Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sitting at the table : Review of the Chicco 360 Degree Rotating Hook On Chair

We don't have room for a kitchen table in the house that we are renting, but we do have an impressively large and sturdy coffee table in our living room. It would be awkward to put our daughter in a standard high chair or a booster seat in a chair when we are kneeling around the coffee table below her enjoying our meal, and we really don't have the floor space for a traditional highchair. The answer for us is a hook-on high chair. The Chicco 360 hooks right on to our coffee table with non-scratching rubberized arms and our daughter is contained and able to eat with us.

One of the best features of this seat is the tray. Most of the other hook-on chairs I considered did not come with a tray. I was afraid that food would fall down between the seat and the table and that the rubbery arms on the table would become nasty over time from being touched with food-covered fingers. The tray snaps on and off easily without any buttons or levers, but not
easily enough that our sweet baby girl can do it.

The entire surface of the tray is smooth but only the flat part is shiny. It has a molded cup-shape in one corner. When she has finished eating I take her out of the seat and pop the tray off. I put it right into the sink and wash it. My husband has mentioned that he thinks that carrots or red sauce (in the future) might stain it, so we don't leave any food on it very long. At 9 months, she could already reach the table to the sides of the tray somewhat, but the tray contains most of the food mess. The seat can be used for a child up to 37 pounds. The directions say to never use the seat without the tray. I am not sure why as there is no explanation. The tray can be put in the dishwasher, if you have one, although it is so easy to wipe clean that it is probably unnecessary.

The seat sports an adjustable 3-point harness, which we sometimes use. Honestly, she is so close to the ground that I don't worry too much about it most of the time. To unclasp the harness, there is a one-touch button.

The seat fabric can be removed for machine washing, but I find that I can surface-clean it with a wet dishcloth for the most part. I have learned that I can minimize the amount of food that gets on the seat by shoving a towel into the seat behind her, which supports her and keeps her forward, near the table. I have not figured out a way to effectively clean the crevice in the front where the chair rotates, but I am working on it.

To unhook the seat fabric, unsnap the fabric around the top of the seat and line up the sliding metal pieces under the tray with the holes in the plastic so that they can slip through. Then, lift.

The seat is called "360" because it rotates completely. To rotate the seat (independently of the tray), pull up on the yellow handle at the top of the back of the seat and spin the seat. You can rotate the seat with the child in it. There are 6 stopping-points that it snaps into as indicated by the red paint on the frame, but you can turn it to any point in between as well. This is a really cool feature because depending on where I am in the room, I can rotate her in any direction to face me.
facing the tray and table, notice the curved crevice along the front?

The hook-on chair can be taken apart (I wouldn't say "folded" like the product description says) for transportation. First, remove the tray and unhook the chair from the table. The arms individually slide out of the seat frame if you push both of the metal buttons on the bottom side at the same time and pull. I think it takes quite a bit of hand strength and coordination. One of the marketing points for this seat is that it can be used for travel because it fits a wide range of tables (with a skirt of up to 5.5 inches). A card table, a table leaf, or glass table would not be sturdy enough. It comes with a black mesh zippered bag with a strap for a handle. The bag is functional, but not what I'd call sturdy. I was careful to put the ends of the metal arms facing upward to make sure that they didn't puncture the material. Amazon says that it weighs 9 pounds.

Why is my tray in this bag, and what have you done with my seat?
The mechanism to hold the chair onto the table is quite intuitive. There are two places on each side that make contact with the underside of the table- the ends of the curved pieces and the tops of the straight piece. The straight pieces are adjustable. Before you put the chair on the table, the straight pieces are in the lowest position. Once the chair is in place, you push the straight pieces upward until they touch the bottom of the table. Then you turn the two yellow pieces on the bottom of the straight pieces to insure that they are locked, regardless of whether the release buttons are triggered. The yellow bumpy things near the camera in the picture are the release buttons, but they won't do anything until the other yellow pieces have been unlocked by twisting first.

So, to wrap this up, we really like this seat. It theoretically is supposed to last until she is three, but I doubt we will be using it for her that long. I would definitely recommend it, especially for those with small spaces! The only things that bother me are that small crevice to clean around the front and the fact that you have to take it apart rather than fold it for travel. Other than that, well done, Chicco, on another great product!

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