Most high chairs sold in America comply with a voluntary safety standard that includes what's known as a crotch post—a structure that’s supposed to prevent an unharnessed child from sliding downward and falling to the floor or strangling if the child's head gets caught on the way down. Among the glaring exceptions: the BeBeLove 604-1, $40 to $65, and the BeBeLove 604-B, $90.
The BeBeLove 604-1 high chair lacks the crotch post needed to meet ASTM F404-10, the voluntary safety standard for high chairs. The pricier BeBeLove 604-B includes a crotch post in the box as a separate piece to be installed, though there are no installation instructions. An uninstalled crotch post can still meet the voluntary safety standard provided the post, when installed, prevents a metal wedge that is sized to approximate a small child’s torso from passing through either of the leg openings.
Consumer Reports tested the crotch post on the BeBeLove 604-B as we do on other high chairs, using a metal wedge the same size as the one specified in the voluntary standard: The wedge passed easily through the leg openings on two separate samples of the BeBeLove 604-B. As a result, Consumer Reports has judged both the BeBeLove 604-1 and 604-B high chairs a Don’t Buy: Safety Risk.
We contacted BeBeLove, in Pico Rivera, California, about our findings; the company hadn't gotten back to us with a comment as of the time we posted this article. We also shared our findings with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which said it is looking into the matter.
"The CPSC has a long history of following up on high chairs that did not comply with the voluntary safety standard or posed a safety risk to children, even when there were no reported injuries," says Scott Wolfson, Communications Director. (Consumer Reports knows of no injuries associated with either BeBeLove high chair.)
BeBeLove was involved in a recall earlier this summer. Roughly 5,600 BeBeLove baby bath seats were recalled in June 2013 because they failed to meet mandatory federal safety standards and could tip over, posing a drowning risk.
Along with infant bath seats, both cribs and infant walkers are among the child products that are already required to meet mandatory safety standards. High chairs are slated to join that list under the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which calls for the CPSC to set mandatory standards for a long list of child products. Consumer Reports believes that mandatory safety standards for high chairs can’t happen soon enough.
Meanwhile, if you already own a BeBeLove 604-1 or BeBeLove 604-B high chair, we urge you to stop using it and ask the retailer or the manufacturer for a refund. And if you’re high-chair shopping, be sure to buy one that has a crotch post. The Mia Moda Alto, a CR Best Buy at $100, is one of several top-scoring high chairs in Consumer Reports’ Ratings that come with the post built-in. Also be sure to always fasten the chair’s harness to secure the child.