For expecting parents, it can be a bit of a riddle to determine what items you actually need and which ones are just nice to have – including bigger items like high chairs. This becomes even more true for expecting parents who are worried about saving space in their living or kitchen areas. If either of these descriptions applies to you, then you may be wondering if you really need a high chair for your baby.
High chairs are generally considered a necessary item for most families because they represent great value over time, but not every kitchen has room for one. The best ones are easy to clean and have excellent safety features. You won’t need a high chair until your baby is about four to six months old – when she starts eating solid foods.
Though it may not seem like it at first glance, the topic of whether or not new parents really need a high chair is not simple. Join me as we explore all of the ins and outs of handling feeding a baby with and without a highchair.
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Do you really need a high chair?
The decision of whether or not you need a high chair is actually quite complicated. In fact, there are multiple factors that you need to carefully consider.
The factor on the top of this list is, of course, safety. High chairs are designed for safely feeding a baby and should be able to keep your baby secure throughout his meal. The best ones will have adjustable inclines, 3-point harnesses (or even 5-point) and will be able to grow along with your baby over the next few years.
While there are also high-chair alternatives that are considered safe to use when feeding a baby, you will want to avoid using baby swings, activity centers, and Bumbo seats for feeding.
In fact, high-chair accidents are actually quite common and new safety standards for high chairs were rolled out in 2019. While you do not necessarily have to have a high chair in the traditional sense of the word, whatever feeding arrangements you make for your child will need to meet these safety standards.
There are several other factors that you might want to consider before you put a high chair on your must-have list. The rest of this article will detail each of those factors to help you consider all of the necessary factors before making your choice.
Psst! If you want to see the high chair that I’m currently in love with – the Abiie Beyond Wooden High Chair – then you can check it out here. It’s chic, easy to clean, and your baby will literally be able to use it forever (as in into adulthood!).
Is my baby eating solid foods yet?
Many parents have this innate urge to be fully prepared for their child’s first year of life before the baby arrives. The truth of the matter is that having a place for baby to eat is really not necessary for the first several months of their life.
For the first few months of your baby’s life, your baby will either breastfeed or bottle feed for every meal. There is no need for a high chair for any of these feedings. So, if you have a high chair sitting around before your baby is eating solids, it will simply be sitting in the dining area taking up real estate.
Most high chair manufacturers recommend waiting until your baby is between 4 and 6 months old before placing him/her into a high chair. This is the typical age when babies develop enough upper body strength to sit up with assistance. Babies need to have a good grasp on sitting with assistance before they are placed in a high chair.
Do I have enough space in the kitchen for a high chair?
When I had my first child, I was living in a small rental house with very little available living space in the eating area. While we still managed to find space for a full-sized high chair, there were times that I felt like the baby was taking over the kitchen.
This is a common problem for parents who find themselves living in a small space. Whether you live in an area where square footage is hard to come by, or you are simply pressed for space in your current home, giving up kitchen space may not be a viable option for your family.
There are space-saving high chairs available on the market that can help with this problem. Some high chairs actually fold up so that they can be stored elsewhere. There are also high chairs that are built to be attached to your kitchen table. If none of these options work for your family, then you might also consider looking into alternatives for high chair options for your little one.
I just took a long look at how safe hook-on or clip-on high chairs are and found some great recommendations to share!
Can I afford a high chair?
High chairs can be found in virtually any budget, but the average high chair costs around $70. There are outliers on each end of the spectrum with extremely basic chairs dipping as low as $20 and much more luxury high chairs landing above $200. For each of these price ranges, you will see a variety of different functions that come with each high chair.
- The most basic high chair will have all of the safety regulations to keep your little one safe. However, you may sacrifice comfort for the child, ease of putting your baby in and out of the seat, and usually, these less expensive high chairs are much smaller. This means that your baby will be unable to use the chair for an extended period of time.
- Average high chairs will also follow safety regulations. These chairs tend to be larger and are able to be used for a longer period of time. They also have features like removable trays, a cupholder, and easy to wipe down padding on the seat of the chair.
- More expensive models tend to go above and beyond the safety regulations. Often, these models are able to transition into a booster seat making them have much more longevity than less expensive models. Some of these more expensive models also recline to different levels for babies who are not quite ready to sit up. However, it is important that feeding babies in high chairs that are reclined is not considered a safe practice.
No matter what your budget, all of these high chairs are able to meet the basic needs and even the most basic of chairs will get the job done. There are also high chair alternatives if none of these descriptions fit your needs.
How long will I be able to use the high chair?
The answer to this question is going to depend on your high chair and your child. In my personal experience, I was able to use a high chair with all three of my children from about 6 months old to around 2 years old. At this age, the kids could have continued to sit in a high chair, but they were far too independent for that.
Some chairs actually convert into booster seats which is an excellent feature if you find a chair in your budget. However, most high chairs are worth the investment in the long run if you have space and means to have one.
Are high chairs safe?
As mentioned above, high chairs are regulated and have standards for safety that must be met in order to be sold to the public. If you are considering purchasing a used high chair, you want to familiarize yourself with these standards to be sure the chair meets all of the requirements in order to keep your little one safe.
It is also important to remember that your child should always be strapped into the high chair using the proper straps that came with the seat. Most of the injuries involving high chairs come from toddlers attempting to climb out of their high chairs. Also, never leave your child unattended in their high chair. While they are generally safe, you should always be able to see your baby in their high chair, especially while they are eating.
Make sure you don’t put your baby in a highchair too soon! I just wrote an article that looks at when your baby is ready to sit by themselves in a traditional highchair that you should check out.
How easy is it to keep a high chair clean and sanitary?
Keeping your high chair clean is actually not very difficult at all. Do not misunderstand me, you are going to see just how messy your little angel can get when he/she starts eating. However, high chairs are designed for these kinds of messes because high chair manufacturers understand the plight of the parent.
- After every feeding, you will want to wash the tray with soap and warm water. High chair trays are removable to make this easier for parents. You will also want to wipe down the seat of the high chair after each feeding. The seat can hold a surprising amount of food, so make sure to get it all out.
- Once a month, I like to take my high chair apart and deep clean it. This includes washing the cover that goes over the seat (not all high chair models have this feature). I also soak the straps in warm soapy water and lay them flat to dry. This removes all food particles that have gotten stuck to the straps without me having to work too hard or scrub them.
- You also need to wipe down the outer areas of the high chair daily. You will be surprised how far your sweet little baby can sling spaghetti sauce.
In my experience, keeping high chairs clean is a breeze. As mentioned before, most high chairs are designed for the convenience of the parent.
Would a high chair alternative be a better fit for me?
There are some alternatives to the standard high chair that many parents are choosing to look into. Whether you are looking for a budget-friendly option, or simply want to save some space, there is probably something out there that will work for your situation.
Here are some possibilities:
- Hook-on or clip-on high chairs
- Portable high chairs that strap to a standard chair
- Pop-up portable high chairs
- Cushioned seats that strap to a standard chair
Of course, all of these will have strengths and weaknesses compared to the traditional high chair. While some of these options are a good bit cheaper than a regular chair, you might be surprised by some of the prices on those portables! See what I mean here!
Making the list of what your child needs can be a bit overwhelming for the new parent. While you do not need a traditional high chair, you do need to be prepared for them to have a safe place to eat by six months of age. No need to panic if you haven’t bought a solution yet, there is plenty of time.