High chairs are a great way to have your wee one spend meal time with the family. Yet, like all things you will find your toddler outgrows the chair.
When is your child too old for the chair? Are there signs of the impending transitions to a more grown-up arrangement?
There isn’t a set age as to when a child is too old for a high chair. Each child develops at different rates, so it depends on the individual stage of your toddler. However, babies outgrow high chairs anywhere between the ages of 18 months old to 3 years old.
How can you tell if your child is ready to graduate from the high chair?
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Signs that it’s time to ditch the chair
Your child will give indications that they are ready to leave the high chair behind.
There’s a resistance
You may find that there is a constant struggle in putting your toddler into the chair.
It can be their way of saying “I don’t want to be in there anymore.”
Your child can feed themselves
High chairs provide a convenient way in which you can feed your baby. As they develop the ability to start using the utensils and feed themselves, then it can be a good time to consider upgrading from the high chair.
Things to look out for to help you confirm your decision are:
- how stable your baby is while feeding themselves
- an increase in the dexterity of using the utensils
- a decrease in the amount of food spillage
With these points in mind, it pays to be aware that each child can develop at different rates. Be patient and don’t try to rush the process.
Your baby has outgrown the chair
According to the Mayo Clinic, a baby grows at least ½ an inch each week in the first 6 months. The weekly gain in weight is 5 to 7 pounds.
Between month 6 and your wee one’s first birthday, she has grown by ⅜ of an inch every week.
John Hopkins Medicine states that toddlers can add 2 to 3 inches to their height each year.
With that in mind, your baby may be feeling uncomfortable in the high chair. Their movement may become a little restricted, making it somewhat difficult for your child to readjust themselves.
You may find that your toddler has a habit of climbing out of the chair. Take note, as your child is letting you know it’s time to transition into a bigger person’s chair.
Here is how to make the change go smoothly.
Progressing to a booster seat
Booster seats are the go-between of a high chair and having your child sit in a proper chair.
They come in a variety of options, which we will run you through later.
When your child is ready to progress to a booster seat, here are some tips to make the process go smoothly.
You may notice the initial signs that your baby is wanting to transition from the high chair.
Make the changes slow and progressive. Consider using the high chair for main meals and the booster seat for snack time.
After a while, have a main meal and snack in the booster seat. Gradually wean your toddler off the high chair.
Teach Table Manners
Being able to sit at the table means learning basic meal etiquette.
Babies and toddlers learn through observing and imitation. That doesn’t mean you can’t teach them the skills needed to eat when sitting at the table.
Here are the most basic skills for toddlers to develop:
- Have your child learn to say “please” and “thank you”.
- Don’t throw food or anything else around.
- Sitting still. The attention span of toddlers is short and they can get a bit restless.
- Eat with their mouth closed.
- Wait until everyone is sitting at the table before beginning to eat. (Have your older kids not bring any digital device to the dining table. This is family time!)
- Only leave the table to go to the bathroom or when everyone has finished their meal. Ask if it’s okay to do so.
- Use a napkin.
- Be patient. It can take a bit of time for your child to learn the proper way to eat at the table. Stay calm and encouraging.
- Eradicate bad behavior. Babies and toddlers can pick up some traits that, at the time, may have been adorable (such as constantly dropping their spoon onto the floor). What you have been doing is reinforcing the unwanted behavior. Now you have to retrain your child on acceptable behavior at meal times.
Integrate the child into meal time
Your toddler is growing up and becoming more independent. As a part of that, they are developing their own identity and understanding of the world.
Meal times are an ideal opportunity for the family to come together and bond.
Use the time to talk about the day, and allow your toddler to be involved. Sure they can’t have an in-depth conversation, but they can still contribute!
As mentioned in the previous section, have your older children leave their cell phones or handheld game consoles in their room.
If your toddler sees her siblings allowed to be unfocused during meal time, she may copy the behavior.
Choosing a Booster Seat
There are different types of booster seats available on the market. You can get ones that are merely cushions, other options are:
- seats that include a feeding table.
- portable booster seats (ideal for when the family wants to go out for a meal.
- seat harness (not technically a seat, but it does allow your baby to sit in a big person chair)
- floor booster seat
When deciding which seat to get, choose one that meets your and your toddlers’ needs. Here are things to think about before purchasing your booster seat:
As we pointed out earlier, children can grow quickly. To compensate for these growth spurts, get a booster seat that allows you to adjust the height.
Children wriggle and change positions in their seat. Keep them safe by buckling them into the seat.
Look for a three-way safety harness system. This provides the best security while still allowing your toddler to move their arms and legs freely.
Also, pay attention to how the booster seat attaches to the kitchen chair. You don’t want to have the seat toppling over if your child land too far forward.
Storing away the seat
Do you want the booster seat to be a permanent fixture at your dining table? Or would you like to tuck it away somewhere after meal times?
If you opt for the latter option, then a foldable seat is worth thinking about. It can be put away in a closet without taking up much space.
Booster seats that have a detachable table act as a proxy high chair. This acts as a temporary go-between as your child becomes more accustomed to sitting at the dining table.
Cleaning the seat
Toddlers can still leave a good mess while eating. Spills and dropped food can have the booster seat looking like it’s been in a good fight. The more nooks and crannies that a booster seat has means more hiding places for food scraps.
How much time do you want to spend cleaning the seat? Fabric lining can require a greater level of maintenance than plastic.
Some booster seats allow for parts (such as the food tray) to be placed in the dishwasher. That makes cleaning a little bit easier.
How frustrating would it be if you bought a booster seat only to find it’s too big for your chair. Or the size for your child?
As carpenters will tell you: measure twice and cut once. In this case, it’s measure your kitchen chair twice and buy once.
Take your wee one along with you and have them try out the potential seat. You can have them choose one that they like once you have the right size.
Don’t think you have to go all out when purchasing a booster seat. Use the factors we have mentioned in this section to inform your buying decision, then choose a booster seat that you can afford.
Celebrate the milestone
Your baby growing up is marked with many milestones. At times they seem to be reached quicker than you believe: their first steps; the first word; their first tooth…
Transitioning from the high chair.
These are all special moments. Treasure them.
Your baby is becoming a grown-up. Don’t be surprised when they may remind you that “I’m not a baby anymore”.