The Best Dining Chair for Little Kids is Actually Available at IKEA
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One night while visiting my parents a few years back, my dad hauled an old chair up from the basement for my son. This was a chair I’d sat in for hundreds of family meals as a child; it had then made its way through some younger cousins and gotten a custom paint job along the way. Not a high chair and not a full-sized chair, this was a seat designed specifically for a little kid. My son loved it. With a footrest for his little legs and a seat that put him at the perfect height to reach his food, my son sat still for much longer than he usually would in his booster seat at home.
As soon as we got home, I tried Googling my way back to this chair from my childhood. I was ready to buy one and toss our crusty booster seat out once and for all. I tried “toddler chair” “little kid chair” “big kid high chair” and finally, I figured out that this in-between chair is called a “youth chair.” IKEA makes a handful (they call them “junior” chairs), including a black spindle-back model that matches quite nicely with our beaten-up Paul McCobbs. However, other than IKEA, I could only find one retailer, YouthChairStore.com, that sells anything else with a seat height of about 20-inches. At the time, I was an editor at Parents magazine. So when Monday morning came, I asked my coworker who had been at the magazine for nearly 20 years if she knew of anyone else selling “youth chairs,” and she confessed she didn’t, though she pointed out that the classic Tripp Trapp chair could be adjusted to that height.
I went ahead and bought IKEA’s wooden AGAM junior chair (as seen in my dining area above, but they also sell a plastic version, too), and my mom bought two of them, as well, so every grandkid could have a chair their own size for family meals at her house. I love our youth chairs—and all of my friends with young kids know it because I won’t shut up about how great they are! Every time I see a child barely able to reach the table in an adult chair, I ask the parents, “Have you ever heard of a youth chair?”
When Coronavirus hit New York City, my family decided to head out of town. In our temporary digs, dinners in a grown-up chair got very wiggly. Our son, who is normally pretty good at mealtime, has had a hard time staying in his seat. A few weekends ago, we went to visit Grandma for the first time. Almost immediately, my son spotted the familiar seat and said, “My chair!” You can probably guess where this is going: As soon as he was back in his right-sized chair, the mealtime antics settled down to a much more tolerable level. I’m sure it’s not all about the chair, but what I wonder is why more manufacturers aren’t jumping on the youth chair train?
There are dozens of high chairs and booster seats on the market, which serve a kid for less than two years of their lives, but these simple chairs that serve kids for many years are few and far between. I’d love to see youth chairs from every children’s furniture company in a range of styles from sleek and modern to country charming. Until then, however, IKEA’s got you covered.
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