This Is When your Baby Can Start Using a High Chair.
Updated: Nov 14, 2020
Once that we have welcomed our new family member, we were looking forward to our first meal together. We had our High Chair installed and everything set-up, it was only a matter of waiting for the right moment to place our child in the High Chair. This is exactly the moment where a lot of mistakes are being made.
Forcing you child in a High Chair is not a smart thing to do. Your child has to be ready to sit in the High Chair and this is how you know that this is the case:
It’s okay to start using a High Chair once your child can sit up straight without support, for longer periods of time (minimum 30 minutes or enough to finish a meal). Depending on the development speed of the child this happens somewhere between the age of 6 to 9 months.
This means you can’t just follow the age recommendation that you find on the product guidelines of a High Chair (or any other type of baby seating). As all children develop at different speeds, the safe starting point for each baby to use a High Chair will vary according to the individual development process of the child.
But why is it so important for your child to be able to sit independently before using a High Chair? What happens if you place your child in a High Chair too soon? What if it takes longer than 9 months, should you be worried? Is there any way you can speed up this process?
We know that multiple questions come to mind when you learn about this new process in the life of your little sprout. Please read along with us and learn about this incredible journey your child will go through.
Why is it bad for a baby to sit up straight too early?
Although this is a simple question, the answer is a bit more complicated and requires us to look at the physiology of a baby.
A newly born child still has a rounded back from being in a curved position in the womb for nine months. The back and neck muscles are only just experiencing the full force of gravity and are not strong enough to support the child in an upright position.
If you place your baby in a High Chair (or a booster seat) too soon, your child will skip the necessary step of developing strong muscles in the back and neck, as well as motor skills that are required to maintain a healthy upright position.
This forceful sitting can lead to spinal and pelvic problems at a later age. The process of learning how to walk can slow down because of this, which will lead to more unnecessary frustrations down the road.
Therefore, it is better to let nature take its time and patiently wait for your child to be ready for the next big stage in life: sitting up straight.
Once your baby is strong enough to sit up straight, support its own head and keep its balance, it is safe to start using a High Chair and to enjoy your first family meals together.
Note: please also make sure that your child can maintain its position for long enough to have its meal, if your child can only maintain the upright position for a short period of time, then this is an indication that she or he is not ready yet for upright sitting in a High Chair.
The good news, though, is that at this point it won’t take much longer for your sprout to discover the world from an upright position!
What if it takes longer than 9 months before my child can sit up, should I worry?
When your child is still in between the 6 to 9-month period, there is no need for you to worry. Some babies get there sooner than others and that is perfectly normal.
However, during this period, you should be seeing some early signs that your baby is trying to make the transition. These are:
• Controlled body movement.
• The ability to lift its head up when laying on the tummy.
• Independently rolling from tummy to back and vice versa
• Pushing itself up.
• Starting to sit in a tripod position.
All the above signs indicate that the muscle strength is improving well and that your child is eager to discover the world from a new perspective.
If you don’t see any of these signs when reaching the 8th month mark, it might be a good idea to inform your pediatrician about this, so the progression of your child can be assessed by a professional.
If you like to have more information on this topic, you can also visit the website of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What can you do to help your baby sit up?
Even though there are floor seats specifically designed to “learn your baby how to sit”, none of these products can do what they promise, and the reason is simple: learning how to sit starts when your child is laying down on its back or belly.
If you place your child in a reclined High Chair, a supporting floor Booster Seat or a bouncy Chair too soon, then the weight of the head will be too heavy for your baby’s neck muscles.
This makes it much harder to gently gain proper strength and will slow down the development of your child’s motor and balancing skills.
Only on flat surfaces like the floor (with a baby blanket) or a mattress does your child have enough support for the body and head, whilst also having the freedom to exercise the muscles. Giving your child enough play time on the floor is the best thing you can do to help the development process.
So, does this mean you can’t use a reclining High Chair? No, it is okay to use a reclined High Chair for weaning or naps and it is a nice way to involve your child during family meal times whenever this is possible. Just be mindful not to use the reclined High Chair too long and make sure to offer your child enough time to exercise on the floor.
During this exercise time you should also consider offering time to play on the belly every now and then. Switching between the tummy and back allows your child to simultaneously develop all the muscles that are required for sitting.
When your child is laying on its back, it will develop its frontal neck muscles and abs. Tummy time, on the other hand, will help your child to develop the back of the neck and the muscles around the spine, ensuring your child has a strong foundation for proper sitting when he or she is ready for it.
Once your sprout is mastering the above skills a bit better and you can see that lifting the head is not that difficult anymore, you can help her or him to sit up for short periods of time. In this exercise for better head control it is you who offers the support, not a Baby Seat or High Chair.
At around 4-6 months your child can start to push itself up, this is a good indication that your baby is becoming ready to sit and work on the final steps to gain good stability. Your baby will still wobble a bit but this is perfectly normal as he or she is fine-tuning its balance and mastering the skill of sitting up without support.
Do you need cushioning in a High Chair?
Although good cushioning can help with the overall comfort of your baby when sitting in a High Chair, it is not a necessity.
Some parents use a lot of cushioning and even add blankets or towels to aid their children with a proper posture. However, this is bad practice as it forces the child in a certain posture. As we have learned above, your child should be able to sit up unsupported before making the transition to a High Chair.
Once this skill has been fully mastered, it is okay to use the cushioning that comes with the High Chair and offer your child a soft surface to sit on.
So, there you have it, this is what we’ve learned about the right starting point to place our child in a High Chair. We certainly hope it answers all your questions and helps you and your little wonders to enter the horizontal world at the right moment.
Thank you for reading and please don’t forget to be awesome and spread the love with other parents!