Elevating the high chair
If you could graph the trend in high chairs, it would look something like the trajectory of a yo-yo. A generation ago, everything was wood. Then came plastic. Over the past few years, a new breed of sleek European wooden chairs became so popular, they practically obliterated the plastic chairs (around here, anyway). But now the pendulum is swinging the other way. Plastic is back, but the new plastic high chairs are nothing like their predecessors.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve received both the Boon Flair and the Bloom Fresco. Yes, the names are confusing, but the companies are completely unrelated, and the chairs are quite different. I’ve taken some time to get to know both products, and they do share some features. Both have a striking, minimalist aesthetic. Both offer pneumatic-assisted height adjustments. Both can be used with or without the included tray. Both have wheels. But the similarities end there.
We’ve been waiting for the Boon Flair for a long time. I’m a fan of all the other Boon products, and I had high hopes for the Flair. The final product is outstanding and well worth the wait. And it’s already getting a lot of positive attention from our customers. The molded plastic seat is seamless – a very nice feature for those of us who recall trying to scrape hardened baby food out of the nooks and crannies in our Prima Pappas with a toothpick. There’s a removable tray, and they include two dishwasher-safe tray covers. The pneumatic lift is controlled by a button on the base. There are also urethane casters, nestled in the wide pedestal base, that glide smoothly across any hard floor. There’s a foot-operated brake to keep it steady once it’s in place.
The drawbacks to the Flair are few and far between. The seat does not recline, the pneumatic lift is not quite as smooth as it should be, and the seat pad is not machine washable (though it is waterproof). Fans of the Stokke Tripp Trapp chair should note that the footrest is not adjustable, either. But this is a great looking high chair at a fantastic price ($199), and the feedback we’ve heard is that it’s very easy to clean. It’s suitable for babies from about six months of age and up. The maximum recommended weight is 50 lbs. Not to be overlooked – our floor model of the Flair came out of the box and assembled quickly and easily with no major issues.
The Bloom Fresco is almost twice the price of the Flair, but it does pack in a few more features. However, with the added functionality comes a bit of a learning curve. The Fresco seat looks almost pod-like, and can be reclined almost flat, making it a suitable spot for a 3-month old. On the other side of the spectrum, you can use the seat with older children, too – the weight limit is 79 lbs! The seat also swivels 360 degrees and features an adjustable footrest. The pneumatic lift is smooth, and the Fresco goes a bit higher than the Flair. The base has wheels, and the whole chair moves smoothly across the floor using a “lift and glide” motion.
Like the Flair, the seat pad on the Fresco is not machine washable. But unlike the Flair, the Fresco pad is not waterproof – it’s microsuede. Tres chic, but I’m not sure how practical it will be. The company assures me that it will be easy to clean, but I haven’t verified this yet. If anyone out there is using this seat, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Assembling the Fresco was a bit of an adventure. It required a phone call to the company, and ultimately we had some defective pieces that needed replacement. The good news is that Bloom Baby was very easy to get in touch with, and they were extremely responsive and quick to handle our problems. But even once it’s up and running, the Fresco has some tricky elements. The five-point harness is removable for older children, and it can be used with or without the tray, so there are two different ways to anchor the harness at the base of the chair. In both cases, you need to be very dexterous and precise to achieve the proper connection or else you may end up getting the strap stuck in the wrong position (this happened to me). Since there are so many different ways to configure the chair, there are a bunch of extra pieces included. The seat provides storage for these, but it does take some time to remember which piece does what. Also, the instruction manual is heavy on illustrations and light on text, which can lead to some confusion. Again, Bloom Baby is highly responsive and is already working on some fixes for this.
Overall, for parents looking for a modern plastic high chair, both of these answer the call. If you’re looking for a reason to justify the cost of the Fresco, the added longevity is a great place to start. If you’re trying to keep it simple, go for the Flair. Can’t make up your mind? Not to confuse the matter, but a little birdie told me that the Calla Chair from Fleurville, designed by Yves Behar, will be available soon. More details to follow after ABC.