Why do High Chairs have a footrest?
Updated: Jan 16, 2021
When we were on the lookout for a High Chair for our first child, we noticed that there are High Chairs with a footrest and High Chairs without a footrest. As a fresh parent this can give you the impression that a footrest is not that important and merely serves the purpose of providing comfort to your child.
Unfortunately this is not the case. Footrests are an important part of a High Chair as they serve the following purposes:
High Chair footrests offer a stable underground for a seated child. It helps the child to maintain a proper posture and sit more comfortably. This allows for a better motor development as there is a stronger focus on the act of eating, which in turn leads to a safer swallowing of the food.
As you can see, High Chair footrests are far more important than one might think. Below we will look at the importance of good posture during meal times and how a footrest or the lack thereof affects your child’s behavior.
In case you already have a High Chair without a footrest, we will teach you how you can still offer your child this extra piece of comfort and stability that will help them jump start their development.
Do High Chairs need a footrest?
The short answer is no, they don’t “need” one. That is to say, High Chair footrests are not mandatory as not having one doesn’t impose a big threat to the health of your child.
However, considering the fact that it helps your child in its motor development, we think it is a right for every child to have this feature on their High Chair. After all, every parent wants to give their child the best possible start in life.
Truth be told, it is also a little treat for yourself as your child will be less likely to create havoc when placed in a high chair, a win-win situation if you ask us!
The influence of a high chair footrest on your baby’s behavior.
For those of you parents who think the impact of a High Chair footrest is only marginal, you are in for a surprise because this silly little footrest has a pretty big effect on your little sprout’s behavior and development.
Parents who have a High Chair without a footrest often complain about the following issues during mealtime:
The child is constantly fiddling and wobbling and seems unable to focus on eating.
Those legs are just never kept still!
It seems that the child is not enjoying its meal.
Even though the child expresses she’s hungry, meals are not finished.
The child is constantly whining and trying to escape.
Placing the child in a High Chair becomes increasingly problematic over time.
All of this behavior is not that surprising knowing that the child constantly has to work to find its balance as there is no firm underground to place its feet upon. This is especially true for a child that is still in the process of learning how to keep an upright position.
“Like to know what that feels like for your child? Go and sit for 30 minutes on a table or a bar stool without a footrest. We are pretty sure you will feel very uncomfortable very soon!”
Now, we are aware that there are children who can sit on a High Chair without a footrest while not causing too much of a fuss. Unfortunately this doesn’t mean that your child is not affected by the bad ergonomics as it still plays a big role in motor development.
You can tell it has an impact when your child is crossing its legs when seated in a High Chair. This behavior indicates that your child is trying to find stability with the lower part of its body.
To compensate for the lack of a stable underground, your child will initially try to keep balance by grabbing the tray or arm rests. Leaving it with just one hand left to feed itself.
After a while when your child is getting tired (and this is VERY tiresome for young children) it will start to slouch in order to let its body rest against one of the sides or the tray.
Either way, it is clear to see that trying to eat in such conditions is unpleasant and even dangerous as slouching causes a misalignment of the gastric tract which can induce choking. Slouching also has a negative effect on the development of your child’s spine, find out more in this article.
So, offering your child a High Chair with a footrest is a smart move as this leads to better sitting dynamics and a good posture during meals. Your child doesn’t have to worry (subconsciously) about finding balance and can focus more on the act of learning how to eat, which is enough of a challenge for children that age.
It allows your child to learn the hand - mouth coordination a lot quicker and with enough comfort to keep him or her engaged long enough to finish a meal and become a happy camper.
That said, we are not claiming that a footrest is the magical solution to all your High Chair problems. However, a great deal of issues can be prevented by offering this simple, yet effective part of a High Chair.
Why are there High Chairs that don’t have a footrest?
If you have read this far and you know of all the benefits a footrest has to offer, you are probably wondering why it is still the case that some High Chair models come without it.
This is because a footrest also brings along some disadvantages in terms of product functionality, manufacturing and of course, production cost.
If a manufacturer likes to offer a High Chair that is foldable or stackable, like for example the Ikea Antilop, then a footrest will create an issue for stackability and since it isn’t a safety issue, the footrest is just left out. This in turn leads to lower costs and a more competitive price point, that is why they are so affordable.
You will also notice that a lot of models have a footrest but it is coming nowhere near the feet of your child, especially in the first years when it is most important. This is due to the fact designing an ergonomic footrest is not that easy.
On the positive side, at least they have one that you can hack to make it work for your child.
Are High Chairs without a footrest bad/to be avoided?
If you’ve already bought a High Chair without a footrest, no worries. You don’t have to throw it away and search for another one as there are solutions to upgrade your High Chair at a very low cost.
Besides, as we said before, some High Chairs (even expensive ones) have a footrest that can’t be reached by your child’s feet, so you need to get creative about this anyway if you still want to offer your child this feature.
In case you are still searching for a High Chair, don’t let this footrest be the defining factor as other things might be more important to you and you still have the option to add this at a later stage with an aftermarket product or one of your own creative solutions.
How to make a High Chair footrest yourself?
Alright, it is time to get creative and show yourself what you are made of. There are many ways to create a footrest for your child’s High Chair without putting in a ton of work. So, in order to give you some inspiration, we will go through a couple of ideas to help you get started:
Use an existing dining chair or stool that you slide underneath the High Chair.
This one is as genius as it is simple because you are not adding anything new to the equation, just use a chair that you have in your kitchen or dining room already. To adjust the height you can add a book or something similar on the chair below. Don’t forget to cover up the chair with an old towel because it will get dirty.
A training band wrapped around the High Chair legs.
Training bands can be purchased for as little as $10 and are super easy to install onto your child’s High Chair. You don’t require any screws or bolts to install them and you can alter the height to just about any position you fancy. The best part is that they are super easy to clean in the sink.
A wooden board and some rubber bands.
If you are in for a creative challenge and you are not afraid to use power tools, this can be a very fun thing to make yourself. Just use an old wooden board (untreated) that you cut down slightly longer than the width of the High Chair feet, measuring it at the height of your baby’s feet when seated.
With a jigsaw you can round off the edges and make cutouts where the legs need to go. This way the board can be trapped in between the legs of the High Chair.
Sand down the board so it feels nice and smooth on your baby’s feet, then finish it off with two layers of clear coat so that the board is waterproof and easy to clean.
To mount it, you can just use standard household rubber bands that you wrap around each one of the front legs, bring them up to the desired height and just place the board on top of the bands. Now you have a custom made, fully adjustable footrest that not only feels great for your child but also looks nice.
What type of footrest can you purchase?
For those of you who are not comfortable tinkering or just don’t have the time, there are a couple of options that you can purchase online without breaking the bank.
The Footsi is a soft padded, add-on footrest that is specifically designed to fit on High Chairs without a built in footrest, like the Ikea Antilop. It works with a strong suction cup that you can mount on the back of the seat and two belts that go around the front legs.
The straps allow you to adjust the height of the Footsi according to your child’s needs. This also makes it a perfect alternative for High Chairs that have a footrest with only a single position. During the most important part of their development, that fixed footrest will be either positioned too low or too high, making it pretty much useless.
If you love to take your baby out for trips then the Footsi is for you, because it is foldable, compact and easy to install. Have a messy baby? No worries, the Footsi is made 100% of polyester, making it easy to wipe down and machine washable.
For those of you parents who are looking for a sleek solution to pimp your baby’s High Chair, the inventors of the Footsi have also developed the Woodsi. This is a footrest made out of bamboo (wooden ones can be found also) that, just like the Footsi, is adjustable in height, allowing you to get that perfectly 90° knee angle for optimal ergonomics. Your child will reward you for it with a pleasant mealtime and a happy smile.
The Woodsi is not machine washable but very easy to wipe down with a damp cloth and some mild detergent. It has no nooks or crannies that are hard to reach so your child can make an absolute mess.
How do you attach a footrest to a High Chair?
In case you purchased one of the above footrests, you have little to worry about as they come with all the features to mount it on your High Chair.
For those of you who are hacking their existing High Chair footrest by adding a little box or something similar, you can just use duct tape or a double sided Velcro. We recommend to always use materials that are easy to clean and sanitize. To learn more about cleaning your High Chair, you can read more here.
We have seen many High Chair hacks , some of which worked with a wooden board and metal clamps that can be fitted around the legs. Even though this works in terms of fixation, we do want to add a little word of caution here as the footrest is within the reach of children that are walking around. Therefore, always make sure that there are no sharp edges sticking out that your child might bump into.
What high chairs have a good footrest with lots of adjustability?
Since High Chair ergonomics is not just about having a footrest or not, we have looked for High Chairs that have the best of all features implemented into one design. The below list are our favorites where we looked at overall ergonomics, safety and ease of cleaning.
Stokke Tripp Trapp
The Stokke Tripp Trapp is hard to beat when it comes to good ergonomics. The footrest and the seat have many height settings to make sure that in every phase of your child’s growth, you can provide the best possible settings for optimal comfort.
In terms of safety, you have little to worry about as the stiff wooden framework offers excellent stability. The Stokke Tripp Trapp is often recommended for children with special needs because of this.
Because of its simple shapes with few nooks and crannies, the Stokke Tripp Trapp is easy to clean and it goes really well with most interiors.
Abiie Beyond Wooden High Chair
Staying in the same wooden High Chair category but a bit more affordable is the Abiie Beyond High Chair. It offers similar advantages as the Stokke Tripp Trapp but comes with a tray in its standard package, so you have a bit more bang for the buck. Cleaning is also a breeze with the Abiie Beyond.
Both the Stokke and the Abiie have the incredible advantage that they are an investment for life. You can literally use these High Chairs from infancy all the way up to adulthood.
Graco Blossom 6 in 1 Convertible
We have to say that in terms of ergonomics, Graco does a pretty good job to think about all aspects. There is enough support on all sides, the footrest can be changed into 3 different settings and the overall seating height has 6 different positions, making sure not only your child has all the comfort it needs but also you can easily interact with your child.
Even though we are in the plastic category, the Graco metal framework also offers enough stability for the most wobbly of children out there. It has one great advantage over the fully wooden High Chairs in that it has castors. This is ideal if you have a mobile lifestyle at home as you can just roll the High Chair to any other room.
We find cleaning to be a bit more cumbersome than the wooden High Chairs because it has a bit more edges and openings where dirt can collect, but it is still very doable.
If you like to know more about the differences between wooden and plastic High Chairs, you can read this extensive comparison we wrote here.
If you liked learning with us and find this article useful, please share it and help us spread the love. Many children will be grateful that their parents have this knowledge!
Thanks for reading!!!
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