For many parents, an important milestone in their child’s development is when their baby is ready to sit in and start using a high chair for the first time.
As a new parent, are you wondering how to tell if your baby is ready for a high chair?
In general, most babies can sit in and start using a high chair at around 6 months of age and may keep using their chair until they are 3 years old.
It is at this age when a baby has the required strength to sit up straight and hold their head steady, without becoming easily tired or needing support.
But there are also some important safety considerations to keep in mind when choosing and using a high chair.
So let’s take a look at high chairs in more detail to ensure your little one is safe, comfortable and truly ready to use a high chair.
When To Start Using A High Chair
A lot of parents claim things get a little easier once your baby starts using a high chair, because it frees up your hands to do other things, including feeding yourself for once!
So if you’re eager for your baby to start sitting in a high chair, you’re certainly not alone.
A baby can start using a high chair when they have the necessary level of strength and stability, which means they should be able to hold their head steady and sit upright.
Most babies are therefore ready to start using a high chair at round 6 months old, although some babies may take a little longer before being ready.
How To Choose A High Chair
With so many options and designs out there including some good high chair alternatives, it can be difficult to know what to look for in a high char.
Here are a few important things to look for when choosing a high chair for your baby:
As with most baby items like car seats and strollers, a high chair will take a lot of wear and tear.
Safety-aside, one of the most important features of a high chair is how easy it is to clean with baby wipes.
Look for high chairs with covers that can be easily removed, cleaned and replaced.
It also pays to use one that doesn’t have hard-to-reach areas where food such as tiny bits of meat and vegetables could get trapped, and also one that doesn’t need to be completely taken part in order to be cleaned.
We’ve gone into high chair safety in more detail below, but in terms of the chair itself you want one that has a wide base and cannot easily be tipped over.
It’s also worth checking there aren’t any areas where little fingers or hands could get caught or trapped.
Given you’ll spend anything from $75 to £200 or more on a high chair, it goes without saying you’ll want something that will last at least a couple of years.
If the chair can be adjusted as your baby grows older, this will help ensure they can use the same chair from the first year to the next.
Some high chairs come with wheels, which can be a very convenient feature if you’re planning to use the chair in several rooms.
If the chair does have wheels, you should make sure the locking mechanism is set each time you use the chair.
A movable (either removable or slide-able) tray can be a very useful feature when taking your baby in and out of the chair, especially if they like to wriggle a lot in protest at having to get in or out of the chair!
Many of us are aware of how adults should sit when sitting at a desk – back straight, hips, knees and ankles at a 90 degree angle.
If possible, you want your baby to have a similar posture, so that there’s a 90 degree angle at their hips, knees and ankles.
If you’re using a cheaper, plastic high chair, you may therefore need to buy an attachable footrest (see below).
You may not have immediately thought of this feature, but it’s important your baby can place their feet on a surface when sitting in their high chair to air with their core stability and development.
A foot rest will also ensure your baby can concentrate on eating, rather than trying to get stable and comfortable in their chair.
Given many high chairs don’t have a foot rest, you may need to buy an adjustable footrest separately.
Depending on where you place your baby’s high chair you many not need a tray (for example if it slides up to your dining table).
But if your baby’s high chair does have a tray, you should ensure the height is correct.
What you’re looking for is a tray position that is about half-way between their belly button and chest.
In addition, there should only be a slight gap between their body and the tray.
If space is limited in your house or kitchen, or you’re looing for something that travels easily, then it could be worth considering a foldable high chair.
If your high chair does fold, then should make sure it’s fully locked and secure every time you use the chair.
High Chair Safety Tips
Strap Baby In
Every time your baby is in their chair they should always be strapped in, using either a 5-point harness or a strap across their crotch.
This will prevent your baby from slipping down, which could cause a very serious injury.
In addition, you should never let your little one stand in their high chair, even if you’re right beside them, given how serious a fall could be from such a height.
Stable / Not Wobbly
Always make sure the high chair your child uses is stable and cannot easily be tipped over.
In practise this means it should be placed on a firm, level floor, and the chair itself should have a wide footprint.
Never Leave Unattended
For safety reasons, the AAP recommends you never leave your baby or toddler unattended in a high chair, and always ensure they are within your sight.
Safe Position / Not Able To Push Off Table
If your baby is too close to a counter or table they may be able to push against the surface, which may lead to the chair tipping over.
For this reason you should ensure the position of your baby’s high chair isn’t too close to a table, counter top or table legs.
When Can My Baby Sit In A High Chair At A Restaurant?
Once your baby has the strength to sit comfortably in a chair and hold their head stable, they are ready to use a high chair at a restaurant.
For many babies this will be at around the 6 month mark.
When using a high chair at a restaurant it’s important to carry out some additional checks to make sure the chair is safe to use.
Before putting your baby in a high chair when you’re dining out at a restaurant, it’s a good idea to check there are straps you can use to secure your baby in position, and to give the chair a once over to check it’s in good working condition, isn’t wobbly or unstable and doesn’t have any major cracks, rough edges or splinters (if wooden).
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