High chairs: Finding the Perfect Fit
With so many high chair products on the market, it would be impossible to know exactly which high chair would be perfect for your baby. And let's face it, every baby is different. So rather than focusing on the perfect brand or style - I want to share with you ideas for how your baby should FIT into any chair.
Knowledge is power. If you know what to look for, and what simple adjustments to make, you can most likely make any chair work for your family.
So, here are some simple adjustments you can make to your high chair and a few reasons why you might need them!
The most challenging ages to ‘find the right fit’ for babies will be from 4- 8 months. Why? Because while most babies are ready to begin their solid food journey at this age, many still do not have perfect trunk control.
This can lead to leaning towers of baby love.
Think about it. Typically babies can "sit up" on their own by 7 months or so, but we are feeding them long before! And to eat, your baby needs to be able to “sit up” for an extended period of time and that is a lot of work for their core
Head & Trunk strength is clutch.
While your baby will most likely need some support to their trunk (see above to point 01. - they are still learning to sit!) they absolutely need to have good head control in their seat for the duration of the meal.
What does this look like?
Your baby can easily keep their head in the middle for at least 10 minutes in their chair
They can easily turn their head side to side to look around, and then bring it back to the middle on their own.
Solid foods is all about your child's readiness for this motor skill. Head control is non negotiable - unless you are being guided by a feeding expert, I digress.
Preventing the Leaning Tower of Baby Love
Since we have established babies must have good head control to eat, how are we going to help their trunk stay in the game?
Vertical towel rolls placed along the sides of your babies trunk can help to fill some of the “dead space” your baby may lean into when they get tired. This support can be crazy helpful.
This might look like a baby sandwich with one roll on each side of your baby, or you might just. need one if your baby prefers to always say, lean to the left.
Make sure the tray hits your baby at nipple line or below. This allows their arms to come down to the tray and help support themselves while they feed.
If the tray is too high they cannot use their arms to help. We are not feeding barn animals here eating from a troff.
Now, If you have a petite little one and the tray is all up in their business, try adding a small folded towel in the seat of the chair to raise up their booty! Gives them a little boost.
Arms up over the tray - check
Tray at nipple height or below - check
I'll be honest, I don't get crazy about this one for kiddos who have good head and trunk strength for feeding. There are certainly littles who have difficulty feeding or need ALL the supportive love - and should absolutely have foot support but that is for a private discussion!
For most kiddos, I find their little legs are just too short for most feeding seats in the beginning to bend over the edge of the seat and rest on a foot plate.
So, as long as their head and trunk and well aligned and supported, you should be OK.
The Recline Function
This one is tricky - some high chairs have varying levels of incline, usually no more than three. I don't love the idea of using the recline function for feeding - upright is best unless being specifically guided by a feeding specialist.
My recommendation is upright with towel roll support unless guided otherwise.
Traveling high chairs
Now, this one DOES get special mention. You know those chairs that that fold and hook onto a table for a restaurant or to take to your friends house for dinner? They are amazing, don't get me wrong. BUT, they offer VERY minimal support to your baby. I find babies should learn to sit on their own on the floor FIRST before using one of those chairs! So basically, not great for new feeders.
To wrap up - whether you're a full high chair, wooden chair, or chair that fixes onto your existing chair kinda momma for most, it REALLY doesn't matter! Know how to find the right fit, use what you have, and the kids? The kids will be alright!