Your baby is ready to use a highchair when they can confidently sit unsupported. This is usually between six to nine months, depending on their development.
A highchair is an essential piece of equipment for mealtimes and highchairs have all sorts of benefits for both you and your baby. As well as helping your baby make the transition from milk to solids, a highchair means they can join you all at the table. With the use of a highchair, you can continue eating whilst feeding your baby and they can join in with the family at mealtimes.
Highchairs come in a range of styles and materials to suit your home and lifestyle, from lightweight aluminium to colourful plastic and traditional wood. The type of highchair you choose will depend on your lifestyle as well as your individual child.
Perhaps the most important feature of any highchair is that it should be comfortable for your baby. So look out for chairs that come with padded cushions and foot rests and models that can be adjusted to suit your child.
An adjustable chair can aid baby's comfort and help them to get used to the chair, especially when it's first introduced. A reclining seat can be a good idea for the first few months of use and an adjustable seat and footrest can give plenty of room for growth. Some toddlers grow so attached to their chairs they become a useful place to sit and play, even when it isn't a mealtime.
With lots of hidden crevices and places where food can get trapped, a chair that is easy to keep clean is also an important feature. A removable tray is a great help, especially one that is dishwasher safe. Likewise, a wipe-clean or removable seat cover, especially if it's machine washable, can make life easier for busy Mums.
The safest way to secure your child, many highchairs come complete with a five-point harness. The five points refer to two waist straps, two shoulder straps and a crotch strap, which are all attached to the chair and fastened at a central point. If your chair does not come supplied with a harness, you can buy one separately and attach it to the D-rings on the chair.
As the name suggests, these D-shaped rings are a permanent fixture on the chair, to which you can attach an additional harness. They are usually positioned at the back of the seat or underneath it.
Some chairs come with a fixed crotch bar that fits between your child's legs to help stop them slipping out of the chair.
Removable and adjustable trays
As well as allowing you to pull the chair up to your table, removable trays are a useful feature for helping to keep the chair clean. If applicable, look out for ones that are dishwasher safe. As well as being adjustable up and down as your child grows, trays that can be moved closer to your baby can help prevent food being dropped into their lap. Likewise, moving them away from your baby makes it easier to get them in and out of the chair.
Dual or two-piece trays
The bottom tray fits onto the chair with the second tray on top, which is easily removed for cleaning. Some top trays have moulded sections to keep different foods separate and many are dishwasher safe.
Removable covers and straps
Whilst many chairs are made from wipe-clean materials, some covers can be removed for cleaning. Look out for machine-washable covers to make life even easier.