If you’ve ever asked yourself “When do babies sit in a high chair?” you’ve come to the right place! I wish babies came home with a personalized manual, but no such luck!
Below is a thorough guide to help you know the ins and outs of using a high chair. I’ll cover why you need to be careful about high chair use, the safety features, and the best high chairs in different price ranges.
The importance of knowing when to transition your baby to a high chair
When it comes to high chairs and babies, the most important thing is that your baby is safe. There are a lot of components to high chair safety that you need to know about before using one.
Although high chairs may not seem too risky, the fall risk is very real, and you need to know as much as you can about how to keep your baby safe.
In an article written by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were 18,500 high chair-related incidents in a 2 year period around 2018. Children were brought to the emergency room specifically for high chair-related injuries. That seems like a lot of accidents all because of a high chair! Let that serve as a warning to you about how important high chair safety is!
Putting your baby in the high chair at the right time could keep your little one from getting hurt! It’s also necessary to know all about different safety features and what to look for in a high chair. Keep reading to get all of your questions answered!
Developmental Milestones and High Chairs
There are some things young babies should be able to do before they start using a high chair or booster seat.
Most pediatricians recommend starting to feed your baby solid foods (purees or otherwise) between 4-6 months of age. However, most high chair companies suggest that your baby be at least 6 months before using a high chair.
Head Control: Your child should be able to hold up their head on their own. Having good head control will help them be successful in the high chair. If you put your baby in a high chair before they have head control, they could easily hurt themselves. Plus, feeding solids to a baby that doesn’t have head control is not safe.
Muscle Coordination: Make sure baby can move foods from a spoon into their throat. Since drinking takes different muscles than eating, your baby may not know how to do this right away. If this is hard for your baby, try thinning out the food you are giving them by adding milk. This will make the transition to solid food easier.
Mouth Opening: Your baby should open their mouth when you hold food in front of them.
Mouthing Other Objects: Another sign that your baby is ready is when they are able to bring toys or other objects to their mouth.
Weight: It’s also important that your growing child has doubled their birth weight before you start solids. And be sure to check your specific high chair for minimum weight requirements.
Sit Up: Your baby should be able to sit up on their own or with a little support.
Grasp: If you are interested in baby-led weaning your child will also need to be able to grasp objects on their own. This will ease the frustration level when they start trying to feed themselves.
Safety Considerations for a High Chair
Common Safety Features
Safety Straps: The high chair you get should include safety straps that will help secure your child as they wiggle and move in their high chair. The safest options include a 3 or 5-point harness to help keep your baby in place. If you plan to put a young baby in a high chair, the five-point safety harness is the best.
Crotch Restraint: There should be some kind of post, bar, or strap in between your baby’s legs to ensure they don’t fall or slip out of the chair.
Mobility: Although wheels on a high chair are nice if you want to be able to move it around, you need to be careful with this feature. Do not buy high chairs that don’t have a locking mechanism for the wheels. A locking system is important so that the high chair doesn’t fall over or roll down stairs.
Footrest: Having a footrest for baby’s feet helps them to be in the best, safest position for eating. It’s not completely necessary, but it’s a nice feature to have to give your baby more support while eating.
Weight Limit: Each high chair comes with its own weight limit specifications. Be sure to check the range on any chair you use before putting your baby in it.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has specific standards to help make sure that high chairs are safe for your baby:
- high chair tray integrity
- wide base that ensures the high chair cannot tip over in any direction easily
- restraint safety and durability
- no parts that can poke or pinch
- crotch restraints
- adequate leg openings
The CPSC updated high chair safety standards in 2019. Their recommendation is to only purchase and use high chairs made after 2019 because of the updated standards that include better warning labels, more stable rearward features, and a 3-point harness that includes a crotch restraint.
Safety Tips for Use of High Chairs
90/90/90 Rule: The safest position for your child when eating is to have 90-degree bends at their hips, knees, and ankles. This helps them to maintain the best upright and safe position.
Baby Positioning: If your baby is leaning back in the high chair, consider using small towels behind them to help them sit upright. A rolled-up towel placed behind your baby’s back will help them to stay in the best position, decreasing the chance of choking.
Supervision: When your baby is in their high chair, you should always be watching them. Make sure they are supervised while sitting in the chair and eating.
High Chair Positioning: Some high chairs have different positions. You should always have your child in the upright position in the high chair if they are eating. Keeping them in a sitting position is much better for them as they eat. You can use the reclined positions if you are feeding them a bottle, but otherwise, keep them in the upright position.
Tray Usage: Although you might be tempted to think that high chair trays are perfect for keeping your baby in the chair, be careful. In all of the safety manuals I read, they were very clear about NOT using the tray to hold your baby in. You should always have them buckled in, as the tray is not always strong enough to keep your baby in place.
Even if the tray is “strong”, your baby can still climb out of the chair if they aren’t buckled in properly.
Choosing the Best High Chair
Types of High Chairs
There are two main types of high chairs: the traditional high chair and the convertible high chair.
Traditional high chairs have one, standard way to use them. These chairs have fewer bells and whistles and tend to be more affordable.
The classic high chair typically has one position but can be used for different ages. A wooden high chair is usually considered classic since it often has a simple design that doesn’t change.
Convertible high chairs can “grow” with your child. Some of the fancier versions can change from high chairs to booster seats, and even toddler or adult chairs. These models are usually more expensive because they can be used for a longer period of time.
Features to Consider
Size: High chairs come in all shapes and sizes. Be sure to take a look at your dining room and figure out what type of high chair would fit best. Some high chairs are large, and would not fit in small spaces. Just be sure to think about how much room you have at the dinner table.
Storage: Some high chairs are foldable and can be put away between meals easily. If you are short on space, this might be a good option. Plenty of high chairs do not fold and will take up quite a bit of space.
On the Go: If you will be out and about frequently, a portable high chair might be a great option for your family. Some high chairs are designed to fold up or just go on top of a chair. If most of your family meals will be at home, there is no need to get a portable high chair.
Convertible: Some of the best high chairs are convertible. That just means that the high chair can change a bit in order to be the right size for a variety of ages. Some of these high chairs even have a booster-style seat that can be used when your child no longer needs a full-sized high chair. These types of chairs also often have adjustable heights in order to make sure they fit at any table.
Safety: You need to be sure that you get your child a safe high chair! If you aren’t sure what to consider for safety features, take a look at the section above where I go into plenty of detail about different safety features.
Quality: There is a huge variety of high chairs with different levels of quality. Some new high chairs are made with only the best materials, are made to last forever, and have various positions. Other high chairs will be more basic and might be a little less expensive.
If you are planning to use this chair for multiple kids, it might be worth investing in a nicer high chair that will last for years.
Cleanability: Some high chairs are sleek and easy to clean, while others have nooks and crannies that may be hard to get to. You definitely want to consider how easy it is to clean a high chair because babies are MESSY! You will need to clean your high chair frequently, so ease of cleaning is a big deal!
Some features that make a high chair easy to clean include a removable tray and seat belt. If both of these are easily removed, you can throw them in the sink and give them a good washing!
Another great thing to look for is either a plastic or rubber seat or a high chair that has a seat pad that can be thrown in the wash. This ensures an easy clean!
Which High Chair You Should Buy
The Abiie Beyond Wooden High Chair is a high-end option that is well-made and designed to grow with your child. It is recommended for kids at least 6 months, but it can hold up to 250 pounds! Meaning, that a full-grown adult can also use it when in the chair position! There are smaller changes you can make to the chair to transition from a baby to a toddler, then to a child. It can be a three-point or five-point harness based on baby’s age. It’s also easy to clean and doesn’t have too many hard-to-reach places. It comes with a 3-year warranty, just in case!
This Graco Made to Grow has 6 different ways to use it. It easily transitions from baby to toddler to big kid! It comes with a machine-washable seat that makes for easy cleaning. The tray is also removable so you can throw it in the sink and give it a good scrub! You can even wash the tray in the dishwasher! It folds up so you can put it away when it’s not in use.
The Ikea high chair is cheap and has some great features. It is easy to clean, easy to break down, and simple. It only has a single position and it doesn’t have a footrest. But if you are looking for well-made, and functional with a low price, this is your go-to!
This Inglesina Fast Table Chair has great ratings and is perfect to take on the go! It is sleek and simple. The case is small and compact, and it won’t take up much space at any table! Its easy clean-up is a great feature for when you are on the go! It is best for babies between 6 and 36 months. Fun bonus: it also comes in a bunch of different colors!
Using the High Chair
Before you set up the high chair, pick a safe space for the high chair to go. You don’t want it too close to stairs or on an uneven surface. If you have carpet (or not!) you might even want to purchase a high chair mat to go under the high chair.
For some terrible reason, our dining room is carpeted so this mat has been a lifesaver for us! After baby drops all the food, we just shake out this mat and wash it up. It’s MUCH EASIER than trying to get the mushed-up carrots out of our carpet!
When you get your new high chair, be sure to look through the setup carefully, so you don’t miss anything important (like weight limit, and where to place the safety straps). It’s really important that you follow the instructions carefully to ensure baby’s safety.
Fun with Food and Family
Once you have the high chair up and ready, it’s time to eat!
The best part of having a high chair is that your baby gets to join you for mealtime!
If I’m being honest, before we had kids, my husband and I ate most dinners in front of the TV. But since having children, we’ve made a point of eating together at the table, without the TV.
Now that your little one is able to use the high chair (safely!) you can start prioritizing meal times as a family.
Dinner time is perfect for bonding with your baby and the rest of the family!
It’s also a GREAT time to work on baby sign language, which can be a fun first step in helping your baby communicate.
Hopefully, this article has given you some clarity about when to use a high chair with your baby! Basically, your child should be at least 6 months old, have head control, and be able to sit up with some support. Just be sure to keep your baby safe while you eat together!