Is your little one ready for a high chair? While this may be one purchase decision that seems easy, there are several safety concerns you should be aware of. Whether you buy a brand-new high chair or grab a hand-me-down from your sister-in-law, you want to be sure your high chair is safe. Here are the safety features you should look for in a high chair — and how to use a high chair safely.
Beware increased risk of injuries
Your baby's high chair might not seem like a dangerous item, but according to a nationwide study published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics, high chair–related injuries increased by more than 22 percent in the time period between 2003 and 2010. This study found that approximately 9,400 high chair–related injuries are treated annually in U.S. emergency rooms, with the most common cause of injury being falling.
"We have more than 9,400 injuries a year. That's a child every hour in this country that's injured from association with a high chair," said Dr. Gary Smith, one of the study's researchers and a pediatrician at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
While the research didn't point to one specific reason for the increase in injuries, high chairs can become dangerous for children when placed too close to a hard surface like a table or countertop. Children can use their legs to push against kitchen cabinets or dining tables, causing the chair to tip and fall.
Check for safety certification
Look for a certification sticker that shows that the manufacturer has voluntarily met safety standards set by ASTM International and that the manufacturer takes part in a Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification program. You can find a listing of JPMA-certified high chairs on the JPMA website.
Safety features to look for
Whether you have a brand-new high chair or a hand-me-down, here are some important safety features to look for:
- A safety-locking mechanism to ensure that the legs are locked into place when the chair is standing
- A center crotch post to prevent the child from slipping out
- A three-point or five-point safety restraint system or harness
- Wheels that lock into place (or no wheels)
- A break-resistant tray
- A sturdy base to prevent tipping
- No exposed springs or other places where little fingers could be pinched
Pick a safe seat and use it safely
The safest high chair can still be dangerous when used improperly. The most important thing to remember with high chairs is to supervise your child at all times when he is in his high chair. It only takes a minute for something to go wrong, so better safe than sorry.
Here are a few safety tips to remember when your little one is in the high chair:
- If the high chair is a folding model, make sure the legs are locked each time you set it up.
- Always use the safety straps, even when your baby is just sitting for a quick snack.
- Always use the crotch strap, which prevents your child from falling through the front of the seat.
- Never allow your child to stand in the high chair.
- Keep the high chair's back away from solid surfaces that your child can push against, causing the chair to fall or flip over.
- Don't use a high chair that hooks onto the table. Use a regular high chair.
- Always supervise your child when she's in the high chair, and don't allow her to play in the chair.
If you choose a safe high chair and supervise your child every time he's sitting in it, you can avoid many of the dangerous situations that may cause injury.
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