Why a High Chair?
When your baby is able to sit up and eat solid food, it’s time for a high chair. The right high chair can make feeding a hungry baby more enjoyable for both of you. It allows for feeding your baby at the dinner table with the rest of the family.
When your baby can feed him or herself, the safety of a high chair can free you to work about the kitchen. But remember, never leave your baby unsupervised in the chair.
With so many high chairs available today with different features, choosing the right one for you and your baby can be overwhelming. So let’s make it easier!
Types of High Chairs
There are different types of high chairs. Perhaps the most commonly recognized are the traditional and the multipurpose/modular, also known as convertibles.
Traditional high chairs are meant primarily for home use. They are not designed to fold for travel and do not transform into tray-less chairs or booster seats. They lack the bells and whistles of modern high chairs. However, fewer features can mean increased simplicity and a lower price.
Convertible, multipurpose high chairs may transform for a variety of uses depending on the child’s age. They usually consist of a base unit, a seat unit, and a tray. The seat may be removable from the base, with or without the tray, to be used separately. A convertible high chair is a practical choice for multiple functions.
Additionally there are hook-on high chairs which clamp to the side of a table. They are lightweight, portable, and easily stored. While very practical for traveling, hook-ons will not attach to all tables and are not recommended for tables made of wood veneer or glass.
And lastly, there is a booster seat used in a regular dining chair to slightly elevate an older child to table level.
The typical recommended weight limit is fifty pounds for traditional and convertible high chairs and thirty seven pounds for hook-ons, although limits will vary by model. You should always check your high chair specifications for height and weight limits.
Key Considerations When Choosing a High Chair
A good high chair should be stable. Look for a wider base to make sure it sits solidly and will not easily tip over, especially when bumped by an older sibling. Fundamental safety features include a crotch post that will keep your baby from sliding down in the seat and a harness to secure your baby in the seat. At a minimum, it should a three-point harness, but some high chairs include a five-point harness which is the best. Be sure you can easily operate the harness fastener but your child cannot. Avoid high chairs with rough edges, visible holes or hinges that can harm little fingers, and small parts that might be removable by a child. Also look for industry certifications.
As a reminder, always stay with your child while in a high chair. An unsupervised child my choke on food or try to escape from the chair. Make high chair time enjoyable time for baby and you.
An uncomfortable high chair seat can cause an unhappy baby. Looks for models that have padded seats or covers. Parent Guide says that a foot rest is an important feature as it eases your baby’s upright stabilization allowing greater focus on learning to eat. Some high chairs have a reclining seat that allows a younger child to recline and sleep or take a bottle.
Make sure the high chair is easy for you to use. You should be able to easily move and position the high chair with one hand as you may be holding your baby in the other arm. A high chair with wheels can be easily maneuvered, but check to see that the wheels easily lock. Check the buckles and latches to ensure they are easy for you to operate as well as secure for baby. There are times you may want to sit or stand to feed your baby. A height adjustable chair is very helpful in this situation. And lastly, look at how easily it can be cleaned. Is the seat material easy to wipe down or removable for washing? Can the tray be detached and placed in the dishwasher?
According to Consumer Reports, a certification sticker shows that the manufacturer has met safety standards set by ASTM International (formerly American Society for Testing and Materials), and that it takes part in a certification program administered by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. JPMA certification can provide some level of assurance that the product meets safety standards, but is not a guarantee that it does.
JPMA – Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association
The JPMA Certification seal signifies the highest level of established product testing and ensures adherence to ASTM safety standards, federal and state laws, as well as some retail requirements. Each product is sample tested at an independent laboratory to guarantee it meets the highest safety standards.
ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials
ASTM is a globally recognized leader in the development and delivery of international voluntary consensus standards to improve product quality, enhance safety, facilitate market access and trade, and build consumer confidence.
CPSC – U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission
CPSC is an independent federal regulatory agency with a mission to protect the public against unreasonable risks of injury or death from consumer products through education, safety standards activities, regulation, and enforcement. While the CPSC does not endorse or recommend specific brands of products, they provide information to consumers on what safety features to look for in products. They also announce recalls of products that present a significant risk to consumers, either because the product could contain a defect or because it violates a mandatory safety standard.
You can check for recalls here: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls
The best way to keep your child safe is to use the three- or five-point harness system that comes with the chair. Follow these safety tips:
- Make sure that the crotch strap is well secured so that your child sits snugly and is not wriggling around in the chair.
- Establish a routine of using the high chair only for meals. Do not let it be used for playtime.
- Use the restraint system that comes with the chair. The lap table is not an effective restraint.
- Don’t leave your child unattended in the high chair.
- Don’t allow your child to stand or climb in the chair.
- Make sure the high chair is far enough away from countertops and tables so kids can’t use their legs to push the chair over.
- Before and after buying a high chair or toys, periodically check for recalls.