As a mother, I remember highchair time all too clearly. Indeed, for a certain period, we had 2 highchairs at our dinner table! I remember how hectic mealtimes can be with the family. And, there are times as parents, we sometimes don’t realize (or admittedly don’t always think) about how mobile our little ones really can be.
A new study was released recently that took a closer look at the safety of high chairs and booster seats. What the researchers found was troubling – every hour a child in the U.S. visits an emergency department for an injury they sustained while in a high chair. And nearly two-thirds of those injuries were a result of a child climbing or standing in the chair. A significant number of the injuries could have been prevented if the chair had been used properly.
That’s why it is important to keep some safety tips in mind.
- Always use the safety straps on the chair. Make sure they are in good working order and firmly attached to the chair. The tray alone is not enough to keep children in the seat. Ideally the chair should have either a 3-point or 5-point harness that includes a crotch strap or post.
- Use high chairs appropriately during meal time. Help your child understand the chairs are the place he or she sits for eating. Playing or climbing on the chairs can cause them to tip over. And help older siblings understand the chairs can tip, so no playing or climbing themselves.
- Keep the area clear. We have all watched curious infants and toddlers grab things out of curiosity. Make sure tablecloths, placemats, hot food and liquids are out of reach. Also, keep the high chair away from walls. Toddlers may push with their arms or legs and inadvertently tip the chair over.
- Make sure the chair is stable. Chairs with wide bases are more stable. If there are wheels, make sure that they can lock so the chair isn’t able to move when a child is in it. And be careful of older high chairs. Well-meaning grandparents may still have the high chair they used when their kids were little. They may not have appropriate straps to help keep infants safe, or the material may have degraded over time.
- Stay with your child during meal time. It can be easy to think the child is safely strapped in the chair and step away, even momentarily. But a child anxious to get to you, or simply curious, may try to get out of the chair. It’s also important to supervise the child while he or she eats to prevent choking.
While it is not possible to prevent accidents entirely, being mindful and taking simple precautions can make a significant difference in helping to keep our little ones from being among the statistics.