The question of when to stop using a high chair for mealtimes is often raised by the time your baby reaches toddlerhood. Your toddler is developing into an independent little being and the older he or she gets, the more determined they become about doing “grown-up” things! Just like my daughter who surprises me every day with her newly won independence.
When You Should Stop Using a High Chair
The time to change depends on your baby’s physical development. Every baby develops at their own pace and some are ready to stop using a high chair by eighteen months. However, toddlers can use a high chair up to three years old before transitioning to the table for mealtimes.
- When You Should Stop Using a High Chair
- When Should a Child (Absolutely) Not Be in a High Chair?
- 7 Signs to Indicate When to Change From High Chair
- What to Use After a High Chair
- Tips for Transitioning Out of a High Chair
- Should a Three-Year-Old Still Be in a High Chair?
When Should a Child (Absolutely) Not Be in a High Chair?
Babies below six months old should absolutely not be in a high chair. This is because their little bodies aren’t strong enough to help them sit up straight while seated. From six months old you can start using a high chair.
A key factor determining when a child should absolutely not be in a high chair is when their safety is compromised. Do you think high chairs expire? Actually, not necessarily but their safety can be compromised when damaged.
Safety can be compromised when your baby is too big and exceeds the size and weight recommendations of the high chair. Safety is also compromised when your child can no longer be safely restrained in the chair while feeding.
7 Signs to Indicate When to Change From High Chair
1. Your Toddler Gets Vocal
When your child starts demanding they want to sit at the table with you, this could be a sign they’re ready to say goodbye to their high chair. Toddlers are more aware of what their parents and siblings are doing. And when they notice they’re the only ones using a high chair during meal times they’ll start vocalizing that they want to be “like daddy.”
2. Your Child Has Physically Outgrown the High Chair
If your high chair has been designed to accommodate toddlers up to three years old, you may start noticing your child is physically too big for the chair. Taller or bigger children may no longer be comfortable when seated while feeding and this could hamper their enjoyment during meal time as well as proper digestion.
3. Your Toddler Moves All the Time
A wriggly toddler can turn high chair times into a nightmare! If your child is constantly squirming and moving around in the high chair, it’s a good sign to start the transitioning process. Constant movement in the high chair could cause it to become unstable, compromising the safety of your child while feeding.
4. Your Toddler Knows How to Undo the Buckle
When your toddler suddenly discovers how to undo a 5-point harness, you’re in trouble! The safety belt is designed to restrain your child safely in the seat while feeding. With the buckle freed, your toddler will also want to start climbing out of the high chair. This is a very definite sign your child is ready to leave the high chair.
5. Your Child Understands Table Rules
When your child understands table rules, they’re ready to transition from the high chair. These rules include knowing how to sit on a chair without any restraints. Your child needs to understand that no standing on the chair is allowed nor moving around while seated. Your little one must also know how to use plates, cups, and cutlery properly during mealtimes to prevent mishaps and hazardous situations.
6. Your Toddler Can Sit Upright Without Support
By the time your baby reaches toddlerhood, they should be sitting upright without support. From eighteen months onward, your baby is physically developed to sit steadily for longer periods of time. When you start noticing your toddler is sitting upright comfortably then you can stop using the high chair during mealtimes.
7. Your Child Gets Fussy About Eating
If your child is starting to get fussy about eating their meals, it may be time to change their seating arrangements. Your toddler may simply be finding the high chair off-putting during meals and starts to niggle about eating anything put in front of them. Transitioning to the table may be the solution to stopping the fussiness around food.
What to Use After a High Chair
Transitioning your child from a high chair to the table can come with some minor challenges. Your child may still get restless using a normal chair, making them prone to falling off the seat. Chairs may also be too low for the child to reach the table top comfortably and propping them up with cushions is one solution.
But, booster seats are safer for these purposes and help ease the transition from the high chair to the dining table.
Booster Seats to Help With Transitioning
Booster seats are a must-have. They can come with a number of safety features such as belts for keeping your child restrained while seated. They should also include straps for keeping the booster seat firmly attached to the chair.
Tips for Transitioning Out of a High Chair
1. Getting Used to Sitting on a Normal Chair
Transition your toddler gradually to using normal chairs. You could start off by introducing snack times at the table while your baby gets used to sitting on a normal chair. Limit the amount of time your toddler sits at the table so they don’t get restless and start squirming around on the seat if you’re not using a booster seat.
2. Practice Table Rules Using Role Play
Use your toddler’s miniature chairs and table during role play and introduce them to table rules. This includes teaching them how to use cutlery safely while feeding from a plate. Use sippy cups to help your toddler get used to drinking at the table. And, demonstrate that getting up before a meal is finished is a no-no.
3. Engage Your Toddler During Mealtimes
Engage your toddler at the table by including them in conversations with the rest of the family. This way you can prevent them from getting bored and restless. Fun and interactive mealtimes are also conducive to building your child’s confidence while developing their table manners and social skills.
Take a look at this video to see how you can teach your baby to sit independently so they can start sitting at the table.
4. Consider a High Chair Alternative
Some toddlers will happily transition if you consider using some high chair alternatives such as a travel booster seat or hook-on / clip-on high chairs that attach directly to the table. A booster tower is an innovative design for those toddlers who insist on standing at the table or counter when feeding.
Should a Three-Year-Old Still Be in a High Chair?
If your three-year-old is still comfortable using a high chair there’s no rule saying you have to transition them to a normal seating arrangement or introduce a booster seat. In fact, some high chairs are designed to grow with your child up to 10 years or older as my review on the Abiie, Stokke or Keekaroo wooden high chairs has shown.
Knowing when to stop using a high chair and transitioning your toddler to the table is simple once you know what signs to look out for. It’s also easy to do when you take advantage of using a booster seat or make meals at the table a happy affair for your little one.