Families traditionally sit around the dining table together at meal times to talk about their day or the latest news and to eat great food together.
It’s one of the best ways for families to bond and keep active in each other’s lives!
It’s understandable that new parent’s get super excited at the thought of the much loved little one of the family joining them. It makes them feel less like the odd one out, and more like an active part in the lives of those that they love.
This not only makes them feel more included but it goes a long way when it comes to their social development too.
It’s also a great idea for them to watch mom or dad preparing food so that they can get excited about moving from breastmilk or formula milk onto delicious baby foods and then gradually onto full solids, just like the rest of the family!
Plus, it’s also a downer when the little one needs tending to during meal time, and you have to leave your meal to go cold as you leave the table to go and deal with them.
Well, fortunately, there’s no strict age limit on when your baby is ready to sit in a high chair; their readiness largely depends on their own personal development. The type of high chair you have can also influence when the right time is.
In this article, we’ll be giving you tips on how to determine your child’s readiness, outline the different types of high chair and their differences, as well as giving you some safety advice to help you along the way.
What Age Can I Put My Baby in a High Chair?
It mostly comes down to your baby’s ability to hold their heads up and sit upright. This is fairly easy to recognize and they usually start displaying that they can do this on their own (without the help of a sit me up seat) between the ages of 4 and 6 months.
They still might not have quite mastered it by this age but as long as they are stable for extended periods of time, and can hold their head up, despite the slight bobbing occasionally, they’ll likely be fine to use a high chair.
How to Help Your Baby Sit Up Independently
You may be wondering if there is a way to speed the process along and if you can do anything to help your baby to sit upright on their own.
Well, there are ways you can support them and help them get accustomed to sitting upright. This means laying down the foundations by giving them the opportunity to strengthen their muscles before the 6-month milestone by doing the following activities:
Holding Them Upright with Support Activities
There are different methods of semi-supporting your child as they are being carried or sitting. You are supporting them enough so they don’t fall but are giving them enough freedom to learn the ropes themselves and strengthening their muscles in the process. Here are some activities that can help:
When the baby is very young, between 0 and 2 months old, hold them upright at your shoulder. This forces them to learn to use their neck muscles to stabilize and control their head which they’ll develop with practice.
Gently tipping them out of their midline (or center of gravity) forces them to want to use their muscles to try and correct themselves. This is another way to strengthen, develop and use their muscles.
When they are 4-5 months old, boppy pillows can be used to support their back and sides as they sit up and play with their toys. Place their toys just out of reach, forcing them to reach out and center themselves again, using their muscles to do this.
As your baby sits in your lap, use your hand to support their lower body. This forces them to keep their back and head up straight strengthening their neck, back and shoulder muscles.
Tummy Play Time
This is where you’ll be laying your baby on their tummy, on the floor on a play mat or something similar to play. By doing this you are helping to strengthen the muscles on the back of their body called the extensors.
As your baby lifts their head to get a view of in front of them, they are working their neck muscles.
As they prop themselves up on their elbows and reaching for their toys with their arms they are strengthening the muscles in their shoulders and back.
Extended Arm Propping:
When the baby holds themselves up with a fully extended arm, they are developing all of their back extensor muscles.
Back Play Time
The muscles on the front of the body are called the flexors and playtime whilst laying on the back helps to strengthen these.
Reaching for Dangling Toys:
As the baby reaches for toys that are dangling just above chest height they are developing the flexors in their chest and upper trunk.
Feet to Hands and Mouth:
When the baby brings their feet up into their hands or mouth, they are working their abdominal and leg muscles.
Types of High Chair
As I mentioned earlier, the type of high chair can influence when the baby can start using it and the first thing you should be aware of concerning this, is the age recommended by the manufacturer.
There are two types of high chair, your standard, traditional high chairs that we all know of and the reclining high chairs which allow you to move the back part of the seat to a reclined position.
Traditional High Chairs
Traditional high chairs are not as old-fashioned as they sound. Of course, some are bare minimum and you may need to invest in some high chair pads to soften them up more.
Otherwise, they can come in all shapes, sizes and have different features such as detachable trays, wheels and the ability to transform into booster seats and toddler chairs.
Some non-reclining high chairs can even come without a stand and hook right onto the table like the Chico Caddy which can also be found through various vendors including Amazon.
So just because they can’t recline does not mean they are inferior products in any way, there are many different models that are functional, look great and fit any kind of situation. But it does mean your child will need to be able to hold themselves upright due to the straight backs the chairs have.
Reclining High Chairs
Reclined high chairs can come with all the features that traditional high chairs can; the ability to transform, padding that can be machine cleaned and wheels, etc. A good example of this would be the Ingenuity Trio which can be found at various vendors including Amazon which you can check out through this link.
Due to the backs being slightly reclined, the child has more support and don’t have to sit themselves up straight constantly and can always lean back if they do not have the strength yet.
Other reclined models, such as the Joovey Foodoo which you can find on Amazon here, allows you to set the reclined position that you would like. This gives you the ability to set how much support your child needs.
The great benefit of having a reclining high chair is to allow them to get used to sitting up at the dining table or just in a high chair before they are able enough to sit upright.
With that being said, it’s important that you don’t let your child eat or sleep in the reclined position as this is a major choking hazard!
What to Look for in a High Chair
Either way, whether you are looking for a reclined or traditional high chair, there are some general characteristics of both that you should pay attention to before buying so that you know you’re getting the best value for money.
Make sure that your kitchen, dining room or living has enough room for the hair chair in that people can walk by without tripping on the legs. Pay attention to the design of the legs as some will have a central stand design that can save more space.
Easy to Clean:
It’s more convenient when the tray and padding can be cleaned simply by wiping them down. It’s even better if the padding is machine washable as when it gets too grubby, it’s handy if you can just throw it in the washer.
The materials that it’s made out of should be durable enough to not break. It’s not likely that this would be the case as most have hard plastic, wooden and metal elements. The padding should be a tough fabric or polymer material that’s not so easily worn.
It’s always better value for money when the high chair has the ability to set the recline position, set the height, detachable trays, wheels, and other features to make your life easier.
If your little one is not yet able to hold themselves upright, get a chair with a five-point harness. They’re more secure and ensure that your child doesn’t fall forwards, sideways or slip out of the chair form the bottom.
Transitioning to a High Chair
When transitioning your baby to a high chair, no matter what their age, there are important safety considerations to take note of. The following tips are just things for you to keep mind of when using the high chair to mitigate any possible risks.
Are both you and your child ready for the transition, make sure they can sit upright to some degree if using a reclined high chair so they can eat when upright.
Record Model Information:
The first thing to do when you buy a new high chair is take down the manufacturer, the model number and serial number for your individual item just in case there are any product recalls. Which does happen from time to time.
Read the Manual:
We all know that product manuals are boring but it’s to make sure you know exactly how the high chair works so you know if any parts are missing and know where all the moving parts are including locking mechanisms and fastenings.
Check Before Use:
It’s good practice to give the high chair a quick check over before every use, just scanning for any damages, loose parts or wear and tear. Make sure any latches are closed and fastenings are working properly before putting your baby into the chair.
Never leave your baby in the high chair unsupervised. You never know if they are going to fall out due to a fastening being damaged or not locked properly.
Get the Accustomed:
Let them get accustomed to the high chair and that it’s used for meal times before starting them out on solid foods. This will make them feel more comfortable with trying solid foods when they reach that stage.
Five Point Harness:
It’s good to mention the five-point harness again at this point for the same reasons as above. If your child can’t sit upright properly yet, this will prevent them from falling out any which way.