Don’t be in a hurry to put your baby in a highchair. Most infants are not ready until they are eating solid food and can sit up on their own.
It wasn’t until my son was four months old that we started using a highchair. Before that point, I had tried placing him in the seat but with no success. Without the balance and developed trunk muscles to sit up unsupported, his tiny body would slump to one side or the other.
Most babies are ready to sit in a highchair between four and six months old, according to Parents Magazine.
“When your baby can sit up with support for a reasonable amount of time (say, 5 to 10 minutes), you will probably want to start feeding her in a highchair or baby seat that hooks onto the top of the kitchen or dining-room table,” says Kevin Osborn, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Bringing Up Baby. “For safety reasons, your baby’s highchair should have a wide, stable base and come equipped with a safety belt (including a crotch strap to prevent her from sliding down under the tray).”
There is no hard and fast rule that says when a baby should start sitting in a highchair. Look for signs that indicate your child’s readiness.
Signs of Readiness
Many babies enjoy being a part of the social interaction during mealtime. However, placing your child in a highchair too early can have repercussions. Without the proper neck and trunk support, your baby could potentially fall over or out of the chair, leading to serious injuries. Sitting unsupported can also be uncomfortable for smaller infants.
Look for signs that indicate your baby is ready to safely and comfortable sit in a highchair. Your baby should:
- Be between four and six months of age
- Eat solid foods
- Have the ability to sit up without support
Buying a Highchair
For babies who are old enough to use them safely, highchairs provide a place to experiment with new tastes, textures, and smells. Highchairs are available in a wide variety of styles and at all price points. Opt for one that is sturdy, easy to clean, and will withstand wear and tear until your child outgrows it at age two or three.
When shopping for a highchair, look at the following:
Highchairs can be found for all tastes, budgets, and space constraints. The most common types include full-feature highchairs, basic metal- or plastic-frame highchairs, hook-on highchairs, and wooden highchairs.
Choose a highchair with an adjustable tray that moves forward as your child grows.
Features such as padded seats and a footrest provide comfort for your baby as he eats. Look for features that could cause discomfort, such as sharp edges or exposed seams.
A highchair with wheels allows you to easily push the chair under the table without having to pick up on it. Wheels also help with storage, allowing you to easily push it into a closet or corner when not in use.
Choose a highchair with a 3-point harness with crotch post or 5-point harness to prevent your child from slipping out. Harness straps should be adjustable to accommodate a growing baby.
What the Experts Say
“Do not use a highchair until your baby can sit up unassisted. Even if you have the chair ready early, skip using it until it is safe to do so with a child who can remain upright on his own.”
– Your Baby & Toddler, Anne Marie Mueser, Ed.D.
“Many highchairs are adaptable to baby’s age and developmental abilities. Some can even be made into a youth chair. Other types attach to the table; they save space, and they’re portable and less expensive than a regular high chair.”
– Your Baby’s First Year Week by Week, Glade B. Curtis, Judith Schuler
“Pay close attention to the weight limit of the chair, the weight of your baby, and the weight distribution of the table – a hook-on chair could tip over an unsteady or too-light table.”
– The Baby Gizmo Buying Guide, Heather Maclean
“It’s important that your child feels comfortable in her highchair and wants to sit in it. Lots of highchairs have padded seats and adjustable footrests so your baby’s feet don’t dangle in midair.”
– Weaning and Coping with Feeding Problems, Naia Edwards
“By the time your baby can sit up alone, usually at six or seven months old, you may feed him from the high chair. Make sure the highchair is sturdy and has a strap to tie the baby in to avoid sliding off.”
– Happy Mommy Happy Baby!, Elizabeth L. Rojo R.N.
Having your baby sit in a highchair can make mealtime much less hectic. However, you don’t want to make the transition until your little one is ready. Be patient and when your baby is physically able to sit unsupported, you can enjoy her presence at the dinner table.