Thursday, March 8, 2012

Bloom Fresco High Chair Review (mostly a cathartic purge)

Update: Now that our kiddo is eating real food, I wouldn’t wish this chair on my worst enemy.  Yes it looks cool, but it is COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE to keep clean.  I am a neat freak, and even I have a terrible time getting this thing even remotely clean.  There are more nooks and crannies than you can imagine, the straps are like food magnets that capture grime, and there are levels upon levels that you must take apart to clean (seat pad, booster seat, straps, panels, etc.).  Yes, I read the reviews that said the chair is hard to keep clean, “but I’m me!” I naively thought.  HEED MY WORDS: this chair is impossible to keep clean.  Stay away.  RUN away!  If you’re into spending $400 on a cleaning challenge, get a pet porcupine.

WARNING: There is a lot of cussing in this post.

This review is largely a cathartic rant, but I do provide some top secret information, so hopefully it will help prevent someone out there from destroying a really expensive high chair.

When registering for baby stuff, the one thing we were sure of was that we had to have the Bloom Fresco high chair.  Who cares if it’s $400?  We needed it!  It would make our baby look like a brilliant astronaut a la 2001, and it matched our Saarinen chairs in the kitchen perfectly!



So all our friends banded together, chipped in, and bought us the Fresco.

Even though the seat originates in Germany, they obviously hired a nit-wit from Ikea to write/illustrate the instruction manual.  My biggest gripe is that they reference things without defining them (my lawyer friends would be FURIOUS).

There are many things you will scream when trying to figure out your Bloom high chair.  I have highlighted some below, and hopefully provided some answers that will prevent you from flying into a rage and/or destroying a $400 high chair.



Why they don’t simply tell you that there is a lever inside of the recessed handle at the TOP of the BACK of the chair I have NO IDEA.  This seems like an easy enough thing to say or illustrate.


Instead they lead you to believe that the little gray levers on each side where the chair pivots (which would make sense mechanically) are what allows the seat to tilt back and forth.  Those levers are only for raising the seat up and down (NOT tilting).  One time we got luckily and my wife accidentally got the seat to unlock and move back into the bassinet position (she didn’t realize she had pressed the lever in the back of the seat), so we were fortunate enough to be able to USE the seat for the first couple months of the kid’s life before we needed a high chair.  And it’s actually a GREAT bassinet, so there is that positive thing I have to say.



Once I figured out about the lever inside the handle (literally MONTHS after we owned the chair), I could finally tilt the seat back and forth, but for the life of me I couldn’t get it to lock in place.  The problem is that the handle/lever almost ALWAYS sticks.  You need to bang on it or try and pull it back down (like some sort of European finger puzzle) so that the chair will click into one of it’s three available positions (vertical, slightly tilted back, or bassinet).



It’s a booster seat.  Why they don’t just call it that, I have no idea.  It’s made of plastic (not exactly the pinnacle of comfortable materials) and looks nothing like a nest.



I finally realized we needed to remove the shoulder strap pads when my baby started choking because they were cutting off his airway. Perhaps they are of use with a larger child, but there is NO WAY these rigid (and huge) pads are good for a tiny baby (or even a 24 pound six month old).



The way the safety bar is described in the manual, one would think that it’s the little piece of plastic that holds the “Comfort Nest” in place.  It’s not.  It’s the silver metal bar to which the tray and the second tray (why two trays?) fasten.  When thinking about it as the thing that keeps your baby in the seat, it makes total sense to call it the safety bar.  When thinking about it in reference to what keeps the booster seat from sliding out of the chair, it’s entirely confusing, especially since there are two different things that can perform this function (not to mention a third thing that fits in the same hole, all shown in the photo below).


It is important when installing the safety bar (the silver bar that holds the tray) that you clip the arms in place before securing the base of the vertical riser bar.

Again, there are white plastic hoops at the end of each safety bar arm (see photos above and below) that clip over the chair’s pivot points.  These must be clipped into place before you slide and clip the vertical riser bar in at the base of the booster seat/”Comfort Nest,” otherwise, the clips may not attach securely (snap into place), and the vertical bar will then be able to collapse.


The vertical bar, which telescopes to change height depending upon the tilt of the chair (1st and 2nd position, not bassinet position), has no lock (which seems would be safer).  The vertical bar relies upon the position of the chair to prevent telescoping.  So again I tell you: the safety bar arm hooks need to be fastened securely into place to prevent the vertical bar from sliding up and down.  If these clips are not securely in place, the metal bar and tray can collapse and squash your kid’s legs if any pressure is applied downward on the tray.  I see this as a fairly significant safety hazard.



Another huge gripe I have with this chair is the amazing INCONVENIECE with switching from high chair mode (with “Comfort Nest”) to slightly tilted back, to all the way tilted back.  When your child is first starting to use a high-chair, there will be MANY occasions when you wish to switch from high chair (with Comfort Nest/booster seat) to recline.  Bottles are difficult when sitting straight up, so you’ll want to tip the seat at least slightly back, if not all the way back.  Also, you won’t always want to use the seat just for feeding, so bassinet mode is still useful.

To switch from high chair for a baby (not toddler) to bassinet, you not only have to remove the booster seat, but also switch out the entire seat pad (there are two seat pads/covers, one for booster seat mode, one for bassinet/toddler mode).  This is obviously incredibly annoying, as you need to keep both chair pads/covers nearby to switch back and forth.

Originally I also thought you had to remove the safety bar to utilize the middle tilt position.  This is a massive pain in the butt if you just want to tilt the chair slightly back to give your kid a bottle, because it involves not only removing the tray and the metal “safety bar,” but also replacing the safety bar with the little plastic slider-hook piece (see photos above) that fits into the front of the chair to prevent the booster seat/Comfort Nest from sliding forward (so your child doesn’t end up on the floor).  Thus in order to simply tilt the chair back a few inches for bottle feeding, you have to make major changes involving multiple extra parts.  Incidentally, there is a secret compartment inside the chair to store some of the extra pieces, but not all of them… what the hell is this all about?!  Why give us a place to store only SOME of the things we need to always have on hand?!

Anyway, I finally figured out that the middle recline position (slightly tilted back) is possible with the safety bar in place, it’s just difficult to figure out, and the safety bar will be very much in the way of your child’s legs (he/she will either have to drape his/her legs over the bar, possibly cutting off circulation, or you will need to remove your child’s legs).  Originally when I tilted the seat back with the safety bar in place the white, round clips that fasten the safety bar to the chair would pop off at the two points where the seat swivels.  However, if you push the front vertical bar on the safety bar down while tilting the seat back, the safety bar can remain safely fastened to the chair, but again, the bar will be in the way of your kid’s legs.



The “secret” storage compartment in the back of the seat is clever, right?  Except that it’s NOT.  In order to access the panel, you have to remove your child and the seat pad, not to mention the fact that the shoulder and waist straps go through the seat pad which make accessing the storage compartment even more difficult!  Why not put this storage panel in the BACK of the seat, so you can actually USE IT?!  p.s. When installing the piece of plastic that keeps the “Comfort Nest” in place (the piece of plastic that protrudes through the storage cover) you will need to actually remove the panel cover (they sort of hint at this, but don’t really say it).  To do this, gently bend the storage tray cover so you can remove it at it’s pivot points.  DO NOT do this while you are angry or you will break the cover (luckily I had my wits about me at this point in the struggle).



This chair has about 3 billion nooks and crannies, so plan on spending a lot of time cleaning it (it’s not just a simple wipe down).  You have to remove straps and pads and the “Comfort Nest” and then scrub the food and goo out of the nylon shoulder straps (you’re child WILL put these straps in his/her mouth while his/her mouth is full of food).  You will likely ignore me (I ignored others that said this in reviews), but you’ve been warned.


All this said, if I had it to do all over again, would I still want this chair?

Yeah, I guess so, but only because there is such a dearth of cool high chairs for kids living in midcentury modern homes.  The fact that it can function as a bassinet and a high chair (and do it in style) is great, and it really does look cool. [oh, me]


play mats said...

The number of bells and whistles on your baby high chair is a matter of personal choice, however, you should be careful to choose a high chair that is safe.

playmobil 123 said...

Depending on where you need to store the high chair, you may want to look for one that stands upright when folded. Also check to be sure the folded high chair fits your available storage space.

Nokilissa said...

OH MY GOD! I am laughing so hard I almost cried :)

I actually googled Bloom Fresco with a curse word and found your rant because I haven't been able to find anything on line that helps to explain this god awful chair - with exception of those infuriating "demonstration" videos that make it look like a cake walk.

I am FURIOUS with it. The biggest challenge, frankly, has been even figuring out what f*cking setting he belongs in at any particular age/weight! Is the "comfort nest" up to 36 months or 6? And why at 9 months was he scootching around in it like a cue ball in a bath tub (I had taken out the plastic nest cause I thought I was supposed to at 6 months, but now I'm not so sure)? Can't figure out the straps, the "safety bar", how to tilt the thing while keeping the tray on and the hooks SECURED without cutting off his legs!

Anyway, thanks for the good laugh.
I really don't know how to use it, but this helped me to realize it's not just me!

The Invisible said...

Nokilissa, I am so sorry that you too must deal with the terror that is the Bloom Fresco high chair. Like so many pretty things, it is SO difficult!

For what it's worth, our giant 1 year old (98th percentile in height) still uses the "nest" and likely will for quite a while.

As mentioned in the post, the chair cannot be tilted with the safety bar attached without chopping off your baby's legs. You *can* tilt to the first setting (just slightly back) without removing the safety bar but it's kind of a gamble.

Hopefully some of the other things posted will help you figure out the functions of the chair.

Mostly though, I hope my post serves you by functioning as a good "misery loves company." [smile]

Anonymous said...

Yes! I have this chair so truly appreciated your rant...
I have broken it in frustration, lost parts as I couldn't be bothered removing cover to store them, and yes, it is a nightmare to clean!
I bought a new liner recently for baby number 2 as I damaged the original liner trying to clean it... (may I add ~ the cost of the liner is probably the same as 2 brand new high chairs at target...)

Trying to find a "comfort nest" on ebay now.

Its a nightmare to use, not particularly comfy for the kids... But hey ~ It looks cool.

Lego head said...

Hi, thanks for the blog - loved it :-) I wanted one of these chairs as soon as I saw them... but when we did the research I simply couldn't justify it (safety, cost, stressfulness!) so we went straight for the Ikea one everyone else raved about. Now, with a second littlie ready to sit up for meals and the chance discovery of a Bloom Fresco for $40 in a local charity shop I can't resist taking the plunge! The Op Shop find is SOOOO clean, I can only imagine it's never been used by previous owners due to all the frustrations above! As you say... it looks so cool! It can't be all bad, can it???? hee hee.

The Invisible said...

Well... for $40 it's probably worth the experiment... though I assume it will be missing many of the tiny pieces that make the chair more "functional." And for only $40, you can allow yourself the satisfaction of setting it on fire when it pisses you off; just make sure to take it out of the house first. [wink] Also, $40 isn't a bad price for a supercool bassinet, which the Bloom Fresco definitely is.

Unknown said...

Can anyone explain to me how to disassemble the bloom fresco Highchair? I am selling mine and I need to break it down to ship- please help! Thx

Anonymous said...

So wish we had done more research before buying our chair. Looking at some of the instruction videos on YouTube funny how they just put the nest straight onto the chair and clip it in without showing the fight you have trying to balance it whilst securing the back clips!!!!
Clearly their development team do not have children. Like you say why would you have the extra clips behind the child for goodness sake and the faff you have taking the whole chair apart to clean the straps - which after one meal need cleaning again!
Having said that I also like you loath/like this chair because of the cradle to four years options.
But why oh why do they not make it more user friendly!!!!

Anonymous said...

This chair may look absolutely fantastic, but it is utterly impractical. Our boy was in it from birth and 18 months later, it's a wreck. What's the point in buying spare parts only to have them smashed to bits again? It is possible to keep the chair clean despite what you read but you must be extra uber vigilant to do so.
Is it worth the $900 it costs here in Australia; no way in the world.(but it looks great)

Anonymous said...

We have had this chair for a year and I love it. I know I'm the minority here, but I really do love it. Is it complicated? Maybe more so than a regular high chair, but we hve had no problems changing it through the stages. Is it difficult to clean? We have a second cheaper high chair (summer infant Bentwood) and yes that one is easier, but it would NOT look good in our modern home. I have personally had no issues keeping our high chair clean. That said, I am anal about cleaning. I clean it right after my child has finished eating, and I use a special organic high chair cleaner by dapple. My child has made HUGE messes and covered the thing in everything from diarrhea to peanut butter, but with diligence and a little elbow grease, you can get it clean. My only complaint is that the base of ours has gotten quite scratched from our dogs running over it. We have the limited edition one in silver (so the base is a shiny silver as opposed to an opaque colored plastic.). I'm not sure if the limited edition is made better (we paid $800 CAD for ours), but like I said, I have no complaints and would buy it again if we had a second child close in age to our first.