How To Use a Restaurant High Chair (Plus Safety Info And Tips!)


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After having a baby, many parents are dying to bring their baby out to a restaurant and grab a meal that they don’t have to cook. However, eating out with a baby can be a challenge in itself. Many restaurant high chairs tend to be broken or dirty.

How do you safely use a restaurant high chair? To keep your baby safe, make sure she can hold her head up and sit up straight by herself. Then, be sure that the restaurant’s high chair straps and clips are working properly and that you clean and sanitize it before use.

Continue reading to learn all about staying safe while using high chairs in restaurants.

How to Use the Restaurant High Chair

Before sitting your little one down in a restaurant high chair, you’ll need to take a few precautionary steps to make sure he or she will be safe a secure. These steps include: 

  • Choosing the right chair
  • Cleaning and disinfecting it
  • Strapping your child in properly

Make sure the high chair works properly

First, take a look at the chair you were given. Many high chairs provided by restaurants are broken.

You’ll want to double-check that the straps, seat, handlebar, and other parts are in good working condition. Also, check if there are any loose or broken parts on the chair.

If the high chair is malfunctioning, don’t be afraid to ask for another one. A high chair will serve you no value if it’s broken. You could risk your child falling out of the chair and getting injured.

Dirty high chairs in restaurants are common

Restaurant high chairs can often be pretty dirty.

Unfortunately, many restaurants do not properly clean high chairs in between use. While these high-traffic chairs could use a proper washing with warm, soapy water, you can always do your own mini-cleaning with a couple of wipes followed up by sanitizing spray.

Keep a bag of sanitizing wipes in your diaper bag. Before you sit down to eat, clean the surfaces of the chair, with a high emphasis on the parts your child may touch. This includes the front handlebar, seat belt, side panels of the seat, and the seat itself.

Attach the straps securely

Because all chairs are a bit different, you’ll need to pay close attention to how you need to strap your child in. The standard wooden restaurant high chair usually has a single lap strap. However, new regulations require high chairs to have a three-point latch system to keep your baby firm in the seat. These should connect across the baby’s chest and lap.

Make sure your baby’s legs fit in the holes and the straps are secure. Sometimes, you can route the strap from behind or the side to make the length right. If you have issues setting the high chair up, ask for help from your server. They may know how their restaurant’s high chairs work and can help you strap your baby in safely.

Keep an eye on your baby!

Despite the straps on some high chairs, the baby can still wiggle out. If your baby is small and wiggly, try adding a high chair seat cover or blankets to add some cushioning to make the seat more comfortable and snug for the baby.

Do not leave your baby in the high chair unattended. Make sure an adult is sitting next to the baby while you dine. You’ll want to watch out for the baby trying to climb out of the chair or even their siblings messing around with the chair or safety straps. Always take your baby with you if you leave the table to go to the restroom.

Important Information about Restaurant High Chairs

When it comes to putting a baby in a restaurant high chair, parents have a lot of concerns. Here some answers to frequently asked questions about these chairs and their safety:

When can baby sit in a restaurant high chair?

Your baby can safely sit in a restaurant high chair when he or she can sit up comfortably on his or her own without support. For many babies, this occurs when they’re around six to seven months old.

To make sure your baby’s ready, try out a high chair safely at home. Make sure your baby is comfortable in the chair by paying attention to your infant’s size. Even if your baby is holding their head up and sitting up on their own, your child may not be ready for a high chair if they are too small. If the baby is too little for a high chair, they may slouch or slide down in it, which is not ideal.

It’s always a good idea to consult with your baby’s doctor. Ask about your baby’s size when it comes to sitting in a high chair. You may be told to wait a few more months before letting them sit in these chairs on their own.

I tackled this question in more detail recently. Check out my article on what age your baby can sit in a highchair to learn more!

Do I need a high chair cover?

For many parents, high chair covers are helpful and worth the cost. Attaching a seat cover to a high chair can help reduce the number of germs your baby will come in contact with, and it can provide him or her with an extra layer of softness.

However, if you do not go to restaurants or grocery stores with your baby frequently, you may not need to spend the money on these. You can always use a baby blanket as a cover for the infrequent times you go out to eat with your child.

Will a shopping cart cover work?

Yes, shopping cart covers work well with high chairs, too. To use them, you just need to match up the leg holes with the restaurant high chair and tie the straps tightly around the legs.

Are restaurant high chairs safe? The latest regulations

Restaurant high chairs a generally safe enough to use, depending on their condition. Unfortunately, there were still 271 injuries related to high chairs that occurred between 2011 and 2017. Most of these accidents were due to the child attempting to crawl in or out of the chair, the child rocking the chair and tipping it over, or when a part of the chair malfunctioned.

Due to these concerns with child safety, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently approved new regulations to help improve the safety of high chairs—at home and in restaurants. These new safety requirements include rear stability to prevent the chair from tipping, a passive crotch restraint, and an active three-point restraint system.

It’s important for parents to maintain caution when using restaurant high chairs, as they can be less safe than their home versions. The new standards set out by the CPSC do not require restaurants to get rid of their old high chairs and replace them, but just that they be aware of the new standards.

Restaurant high chairs are more heavily used then at-home chairs, and they often have improper cleaning practices. At home, unless you have multiples, only one baby will be using the high chair. Also, you as the parent are in charge of cleaning it and monitoring its safety. Having this control over your baby’s high chair can greatly increase the safety of using the chair compared to those in restaurants.

To keep the control in your hands, you can purchase a portable baby high chair and avoid potential danger and germs. You can carry it with you when you and baby are going out. Choose from various materials that provide you with portability, convenience, and cleanliness. Most are made to be easily washable and transportable, with some able to break down to fit inside your diaper bag.

I just published another article all about the safety of hook-on or clip-on highchairs that also has three great recommendations that you could check out!

Do restaurants have to provide high chairs?

Restaurants are not usually required to provide high chairs. Some parents even experienced restaurants not offering these chairs, which turned them away from the establishment. Prepare for your meal by checking ahead of time to make sure the restaurant can accommodate your family.

What about leaving baby in the car seat at the restaurant?

If you are dining with a young infant in a car seat, you have a few options to keep your baby clean, comfortable, and safe at the restaurant. The easiest option is to ask for a booth for a little privacy and a little more comfort. You can often slide a baby car seat on the bench of the booth.

You can also use the restaurant’s available sling/holder to secure the car seat on a restaurant chair.

Is the upside-down high chair car seat hack safe?

When eating out, many people just flip over a high chair to use as a car seat holder. Many find success with this method and have not had any safety issues. However, restaurants aren’t supposed to allow this.

Also, each chair is built differently. While this trick may work with others, it may be detrimental to try it on other chairs. Your baby could accidentally fall through, or the car seat could become too heavy. I’ve personally seen car seats fall out of high chairs used in this way – I can’t caution you enough!

Do Your Research to Keep Baby Safe

There are many resources parents can access online to learn about eating and sleeping safety for babies. As parents, we all just want to keep our babies happy and healthy. What do you find is the easiest way to eat in a restaurant with your baby?

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Josh

I'm the dad in charge of Natural Baby life. With 10 years of parenting experience across three children, I am constantly learning how to raise children more naturally. I'm passionate about doing whatever it takes to raise a happy and healthy baby! Find out more about me here.

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