The key to safe use of a highchair is to get one with both a waist strap and a strap that runs between the legs—and then to always use both of them.
Falls from highchairs often happen when a child stands and topples out. Others slide out under the tray, and some kids have strangled on the waist strap or when their heads were trapped between the tray and the seat.
Always fill in and mail back the registration cards that come with your baby's equipment. These records allow companies to notify you in the event of a recall. You can skip the questions that are asked strictly for marketing purposes if you don't feel like helping the manufacturers pitch you more products.
When you buy a highchair, try the straps to make sure they're easy to use so you won't be tempted to skip using them. Ideally, you should be able to operate the tray with one hand since you'll usually be holding the baby with the other. Choose a highchair with a wide base so it's less likely to tip over.
Here's some advice for using highchairs safely:
- Don't let your child climb in unassisted.
- Place it far enough from the table, wall, or other hard surface so your child can't push it over while seated in it.
- Don't leave your baby unattended in the high-chair.
- If you have a model that folds, double-check that the locking mechanism is fully engaged before you put your baby in.
Restaurant booster seats may not have any straps and may tip over if your child squirms. It's better to take your own so you'll know it's safe. Seat your child away from the path of the servers who might bump into her while carrying trays of hot food or dirty dishes. Don't let toddlers out of their seats to wander around on their own.
Portable Hook-On Chairs and Booster Seats
Hook-on chairs are handy for those occasions when a highchair isn't available, such as in a restaurant or at Grandma's house. Remember the rule to always strap your child in.
When you buy a hook-on chair, make sure it has a strong clamp to attach to the table and has both waist and crotch straps. Only use the seat on a sturdy table that won't tip over from the weight of the baby. These seats are not for use on glass top or center pedestal tables or on the table's extension leaf. Don't put a regular chair under the hook-on seat, because your child could use it to push up, and stop using the hook-on chair when your child reaches the maximum weight limit set by the manufacturer.
A booster seat is used primarily by kids who have outgrown their highchairs. It is placed on a dining chair to boost up a small child to a convenient height at the table. The safest ones have two straps—one to anchor the booster to the chair and a waist strap to hold the child in place.
More on: Childhood Safety
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Child Safety © 2000 by Miriam Bacher Settle, Ph.D., and Susan Crites Price. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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