Public Safety: Highchairs: Choose and Use Wisely

When your infant is capable of sitting unsupported and is ready for a highchair (usually over 6 months old), there are a few important recommendations that Canada Safety Council would like to share.

The Purchase

There are many models and makes of high chairs available to purchase. Parents have already made the right decision to feed their little one in a highchair which is clearly the safest place to feed a child. Remember, the highchairs with high-end prices don’t necessarily offer the best when it comes to safety features.

Highchairs with a wide base offer good stability.

Any parent can tell you that babies love to rock and jiggle. Highchairs must be able to sustain not only the possibility of toppling over with the wiggling of the child seated; but must also sustain the siblings visiting the highchair and perhaps leaning on the tray to say hello. No climbing allowed.

Highchairs must have a centre pole and a waist/crotch strap.

Babies can slip down and be injured in seconds. A pole between the child’s legs and a three-point harness (waist and crotch restraint) is required to keep the child from slipping and potentially hanging and choking. Some models offer a five-point harness which includes shoulder straps. Whichever restraint you choose, never rely on the tray to keep your baby in the highchair.

Highchairs must pass the latest safety standards.

So beware of older models sold at garage sales… best to avoid them.

Highchairs must reflect your personal preference and lifestyle.

Highchairs can tilt, fold, wheel and morph into many different uses. Parents must be aware of the different safety requirements of each model’s particular capabilities. Always make sure that the lock mechanisms are locked in place before putting your child in the highchair. Some might find the feature to remove the tray or unbuckle the restraints with just one hand to be an indispensable feature. Just be sure that your baby is not able to easily master the same feat.

Setting up your child’s eating space.

Since your baby will probably be near your kitchen table, it is wise to keep all sharp or dangerous objects out of reach. This includes the possibility of your baby reaching for the tablecloth and perhaps spilling a hot beverage. If you have stairs in the kitchen, keep the highchair away. If your highchair has wheels, make sure that they are locked.

A few last points to consider.

Do be careful when fastening straps and adjusting the tray to avoid pinching or trapping your baby’s fingers. Try not to rush. The same goes for removing your baby from the highchair, give the baby a chance to get legs and feet out before you lift.

Clean the spills underneath the highchair to avoid slipping on the floor. Also, clean and disinfect the spills on the highchair and tray. Food finds its way in all kinds of nooks and crannies and might expose your baby to bacteria.

Finally, avoid the situation of your baby getting restless and looking to escape. Do not leave your baby in the highchair for a long spell of time. Make sure that you have a few special toys (plastic measuring spoons) or a few Cheerios on hand to entertain your baby while you prepare the food.

Of course, the best strategy for keeping your baby safe is to always supervise and never leave your baby unattended. This advice applies to all circumstances, including when your baby is in a highchair.