Once your baby can sit up consistently without falling over (sometime between 9 and 12 months), he can move to a booster seat. But the longer you can keep your child safely strapped in his high chair, the better. Most children don't transition until they're between 18 months and 2 years old. Of course there are a lot of individual factors that influence when to move your child, so ask yourself the following questions before you ditch the high chair:
• Has your child expressed a desire to join you at the table? Some kids find the high chair very isolating if it isn't one of those models that can be pulled up to the table by popping off the tray. You can also invest in a clip-on high chair so your baby can socialize at the main table on special occasions while staying secure.
• Is your child climbing out of the high chair? Despite the secure five-point harnesses in most high chairs, some children are just natural escape artists. Falling from a high chair can be serious, so if your baby starts climbing out, it's time to switch. On the same note, never leave your child unattended in a high chair or booster seat.
• Do you need the high chair for a second baby? If you've got a younger sibling close in age, then naturally you'll need the high chair for your new baby. Give your older kid plenty of time to get used to his new table-side seating arrangements (and make sure not to do it at the same time you reclaim his crib).
When shopping for a booster, choose one that not only allows you to strap your child in, but that straps to a chair as well. Avoid placing your child in those plastic restaurant boosters for a while. Not only do most not have seat belts, but also with just a little wriggling (which most children do), they can easily topple off the chair. Many companies like Safety First sell affordable, portable boosters with safety straps (designed specifically for dining out), so we suggest bringing your own or just resigning yourself to takeout for the next few months.
Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.