The zen of high chairs

Updated: 2008-04-29 08:46

"My 15-month-old daughter suddenly refuses to eat in her high chair. She wants to sit in our lap and eat there. What do we do?” Such was the plaintive call of one of my friends and, as Henry had just graduated to a high chair, I had no idea how to advise her. Fortunately, a quick talk to Karen from Nu2Yu changed all that.

Did you know that there are different philosophies of parenting with regards to high chairs? Hard to believe, but it’s true. According to Karen, there are three different types of high chairs, each differing in the amount of presence a baby is permitted at the table. So, while safety is the leading factors in choosing the right chair, buyers also should consider emotional and social factors as well.

Start with your traditional high chair: Placed away from the table, this chair features a large tray and functions as an island food station for the baby, allowing parents to eat in peace and baby to go about his merry business. In contrast, the “clip-on” uses the baby’s weight to clip onto the edge of the table thereby allowing the baby to be part of the family dining experience. As an added bonus, many of these designs fold up for easy storage. Safety First and First Years both make this type of chair. Finally, there is the “at-the-table” wooden design, which forgoes the feeding tray in exchange for a closer connection with the family. The distinctive angled configuration provides children with an intimate mealtime perspective and allows children of all ages and sizes to remain comfortably within the family circle. The Stokke Tripp Trapp is the original design of this type and the most copied since since 1971.

Of course, no high chair is a proper high chair without the right safety precautions, so before you plunk down a hefty sum of cash, Karen suggests looking out for the following features: 5-point safety harness, locking wheels, a center post positioned between the legs to keep babies from sliding out, and non-toxic varnish or paint.


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