ikea highchair tray with food
Babies & Toddlers

IKEA Highchair Hack: Remove Tray 4 Ways

The Ikea Antilop high chair is a steal at twenty dollars. It’s modern looking, sleek, functional and easy to wipe down. I’m not at all surprised at how quickly it has become one of the top selling high chairs in America.

We love ours!

little girl in highchair
Lil Hazel enjoying spaghetti in her Ikea highchair

However, there seems to be one glaring problem that parents are complaining about over and over again in their reviews of this high chair:

THE TRAY ISN’T REMOVABLE!

Well, technically, DOES the ikea high chair tray come off? Yes.

But let’s just say once it’s been initially snapped together it’s not going anywhere, to quote Mulan, without the force of a great typhoon.

Personally, I went for months doing my best to clean the sticky tray between meals with a washcloth. Ew! Let’s face it – a child’s feeding tray gets NASTY if you can’t wash it in the sink or dishwasher.

(And once you learn how to get the ikea high chair tray off, it IS dishwasher safe y’all. Woohoo!)

So let’s get down to it.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission from any potential purchases. For more information please see my full disclosure.

Ikea Highchair Tray Removal Methods

After 2 kids and much research and testing, my husband and I have figured out the 4 best ways to remove the ikea highchair tray. Choose whichever method you think will work the best for you!

Method #1: Remove The Tray By Releasing The Clips

In this method, you can release the tray by pulling outward on the tray clip with one hand while pulling the tray up with the other hand. Here is a video of someone demonstrating this method on Youtube.

PROS

The pros to this method are that you do not have to permanently alter the highchair, and that it works really well once a highchair is “broken in” a little bit. If you are good at this method you can get the tray off without flinging food everywhere.

CONS

The cons to this method are that if your ikea highchair is brand new, the clips are likely still VERY tight and so this method can still be very difficult. Even when you use your foot for “leverage” it can be hard to come off.

Method #2: Remove The Tray By Pulling Up While Holding Chair Leg Down

If the first method doesn’t work for you, it’s likely that you will have more success with this method. This is basically the “use force to get it off” method. One tip that really helps here is to anchor the chair by pushing down one high chair leg with one hand and then forcibly pulling the tray up away with your other hand. Here is a video of someone demonstrating this on Youtube.

PROS

The pros to this method are that if you don’t want to permanently alter your highcair as shown in the next two methods, this is probably the easiest way to get the tray off a new antilop highchair at first. As with any of these methods, the tray will likely “loosen up” and become easier to remove after several months of use.

CONS

Because you have to pull so hard to remove the tray, any food/crumbs on the tray will go flying if you don’t wipe it off first. It is also very loud and will probably make your baby cry if they are in it. (Yes, I am speaking from experience.)

Method #3: Remove Tray By Cutting Off The Ribbed Edges of The Underside Clips

In this method you can make the high chair tray permanently easier to take off and on by cutting the ribbed edges of the two outer clips on the bottom of the tray. Here is a video showing you exactly how to do this on Youtube.

PROS

The pros to this method are that it is effective and makes the tray much easier to remove for cleaning.

CONS

The cons to this method are that you have permanently altered your tray, which may make it difficult to resell. It is possible that it may also wear out more quickly.

Method #4: Remove Tray By Cutting Off A Grooved Hook

In this method you can make the tray permanently easier to snap on and off by cutting the grooved hook off of one side of the highchair tray. (This is the method my husband invented to fix our highchair tray.)

Here is a short video showing you exactly what he did. Or, scroll below for a quick photo tutorial.

PROS

Just as with method #4, this permanently alters the tray but it makes it WAY easier to take on and off without any sort of struggle. It still stays firmly connected, but now can be removed so much easier after meal times by popping up the weaker side.

CONS

The cons to this method are that if your child uses this highchair well into their toddler years they may become strong enough to remove the tray themself.

One solution to this potential problem that I loved to do with our second baby and second Ikea highchair was to intentionally not snap the hook into position when reinserting the tray after cleaning. I didn’t always do this, but if I knew she was going to be eating crackers or something very messy and crumby that I would want to dump out and need to easily pop the tray, I would just leave one side out and press it in and down on the other side.

This will leave the tray the TEENSIEST bit lopsided but you can hardly tell and then it lifts right off. It’s a great little hack!

Here are the steps if you would like to try method #4.

How We Made the Tray Removable

What You Need:

Making your Ikea highchair easily removable is simple. In this method, all you need is a sharpie (optional) and a small serrated kitchen knife or handsaw.

Step 1

Remove the high chair tray. Good luck.

Step 2

Choose a side and identify the small plastic connector piece that attaches the tray to the base. You are going to cut the triangle-shaped corner of this piece off. Optional: use a sharpie to draw a line along the piece where you will be cutting (parallel to the side of the tray.)

Step 3

With your serrated knife carefully use a sawing motion to cut off the edge of the piece along the line.

Step 4

That’s it! You’re all done. Insert your highchair tray back into the base and enjoy being able to remove it so much easier in the future by popping up that side of the tray!

That’s It! Now you are a ikea highchair tray master and you can take that tray off like a boss after mealtime! Hope these ideas seriously helped you out. Here’s a few more things you can check out to make your Ikea highchair even more enjoyable.

Further Improving Your Ikea Highchair

This highchair is so simple and cute. I love it. Even though it’s important to know how to remove the tray for a full cleaning, there are some amazing ikea highchair inserts and mats that make it even more functional for mom and dad! Here are my top two.

1. EasyMat Suction Plate

The Easymat Perfect Fit is one of those product that was designed with the ikea highchair specifically in mind! A food grade silcone suction mat may be THE easiest way to keep this tray clean when all is said and done. Throw it in the dishwasher and you’re good to go. Or grab the super versatile Easymat mini.

2. Ikea Highchair Insert

My second recommendation is an ikea highchair insert such as this one from Messy Me on amazon. Cushion inserts are ideal for helping smaller or younger babies adapt to the larger, bucket-style seat of this chair, making mealtimes a little more comfortable when they are first starting out. They are also easy to take out and clean!

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7 Comments

  • Reply
    Rod Ivall
    06/27/2020 at 10:45 am

    Why on Earth didn’t they design it properly in the first place?!

    • Reply
      Jenny Hartley
      06/29/2020 at 6:06 pm

      Haha. Right? Something I will never completely understand!

  • Reply
    Eliza
    03/06/2021 at 8:34 pm

    Thank you so much! I thought I had to throw the whole chair away before I found this page lol!

    • Reply
      Jenny Hartley
      03/28/2021 at 2:18 pm

      No way! It’s such a great highchair. Glad this helped make it work for you.

  • Reply
    Yani
    05/04/2021 at 1:55 pm

    mine’s still quite new and I need to wait a few more months to remove it. still too tight 🥴

  • Reply
    Libby Medley
    08/18/2021 at 3:40 pm

    I am wondering if spraying the clips with WD40 before snapping would make the releasing any easier.

    • Reply
      Jenny Hartley
      12/30/2021 at 9:11 pm

      Hi there! I think any lubricant would help a little bit but since this is plastic it would make a mess that would need to be cleaned and not be a permanent solution for helping to remove the highchair tray. But in a pinch to help in a situation that it’s really stuck maybe! 🙂

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