When Can a Baby Sit Up in a High Chair?

What parents need to know about high chair safety

Child being fed by his mother (both smiling).
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Every baby will be a little different, but most parents can expect that their little one will be ready to sit up in a high chair around 4 to 6 months. You may be able to start a little sooner with a reclining high chair. 

Many parents are eager for this time because transitioning into a chair can free you up a little in the kitchen and at the table. It also lets your baby join in some of the family's activities, which is great for social development. In order to know when the time is right, there are some key milestones to look for before placing your baby in the high chair. 

When Baby's Ready

Every high chair manufacturer will have an age recommendation for each chair. Most recommend waiting until a baby is 6 months old before using a high chair. This is a good starting point, but you'll want to make sure your baby is ready. After all, each child develops at a different rate and, for safety reasons, you don't want to rush it.

Knowing when your baby is ready to sit up in the upright position in a high chair is fairly easy. Her physical development between 4 and 6 months should begin to reveal that she can sit up well with some support. She should show fairly good stability and control when seated, with only a slight bobbing about. The ability to hold her head up is also a must.

Reclining High Chairs

If your baby is not quite at that stage and you want to begin using a high chair, consider purchasing a reclining model. These can be used in the upright position as well, so you'll get plenty of use out of it as she grows.

Many parents find the reclining position convenient to use as a resting place for their baby. Perhaps the reclining high chair serves as a good seat with a view as mom or dad preps dinner. It can also work out well for those hurried moments when you're bottle feeding baby with one hand while eating your own dinner with the other.

It's not advisable to use the reclining position when you begin feeding baby food to your little one.

Quality Counts

Whether you go with a reclining or a standard high chair, make sure to check out all your options. You want one that is sturdy and durable enough for at least two years of use. It should also be easy to clean and use. In the reclining position, a five-point safety harness is a must for young babies. A well-secured safety strap should be used for the sitting position.

After making your purchase, be sure to keep a record of the make and model number of your baby's high chair. It's also a good idea to register it with the company. It's a simple step you can take just in case there is a manufacturer's recall for safety or any other reason and allows you to take immediate action.

Transitioning to a High Chair

A great tip for starting solid food is to get your baby familiar with being seated in the high chair in the weeks before you actually start solids. Let her take the chair out for a "test drive" and allow her to become comfortable in her new little throne. Give her a plate, cup, and spoon to play with and you'll have one less obstacle to overcome when it comes time to start solid foods.

As important as it is for baby to feel comfortable in the high chair, it's just as important that anyone who will be supervising baby during meal times is familiar with how it works.

  • How quickly does the tray come off?
  • Does it fold up and where is the locking mechanism?
  • How easy is it to get baby in and out of the chair without getting little fingers caught in any of its parts?
  • How do the straps that hold the baby in the seat adjust and lock to prevent baby from escaping?

These aren't things you want to learn once the baby is in the chair. They're also things you'll want to be able to show anyone who will be around during baby's meal times.

High chairs with wheels are very convenient, especially if one parent is home with the baby alone and needs to multitask while the baby eats. Be careful to test out the locking mechanism on the wheels, and know how to do it on the fly. 

For some babies, getting to be part of the social interaction during meals is key to allowing everyone to eat in relative peace. Make sure the chair is positioned in a way that baby can see you and feel part of the party, but not within reach of things on the table that are hot or sharp. 

Safety Tips

As you move your little one into the high chair, keep a few important safety tips in mind:

  • Babies should never be left unattended in a high chair. 
  • Babies should always be strapped in, either with a five-point harness or a safety strap.
  • Before every use, take a moment to look over the chair. Make sure everything's where it should be and that there is no damage to the chair.
  • Keep the high chair close to you at all times. You should be able to see your baby from wherever you are. Make sure it's not within reach of table or countertops, too.

A Word From Verywell

Once your baby is ready to sit in a high chair, it makes meal times for mom and dad a lot less hectic. You may even be allowed to finish a meal for a change. Just make sure baby (and you) are ready for this big step. 

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