Thursday, May 19, 2005

Selecting the best high chair for your baby

Once baby is able to sit upright and is ready for solid foods, you need to get a high chair. Unlike the wooden spindle high chairs of old, modern chairs offer an array of features and comforts.

Safety
Look for a harness in your high chair that is comfortable, snug and easy to use. In addition, a molded plastic bar for between baby's legs will help prevent baby from slipping.

The seat and cover
While you want to select a seat cover that is easy to clean, remember it needs to be comfortable for baby to sit in. Vinyl covers are a snap to wipe up, but may stick to the delicate skin on the back of your baby's legs. Look for specially treated cloth covers that repel spills and stains but are softer and more comfortable for sitting. Make sure the seat cover is easy to remove and to put back on. It is ideal if you can select one that can be cleaned in the washing machine. Also check the seat and chair for crevices where food may get stuck.

The tray
Most high chairs have trays that are easy to remove and clean. The best trays offer smooth, raised rims at the outer edges so to help catch spills and rolling bits of food. Some have built in cup holders or other compartments, which are handy, but add a small amount of time to the cleaning process. Make sure the top of the tray is smooth, with no seams where food and germs might get stuck. Think of your high chair tray as one large plate for your baby, since the food usually spends more time on the tray than on the tableware on which it was served.

Adjustability
It is helpful to have a high chair that can be adjusted to different seating heights. This allows you to set baby level with you whatever table you use for mealtimes, or to perch baby up high to have a view of the action when you cook. If you have a breakfast bar or other high seating area where your family frequently dines, make sure the high chair has an appropriate height so that baby can sit with everyone else. Some high chairs also have different seat angle positions. While these are handy for rest and playtime, babies should always be upright when they eat.

Wheels
While it may seem that a high chair would be stationary, many people find they use it in multiple rooms. For example, do you dine in a breakfast nook early in the day and in the dining room for dinner? Or, do you anticipate putting baby in the high chair in the kitchen with a snack and a toy to watch from a high vantage point while you cook? If so, you may want to consider a high chair with wheels to make it easy to move. Any wheels should be equipped with a locking mechanism so that you can ensure the chair only moves when you want it to and not when an active baby is bouncing.
Once you have a high chair, you will probably find you use it for more than just mealtime. Highchairs are great for helping baby sit up where she can see what is going on as well as for certain kinds of play. For example, when your baby is a little bit older, the high chair is a perfect place for containing messy art activities. The tray edges catch rolling crayons and the surface is easily washable. It is also great for playdoh and for a toddler who wants to learn how to pour. If you make sure your high chair has all of the recommended features, you will undoubtedly find it is a very important piece of furniture in your baby's life.

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