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Is Your Baby Ready for a High Chair? Here Are the Signs to Look Out For

Babies can use a high chair once they can sit upright with minimal support. Here are safety tips for when they're ready to use one.

Baby eating bananas in high chair
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One of the early milestones of parenthood is when your baby can sit in a highchair. Doing so allows your hands to be free (yay!), and your child to socialize with the rest of the family as you dine and do other tasks. Our guide addresses when your baby can sit in a high chair, plus safety tips and suggestions for picking out the right high chair. 

High chair safety 

When you transition your little one to a high chair, here are some of the tips to keep them safe:

1. Always consult the owner's manual when setting up your chair. Some manufacturers also offer helpful YouTube videos that provide step-by-step instructions. 

2. Give your high chair a quick inspection before placing your child in it. This allows you to check for damage, its sturdiness on the ground and the locking mechanism before use. 

3. Keep your baby secure using the safety straps or harness (depending on the high chair model), and when doing so, always pay close attention to the instructions in the owner's manual.

4. Make sure to position the high chair in an area where you have a clear and constant view and quick access to it. That way, you can respond quickly to any "oopsie" that might arise. Also, refrain from placing the chair near an object, such as a wall or chair, that your child could push off and tip the high chair over. 

5. Clean the high chair immediately after every use. Doing so enables you to find any objects wedged in the seats that could make a baby cranky should they sit on them. 

6. Register the high chair with the manufacturer. That way, they can notify you if a safety recall happens. 

7. Most importantly, never leave your child unattended in the high chair.

Baby feeding themselves in a high chair
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When can your baby sit in a high chair?

Your baby should be ready to sit in a high chair once they can sit upright on their own and eat solid food. Typically, this occurs when they're between 4 and 6 months old. When watching them sit, keep a close eye on their posture.

At first, they won't be able to hold their head up for more than a minute or two, due to their neck and shoulder muscles not being strong enough to hold up the weight of their head. If their head droops to the side or posture dips, they're not ready for a high chair. 

Over time, they'll be able to maintain an upright posture. How will you know? Their shoulders are straight and their arms can move about, grabbing food and other items. Once you place your baby in a high chair, pay close attention to their posture, how they snag food and whether they struggle to eat. Doing these things gives you a clear indication of whether they're ready. 

Potential risks for your baby 

Some risks could happen as your baby uses their high chair:

High chair can tip over

High chairs can tend to tip over if placed on uneven flooring, you do not lock the wheels or you locate the high chair near an object. In this case, a baby can push off, tipping the chair over, and given that kitchen floors are hard surfaces, such as tile or wood, your child could be susceptible to injuries.

Pinched fingers

High chairs feature security latches and joints. When securing your child into the chair, keep their fingers away from the fasteners. Doing so can help prevent the joints or latches from pinching their fingers.

Injuries from snatching objects

With your baby in an elevated position, they'll express interest in anything they can grab. It includes sharp objects, warm food or drink. Keeping these items far away from them can prevent them from incurring injuries.

Standing in the chair

The Cleveland Clinic notes many of the falls associated with high chairs result from a child standing up. Using the safety harness prevents children from standing, reducing their risk of injury. 

Toddler sitting in a high chair, eating with a plate in their face
Os Tartarouchos/Moment/Getty Images

Tips for high chair shopping

As there are many options available, here are some things to look for in a high chair.

Certification: Does the high chair earn a certification from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association? Products must meet the highest safety standards to receive this distinction.

Ease of use: Will the high chair come with a removable tray? A removable tray makes it easier to place the child into the seat and remove them later. Also, if you want to move the chair around or store it in between uses, search for ones with wheels and foldability. Lock the wheels before placing your baby on the chair. 

Safety harness: Look for high chairs with a three- or five-point safety harness. It ensures your child remains in the chair at all times.

Fabric: Some high chairs feature fabric you can remove and wash. It is ideal as babies and food spills go hand in hand. 

Height and weight adjustments: Search for high chairs with multiple height settings, as they will accommodate your child as they grow.

Footrest: As your baby grows, a footrest is another measure you can use to keep them secure.

The bottom line 

Your baby is high chair ready once they sit upright with no support and they can eat solid foods. When using one, refrain from placing it near objects where they can push off, resulting in the chair tipping over. You'll also want to keep them secure using the safety straps or harness. 

Moreover, when choosing a high chair, find one certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. Also, consider one with removable and washable fabric, as it'll be easier to keep the chair clean after food spills.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.