When to Stop Using a High Chair
You may not be able to believe that this small child was once a tiny baby incapable of sitting upright in the highchair for more than 10 minutes at a time. Yes, I’m talking about your toddler, who now wants to assert their independence and is refusing the go in the high chair. Do you know when to stop using a high chair? It can be different for every child, for example my friend’s little girl has been trying to avoid the high chair since our kids were 18 months old, whereas my 30 month old son would quite happily sit in it all day if it means he is going to be given more food! Here are a few indicators of when you should stop using a high chair for your toddler.
Size of your child
Most high chairs come with a maximum recommended weight for their use. It’s usually around 15kg, which is approximately 3 years of age. However, there are some chairs on the market that will cater to a larger child, such as the OXO Tot Sprout High Chair which converts into a more grown up version of chair for your child to sit with you at the dinner table at ages 3 to 5 years.
It’s worth considering not just the weight of your child though – look at the size of your child. Are they starting to get uncomfortable because they have to twist their legs at a funny angle in order to get into the high chair? Or is their bum really squished into the seat? If you child is uncomfortable when in the high chair, then obviously it’s more likely to mean that they won’t enjoy mealtimes, and that they will want to get out of the high chair by any means possible.
Safety of your child
Once your child has figured out how to escape from their high chair, then you need to consider the safety of your child and ultimately, they will be much safer in alternative seating arrangements than if they can climb out of their high chair (which is raised 80-100cm or so from the ground!).
If your toddler has figured out how to undo their straps, and/or stand up in the chair, it’s definitely time to rethink your options. It only takes one moment of you looking the wrong way for them to fall and injure themselves.
Alternatives to high chairs
Toddler table and chairs
Your toddler will love having his or her own table and chairs to sit at for mealtimes. When choosing a table and chairs, make sure it’s age appropriate and the correct height for your child. The likelihood is that the set will only last for about a year before they outgrow it, but if you have a slightly older sibling who will also sit down with your toddler at the table, this will help your toddler to feel like they are transitioning to being a “big boy/girl”. The great thing about these tables is that your toddler can also use them as a play table when it’s not a meal time. They can use it for drawing, colouring, Play-Doh, and some tables (like ours in the photograph, bought from Amazon.com) even come with a Lego surface for you to build your Lego/Duplo onto.
If you don’t have the space for a separate toddler table and chairs, there are a number of booster seats available for toddlers. They usually strap onto an adult dining chair, and can be made of moulded plastic or can also be more like a large firm cushion. Plastic ones are obviously easier to wipe clean of any mess (I love this one from Ingenuity, available on Amazon.com), but if you prefer the cushion type ones, just make sure that the cover is washable. With these booster seats, always check before each use that the straps holding the booster onto the adult chair haven’t come loose. The great thing about using a booster seat is that the whole family can still sit around one table at meal times.
If your toddler is very well behaved, you could skip the above recommendations, and just let your toddler sit on a normal dining chair at your table. If you choose to take this option, it’s really important to ensure that your child knows that they must stay seated and not try to stand up on the chair. If you have any doubt that your child cannot follow your safety rules, then I don’t recommend that you allow them to sit on an adult sized dining chair just yet.
There’s no hard and fast rule on when to stop using a high chair, every child is different after all. The main thing you should consider is the safety of your child, and that can work both ways – they may be safer in the high chair, or they may be safer out of it. My son is now 30 months old and in preparation for our youngest to start weaning in 2 month’s time, we’ve decided to move him out of the high chair. He has a toddler table and chairs, but I have to say that we much prefer sitting him with us at the dining table, on an adult chair for the majority of the time. He loves to sit and chat away whilst he’s eating his dinner with us, and to be fair to him, he is very well behaved when he gets to sit on his “big boy chair”!
I would love to hear what age your children stopped using the high chair, and whether you used a booster seat as an interim step. Please comment below with any feedback!