Congratulations! You have a new baby to love. While that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, a lot of responsibility goes with it.
In a very short time you’ll feel like you will never again enjoy a hot meal without a hundred interruptions because this new little bundle of joy clamors for food at every mealtime.
You long for the day when the baby can feed them self, but that won’t happen for a while. However, looming on the near horizon is the day when you can put them in a high chair to make your life easier.
So when, you ask, might that be? Take heart; it’s not so far away. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to babies, however, most parents know that babies can sit in a high chair between four and six months of age. On the other hand, most manufacturers recommend six months as the optimal age, but that does not account for individual differences. That only gives you a ballpark figure as each baby develops at a different rate.
Some babies are stronger and more stable in the sitting position at a younger age than others. You, as the parent, must take that into account. In any case, you must make sure your baby has reached certain developmental milestones before taking the next step.
One milestone is for your baby to be able to hold their head up. This particular one lays the foundation for the next. If your baby is yet too young to do this, and you want to use a high chair, make sure it has reclining positions. Think about how uncomfortable it would feel to be in a sitting position with a head that you couldn’t keep up.
Another requirement is that the baby can sit up alone with a little support. That is, you can place your baby in a sitting position with some pillows around just in case they should wobble or slide over. If you watch your baby carefully, they will tell when their ready for this because they’ll try to do it himself.
If your baby hasn’t quite reached these benchmarks, and you’re anxious for a little hands-free time, you might opt for a reclining highchair. Most have three positions which you can use as baby becomes more adept at sitting up. Reclining highchairs are adjustable and will also operate in the full upright position when baby is ready, so they will grow with your child.
However, you don’t want to feed solid foods to your baby in the reclining position as this increases the chances of choking. The full upright position is best for feeding solid foods. You can, however, feed a bottle to a baby in this position and it may make mealtime a little less hectic for you.
Starting your baby at the appropriate age in a highchair will accomplish several things for you and the baby.
First, placing the baby in the high chair in the kitchen during meal preparation, will free you up for the task at hand. You’ll be able to watch the baby while you take care of things in the kitchen. All in all, this will certainly lower your stress level.
Second, baby will be more able to see what’s going on around them and feel more a part of the family. This will also give them a perspective of family life and put them right in the middle of all the activity.
Third, at the very beginning of this process, you can introduce baby to spoons and bowls. Of course, they’ll just play with them and throw them around at first, but they will learn how to handle them and develop some manual dexterity.
Fourth, at an appropriate age, you can place finger foods on the tray along with the utensils to give baby a little practice with the very important skill of feeding themself.
Whenever that wonderful day comes when you can place your baby in a highchair, choose a chair with all the features you will need to ensure their health and safety. At the same time, follow all the safety rules. No safety feature in a chair can substitute for the responsibility you take as a parent.
When your baby is in the chair, always keep them close to you. Make sure your baby is securely restrained within the chair. Make sure they cannot reach countertops where dangerous utensils like knives might be within reach of little hands. Always make sure everything on the chair is in proper working order. Never leave baby unattended. And always keep baby within sight.
While all of this sounds attractive and wonderful, for their own health and safety, you don’t want to put your baby in a highchair before they’re ready. Watch your baby carefully. As a parent, you know them better than anyone else in the world.
Sometime between four and six months old, your child will tell you by their actions and abilities what they are ready for. Watch them as they try to sit up. Watch them as they try to put things in their mouth. Then capitalize on those actions to help them grow.