7 High Chair Safety Tips You Should Know

Do you have a high chair? If so, you probably use it daily like millions of other mothers around the world.

But besides merely buckling the straps, have you ever given much thought to safety?

Each year, thousands of children are injured in high chair related accidents.

To prevent this, it’s important to take certain precautions when using a high chair or booster seat.

We’ve gathered everything you need to know to keep your child safe in their high chair.


High Chair Injury Statistics

High chair injuries are on the rise. A 2013 study indicated that every hour, one child is treated in a U.S. Emergency Room for such injuries (source). That’s 24 children every day, and a whopping 9,400 children each year.

Common High Chair Injuries

The biggest risk of injury when using a high chair is a fall. Over 90 percent of all high chair-related injuries are due to falling (source).

If a child were to fall from a high chair, they could suffer a number of injuries, including:

  • Head injury.
  • Concussion.
  • Neck injury.
  • Cuts.
  • Scrapes.
  • Broken bones.
  • Mouth injuries.
  • Broken teeth.

However, falls aren’t the only injuries associated with high chairs.

Children can also be injured by:

  • Choking on an item left within reach.
  • Burning themselves on hot food or beverages close to them.
  • Cutting themselves with sharp objects left within reach.
  • Toppling the high chair by pushing on the table with their feet.
  • Pinched fingers in latches or high chair joints.
Learn More
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What Are My High Chair Choices?

There are several different models available. While it’s tempting to skip straight to a booster seat to save space or money, it’s wise to choose an age-appropriate one for your child. This ensures it will meet their unique physical and developmental needs. Here are your choices.

  • Traditional High Chair – These chairs are standalone units with long legs, bringing your baby up to the level of your dining table. They typically have a plastic seat, harness, and a removable tray. Usually, they recline to prop up babies who are not quite ready to sit completely upright.
  • Space-Saving High Chair – These high chairs sit atop a regular chair and have buckles attaching around the chair to secure it. They differ from a booster seat because they have an adjustable reclining back (for extra support) and a removable tray. They can often later be converted to a booster seat when your baby is older.
  • Hook-On High Chair – These petite and portable high chairs hook directly onto your dining table. They neither have a tray nor recline, but most have a buckle or harness system. They should only be used once your baby has a stable head, neck, and core control and can sit upright.
  • Booster Seat – Backless, trayless seats designed to enable toddlers and older babies sit on regular chairs at the table. A booster seat raises their height, so the table is at the appropriate height for them. These do not have a five-point harness system and so, are not appropriate for younger babies.
  • Heirloom or Antique High Chair – Your parents or grandparents used these high chairs. They are sentimental, and probably look unique, too. However, safety standards change rapidly, and older high chairs don’t have the same safety features required on current chairs, so it may be a good idea to buy a new one.

Important Safety Features

When purchasing a high chair, look out for these safety features.

  • Five-Point Harness – Just as in car seats, you’ll also find five-point harness options in high chairs. The shoulder straps keep your baby’s torso from falling forward and also prevent your little one from wiggling out (as they may be able to in a waist-belt-only restraint system).
  • Wide Base – High chairs can become top-heavy due to your child’s weight as they sit in it. To combat this, choose one with a wider base and larger footprint. It may take up a little more space in your house, but it is much safer.
  • Locking Wheels – If your high chair comes with wheels, make sure it has a secure lock to keep it from moving around during meal times.
  • Metal Joint Construction – Some plastics may crack after use. Many high chairs have been recalled primarily due to plastic joints cracking (source). Find one with metal joint construction as it tends to be stronger than plastic.

Pro Tip

If your child is a little Houdini who can un-latch the chest buckle on your five-point harness, tie a piece of fabric around it to prevent them from accessing the buckle.

Staying Safe In A High Chair

1. Look For A Wide Base

Choose a chair with a low center of gravity so it does not tip easily. The wider the legs at the bottom, the more stable the chair will be.

2. Secure Your High Chair

Before you place your baby in, make sure your high chair will not move. If it has wheels, lock them before using it. For a space-saving high chair or booster seat, check to ensure it is strapped securely to the chair.

3. Strap In

To be as safe as possible, choose a high chair with a five-point harness (not a three-point harness or a simple lap belt). For each use, always strap them in and tighten the straps so they cannot wiggle free.

4. Position The Chair Out Of Reach

While you want your baby to participate in mealtimes, be mindful of the potential hazards if they are positioned too close. Make sure the high chair is far enough away so their legs cannot reach to kick the table and topple the high chair.

5. Look Out For Potential Hazards

Check for anything possibly within your child’s reach on the table and either remove it or move your high chair further away. Examples include choking hazards, sharp objects, hot foods, or even a tablecloth that may be pulled off.

6. Always Supervise Your Baby

While they seem secure, never leave your baby unattended in a high chair. Choking is a silent accident and is quite common as children are still learning to eat.

7. Check Periodically For Recalls

Baby items are recalled regularly for product failure or repeated accidents. Periodically, check to make sure your high chair has not been recalled by checking the government website at Recalls.gov.


The Bottom Line

Every year, nearly 10,000 children are injured in accidents involving high chairs, most of them due to falls. Keep your child safe by choosing an age-appropriate one for your child with plenty of safety features. Don’t forget to supervise them at all times during use.

Did your child ever have a high chair related accident or near miss? Tell us about it in the comments below and share this with other mothers who need to keep their kids safe.

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4 Reader Comments

  1. Saani Bennetts

    Wow, this is a really comprehensive article. Great tips and interesting info on the injuries that I haven’t seen before. Thank you.

  2. Maureen Diaz

    Thanks for the great tips Jenny, high chair injuries are very common in USA.

  3. Meghan

    A restaurant just tried to stack three high chairs on top of each other so that my son would be at bar top height because their other section with low tables was “closed.” It was wobbling and ridiculous looking. The woman said, “it’s safe.” Am I crazy for saying no?! It is so unsafe to me!

    • Jenny Silverstone

      I do not think that is safe at all, and good for you for standing up for yourself. Did the restaurant accept that it wasn’t safe when you pointed it out?

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