around the house the way I would a Stokke because it's simply not as elegantly designed.  

 

Mom Point: Stokke

Price/Value

- Chair w/ tray

- Cushion

$300

- Chair

- Cushion

- Baby kit

$380

 

Add PlayTray

$465

- Chair w/ cushion

- Wood tray

$250

These prices include the accessories I consider essential to making the chair work.  If you want a fairly complete package, go with the Svan or the Keekaroo.  The Stokke irritates me a bit for including absolutely nothing–it’s just the chair in the box, then you need to purchase a cushion, infant insert and a tray that’s not even made by Stokke separately.  Keekaroo has an infant cushion and infant grab bar available, but with the regular cushion and tray, I haven’t found that I need either and Lou’s been using my mom’s since he was 5 months old.  Please note that I do not leave him sitting in it without the tray–I loosen the tray (it has two locking depth adjustments and slip him in and out.  Keekaroo takes this one for relative affordability/value though it's still pretty pricey.  

 

Mom Point: Keekaroo

Style/Design

     

To me, the Stokke is the clear winner in this category with the Svan a close runner up.  With regard to functionality of design, I like the Keekaroo for having a tray option, but I’m talking pure aesthetics.

 

Mom Point: Stokke

Suitable for Young Babies

Yes

Yes, with add-ons

Yes, with add-ons

The Svann is an excellent chair for young babies, providing a lot of trunk support which is also the support that the tray snaps on to.  The Stokke baby support does not accept a tray (obviously, Stokke doesn’t make a tray), and I’m not sure how the support would work with the PlayTray add-on.  Keekaroo sells a baby bar, but I’ve been pretty happy just lifting Little Lou in & out, then taking the tray to the sink for clean up, so I don’t feel I need it. 

 

Mom Point: Svann

Tray

Included, wood with plastic snap-on cover

Purchase PlayTray separately, designed for Stokke 

$89.99 (!)

Purchase separately, wood, no plastic cover $29.99

I’m all for the family table, but the first several months (or years) of eating are messy and quite destructive to a table top in my experience, so I feel like a high chair should definitely have a tray option.  I’m intrigued by the PlayTray made for Stokke, but I’m not sure how easy it would be to get your kiddo in & out with it on, or how easy it would be to buckle the kiddo in, then slip the tray on (it slides over the top of the side rails).  Overall, it seems to be a great solution to the Stokke’s main weakness (beyond price).  I like the Keekaroo tray and, unlike some reviewers, have not had problems with how it functions or with the finish on either my mom’s, or mine, which I’ve been using for several months–I'll update if anything changes.  The tray on the Svan was too narrow to prevent drop-age and spills  and the plastic cover didn’t cover all of the wood. 

 

Mom Point: Keekaroo

Mom Points:

2

3

4

Keekaroo takes it by a hair.  Price, cushion comfort & cushion wipe-ability being the differentiators.

 

 

 

9 Comments
  • Molly L.
    June 22, 2010

    I’ve also admired the Stokke, but we don’t have the floor space in our kitchen for a floor model high chair. We went with the Inglesina Fast chair and have been super happy. Phil and Ted’s and Chicco make a similar style chair – just be sure the arm length works with your table or counter.

  • Tegan and Tage
    June 22, 2010

    We looked at the Stokke Tripp Trapp and found one on Craigslist– we were *this* close to buying it (our house is primarily Danish Modern design) and we changed our minds and opted for the Space Saver (the one that just sits on a regular chair) and we’re glad we did. Our 900 sq. ft. home needs all the extra space we can get. When we get back into a larger home though, the Stokke will definitely be added to the collection! :)

  • Liz
    June 22, 2010

    We bought the Stokke Trip Trap and have been really happy with it. I did purchase the baby set but skipped the pad–really didn’t want something extra to clean and since we never had one, my 2 year old daughter has never known what she’s missing. She has never seemed uncomfortable on the wood and has never complained.
    Of course, only after we bought the Stokke did I learn about the Keekaroo. I think I’d prefer it because it has a tray which would have been really helpful when my daughter was just learning to eat. I always wished the Stokke had a tray that attached–the plastic one you refer to just sits on the table and seemed like a waste of money.
    I’m thinking that since we’re going to have to buy another high chair for baby #2, we’ll get a Keekaroo this time.
    Thanks for the very informative comparison!

  • Eileen
    June 22, 2010

    Love the Tripp Trapp. It’s the most common high chair in Europe – at least in Germany and Switzerland – even restaurants have it, and high chairs are actually sometimes called Tripp Trapps. Very sturdy, stable, great design, lots of colour options, easy to clean, grows with the child. My son, almost 4 years old, has used his since he was 4 months. His Tripp Trapp is not only used for eating at the table but also for doing crafts, and “baking or cooking” in the kitchen and reaching high objects (as a stool — oops not really recommendable there ). My daughter, 19 months, has also used hers as soon as she could sit.
    Love your blog btw :)

  • Molly Dynan
    June 23, 2010

    Ugh, Tegan! I didn’t even realize how much I actually wanted a Tripp Trapp until I did this post. For some stupid reason, I just checked CraigsList and lo & behold, a Stokke Tripp Trapp for $175. In walnut. It’s probably sold by now. Right? And I do so love the comfort cushion. . . hmmm.
    Liz – check out this link. It’s my impression that the tray slides over the side slats of the chair and is self-supporting–maybe you don’t need a new chair for #2. http://www.playtray.dk/language/2/playtray

  • Susana
    June 30, 2010

    This is a wonderful review! After searching for months, I actually brought home the Stokke first but then realized it wouldn’t work with our table because of the apron, so I switched it out for the Svan. I thought the Svan design was too odd at first but I have grown to love it. I think the roundness is so elegant. We too live in a small apartment and the chair is so compact that I am so happy we went with it. It’s more convenient than a clip-on or spacesaver chair because it has its own tray and doesn’t take up much more space.
    Now that my son is 11 months and making a giant mess feeding himself, I do wish the tray were bigger, especially when I see my friends’ ugly plastic giant high chair trays. But then I remember that those big trays are attached to giant ugly plastic high chairs. ;) I am not convinced that I wouldn’t have to do a clean-up of the floor even with a bigger tray anyway since little man loves throwing food of the tray for fun so the size of the tray isn’t a huge negative.
    The potential for water damage is a bigger issue. I just try to dry it after a wipe down with a wet rag.

  • Carol Sharlotte
    April 11, 2011

    Before your belt buckle breaks, buy a backup back from HighChairBelts.com like I did. We have a daycare and use the chairs daily. One of the buckles’ prongs broke on the original belt. The online company we bought from said they have a belt we could buy. It was the same exact belt! I sent it back. I saw highchairbelts.com on facebook. They claim to be stronger than the originals with a guarantee. I bought one. It is thicker and has lasted us over a year now. I wanted to share a good thing :) Carol S.

  • Kate
    December 14, 2011

    Thanks for this helpful review. Has anyone used the Anka chair by Svan? How does it compare? I am trying to decide between that and the Keekaroo for my 4 month old.

  • Christelle M
    February 12, 2012

    Thank you for this great review of the three wooden high-chairs. Coming from Europe, I knew of the Stokke Tripp Trapp and was considering it for my two-year old daughter (she’s outgrowing her Graco high chair now). However, I saw the Keekaroo chair on Amazon.com this morning and was wondering how it compared with the Stokke one. So thanks for doing the leg work for me :) It was extremely helpful.

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