Old-fashioned wooden high chairs, updated with safety features, still have a claim on the market. Several manufacturers sell the classic, traditional chairs, some with more modern styles. High-end style is trickling down to the lower-end, with simpler lines, and fabrics or materials in neutral shades or motifs that may have more appeal for adults than "baby" colors.
Although many wooden high chairs hint at the past, some have modern conveniences, such as a cushioned, wipe-clean or machine-washable seat pad, and a dishwasher-safe, removable tray insert that protects the wood finish. Modern chairs also have the essential safety features that older wooden chairs lacked such as a center crotch post, which helps to prevent a child from slipping out, and a three- or five-point harness. We strongly recommend a five-point harness, though it isn't required by the current safety standard, which requires a three-point harness (in addition to a crotch post.)
But some wooden high chairs may not be as comfortable for babies as the latest form-fitting or padded models on the market. And unless a wooden chair is a hybrid of the old (timeless in design only) and the new (with essential safety features--see the Features section), we don't recommend it.
Regardless of the materials, you should look for high-chair safety features that include a crotch post; a safety-restraint system with a five-point harness; wheels that lock in place (or no wheels); and, when folding, chairs that won't scissor, shear, or pinch you or your little one's fingers.
Today's high chairs–whether they're made of wood, metal, or plastic--are loaded with features such as adjustable trays with dishwasher-safe inserts that make cleanup a cinch, seats that recline to multiple positions, and chair heights that accommodate your growing baby and give you flexibility to feed her at different levels.
At a minimum, you'll want a stable, sturdy high chair that can stand up to heavy use, spills, and regular cleaning for at least a year. Although they're intended for children from infancy up to about three years (the typical top weight is 40 to 50 pounds), some babies can't bear to sit in one once they become adventurous toddlers.
Many high chairs now convert to toddler chairs when your child is ready to sit at the table with the rest of the family. You usually make the switch by removing the tray and adjusting the chair height so you can scoot your toddler right up to the table. That's a good thing because a regular kitchen or dining room chair will probably put your child at chin level to the table. Since you'll need some kind of transitional chair, you might as well get the most mileage from a high chair.