We all look forward to having our babies finally sit in a high chair, especially when we’re introducing solid foods.
But because every baby is different, there is no hard and fast rule about when your baby can start using one.
In this article, we will discuss the recommended age and milestones to look out for to determine high chair readiness, as well as tips and tricks on choosing the best highchair for your little one.
When Is a Baby Ready to Sit In a High Chair? — The Recommended Age
Generally, babies are ready to sit on a highchair at 4 – 6 months old.
It is also around this time when the baby starts eating solid foods. However, this is only a general estimate as babies develop differently.
If your baby can sit up and down on their own with little to no support before the 4-month mark, your baby might be ready to have a seat at the dinner table.
But if you find that your baby needs a little more time, it’s okay! What’s important is your baby’s safety and comfort. After all, age is not the only factor to consider.
How to Tell If Your Child Is Ready to Sit in a High Chair
If age isn’t the only criteria, how else can you tell if your baby is ready?
Having your baby join the rest of the family around the table for mealtime is definitely an incentive to have your baby sit on a high chair.
But jumping to that milestone before your baby is ready also has its drawbacks.
Below you will see the signs that will tell you if your baby is ready for their first high chair.
They Can Sit Upright
Of course, the first sign to look out for is if your baby can sit upright. Otherwise, the high chair wouldn’t be of any use.
WITHOUT balance and the ability to support the head and torso, your little one will wobble from side to side.
When Do Babies Usually Begin Sitting Upright?
A baby is ready to sit in the upright position with support at 4 months old.
At this time, the mother and father are encouraged to get on the floor with the baby and help them sit in the upright position.
Good posture is crucial in this stage. With good posture comes better balance and control over the head and neck.
An infant seat may also help assist your baby hold the trunk up while still learning.
Eventually, your baby will be able to sit upright independently. This usually takes place when the child is around 6 months old.
They Can Hold Their Heads Up
Another milestone to look out for is the baby’s ability to hold their head steady.
If your baby struggles to control their head, it probably isn’t time to have them up on a high chair.
Having your baby sit up before they can support their head is dangerous, especially when introducing baby food.
A little bobbing is okay, but if your little one can only keep their head up because of the seat straps, you might want to give it a little more time.
Safety straps are made to keep the ever-active baby or toddler from falling out of the chair, not to hold them up while sitting down.
They Show Signs of Proper Stability
In general, any of your baby’s purposeful movements is worth noting to see if they are ready to sit. These movements include:
- Getting up from a reclining position
- Propping themselves up when lying face down
- Rolling over
- Scooting back and forth
- Trying to crawl
- Other similar movements
When you see your baby trying to do any of these actions, they are starting to control their body movements.
Look out for these signs of development because they show that your baby might be ready to try sitting up.
At this stage, parents must take an active role in guiding their baby’s movements to ensure good posture and avoid possible injuries.
How to Safely Transition Your Baby to a High Chair
It is not easy to see your baby struggling to sit up. As parents, we want to help make our baby’s learning process as easy as possible.
Luckily, there are many ways for us to help your baby acclimate safely into the high chairs.
Here are a FEW WAYS to guide you:
Tip 1: A High Chair Is Not Meant to Be Used During the Learning Period
If your baby just started holding himself up for a few seconds, you should not use the high chair for practice.
High chairs are made for babies who can confidently sit upright, not infants who can’t independently carry their upper body.
Tip 2: Comfort Comes First
The dining room is a great place for the family to bond. Surely parents are excited to have the little one join in on the fun.
However, you might not enjoy your meal if you’re sitting on an uncomfortable dining chair.
It is no different for our babies.
Make sure that your child is sitting comfortably, whether on a high chair or a toddler booster. The MORE comfortable they are on their chair, the HIGHER the chances they will stay seated, and the LOWER the chances your baby would hate their high chair.
You may want to consider the best high chairs with the following features ensuring your baby’s comfort:
- Proper seat heights are important for a baby high chair or even a toddler chair. See if they are sitting at a proper 90-degree angle and the table within their reach.
- Choose a high chair with a footrest. With their feet just dangling in midair, it can be hard for the baby to stay upright. A footrest will help them maintain balance and good posture as they eat.
- Safety straps are not only useful in keeping your kid from toppling over, but they also help your baby in maintaining the proper seating position.
- Make sure your baby has enough space. Nothing says uncomfortable, like a cramped chair with hardly any space to breathe. While you don’t want your baby to fall off, you do want to get a high chair with enough space and room to grow.
Tip 3: Take It Slow
The most important advice we can probably give you is to do this gradually.
Rushing the process might be counterproductive as it can create an unpleasant experience for your baby.
When you start seeing signs that your baby is ready for the high chair, begin by easing them into it. Maybe have them sit in a high chair a few times a week until the baby has fully adjusted.
Toddler Safety Tips When Using a High Chair
As parents, we’d take any safety tips we can get to ensure that nothing wrong will happen to our children right from the moment they are born.
Transitioning to the high chair is a momentous time in our child’s development. However, without proper supervision, this milestone can also be risky.
In fact, in the U.S. alone, at least one child is treated in emergency rooms from high chair related injuries such as:
- Head and neck injuries due to falling
- Broken teeth
- Cuts and scrapes
We certainly do not want that to happen.
This is why it is vital to look out for the following key safety features when purchasing a baby high chair:
Much like car seats, you can also find high chairs with a five-point harness.
A high chair with a five-point harness has shoulder straps that keep your baby’s torso from falling forward, unlike those with only a waist belt for a safety harness.
A waist belt DOES NOT provide maximum support, so your kid can easily wiggle out from it and fall.
Tip: If your baby is a master at unlocking the chest buckle on your harness, tie a piece of cloth around it to prevent them from doing so.
Sturdy and Wide Base
No matter what kind of safety harness your high chair has, it wouldn’t matter if the high chair itself is frail and unsteady.
Remember that your baby’s weight will make the high chair top-heavy. If the high chair is weak and unstable, it will likely fall over with your baby strapped in.
To remedy this, choose a high chair with a wide base and heavy construction. Those made of plastic will easily topple over and crack – a recipe for disaster.
For sure, there are so many to choose from in your local department store or even on sites like Amazon.
Wheels can be a dream for purposes of convenience and functionality. No more lugging around a big, heavy high chair.
But we surely don’t want our babies just to be rolling dangerously around the house.
If you want the benefit of having wheeled high chairs, make sure you get one that has a locking mechanism to avoid accidents.
Invest in a Brand New High Chair
Experts generally DO NOT recommend second-hand high chairs, especially if you’re buying from someone else.
The seller might not truthfully disclose the defects of the item, leaving you blindsided.
But if the purse strings are a bit tight, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using second-hand high chairs, especially if it’s a hand-me-down from your older kid.
In fact, this practice is more sustainable and cost-effective.
Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) Certification
JPMA certified high chairs mean that they meet the safety standards set by ASTM International (formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials).
Look for the JPMA Certified seal either on the high chair itself, on the box, product listing on Amazon, or in the chair’s instruction manual.
This will give you that added feeling of security, knowing you truly bought the best and safest high chair for your kid.
Does My Baby Really Need a High Chair?
As a new parent, the amount of advice you get about the things you “need” to get can sometimes be overwhelming. A high chair is one of those things often mentioned.
But do you really need it?
Not necessarily. There are other options available for you on sites like Amazon and in-store if you aren’t convinced about getting a high chair.
Consider your alternatives, such as:
- Seat pad
- Booster seat with a snap-on tray
- Chair booster
- Travel harness or portable high chair
Remember: it’s your call.
You are the one who knows what your family needs best.
At the end of the day, you want to give your baby a safe and comfortable place to eat and enjoy his food.
Whether your kid is on a high chair or a booster seat next to the table, what’s important is your supervision to avoid injuries.
Finding the Best High Chair For Your Baby: What to Look for
There are so many options available (e.g., a traditional stand-alone high chair, hybrid reclining high chairs, portable folding high chairs), so choosing what to buy can be overwhelming for the mother and father.
This is true whether shopping at your favorite mall or on Amazon. But choosing the best high chairs does not have to be such a daunting task.
Here is a guide to give you an idea of what to look for in finding the best one for your baby:
If it hasn’t been emphasized enough, your baby’s comfort is all-important.
The best high chairs are those that your baby wants to use. After all, they’re the ones who’ll do the sitting.
To maximize comfort, go for high chairs that are ergonomic or those chairs that are designed for efficiency and comfort.
Avoid buying a high chair with the food tray placed too far out of your baby’s reach or too near that it restricts movement.
Don’t just get one that’s pretty.
Get one that can change and adapt to your lifestyle and your baby’s needs.
A high chair with a transition option is always a good idea. This feature allows the chair to grow and evolve with your kid, making it FUNCTIONAL for a longer period.
Versatility is another important thing to consider. The more versatile your chair is, the more value for your money.
You may want to consider reclining high chairs.
High chairs with reclining positions prove to be MORE versatile than a stand-alone high chair which is only useful in the kitchen at mealtimes.
The market is replete with high chairs featuring various recline positions, each suitable for different tasks.
A high chair with an interchangeable tray is also a good option.
Being able to switch from a large food tray to a smaller play table lets you maximize the uses of a high chair.
Remember: You want a chair you can use for almost all activities, not just for when your kid eats food.
Of all the qualities to look for in a high chair, this is probably the most important.
It may seem easier to have your babies sitting on their own table and chair, but we know this isn’t the safest until they are ready.
Make sure to get a high chair with all the safety features you need, like:
- An adjustable safety strap
- A five-point harness
- A stable tray
- A crotch post
- No rough table top edges or exposed hinges.
- Wide and sturdy base.
- BONUS: High chairs made from non-toxic materials (e.g., beech wood)
Aside from that, we highly recommend going over the safety standards set by the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) or AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics).
Easy to Clean
Most traditional high chairs come with a food tray covered in a wipeable fabric material. But this might not be the option.
It is notorious for having stains and crumbs from solid foods stick all over the fabric.
Having a kid is messy enough as it is. It is best to get an easy-to-clean high chair without fabric, a dishwasher-friendly food tray, or a silicone table mat.
Ease of Assembly/Disassembly
Your typical high chair comes with a lot of parts – the play table, food tray, backrest, the works. These different parts add to the functionality of your high chair. But putting them together can be a pain.
For purposes of convenience, go for a high chair that is easy to assemble and disassemble.
This is especially true if you have an adjustable food tray or one that can change from an upright position to a reclining position.
Of all the things you already have to do, you’d want this to be the least of your worries.
Finally, Your Baby Is Ready!
Congratulations! Having the little one finally sit on a high chair is exciting and definitely makes meal hours a lot easier.
If you’re not quite there yet, don’t worry!
All babies develop at different speeds. It’s our job as parents to respond to all the needs of our children as they come. There is no reason to rush at all.