Now that your baby is turning into a toddler, does that mean that you need to transition them out of their high chairs? Are booster seats a better idea for them? Just what exactly should you be looking for in a toddler high chair?
Toddler high chairs need to position them at the table properly
I’m a huge proponent of making sure that your child is positioned at the table properly- whether they are a baby or a toddler. Proper positioning can go a long way to helping your child eat well! (For full details on this, head to this article). But if you don’t start off with a baby in a transitional chair like the Stokke Tripp Trapp, then this can get complicated as they get bigger.
Get a chair that grows with them!
With a chair like the Tripp Trapp, you can easily transition the high chair to get your baby properly positioned in it no matter their size. Which means that as they grow, the chair grows with them and you never need to think about another chair to help them sit properly. It also allows your baby to sit right at the table. I’m an advocate of this right from the first bite of food, but as your baby turns into a toddler, it gets even more important!
If you haven’t noticed already, most toddlers want to be right at the table just like you are. They don’t want to be off on the corner of the table or behind a big tray. They want to be in the middle of the action! And trying to keep them in a high chair with a tray after they are ready to be out of it can result in lots of struggles at the table.
The most important things to look for in a toddler high chair
If you don’t have a chair that will transition with your baby, you will likely need to have another chair specifically for them before you transition them into a normal dining chair. Normal dining chairs are simply too big for toddlers of any size, as they are unable to reach the floor with their feet. Foot stability is vitally important for helping your child to focus on eating. Dangling feet are a huge distraction!
Normal dining chairs also tend to have very large seats. This means that in order for your toddler to have any back support, they won’t be able to sit up close to the table. Not a good thing! All in all, regular chairs are simply too big for toddlers and you need to have a plan for another style of chair.
Toddler high chairs need back support and foot support!
The biggest things to look for in a toddler high chair really are foot support and back support, hands down. If you don’t want your toddler squirming all over the place and being too distracted to eat, they need a good base of support.
The best toddler chairs out there
Hands down your best option is going to be getting a chair that transitions with your baby from the start, like the Tripp Trapp I mentioned earlier. (This is just an example, any similar chair that grows with your baby for foot and back support will work!) If you don’t have one already, try searching a resale site near you to find one used. Even at 12-24 months, I find them still to be worth it to invest in to help position your child properly.
If you aren’t able to go that route, or can’t find one, then your next best bet is going to be a booster seat. Look for one that doesn’t have a tray on it, and is compact enough that your child can still rest their feet on your dining chair in front of it. I prefer one like this that doesn’t keep your child’s legs in slots
If you can’t find one that allows your child a place to rest their feet, do your best to create something. Stack some boxes in front of their chair for them to put their feet on, place a stool under the table for them. Get creative, there are no rules! But the goal is for them to be able to put their feet on something to get their hips, ankles, and knees all at a 90 degree angle.
A note on weaning tables and kid tables
Many people who are stuck in between high chairs and adult dining chairs wonder about moving to a kids table or a weaning table where they’re able to simply sit in the small chairs with no modifications. I generally advise against this because one of the strongest tools you have is the modeling that you and the rest of your family do at the table. Watching you eat is so important to helping children learn how to behave, and how to actually eat their food properly. If they are eating their meals at a table away from you and the rest of the family, you are missing out on a very important learning opportunity!
The bottom line
At the end of the day, how your child sits may not seem like a big deal. But positioning your child properly as they eat can go so far towards helping to remove distractions for them, and to help them be able to focus on eating. Getting a toddler high chair that fits them and allows them to be right up at the table with you is something that can really help their eating habits.