This baby’s high chair, of turned wood, is mounted on four metal wheels. It has an adjustable tray that can be swung over to the back when not in use, or to lift a child in or out more easily. Manufacturers added feeding trays to the basic design of the high chair in the 19th century. Before this, an adult would push the high chair as close as possible to the edge of the table where the child’s food was placed. The feeding tray serves several purposes: it restricts spillages to a small area, helps to hold the child more safely in the chair, and provides the child with a play surface.
Under the seat is a metal mechanism operated by two wooden handles: this converts the highchair into a rocking chair. The four curved, teardrop-shaped legs are linked in pairs at the sides with a metal bar, and when the chair is lowered into the rocking position, these legs become the rockers.
There were a number of designs for highchairs adapting to two different formats. The earliest surviving examples date from the 1780s onward and come apart into a separate chair and table. This design was extremely successful, and was still being made into at least the 1850s. The design of the chair shown here which turns into a rocking chair was next in the sequence, but was soon overtaken by a new version of the ‘table and chair’ idea. This time the highchair had hinged legs that folded up to make a table and chair which were joined together. The design was still being made in the 1940s.