What age should a child be out of a high chair?
Updated: Jan 16
As we were sitting at the dinner table with our child, my partner asked me if I knew at what age our child should be out of the High Chair. Frankly, I haven’t put much thought to it, nor was I worried about this milestone.
Nevertheless, the question got me curious to find out more. So, I put on my researcher hat and started digging the web and interviewed our pediatrician to get some answers. This is what I found out:
There is no fixed age when children should be out of a High Chair and transition to a Booster Seat. On average, this happens between 16 months and 2 years of age. Your child will indicate when it is ready to make the transition. It's important that the child doesn't exceed the High Chair weight limit.
Knowing how your child will indicate when it is ready to make the move can help you prevent a lot of unneeded battles at the dinner table. Our pediatrician also gave us some tips and tricks to keep our child happy in a High Chair for a longer period. Please read along and learn what worked for us.
How can you tell it is time to move out of the High Chair?
Moving out of a High Chair is very individual driven process. Some children are very sensitive to the differences between them and other siblings in terms of seating habits, while others remain happy campers in their own little High Chair world. In any case, your child will express when she or he is ready to get out of the High Chair. Here are some of the signs to look for:
Your child expresses it wants to join you at the table.
When your child is being placed in a High Chair, her or she will point to a normal chair indicating that they rather have a seat like everybody else, this is your best-case scenario.
In the worst-case scenario, your child will become hysterical every time the High Chair comes to play. It won’t get any clearer than this!
Your child is constantly trying to escape out of the High Chair.
If your child is constantly pulling the harness and trying to open the buckle, it will only be a matter of time before he or she will succeed. Once you see this kind of behavior, it is time to start to think about the transition. A child that is able to unbuckle itself can also start to climb out of the High Chair. This will almost certainly lead to falling over and serious injury. That said, always keep an eye on your child, especially if you see this escaping behavior.
Your child starts to mimic you.
Once your child starts to mimic the behavior of mom and dad or older siblings, you can bet on it that it won’t take much longer before your sprout will choose the grown up chair over a High Chair. The good thing about this sign is that your child will also try to copy good seating behavior if you actively work on that.
Your child is constantly exploring grown up chairs.
In between meal times, your child will try to climb on your dining chairs and test them out. It is also a way of letting you know that they are capable of sitting on a big kid chair and join you at the dinner table.
As long as your child is not showing any of the above signs and they haven’t reached the weight limit of the High Chair, it is OK to keep on using the High Chair. There is no need for you to try and speed up this process. Allow your child to learn and develop at its own speed and when the time is right, she or he will let you know.
How can you keep your child in a High Chair longer?
As a parent, it’s very convenient to have your child sit in a High Chair during meal times. You know that they are safely strapped in, there is a food tray to catch most the mess they are about to make and you are all sitting at the same height, which is great for interaction and feeding sessions.
Therefore, many parents love for the transition from High Chair to Booster Seat not to happen too fast. But how do you postpone this without forcing them? How do you make your child feel comfortable in a High Chair so that family meals become moments of fun instead of disaster? Below we will discuss a couple of techniques that work well for many children.
Let them feel part of the family
Many High Chairs cannot be pulled up to the table, that’s why your child might feel a bit isolated from the rest of the family and start protesting each time they have to sit in the High Chair.
You can opt for a High Chair that has a removable tray and that can fit very close to the table, this will take away that boundary and the unpleasant feeling of being alone during a meal.
Another option is to choose for a Hook-on High Chair. This is an affordable alternative to a High Chair that will fully involve your child during family meals. Now they can sit right at the table, with their food on the tabletop, just like everybody else. The portability of Hook-on High Chairs also allows you to use it when going out for dinner. No more High Chair dramas in a restaurant either!
If you are a bit uncertain about the safety of Hook-on High Chairs, please have a look at this article we wrote here.
Another and yet very effective way to make them feel part of the tribe is to involve them in the family conversations as much as possible. Ask your child about his or her day, talk a bit about the food or your plans for the weekend and she or he will be distracted enough to stay calm and enjoy their meal.
Make the High Chair a magical place
Sometimes the only thing you need is a bit of magic! If you make the that High Chair a very special place that only the cool kids can sit in, all protest stops and they will be eager to use it. Adding special decoration, like stickers of their favorite hero, or a fun routine like singing will often do the trick. We’ve tried this with our sprout and it’s a recipe for success!
Bring a toy to the table
We understand that meal times are for eating, however, adding a bit of play to a meal won’t hurt anyone, especially if your child wants to get out the High Chair. Ipads or TVs are out of the question for us, so instead we bring one little toy to the table to make the experience a bit more fun for our child, without fully taking away the attention from the meal.
If none of the above techniques seem to work, you might have reached the limits. If they are absolutely unwilling to sit in a High Chair, it is time to make a transition.
Can you move out of a High Chair too soon?
Moving out of a High Chair too soon is not really a thing, it is more about transitioning to a grown-up chair too soon that can cause problems down the road. Your child should be able to have a comfortable posture at the dining table in order to enjoy their meal in a proper way. Being uncomfortable will only encourage your child to start messing around.
If your child is still playing, rocking and wobbling at the dining table, then it is too soon to move to the dining chair as they could fall and seriously injure themselves.
What do you use after a High Chair?
When a High Chair is no longer an option and your child is not ready yet for an adult chair, it is best to have a look for some alternatives.
Nowadays you can find Booster Seats that offer the same amount of support and safety as a High Chair. Just make sure you purchase one that can be fixed to the dining chair and that has a safety harness and you are good to go.
If the safety straps are the issue, than you can choose a children-size table setup with a set of small chairs that allows them to enjoy their meals just like the adults do, without compromising on safety.
We hope you loved learning with us and found some useful tips that work well for you and your sweethearts. If so, please share this article and help us spread the love.
Thanks for reading!
Cibelle K.M.R.FormigaMaria B.M.Linhares, 2015,Motor Skills: Development in Infancy and Early Childhood, Accessed 21/08/2020, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780080970868230717?via%3Dihub
Fiese, B.H., Foley, K.P. and Spagnola, M. (2006), Routine and ritual elements in family mealtimes: Contexts for child well‐being and family identity. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 2006, Accessed 21/08/2020, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/cd.156