When Baby's Ready for a High Chair
When Baby can sit up on his own and is eating solid food -- usually between 4 and 6 months -- it's time to add a high chair to your kitchen decor. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you buy.
Is It Easy to Use?
Whether it's easy to get your baby in and out is the most important concern. Before you shop, ask your friends if they have a high chair they love. Once you're in a store, test the chairs to find one with a tray that you can operate with one hand. Look at the seat straps to see if they're simple to buckle and unbuckle. The majority of high-chair accidents occur because parents don't use the buckle feature. Remember, as soon as your baby figures out how to pull himself upright, he might try it in his high chair. Using a three- or five-point harness keeps him safe.
Is It JPMA Certified?
Speaking of safety, manufacturers can opt to have high chairs tested and approved by the independent Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. If there's a JPMA seal on a high chair, it's one of the safest.
Is It Comfortable?
You'll want your baby to stay seated for a decent period of time. Consider how roomy the seat is, especially if you have a big baby. Is the seat well padded? Is there a footrest?
Is It Easy to Clean?
Babies are notoriously messy eaters, and that means you need to consider how easy it is to clean up the high chair after a messy meal. Most chairs come with a vinyl seat that can be wiped clean. Look at how the cushion and frame fit together and imagine a scenario involving applesauce and crumbs. The fewer seams and crevices, the better. A recent update in high chairs is a tray-within-a-tray feature, where the top tray pops out for cleaning in your sink or dishwasher. Some high chairs even come with an extra tray so that if one is being washed, you've got another.
Does It Have the Features You Need?
Will you move your high chair around, maybe pushing it to the table for meals and then back against a wall for storage? If so, look for a model with wheels that lock to keep the chair stationary when in use. Some high chairs fold up for storage, making it a good choice for occasional use, such as grandma's house.
Originally published in American Baby magazine. Updated 2010.