Kids in high chairs should never be left alone. Nor should they be placed there for long periods, safety experts warn.
High chair-related injuries — mainly falls — have risen in recent years, according to the U.S.
Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Most of these injuries occur when a child stands while attempting to get out of the chair. The resulting head, neck, and facial injuries can range from cuts to concussions.
High chairs should be used mainly for mealtimes, said Dr. Nakia Gaines, emergency medicine pediatrician at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Children’s Health.
“Infants and toddlers should not be trusted to sit, especially for long periods of time, when unrestrained,” Gaines said in a medical center news release.
“High chairs are designed to restrain children while they are eating. Even if the chair is used for other purposes — restraint during food preparation or to allow other family members to complete their meal — the child should always be restrained and supervised,” Gaines added.
Gaines offered a number of other safety tips.
High chairs should have safety straps — either a three-point or five-point harness along with a crotch strap. When buckling in a child, make sure the straps are well-attached and snug around the child.
In restaurants, insist that highchairs or booster seats have straps that are in working order.
When setting up a high chair, position it so that it’s away from the table or wall so children can’t kick or push the chair over.
While adults work, consider using a playpen in the kitchen or work area instead of a high chair. That way, playthings can keep children busy and happy.
When looking for a high chair, get one with a sticker from either JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association) or ASTM International to help ensure the product meets safety standards.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on high chair safety.