This is what age High Chairs are for.
Updated: Jan 16, 2021
As we where looking for a High Chair for our first child, we noticed there are a lot of different opinions as to what age a High Chair is for. Manufacturers provide an age range “indication” starting from about 6 months.
However, this is just a “general indication”, as the starting point depends on the way you plan to use the High Chair and the maturity of your child. The best way to determine the starting age to use a High Chair is to look at its functionality:
High Chairs with a recline function can be used for infants of a couple of weeks old, but only for bottle feeding or to join you during a brief activity.
High Chairs for sitting upright can only be used if your child can sit unsupported in an upright position. This starts around 7-9 months.
The above statements seem very strict. Of course, there are a number of reasons why this is the case and it has everything to do with the safety, health and development of your child.
Read along with us and you will better understand why it is so important to respect the above criteria and the right setup before you place your child in any High Chair.
The safe and healthy starting point to use a High Chair.
For a lot of parents this is an exiting time, you get to purchase a High Chair and have your little one to join you at the dinner table or during cooking. But it is important to understand that your child follows a certain development process and there is no way you can or even should attempt to rush this.
High Chairs are not designed to speed up this process, they are designed to make parenting a bit easier. Since every parent and child has different needs, there are High Chairs with different functionalities to accommodate those needs. To determine the starting point, we’ve distinguished two categories: A High Chair with recline function and a High Chair for upright sitting.
1. Reclining High Chairs:
The reclining function on High Chairs is often marketed for easy feeding, however, this only applies to bottle feeding your infant. In the recline setup, the High Chair helps you with this task. That said, it is better to bottle feed your child as if you were nursing. During feeding in a nursing position, bonding happens between the parent and the child, so it is important not to skip this too often.
Reclining High Chairs allow you to have your infant nearby when you are cooking a meal, having family dinners or doing some cleaning. Please be mindful though, that the idea is to use it for shorter periods of time. Part of the natural development is to wiggle and move around when they are on a flat surface like in the crib. When they are strapped into a curved shell of the High Chair, they have a lesser chance to develop these skills as movement is restricted.
The recline function is ideal for short naps, usually right after a meal. However, the recline function is by no means a replacement for a decent crib for your child to sleep in.
Some High Chairs with a recline function have accessories for your child to play with. For short periods of time this can be useful. However, it is better to have play time on a flat surface as much as possible as it allows your child to move around more and better develop its motor skills.
Although this is not an intended use case, some parents find the recline function also useful to take out the child more comfortably and in a safer way than by removing the tray. With a reclined back and the tray attached, there is no way your child can scoop forwards and fall out of the chair when unbuckled.
Do you need a High Chair with a recline function?
Even though they have some benefits to offer over High Chairs without a recline function, they are not a necessity. It really depends on the way you intend to use it and what use cases will apply to your family habits. So, if the above use cases seem to apply to you, then they are worth looking at.
For solid foods, you should never have your child in a reclined position as it increases the chances of suffocation. Before you place your child in an upright position, she or he should be able to sit unsupported in an upright position for longer periods of time. If you start with that too soon, your child will miss out on some important development steps that can cause problems at a later age.
If you would like to know more about why it is important to respect this natural process and how to aid your child in learning how to sit upright, you can read this in-depth article we wrote here.
2. High Chairs for upright sitting
High Chairs for sitting upright are mainly designed to feed your baby solid foods. They elevate your child to your own height for easy interaction and to allow them to take part in the social activity of eating. It’s also a great way for your child to discover the world of food with their hands, hence the large feeding tray.
Even though it’s not the primary use case, High Chairs can be a great place for your child to play in. They will be on the same height as all the other people in the room and have a nice oversight of their surroundings. For this it’s best to consider toys that you can mount on the High Chair with screws or suction cups, unless you don’t mind picking up toys all the time.
If your child falls asleep in a regular High Chair, it is best not to leave him or her sitting there until they wake up. This unnatural position will put a lot of stress on the spine and your child won’t feel good when waking up. Just pick up your child and place her or him in a crib to sleep. Even if they wake up during the transition, it will only be for short before falling asleep again. You child will thank you with a good mood afterwards.
Do you need a High Chair?
Nowadays you can either go for a High Chair or a Booster Seat. Both directions have their benefits and drawbacks, but both offer a good seating solution for your child. So, in that respect you do not necessarily need a High Chair. In this article we wrote you can find out what is best for you and your child, a High Chair or a Booster Seat.
At what age do you stop using a High Chair?
Now that we know what at what age your child can start using a High Chair, let’s have a look at what age your child should stop using a High Chair.
As with the starting age, manufacturers only provide us with an “age indication” for when to stop using a High Chair. For standard High Chairs this is around the age of 3. However, what is more important here, is to look for the weight limit of the High Chair. For most of the standard High Chairs this is somewhere around 40lbs, depending on the brand and model.
As soon as your child has reached the weight limit you should transition to a toddler booster. If the child has not reached the weight limit but is too tall to sit comfortably in a High Chair (which should rarely happen), it is also a good idea to make the switch to a toddler booster.
That said, this phase is nothing to worry about too much as your child has now developed good motor skills and has no problems sitting upright. So, from a development point of view, it is less crucial than the correct starting point to use a High Chair.
For children with special needs it can be very useful to keep using a High Chair to an older age. For this you can find grow along High Chairs that are very sturdy and have multiple height settings to accommodate the child’s needs. They are a bit more expensive, but you should see them as a long-term investment for your child.
These High Chairs can have weight limits up to 240lbs, meaning you can keep on using this chair well into adulthood.
We hope this article helps you to better understand what ages a High Chair is for. If you enjoyed learning with us and you find this article to be helpful, then please share as it might help other parents as well.
Thanks for reading!