The ‘joy’ of being baby no. 3 is that your parents are highly unlikely to ever buy you anything new. Marketing, gender differentiation and the overall appearance of things is meaningless to third timers. We’ve been there, seen that, bought the t-shirt and are now in recycle mode.
And so amidst a lot of well worn, stained, half pink-half blue stuff there is a gleaming new piece of kit in Woodie’s collection. Simple explanation: I’ve been given a very smart Stokke Steps Chair to review. It was free but now I have to earn my supper and tell you what I think of it…
Note: if I do this review at the end of the ‘natural life’ of this Stokke, we’ll be back in in about 5 years with photoshopped images that aim to de-mank a statement piece of kiddie furniture while I try and remember what it was like back in 2014. Best I break this into bite sized chunks as a ‘real time’ review with a bit of a time lag: Stage 1- assembly and use with a newborn; Stage 2 -weaning and feeding baby using the seat; Stage 3- (if I remember!): feeding a climbing, beligerrent, stained toddler.
The Stokke Steps
For the uninitiated, Stokke make these rather good looking chairs that go from newborn stage, right up through the messy toddler years to adulthood. In my world this means the chair works, with only minor changes, for babies and toddlers, and is then big enough to accommodate my ‘generous’ arse when grandparents come over for tea.
The Steps Chair is the new-kid-on-the-block in the Stokke range. It’s similar to the well known Tripp Trapp, retaining the basic concepts of the chair where the child is at table level but with some extras including the fact the Steps Chair, as I’ve tried it out, is a combined bouncer and high chair.
The Stokke site (www.stokke.com) has all the technical specs, with zoom in photos and that. Here are the three stages of the Steps Chair set against the gleaming backdrop of a photo studio, not my house:
(1) with the bouncer in place;
(2) with the baby set and tray; and
(3) finally just as the Chair with adjustable seat and foot rest.
All images from www.stokke.com
We now proceed to some less presentable, ‘homey’ photos ones featuring the cutest lab rat there ever was, my little Woodie, and the honest opinions of his Busy Mama.
The seat arrived in many large boxes (enough to create a boat and a castle for my helpers) with the seat and all the parts in flat pack. As a flat-pack-aholic (and even with said helpers driving me mad) the Chair and Bouncer took maybe 10 minutes to assemble. The other parts were dispatched to the attic until needed. Easy and straightforward. Allen key and all the essentials included. If you find yourself using a hammer, something has gone wrong.
The main attraction of the Stokke – and I speak as someone who already has two Tripp Trapps at the table, is that they aren’t large chunks of plastic. Stokke make plain, very practical, no fuss (mainly) wooden furniture that is easy to clean and that fits at the table. It’s funky, modern stuff that you don’t object to seeing hanging around for years on end.
The Steps Chair comes in a light beech or dark walnut. Our existing Stokke Tripp Trapps are walnut so the choice suited us perfectly – and will work for anyone keen to avoid the boy-girl, pink-blue thing. The fabrics for the bouncer and babyseat are single colours – blue, red, grey, or orange. Being a veteran of smeary little children who feed themselves I chose the red colour. I should say red sets off Woodie’s fabulous blue eyes but that’s a lie. Simply I remember that orangy-reddy hue that seems to permeate all of those early dinners, and I fancy less cleaning up rather than more!
For this first stage, we’re using the Steps Bouncer (which doubles as a stand-alone bouncer) mounted onto the Chair. The next stage involve removing the bouncer, and installing a removable babyseat onto the chair (about 6 months, when baby is happy to sit supported), and ultimately removing the babyseat and allowing the toddler to sit on the Chair, with the height adjusted accordingly (about 18 months in our experience- if you can get that far).
The Bouncer part is fairly ingenious. It can sit mounted on the chair, or detach and sit on the floor. It attaches to the main Chair very simply with an indicator (similar to that on the standard Maxi Cosi car seats) showing you when it’s correctly engaged. I’d previously used a similar seat on the Tripp Trapp and it was – actually, a lifesaver in that it kept newborn Yoda out of the path of her 22 month old brother.
The Steps Bouncer is very plush and – for a big baby, more comfortable I think that its Tripp Trapp contemporary. The genius part is that when the bouncer is taken off, the base is non-slip and very robust while still having a nice rocking motion, so it can sit safely on the floor. Another brilliant feature (for those of us about to bring this piece of kit on holidays) is it then collapses (with one hand) so it’s nearly totally flat, and easily carried. The cushions and fabrics are lovely and soft, perfect for a little bubba, and I’m well impressed with the harness and buckle – which is nice and chunky and an improvement over the smaller, slightly more awkward one on the Tripp Trapp Newborn Set. The ‘toy dangler’ as the kids call it, means the baby can reach for a handily placed toy – though often I detach it as it seems to annoy more that entertain him.
Here’s a few snaps of the bouncer as we are currently using it:
(1) detached bouncer modelled by Woodie (15 beautiful weeks old and already trying to escape);
(2) the bouncer collapsed so its easily transported;
(3) bouncer mounted on Chair and all set up at the table so bubba can contribute to mealtime mayhem; and
(4) our favourite addition – the chunky buckle.
From first glance, the babyseat is fairly similar to the babyseat on the Tripp Trapp but with some nice improvements. The back is adjustable – which as the owner of big babies is better than the one-size-fits-all option of its predecessor. The tray is a new feature and one which it’ll be interesting to see at work. We’ve previously used the table top trays which were great – but I have to admit I missed a fixed tray sometimes when I had a baby in the chair away from the table, say when I’m cooking dinner, and there was nowhere to rest toys / nibbles. Again I’m delighted to see the chunky buckle replacing the thinner one which – with large babies who nearly needed to be poured into the seats, proved a little tight and tricky towards the end. The other big improvement seems to be the ease with which the fabrics can be taken off to be cleaned – it was a bit of a pain to have to dis-assemble the whole seat to change on the Tripp Trapp. Good job Stokke!
As for the ‘grown up seat’, the white plastic elements around the top of the chair mean it’s less wooden as a finished product, than the Tripp Trapp, but still very good looking and easy on the eye. I’ve a strange fondness for sitting on the other’s Stokke’s – a feeling not shared by my more boney-arsed husband. We both found the Steps Chair is a very comfy seat though so good reviews from boney and non-boney bums alike.
The bottom line…
In terms of using the baby seat and the chair itself, I’m promising Stage 2 and 3 reviews down the line as for now all I can really do is look at them and like what I see, while the real test is how they work.
I’m chuffed with the Steps bouncer and Chair so far and think its a really nice and comfy piece of kit. I think they are a good option from the newborn stage – particularly where you want to keep a baby up off the floor, safe from the perils of a toddler and also so they are up beside you at the dinner table (which I always loved). The practicality and function of the whole thing is great – down to the fact you can collapse the bouncer with one hand (as proven this morning as I held Woodie in the other).
I checked the retailing price and the chair itself is €182, with extras being: the bouncer (€149); the baby set (€89); baby set cushion (€39) baby set tray (€45). With a price tag of over €500 the Steps Chair and all the attachments are not cheap. I wouldn’t have spent this much on a seat for the third bubba – however cute he may be. That said if I were starting outwith my firstborn, I’d likely take the same attitude I did to our more costly purchases – like the Bugaboo buggy or the Medela breastpump, and reckon that if it would last the pace with a few babies an initially more expensive option is a good investment. Speaking from my Tripp Trapp experience I’ve found Stokke products wear and age well and are exactly the kind of product you’ll still be using a few babies down the line. Considering the cost of the Steps Chair against the cost of a standard high chair plus bouncer I’d feel the cost is higher but can be justified as you’d get plenty of time out of them.
So, all good for now. Woodie is nearing the four month mark so the joys of weaning await in a few months so some more frank thoughts on the second stage will issue.
Note: as stated earlier, I have been given this Stokke product free of charge with the purposes of reviewing it. All thoughts and opinions are my own and entirely independent.