You’re going out to eat as a family. There has to be a place for the car seat, so you just flip over the restaurant high chair and set it on top of the legs. Is that really a good idea?
It is not safe to put a car seat on an upside-down or flipped-over high chair in a restaurant or anywhere else. High chairs are not designed to be used this way and while it might seem stable, car seats can easily fall in this position and it is easy to bump into them inside a crowded restaurant.
Let’s look ahead at how serious this can be and some better ways to keep an eye on your baby.
Is the car seat high chair hack safe?
While it may seem to be an easy solution, it is dangerous to put a car seat in an upside-down high chair! The chairs are just standard with no advanced safety features. They are definitely not made to be used upside down. There are no straps on the bottom.
Also, the bottom of the high chair, when flipped, sits at an angle because the back of the high chair seat is higher. When you sit the car seat in, it can slide forward, backward, or even topple to the side. If someone brushes against it, the baby can easily fall! Plus, the baby is in the way of beverages and hot food being carried to the table and other tables. It is best to find some other method.
Once you’ve found another solution, always make sure the child is still strapped in the car seat properly if she is above the ground.
At what age can you sit a baby in a high chair?
Generally, if your baby is able to sit up fairly well on their own, they can sit in a high chair as young as 6 months old.
This is around the same time they start solid foods. Restaurant high chairs are usually those wood ones with only one set of straps, no trays, and no cushions, so it might be better to wait a little longer before you try the baby in those. They have wider seats and it is easier for the baby to slip out and fall over.
Are restaurant high chairs clean?
As with all restaurants, the cleanliness code includes the sanitation of high chairs. In most restaurants, it would be surprising if they even wiped them down at the end of the night.
According to one study, a company that makes antimicrobial products says it found restaurant high chairs that were harboring more bacteria than a public toilet seat. Why would you even want the car seat or your baby to touch that?
Let’s not forget the floors that the high chairs are on. All of the foot traffic that goes on in restaurants adds a lot of germs and dirt. If there is carpet, you can be sure the vacuum cleaners will not get everything, even if they vacuumed twice a day. Not all restaurants do carpet cleaning on a regular basis. If the floors are hard, they can be swept and mopped, but even that is not reliable.
If you won’t eat food off the floor, protect your baby.
If you are going to use a high chair at all, it is best to bring your own sanitation wipes, or ask your server to freshly wipe down the chair. To find out if the restaurant you are going to meets all of the sanitation requirements, you can search through your local health department.
11 Alternatives to putting a car seat on a high chair
If you bring a car seat into the restaurant, there are plenty of ways to avoid putting it on the high chair.
If you are seated at a booth, slide the car seat in. If it is too tight, you can try adjusting the table to make room. You can try to move the booth back from the table behind you too, and if someone is sitting there, kindly ask if they can help. If this doesn’t work, the next best thing would be to ask for a bigger booth or a table with chairs. Another way would be to lay a blanket out on the booth and lay the baby down flat.
This would only be recommended if the baby is not mobile or a roller.
This one can be a little tricky, but it is doable. You can bring your stroller in with the car seat attached. Most places will allow it. However, restaurants do have the right to refuse if they feel it goes against fire safety code or is in the way of foot traffic. If you are going to a smaller restaurant or somewhere fancy, it is courteous not to bring one.
On the flip side, restaurants will outdoor seating make this an attractive option!
If your baby is smaller and likes to be carried, you can try having a baby carrier or wrap. The baby is safely secured to you or whoever is carrying them. Just be careful not to spill ketchup on the baby’s head!
This would only be a good idea if the table is against the wall. Then push the car seat all the way against the wall.
You can ask for an extra chair to be placed at your table so you can put the car seat on it. Make sure the chair is big enough. It is also a good idea to ask for a table that is not in the middle of the restaurant.
Note that with this option there will still be no way to secure the car seat to the chair. Although the chair is likely more stable than a high chair, it’s still not a completely safe solution.
Holding the baby is always a good option. You can take turns with others eating and passing the baby around. It’s not the most ideal scenario, but it works and it will keep the baby entertained.
Restaurants have come out with a new device now to hold car seats. It is a sling held up by two bars and holds the car seat in place. It is stable and secure for your baby.
If your child is at least 6 months old and can support themselves up pretty well, you can try the high chair if you want.
Make sure to wipe it down and make sure the straps are securely fastened. You can add in a blanket or cushion around the baby for extra support. Also, there is a cover you can use that is more sanitary and stabilizing. It is normally made to cover baby seats in grocery carts but can be used for high chairs.
Another option is to bring in your own high chair. There are folding ones that make for easy transportation and storage and one like this is super cute and affordable! These can even be used outdoors when camping or at the park.
You might be familiar with these already because they are pretty common seats for babies just learning to sit up.
Some newer models of the Bumbo seat can be strapped onto a regular chair to be used at the table as a booster seat so you’ll get the best of both worlds. This particular model will strap securely to a chair.
If your baby can consistently sit up without falling over (around 9 to 12 months old), they can go into a booster seat. These can be strapped onto a regular chair and you can strap the baby in. However, it is recommended to wait until the baby is closer to 2 years old to use a booster seat because they can fall out more easily.
If your child is old enough to ride in the car with a booster seat then it is also possible to just bring it inside the restaurant and use it in the booth or chair seat if they are still a little short for the table!
Hook-on high chair
These chairs can easily be attached to the end of a restaurant table. Again, the baby must be at least 6 months old. Make sure the clips securely attach to the table. Place the baby in. Use the 3 point harness and strap the baby in properly.
Some of these hook-on high chairs are pretty slick and they also make fantastic high chair alternatives, even at the house! Here is a great example of what I’m talking about if you haven’t seen these!
Going out to eat with your baby should be an enjoyable experience. Don’t use the high chair to support the car seat! Keep your little one safe and everyone will be able to have a fun time.