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Stiftung Warentest has tested highchairs for children (June 2018). Test winners were the Tripp Trapp by Stokke and Nomi by Evomove. Michael Steinbach, Managing Director of 2E Vertriebs-GmbH, which sells Nomi in Germany and Austria, spoke to Luna Journal about internal requirements for the product and what manufacturers of high chairs need to pay particular attention to.
Evomove’s Nomi was awarded the best grade of 1.6 by Stiftung Warentest. What must be taken into account when manufacturing a highchair for children?
Michael Steinbach: Above all, it is important to know and understand the safety standards and requirements exactly. Many high chairs are guided too much by design and neglect the much more important basic research on how a highchair for children is later used in at home and what demands are placed on it. The art is to combine a good design with high functionality and of course the exact compliance with all safety standards.
Nomi was designed by Norwegian designer Peter Opsvik. Since 1972 he has dedicated himself completely to the development of ergonomic chairs, starting with the well-known classic Tripp Trapp. Since then he has designed a whole range of innovative, ergonomic chairs – always oriented towards his philosophy that people should “sit actively” and not too statically, as is unfortunately still far too often the case. It is a great feeling to know that such a renowned expert, who has dedicated his professional life only to “healthy sitting”, is behind the Nomi concept.
In the categories design, handling, durability, pollutants and safety, you have scored “good” and sometimes “very good” with the Nomi. What internal tests must your products pass?
A highchair, which is sold on the German and European market must of course meet the safety standards of the DIN standards without fuss or quibble. It is astonishing how often this is generally not yet the case in the market. In addition, the designers and manufacturers expect Nomi to set new standards in many aspects. For example, Nomi is certified for loads of up to 150 kg, while the standard for highchairs only requires 15 kg. Nomi has been certified worldwide in renowned test laboratories, in Germany by TÜV Süd – by to EN 12790:2009 (standard for baby bouncers), EN 14988:2017 (standard for high chairs for children) and even by EN 12520, the standard for adult dining chairs.
Moreover, we take Nomi further and also test it according to our own criteria, e.g. for durability. Here we carry out a demanding test that simulates use over 10 years – for load-bearing capacity, undesirable chemicals, Oekotex certification and much more. Internally, we call this the “Nomi Standard”. The problem of many high chairs is that they contain undreamt-of harmful substances, are unstable, and the restraint system (in our case the bar) has weaknesses. Then children can simply slip through or climb out. Another danger are pinch points on connectors where children can jam their fingers or skin.
What does the Stiftung Warentest award mean to you?
The Stiftung Warentest award is well-reputed in Germany and for many parents who are looking for children’s products. The seal, especially as a test winner, is an important criterion when choosing the right product. The award confirms our work and the results we also achieve in our ongoing internal tests. It also confirms the awards we have already won in numerous consumer tests in neighboring countries.
The special thing about Nomi is that it accompanies the child into adulthood. What has to be considered with a high chair that grows with the baby?
A good highchair adapts easily to the individual height of the child. Nomi can be adjusted steplessly and without tools in a few seconds. The Nomi is extremely functional without revealing this at first glance. Due to the fact that Nomi has a timeless and reduced design, it is also popular with schoolchildren who no longer want to sit on the previous “highchairs”. And even if you want to sit on the Nomi as an adult, this is no problem: you simply adjust the seat depth to the lowest position, remove the footrest and are ready, with a certified load of up to 150 kg.
Your high chair has also passed the pollutant test. What materials do you use for the upholstery of the highchairs?
We only use textiles that are Oekotex 100 Class A certified. These include fabrics, yarn, the Velcro fastener, the filling material and the cord to tie it to the Nomi Baby mattress. In addition, we test each batch for 182 possible pollutants in accordance with the REACH protocol before it leaves the factory.
Stiftung Warentest recommends that children should not sit vertically in a chair until they are eight months old, as their back muscles are still too weak to put the child straight in the chair. What is your opinion on that?
Children should only be placed in a chair when they can independently hold their upper body upright. We point this out again and again. Therefore, the ideal age is primarily not a question of age, but a question of the individual abilities of the child. Every child develops at a different speed, so it is always important to have a sure instinct as to when a child should be placed in a chair. Some are ready with 6 months, other children perhaps only with 8 months. In this early phase in particular, the time spent sitting should only be increased cautiously and carefully. It is also important to emphasize here that a high chair should not be a “parking space” for small children. The usage time should be limited mainly to eating with the family at the table. During the rest of the time it is much better to let the child play on a blanket on the floor so that it can develop its motor skills optimally.
A good chair should give the child the opportunity to sit and move in many different ergonomic positions. A “fixation” of the child in the high chair that is too rigid, is counterproductive for a healthy physical development of the child.
Your baby bouncer scored 4 in the test. The test showed that the Evomove tilts when a sibling pulls himself or herself up on it. How do you explain the result? How do you deal with the test verdict?
The Nomi Baby Base was the only baby bouncer tested in 4 of 5 test categories to be rated exclusively good to very good. Since Nomi Baby received a 4.0 in the safety category, the overall grade was also devalued to 4.0. Stiftung Warentest specifically complains that the bouncer could be knocked over by an older sibling, for example, by piggybacking on or running against it. Numerous independent international test institutes, including TÜV Süd, on the other hand, have confirmed the unrestricted tilt resistance of the Nomi baby bouncer for years.
For baby bouncers such as the Nomi Baby Base, which can be regarded as a completely separate product (and not just a newborn top part for a highchair), there is a separate standard EN 12790:2009 (standard for baby bouncers) with a corresponding stability test. For reasons unknown to us, Stiftung Warentest did not take this into account in this case. Two current letters from TÜV Süd and the Technological Institute, which we are happy to provide, confirm both the correct type of certification and the stability.
The safety of the Nomi concept, both the high chair and the baby bouncer, is our highest priority. The wide base provides a stable stand and the castors on the rear iron cross provide protection against tipping of the chair.
As a general rule, we recommend that manufacturers and parents do not leave a baby unattended with small children. This applies to our baby bouncer as well as to a high chair and other baby products. Moreover, for tens of thousands of products sold to date, no case is known to the present day in which the bouncer would have tilted sideways. In summary, we can unreservedly recommend the use of the Nomi baby bouncer in good conscience.
What is the most frequent cause of accidents when using highchairs? How do you prevent this risk?
A generally frequent reason for the accident is certainly that slightly older children “wobble” with the chair and, in the worst case, tip over backwards and can suffer serious injuries. That is why we have attached two small rollers to the rear footrests on the Nomi, which drastically reduce this risk and only cause the chair to roll backwards as soon as a child tries to “tip over”. This innovative type of additional safety against tipping is only available with Nomi. For this very reason, the legs of the Nomi are protruding with a stable and wide base to avoid the risk of tipping over.
Do you sell children’s highchairs from Evomove more through stationary or online trade?
Even though Nomi is also available online, personal advice is the first priority for many customers, especially when purchasing safety-relevant products such as strollers, baby car seats or high chairs. For this reason, almost every customer goes to the stationary trade, where most Nomi high chairs are currently sold.
What are your plans for the future in the area of new products?
Be surprised – maybe there will be some news at the Kind + Jugend in Cologne.
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Image: Evomove – Michael Steinbach