The best high chairs for babies, according to feeding experts

Starting solids is an exciting milestone, and your baby’s highchair plays a significant part in their journey into the world of food. When choosing the best one, there’s a lot more to it than having one that looks stylish, is easy to clean, and collapses effortlessly. The ergonomics of the chair should in fact be the main consideration, according to many feeding experts, including pediatric dietitian Dr Kyla Smith.

The chair that your baby learns to eat in matters. As a child grows, any issues such as refusing to eat or pickiness can often be traced back to how they’re sitting for meals. If you’ve ever eaten at a bar stool, you’ll know how much effort it takes to sit still and eat your meal calmly. Likewise, your baby’s chair shouldn’t be a hindrance to their ability to eat.

Firstly, let’s look at the problems with most high chairs 

You might have noticed that a lot of high chairs on the market have a huge back that is slightly tilted back, a deep seat, and a footrest that isn’t adjustable—if they have one at all. So, what’s the issue with that?

  • Hip positioning in tilted seat back

Think about how you eat at the table. Are you usually reclined in your seat, or do you lean forwards to take a bite? Imagine a baby who is learning to eat is sitting in a reclined position, snugly restrained, and has to work hard to bring food to their mouth. It must be so frustrating for them!

  • Knee positioning in deep seat

Some high chairs have deep seats which are too big babies, meaning that they can’t bend their knees at a 90 degree angle. Imagine you’re trying to eat your meal at the table from a deep armchair, but you can’t quite reach the floor because you can’t bend your knees. Could you blame a baby for being fidgety if they can’t bend their knees or rest their feet comfortably?

  • Feet and ankle positioning in footrest

Most popular high chairs have nowhere for a baby to rest their feet. Like the bar stool analogy, dangling feet isn’t a comfortable way to sit for any length of time. Ultimately, we’ll do anything to make ourselves feel stable, and it can distract us from eating if we don’t feel comfortable or stable.

What to look for when choosing the best high chair

Comfort: According to feeding experts, we want babies to have their hips, knees, and feet all at 90 degrees to provide the best mealtime experience we can, as we have just outlined.

Grows with baby: Ideally the chair is fully adjustable to fit every age and size of a child. Ensure that the seat height and footrests are movable. Many chairs are more suited to toddlers, so look for one that’s also designed for a newly eating baby.

Family meals: Having your baby sit with the family is an important part of teaching them to eat from the very first bite. When you eat as a family, you’re modeling how to eat, how to use utensils, how enjoyable food is, and what a positive and social experience it can be. For this reason, look for a chair that allows your baby to directly sit at the table, making them feel like part of the family.

Budget: Some of the chairs that meet these requirements can be quite pricey, but they’re definitely a good investment because they will last you from the beginning of your baby’s eating journey until primary school. There are also more affordable replicas on the market.

What if you’ve already bought a high chair

If you already have a high chair, you can modify many of them to make them more comfortable.

  • You could try propping towels behind your baby to provide back support so that they’re not reclining.
  • If your baby doesn’t reach the footrest, you could tape small boxes to it, or if there’s no footrest at all, you could place a small stool or chair in front of them to rest their feet.
  • Removing the tray, if it’s safe to do so, means that your baby can join family mealtimes.

You’ll be surprised how high chair comfort goes a long way towards good eating habits as they grow!