Baby high chairs serve as a platform for your little to be included in family mealtimes, and feeding your little one becomes much easier. In addition, high chairs place mom and baby at the same level where teaching the necessary self-feeding motor skills and general eating techniques contribute significantly to a baby’s overall development.
Once your baby transitions to solids, feeding becomes messy, but you can exercise some control by using a high chair.
A high chair limits your baby’s movements which in turn limits the mess and focuses more on your little one enjoying their meal and learning how to eat properly in the process.
Baby high chairs complete with harness allow mothers or caregivers to use both hands when feeding little ones. Freestanding high chairs are maneuverable, while table clip-on high chairs require a study tabletop with enough overhang to firmly fix the high chair in place.
As much as high chairs are a great feeding platform, they also pose a degree of risk.
Let’s look at why you need a high chair for your baby and weigh this up against the risks that may leave you second-guessing using one.
The importance of a high chair
Children begin learning self-feeding skills from birth, and the transition to solids brings with it the fear of a choking incident.
As a mom of a three-year-old toddler, I’ve had a few scares already, but luckily, I had prepared for eventualities like this and reacted quickly enough to clear my little one’s airway.
The high chair I used had a quick-release harness, and I was able to whip my little one out of the chair and immediately get to work to clear his airway.
Fortunately, the piece of food that got stuck was a precut small bite-sized piece that literally popped out with the first few taps on his back.
I view a high chair as an essential baby feeding and learning platform. This is where you begin teaching your little one to use a baby spoon, but mastering this simple motor skill can be slow going at times.
Children will graduate from a spoon to a fork and then to a knife and fork, which may take several years to perfect.
During this time, you may even be faced with the dilemma of teaching a left-handed child to eat in a right-handed fashion.
Don’t sweat it; if your child is left-handed, then allow your child the freedom to eat with a knife and fork in a manner that is comfortable for them. Back to the high chair…
Freestanding high chairs have their own tabletop (tray) and are fitted with a seat harness that prevents your little one from slipping down once seated and secured.
To limit the mess, use a bib or a cotton nappy which is normally used as a big burp cloth, and cover your baby from the neck down but leave their arms exposed so they can interact freely while being fed.
A baby will not be ready for a high chair until they can sit upright without support. This usually occurs when your baby is approaching 6 months old, which coincides with their transition to solids.
A high chair can be used until your little one outgrows it and moves onto a booster seat at the main dining room table or uses their own mini chair and table.
Feeding your baby in a high chair
As babies begin eating solids, they will need mom to feed them.
During this fun period of playing airplane with tiny spoonfuls of puree, give your little one every opportunity to try using their baby spoon.
It’ll be messy and maybe annoying at times, but your little one will catch on and will soon be raising spoonfuls of puree to their mouth with fewer and fewer accidents.
High chairs provide the perfect setting to teach your baby how to hold a spoon and to know which side faces up.
The most important feature of a high chair is its height because mom and baby are at the same level.
Making eye contact with your baby is important because you know you have your little one’s attention, and you can relate to them while you feed and teach them to self-feed.
Motor skill development in infants and toddlers is refined through endless practice. Repetition strengthens muscles and improves coordination.
When your little one lets you know that they are hungry and you secure them into the high chair, they will automatically know it’s mealtime.
High chairs also teach babies deportment from this early age. They will learn how to sit on a chair at a table.
High chairs have a footrest to make this task easier, so your little one is not dangling their legs while seated. The footrest provides support and stability for your baby, and they can use the footrest to adjust their posture.
Safety tips when using a high chair
There are risks to high chairs, and it’s important to always be vigilant when using this wonderful feeding device.
Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
- Always be close to your little one when using the high chair. Some babies have a tendency to try and rock their high chair and when they finally get it right it could result in a big fall. If you must leave the room, rather take your baby out of the seat.
- Use the seat harness every time you put your baby in the seat. This will limit their movements and will prevent them from slipping down or trying to stand up. In both cases, by not using the harness you’ll be inviting an accident to happen.
- Be wary about where your little one’s hands are before you adjust the tray or tabletop. You don’t want to pinch your baby’s fingers when making adjustments.
- Position the high chair in a safe space away from a hot stove, doorways, windows, curtains, or within reach of any electrical appliance cords. When you place the high chair close to your dining table make sure glass items, sharp knives, and metal forks are all out of reach of your inquisitive little one.
- If your high chair has wheels that are lockable, be sure to lock them in place when you have positioned the chair for use.
High chair risks
Besides not adhering to the safety tips above, a big concern is the center of gravity with a freestanding high chair.
Because the legs of a high chair are fairly narrow, your baby leaning to one side or trying to rock the high chair may cause it to tip over.
A cracked plastic tray (tabletop) can potentially cause injury and create a breeding ground for bacteria.
High chairs should be thoroughly cleaned after every use to prevent any threatening hygiene-related issues from developing.
The weight placed on the side of a dining table with an attachable feeding chair should be tested before you use the chair.
Worn rubber grips on an attachable feeding chair may cause it to slip off the table. These types of baby chairs must be checked regularly.
How long can I use a high chair?
On average most parents use high chairs for about two to three years.
Your little one will want to eat independently or from your plate when they’re about two years old, but it may take another year for them to master eating on their own and may want to sit at their own mini table, which should be encouraged.
Are high chairs strong enough for toddlers?
This depends on the make and what materials were used to manufacture the chair.
Generally speaking, high chairs have to pass safety standards before they can be sold in retail stores, which gives some assurance; however, like most products, you will always have a difference in quality, so each high chair must be evaluated separately.
What do I do if my baby starts choking in a high chair?
The quick-release harness will allow you to easily and quickly take your baby out of the chair and place them in the recovery position on your lap.
It’s important to prepare yourself for situations like this and following the correct procedure is essential to saving your baby’s life.
High chairs are a great feeding platform for your little one, making life much easier for mothers and caregivers.
It’s not just a feeding station, it’s also a learning station, and dads can get involved and strengthen their bond with their little one in the process.
It is always advisable to select the correct type of high chair for your home and lifestyle as some do take up a fair amount of space even when folded and packed away.
Safety is always a concern where little ones are concerned and precautions need to be taken to prevent any unnecessary accidents from occurring when using a high chair or any other baby device.
Having said this, there are more positive points associated with high chairs than the few negative concerns raised in this article.