Let me start this off by saying that I love pretty things. I am the type of person who will walk into a store that offers varietal price points, like Nordstrom, and without meaning to walk over to something that doesn’t look particularly flashy but ends up being insanely expensive. It’s not that I can afford to buy things like this, but I think it’s the mark of well made products when they attract someone without screaming YOU CAN’T AFFORD ME.
When it comes to baby gear, the market is flooded with absolutely gorgeous products. If you’ve ever crushed on a crib that costs as much or more than your bed (assuming you’ve upgraded from Ikea, but barely, e.g. West Elm or CB2 price range), like any of these super mod beauties from Oeuf, you know what I mean. It’s not just cribs and nursery furniture that come with high price tags – you can spend as much as you want on items that you’ll barely use, like a hundred dollar baby bathtub that you’ll likely use for a month or two, or a $230 bouncer chair that your baby may hate and your cat may commandeer.
I relied on reviews and word of mouth recommendations for many of my baby gear purchases, but I was much more inherently trusting of gear that was visually appealing, came with the JPMA certified sticker on it, and had a higher price tag. As a new parent, I wanted what was best for my baby, and it’s hard to shake the idea that pricier is better.
This is how I ended up with what I’ve come to believe is the worst, $250 piece of shit high chair, that has clearly been sent from the depths of hell to make me miserable: the Svan Signet High Chair.
The Svan Signet High Chair – while brand new and never touched by an actual baby – looks beautiful. If you read online reviews, or watch something like this Baby Gizmodo video, you’ll think that it’s a good, solid chair that your baby will enjoy well into toddlerhood. The basic frame of the chair will still be around into toddlerhood, unless you hate it as much as I do and have the strength to burn it, or the will to sell it some poor sucker on Craigslist.
We bought the mahogany colored chair with a cute, contrasting turquoise fabric cushion. The complete package comes with a safety harness style strap that goes over the shoulders and legs, giving an extra safe restraint situation that is far superior to the restaurant style lap strap. It also came with a removable plastic tray, which after having this for over two years I can say it is the most durable part on the whole thing, and is probably the least expensive and most environmentally unfriendly.
Before I say all the things that suck about the Svan Signet High Chair and why I wish we hadn’t chosen it as our son’s high chair, there are some things that are good about it.
Here are the things that have saved the Svan from becoming firewood: first, it’s a very stable seat. My baby can be in it while my toddler hangs off the back of it, and it’s stable enough that it doesn’t tip over in the time it takes me to grab the big guy off the back. It’s good that the plastic cover is easy to remove and keep clean, and it doesn’t make a loud snap when it’s taken off so I can wash it while the kids are sleeping. The seat height is high enough that the baby is level with the table, creating a feeling of inclusion. There’s an adjustable foot rest which makes me feel like I’m doing something good for my kids by not leaving their baby legs dangling. Also, Svan has good customer service, which I found out when I contacted them about the stained finish coming off on contact and the wood splitting along the base immediately.
When I say the finish coming off, I mean the color started coming off of the Signet wood the first time we wiped it with anything, like day one. While this sounds like an inconvenience – and it is – it’s also concerning that the stain comes off when touched by a baby limb, by contact with the seat cover, with a dry wipe of a paper towel or when wet wiped with any products or even just a water dampened cloth. This was why I contacted customer service. They were lovely and assured me that this was a fluke. They sent me a whole new chair and I considered our problem solved.But it wasn’t solved. The new chair in the mahogany finish had the same issue where the stain gradually wore itself away. It wasn’t as immediate as the old chair had been, but over a very short period of time the stain wore itself down to where it has a chipped, cheap look. At least the wood didn’t split along the base of the new chair, so it had that going for it. Then – and still now – I was (am) too busy raising an actual child to deal with customer service again, and if I had the energy I would have just bought a new chair instead of accepting another awful yet free seat.
Trying to keep the chair and straps clean is an ongoing and totally futile process. Food collects in the strap buckle meaning that I have to make a soapy bowl of water and leave the buckle in there until the food softens off of it. With the added boost of the foot rest my son was able to nearly propel himself out of the chair even with the straps buckled. Between the annoyance of food collecting in it and the total ineffectiveness of the seemingly safe harness, we decided to drop the foot rest and remove the straps.
The chair seems designed to collect food in weird locations. It collects under the lip of the tray, where the chair and the seat meet, under the crotch bar, along the track for the foot rest, on the foot rest, and under the lip of the base. I periodically move everything around and find months old crust, but it’s a hassle to do this all the time. We’ve had really nasty surprises, like old meat stuck in a track crack that I’ve had to pry loose with a knife. Before you think I’m just doing a bad job cleaning, keep in mind that the chair gets wiped off after all meals and the seat covers are regularly removed and laundered.
Despite having two of the Svan chairs after receiving our replacements, we still bought another high chair for our nanny share. We spent a whopping $25 on an Ikea seat and tray combination. I found it easier to keep the straps clean on that than on the Svan, though it’s harder to remove the loud ass plastic tray. I don’t like that the Ikea chair doesn’t feel secure for younger babies, and it’s not nearly as stable with a toddler trying to hang off the back. I’m fairly certain it would flip if the big one tries to hang off of it. Still, it shouldn’t even be a competition between these two chairs at their very different price point.
In case it isn’t obvious, I regret owning the Svan Signet High Chair.
I wish that I had gone with the Stokke Tripp Trapp Chair, which is also beautiful, offers the ability to grow with your child like the Svan, and since it’s pricey for a high chair it obviously has to be great.
Seriously, even a free Svan Signet Chair isn’t worth it. It doesn’t wear well and it’s awful to keep clean.
I really hate this stupid high chair.