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High Chair Safety

By Micah Ryan. M.D.

While they are an integral part of having young children, high chairs are often overlooked as potentially dangerous pieces of furniture. Most children will try to climb out of a high chair at some point in their development, and most succeed in some capacity. To make matters worse, most kids do not jump feet first.

Most injuries from a high chair are from falling and can include:

  • Head, neck and facial injuries
    • Concussions
    • Bruises
    • Cuts
  • Broken/sprained arms or wrists

There are several ways to ensure your little one stays safe as he/she eats.

Make sure the chair is sturdy and won't tip over. Little ones often rock side to side or back and forth, and this may send the chair toppling if it isn't on a strong base. This is especially true with older high chairs.  

ALWAYS use the safety straps. It's important to buckle both the shoulder and groin straps to prevent your child from sliding down and out. Even if the chair has a leg partition under the tray, a child can still slip partway or all the way out.

As we do not need to always buy new infant items:  If borrowing or purchasing a used high chair, make sure all the straps are in good working order and aren't frayed. Double-check the buckles to make sure they work and don't have any sharp, broken edges.

Have someone in the room when your child is in the high chair. Having a set of eyes on the child as he/she eats allows you to:

  • Watch for choking hazards
  • Control food throwing, if (really when) it becomes an issue
  • Ensure the child doesn't attempt a jail break by testing those straps or attempt to stand up.  Remember that our kids may be small and cute, but they are smart and eventually will figure out how to unbuckle themselves. 

NEVER let your child stand in a high chair. Young children have poor balance on the ground, so an uneven high chair can spell disaster. It's also a good habit for when your child is out of a high chair and in a regular chair in school or restaurants.

Do not set the chair near a counter or table. A child may be able to push off hard enough to topple the chair over, particularly during a tantrum.

Keep the high chair area clear for reaching little hands. Avoid having the following within reach:

  • Table cloths
  • Placemats
  • Sharp objects/silverware
  • Hot food or liquids

Ensure collapsible high chairs are in a fully locked position before placing a child inside. This will prevent the chair from collapsing and fingers from being pinched.

In a pinch, a chair that hooks to a table is a good substitute, but it should not be the default. Make sure the table is heavy enough to support the weight of the child and won't tip over. Check to make sure your child's feet aren't near a table leg, as he/she may push hard enough against it to dislodge the chair and fall off the table.