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.

 

When to stop using a high chair

My 30 month old – high chair escape artist…

 

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 tableToddler table and chairs 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.

 

Boosters seats

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.

 

Adult chair

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.

 

Conclusion

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!

4 responses to “When to Stop Using a High Chair

  1. Angie

    When I was a child, high chairs didn’t even exist haha, gotta love our modern days. I’m a babysitter and I also notice the moment when the child figures out how to escape the high chair – gotta change that! Like you said, safety is the top priority and I completely agree. It’s just a matter of observing and taking action.

    Reply
    1. Caroline Post author

      Hi Angie,

      When I was a child, high chairs were huge bulky wooden things which took up half of the kitchen to store! Much easier to have the nifty little ones which fold away, and the plastic is much easier to clean!

      It sounds like you are a pro – babysitting and seeing a variety of personalities can really help you to figure out how to handle little people. I’m sure if you have your own kids in the future you will use that experience well!

      As long as parents supervise their children in the high chair, it should become apparent when children are ready to make their escape!

      Caroline

      Reply
  2. Luis

    Hi Caroline,

    Great website, I’ve found lots of good information on it.

    I remember when my youngest(now 4) was little, he couldn’t stand the high chair. We never knew why. But as soon as we sat him on it he would start crying and screaming, so we had to feed him on our lap until he started eating on his own.

    Anyway, great article!

    Luis

    Reply
    1. Caroline Post author

      Hi Luis,

      Thanks for stopping by. I have heard of some kids hating the high chair from the word dot, it’s very strange! I wonder if it’s the independent streak shining through early on… perhaps they don’t like to be constrained? Or an early fear of heights?!

      I have seen a genius gadget called Lap Baby which would have been perfect for you. In fact, you may have inspired me to try and borrow one to write a review! Basically you strap the baby into the harness and strap the harness onto you on your lap. It means you can have both hands free whilst holding your baby on your lap, so you can eat your meal while still holding onto your baby. I’m hoping my second child won’t be so clingy that I need this device, but I do remember my first being a nightmare if we ever went out for a meal before he could sit in a high chair!

      Caroline

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *