Essentially, a high chair is a child-appropriate chair with a raised seat and tray, that enables the child to sit at the table and eat a meal with their parents and family.
There are different types of high chair consisting of similar components but can vary significantly in shape, versatility and material. Like every simple child chair, a baby high chair consists of a seat board resting on chair legs and a backrest.
Apart from the smaller size, baby high chairs do not differ significantly from chairs for adults in this respect. However, baby high chairs have additional components that play a significant role for the sitting comfort and safety of a baby or child.
There is an abdominal bar or baby bar to create a barrier to the front. In some cases, a table or tray fulfils this same function. These elements prevent the baby or child from falling out of the chair. Between the legs, a safety strap stops the child from slipping out. A foot rest or foot board enhances the sitting comfort. Here, the child or baby can comfortably rest their feet.
“Normal” chairs used with a cushion or similar ‘booster’ are not very suitable for a child to sit on. As there are no straps or bars, therefore they are not safe, and the cushion and chair can easily get dirty. Your child's safety and comfort must be taken into consideration when purchasing a suitable high chair.
Some of our best childhood memories are eating a meal together as a family, which can be one of the most important family activities, despite or perhaps because of the hectic daily life. So parents will aim to make the family meal time as pleasant and comfortable as possible for their child.
A good, child appropriate high chair can give the child a positive feeling in connection with meal times and create the basis for later development stages. The great curiosity of little humans and their eagerness to be close to their family can go hand in hand at family meal times and enhance the quality of life of the whole family.
In modern families, with full time working parents, it can be a struggle to allocate time to spend together as family. Meal times together can help reduce this deficit. Preparing and eating healthy home cooked in a serene atmosphere and spending time together will develop and enhance your child's eating habits. For example, they learn about the varieties of foods, and correct table manners and how to use cutlery.
Communication and Interaction
High chairs encourage communication and interaction between child, parents and siblings, making meal times an enjoyable event for the whole family. This strengthens the bonds within the family and improves family relationships. If the high chair is regularly placed close to the family table or directly at the table, the child will be more content, he or she can feel more safe and confident in close proximity to the family.
Language and Social Development
Babies and toddlers are naturally inquisitive and very eager to learn. They watch parents and brothers or sisters, copy their behaviour and by doing so, easily learn the most important rules of behaviour. Studies have shown that the communication and interaction processes at the family table are very important for the child’s language and social skills development. By learning language and social skills at an early age, your child will have a foundation for successful interaction with other people later own in life.
At the beginning of the physical development of babies and toddlers, the bones and muscles are not fully developed yet. From an orthopaedic point of view, an ergonomically correct posture when sitting is very important. High chairs ensure a healthy physical development as they support the baby’s and toddler’s ergonomic posture. However, you should only start using high chairs when the baby or child is able to sit unsupported securely for at least 15 minutes.
Numerous manufacturers offer an overwhelmingly large variety of high chairs. Important considerations entail your price range, available space, how and the duration that you would like to use the high chair for. Are wood or plastic suited for strong daily wear and tear your child’s sudden movements? Is the paint finish child-friendly and free of harmful substances? Does the seat cover cope well with sweat and saliva? How high or low can the seat be set?
Baby high chair is a term that covers most well recognised types of high chairs. The adjustable high chair is the most common type, characterised by an adjustable seat which adapts to suit the child's size and age. Additonally, the convertible high chair is suited for babies, as combining a high chair and table, made from wood usually. Furthermore, there is also the plastic high chair with bucket seat, often equipped with a variety of extras, for example a removable tray.
Usually they have a removable tray and a footrest plus another step. Both should be height-adjustable. This enables the child to ‘climb’ up into the high chair independently from a certain age. The construction consisting usually of separate wooden parts makes it not just possible for the high chair to “grow” with the child but also offers a high degree of flexibility and enhances motor skills. In order to make the high chair easy to adapt to the new seat height in your child’s various growth stages, the screw construction should be very sturdy and secure.
A hybrid between high chair and table. If you combine both units, it acts as a high chair. Or you can use both components separately as play table, activity table or separate child’s dining table and chair. The two parts are closely connected, therefore the versatility of the convertible high chair is limited to an extent. It can save you having to buy a separate child chair and table. A convertible high chair can be very useful, given that your child will soon reach kindergarten age, when painting and craft activities become more important and require a table that is suitable for your child in height and materials. An easy to clean, stain resistant table surface is just as important as high quality materials that enable you to repaint the table if paints and craft glue leave too many traces.
Plastic high chairs enable very small children to sit at the table with their parents. Most plastic high chairs feature a multipoint strap (similar to baby car seats or child car seats) and consist of a padded plastic seat on a plastic tube frame. This gives you high flexibility in a compact size. Thanks to different sitting and reclining positions, plastic high chairs are highly versatile to use. The baby can rest briefly and be comfortable at mealtimes. However due to the plastic frame (maximum weight), you can't adapt it later on, these high chairs are only suitable until age 3 approximately.
Portable high chairs are very flexible as they are designed for holidays and outings, therefore they are suitable for different locations and rooms. Portable high chairs are usually easy to take apart or fold down, relatively lightweight and available in various versions: as booster seat with straps or “floating” versions that attaches to the table with special screws. Portable high chairs are frequently used for travelling to take the place of more sturdy high chairs and are therefore not quite as comfortable as “rigid” high chairs. They are not recommended for everyday use. Portable high chairs are also ideal for any child visitors.
High chair accessories such as additional seat inserts and booster cushions are available to buy for many models, together with straps. Seat inserts serve to enhance the comfort of smaller babies in large high chairs, the straps increase the child’s safety.
Seat Insert. . .Seat inserts and booster cushions provide support, comfort and safety and added sitting comfort in chairs that are still quite large for the child. Mostly they consist of individual, well padded components, usually with back rest and supporting side sections. Thanks to keeping the child’s back in direct contact with the backrest, they provide perfect support and keep the child’s posture upright, in most models. Thick padding and wipe-able covers are clear advantages for these seat inserts and make life easier for parents by helping the child to perfectly grow into the child’s chair.
Additional straps . . .With increasing independence, small children have the urge to climb out of the high chair by themselves, preferably when no adult is nearby. For these moments, a strap or harness is a good idea to keep the infant safe. These additional safety straps make the entire high chair much safer. An additional abdominal harness or strap can prevent the infant from climbing or falling out of the high chair when unsupervised, in turn prevent dangerous accidents or injuries. The strap or harness can also prevent the infant from slipping out between the abdominal baby bar and the seat board or between the tray (table/play tray) and the seat.
When your child is ready for a high chair depends greatly on the model of high chair you choose. Some high chairs can be used with an insert or booster for children from about six months, others are only suitable for older children.
The basic principle suggests that children should only sit in a high chair once they can sit up unsupported for about 15 minutes. Before then, the child’s back muscles are not yet strong enough. Most children have reached this important anatomical milestone by the age of 8 or 9 months, some a bit earlier.
Even with a high chair, children still need sufficient exercise. An overly tight “corset” in the sense of tight (harness) straps and narrow seats or overly stiff backrests will take all the fun out of your child’s mealtimes and can create an aversion to eating together. Comfortable seat positions together with the required degree of safety and functionality are also factors that contribute to a quiet mealtime and comfortable sitting not just for children, but also parents.
High chairs need to be made of a material that cannot break easily and must be stable and sturdily constructed. Solid wood, for example, is a strong material and ideal for building high chairs. Less expensive, but not quite as strong and recommended (also in terms of the environmental impact) are engineered wood materials (wood composite/MDF), where wood chips have been pressed together using binding agents.
In addition to the traditional material wood, high chairs made of plastic (for the seat, table tray etc.) are also available. They have a tubular metal frame and are also recommended. Further safety aspects are stability, rounded edges and safe coatings. Straps and cushion make a good high chair extra safe. Numerous seals of approval and safety marks of well-known institutions and associations document to what degree a manufacturer adheres to the applicable safety standards.
The GS Mark
If a high chair carries the GS mark, the manufacturer places great emphasis on the safety of the product even before it gets to market, striving to eliminate potential risks to the consumer. An independent test institute (such as the German TÜV or LGA) will test the high chair and attest that is meets the basic health and safety requirements of the GPSG (law on product safety) and individual safety guidelines. The GS mark often appears together with test seal of the test institute. Once the GS mark has been awarded, the high chair is tested at regular intervals and retested every five years.
The Golden M
The seal of approval Golden M is awarded by the Deutsche Gütegemeinschaft Möbel e.V. (DGM), the German Quality Furniture Association. High chairs are tested for specific health and safety aspects, such as stability, durability, craftsmanship and the absence of harmful materials.
High chairs are available in a wide variety of design. A good idea when buying is to first check the high chair’s safety and practical use. Important criteria include stability, an adjustable seat height, easy to clean covers and a foot rest. A foot rest is also recommended to firmly support children's legs, if unsupported there will be painful pressure on their thighs.
Children need good high chairs to grow with them. The seat, footrest, backrest and arm rests should be adaptable and adjustable to the changing body size. Then your child can sit comfortably and ergonomically correctly.
A sturdy and stable high chair is important, especially as children rarely sit still. This does not mean the high chair has to be very heavy or made of solid wood. But it should be well made. High chairs with wheels, even if lockable, have a greater risk of tipping over.
The edges on the usually removable tray and front edge of the high chair seat should be rounded, to ensure greater comfort and safety.
Easy to Clean
Thanks to well protected and refined surfaces, higher quality high chairs increase your child’s comfort with a smoother surface and are easier to clean, handle and maintain. A high quality high chair lasts for the long term and is more durable for your child. Especially when your child is learning to eat independently, a wipe-able frame and washable covers are essential.
Investing in the Future
Various tests have shown that high chairs which “grow” with the child perform best. In particular in terms of ergonomic posture and safety, they beat their competition. Foot rests and seats are adjustable in multiple positions, which make sense as a nine month old baby is obviously not the same size as a three year old child - the difference is around 35 cm. Some adjustable products can even last until school age and can then still be used as desk chairs.
We hope you've found our guide helpful and can now make the best decisions for you and your baby.
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