When your baby can sit up confidently on their own, you may want to think about investing in a high chair for them, especially when it comes to feeding times. For most parents, this is the right time to start using a high chair, as it ensures a more comfortable and relaxing session for both baby and parent!
Though not an essential item, this doesn’t have to be bought until your child reaches this stage, and it’s not necessary to spend lots of money getting the best high chair in the process.
If you’re still yet undecided about whether to purchase a high chair, here’s a little guidance to help you decide if this is the best piece of equipment for you and your child’s needs.
The Purpose of a High Chair
There are several reasons why most parents choose to select a high chair for their child. These include:
- A Safer Feeding Environment: For most parents, the most popular reason for investing in a high chair is to offer practicality. That is, a place for their child to explore their food and begin to sit comfortably in an actual chair. Health experts recommend that when feeding your baby, you do so safely, therefore keeping them upright, rather than lying or leaning back – and always remain with them in case of choking. A high chair allows your baby to sit upright without falling back and creates a safer feeding environment in the meantime.
- To Encourage Good Eating Habits: As well as making meal times safer, a high chair is an excellent early introduction for your baby to get used to being seated at a table and eating alongside other people. Being able to place your baby’s high chair at your own table as you all eat is an excellent example for them and will in no time at all get them copying your table mannerisms. This makes them able to cope when going to restaurants, eating away from home, and, most importantly, when starting school!
- Allow Your Baby to Be Part of The Family: As your baby grows and stays awake for more extended periods of the day, you’ll often see them awake when the rest of the house gathers together for family time. If you usually play games, read, or entertain at the table, you may want to keep your child with you in their high chair so they can feel involved as well.
- Allow your Baby to Interact with you: When you’re in the kitchen or in a room of the home performing chores, a high chair allows your baby to come with you and remain safe, while you maintain good eye contact and perhaps encourage them to interact more.
- Enable Your Baby to Eat When Away From Home: If you regularly stay somewhere away from home and it’s not always baby proof, a high chair allows you to continue with your baby’s feeding routine without upsetting their pattern.
When Can I Put My Baby in a High Chair?
As all babies develop at different rates, you should be guided by the best time for your own baby’s needs. Experts recommend using a high chair only when your baby is confidently sitting independently and can hold their head up without support. This will usually tend to happen around the six-month mark, but once again, will differ for all.
Take your cue from your baby and only place them in a high chair for a short period, to begin with, until they are used to this new area, and then work on building up this time gradually. The American Association of Pediatrics provides some very useful high chair safety tips.
What to Consider When Thinking About Using a High Chair
When choosing a high chair, there are several factors to take into consideration. First and foremost, safety should be your primary concern here. Therefore, your chosen high chair should have a safety harness which you always use, checking each time to make sure it’s secure and the right fit for your growing baby. It goes without saying that you should never leave your child unattended at any time in their high chair.
The cost of your high chair can be as minimal or costly as you personally prefer. With the most popular high chair on the market the Ikea high chair, there’s no need to spend lots on this item, nor purchase any extras. Though some people like to add features such as toys, padding, and reclining stages into their high chair choices, a basic high chair with a good tray will do the job correctly!
Hygiene is also a huge concern when selecting a high chair but, with nearly all plastic high chairs, being able to keep them clean is usually a simple process. A plastic chair allows you to spray a gentle disinfectant over it and wipe it down with a damp cloth. Those chairs with removable trays may make this process a little quicker. Traditional wooden high chairs aren’t as easily cleanable as plastic ones.
Storing a high chair is also an essential factor for many parents, especially when space is at a minimum. Those more detailed of high chairs with many additional features may be the more awkward of chairs to fold away. The simplest more compact of high chairs should be able to fold up and stand flat against the wall when not in use.
Do You Really Need a High Chair?
There are a couple of alternatives for those people who can’t justify the space for a high chair or who just aren’t keen on spending their money on such a product.
If you are considering feeding a baby without a high chair, you could place them on a comfortable chair, propped up and surrounded by cushions. Or you could try a smaller type of chair such as the bumbo floor seat, working on the same concept as a high chair but using a smaller, more compact design. Just remember with any of these alternative ways, to stay with them and supervise them as they eat.
While a high chair is not an essential item, especially in those very first few weeks and months, they are a convenient choice which will make your life and feeding time not just more manageable, but also more fun!
Considering that these products can be used for as long your child is comfortable in them, moving up to the eighteen-month to the two-year stage, they are often an investment most parents are willing to make as they know their child is safer in them.