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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Just take a peek at the high chair manufacturer's age recommendation. Most recommend waiting until a baby is six months old before using a high chair. Some high chairs have a recline position which parents may find 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 or works out well for those hurried moments when mom or dad is bottle feeding their baby with one hand while eating their own dinner with the other.

But it's not advisable to use that reclining position when you begin feeding baby food to your little one.

To know 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 slight bobbing about. The ability to hold her head up is also a must.

Making the Transition 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. That will be one obstacle you've 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 mom and dad and anyone else 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? And 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, and they're things you'll want to be able to show anyone else 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. But be careful to test out the locking mechanism on the wheels, and know how to do it on the fly. 

It's also a good idea to know the make and model number of your baby's high chair so that if there is a manufacturer's recall for any reason (especially safety concerns), you can take action. 

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

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