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Are highchairs really safe?

January 10, 2014

A highchair is one of the most common (and practical) items on any new parent’s baby registry, and is known for making feeding time a whole lot easier. Many parents naturally assume the highchair is safe for their child, but did you know there has been an increase of highchair-related injuries among infants over the past ten years? A recent study took a closer look at the reasons behind the rise of bumps, bruises and head injuries caused by highchairs. Here’s what they found.

The Study

Researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital examined data of children, ages 3 years and younger, who were treated in U.S. emergency departments from 2003 through 2010 for highchair-related injuries. The findings were staggering. On average, more than 9,400 children were treated for an injury relating to a highchair or booster seat each year. To put this in perspective, that’s one child every hour!

They also found that most of these injuries involved a fall, suggesting that children were climbing on, or standing in the highchair before the injury. This means that the necessary safety restraints were either ineffective or not being used. And since highchairs are typically used in kitchen and dining areas, children are falling on hard surfaces, such as tile or wood, which can increase the severity of their injury. Closed head injuries, including concussions and internal head injuries, were the most common diagnoses associated with highchair-related injuries, followed by bumps and bruises, then cuts.

I thought highchairs were safe. How can I keep my child from injury?

Before you purchase a highchair:

Check for stability. Test out the chair before purchasing, and keep in mind that chairs with a wider base are often more stable. If the chair has wheels, make sure that they are locked into place before use.

Check for recalls! There have been millions of recalls of defective highchairs over the years. Check out to see if the high chair you are thinking of purchasing has been recalled. Also, look online at customer reviews before purchasing the chair, and make sure that it has no known injury hazards.

While using the highchair:

Use the restraint! One of the most important things parents can do to help keep their kids safe is to properly use the restraint. Make sure the straps are in good working condition and are securely attached to the chair. Only use chairs with a 3-point or 5-point harness that includes a crotch strap or post.

Remember – the tray alone is not a sufficient restraint! Even though the tray can act as a barricade, it is not enough to keep your child secure, which is why it is important to use the safety harness – each and every time.

Use the highchair appropriately. Create routine by teaching your child that the chair is where he/she sits for eating. Do not encourage playtime, climbing, or standing in the chair by either your infant, or an older sibling.

Keep curiosity at bay by keeping the high chair area clear of tempting objects. Infants are naturally curious and will grab anything within reach. Keep the chair at a safe distance from tables, walls, and counters to avoid your child accidentally kicking the surface and tipping the chair.

Stay with your child while in the highchair. Keep a watchful eye on your little one to ensure he/she is safe at all times.

Using safety precautions while your child is in his/her highchair can seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes, it’s the helpful reminder that can keep your child safe from injury. Keep in mind the above safety tips next time you place your infant in a highchair for an injury-free, stress-free mealtime!