We very much like to eat out in restaurants. Think about it. It’s a change of pace. We have no food prep, no hassles and no clean up.
The thought of someone else serving us is tantalizingly delicious. We usually order those things we probably wouldn’t make for ourselves at home, and it makes the evening special.
Eating out is fun for the whole family particularly when we pack up the crew for a meal at our favorite burger joint or pizza place, complete with play area and prizes stuffed into the child’s meal.
However, the youngest member of the family may still be using a high chair at home. So the thought of lugging around a portable high chair can deflate all the excitement of the prospect of eating out. Besides, you already have enough stuff to cart around when you take a baby along anywhere.
Ah, but this burger joint has high chairs available to patrons. Yay! Oh, wait; is baby big enough and old enough to use the one the restaurant provides? Just when can you sit baby in that clunky wooden chair and have the confidence he will be comfortable, safe, and clean?
Restaurant high chairs are meant to accommodate a wide range of children and so they are far more open and less supportive than a more traditional high chair we might have at home. That said, the guidelines for when your baby can sit in a restaurant high chair are different from when he can sit in yours at home.
Generally speaking, if your baby can sit comfortably without support, at about 6 or 7 months old, your child can sit in a restaurant high chair. But please use common sense.
Even though your child can sit up reliably well and will not wobble or slump over the side, the chair may still be way too big so you may have to stuff some small blankets around and under them for comfort. Remember, these high chairs are pretty basic wooden affairs with little or no padding.
Most likely, your baby is not used to sitting on hard surfaces, and it’s your job to make them more comfortable. The blankets will take up the extra space and keep baby more secure.
Also, be sure that the chair has a good security belt to keep your baby from slipping to the floor. The chair should have a belt you can fasten around his torso to keep him in the chair. In addition, be sure there is a belt or bar that will fit between the baby’s legs as they sit. That will make it harder for them to slip out or climb out if they’re older.
Because cleanliness is an issue at any age and you’re uneasy about just how hygienic any public high chair might be, you can do a couple of different things to minimize your little one’s exposure to germs.
Bring some disinfectant wipes to wipe down the chair. Make sure you hit all the spots that your baby will come in contact with. This is so important because little ones will touch everything they can and then put their hands in their mouth. This won’t kill all the germs, but it will certainly make a dent in the microbe population.
Next, attach a high chair seat cover or shopping cart cover to the chair for the baby to sit in. You can buy one at a baby store, discount store, or over the internet. They’re very inexpensive and most are machine washable. That way you’ll know your baby has a clean place to sit.
They are made of lightweight materials and are easily stowed in their own carrying case or your purse. Most weigh in at about a pound, and you hardly know you’ve got it stashed in your purse.
If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can make one. You can download a pattern from the Internet. You don’t have to be an experienced seamstress to make one since they’re really very simple to make.
In the end, a little common sense will tell you when your child can use a baby high chair. If your baby sits up independently without support, whether it be 5 months or 8 months, they can probably sit in a restaurant high chair reasonably well. But please make sure it has a security belt and a belt or post between the legs. Bring along some wipes and a chair cover and you’re ready to go.
The rest is up to you to make their experience as comfortable and as germ free as possible. None of it costs very much money or takes up much space in the diaper bag you carry with you everywhere, anyway. If your baby is very small, bring an extra blanket or two to take up the unused space. It will also make your baby feel more secure, and make you feel better too.