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Choosing the right highchair

Starting solids is an exciting time for new parents but also can raise a lot of questions about the right approach, which highchair to use and also, how do we do this?!

Find below my advice on how to choose the right highchair.

When to start solids

When I first started Save Our Sleep in 1996, the standard practice in Ireland and the United Kingdom was to introduce solids at 16 weeks. But by the time I had moved to Australia and started writing my baby book, medical professionals and maternal health nurses were recommending solids be introduced at six months to reduce the risk of allergies.

In response to this I changed my advice to recommend solids be introduced between four and six months. Within a year of my baby book being published, I noticed more and more clients, readers and friends were contacting me for advice because their babies who had been sleeping and settling well had suddenly begun early-rising, catnapping, waking during the night or refusing to settle at the 7 pm bedtime.

Alarmingly, the number of parents reporting that their baby had developed food allergies had also increased. When I questioned these parents I discovered they had all introduced solids closer to six months. I attributed these sleep problems and many of the allergies to this later introduction of solids.

In response I went back to my original advice to introduce solids between sixteen weeks and eighteen weeks. Since then Australian allergy experts have advised that solids can be introduced from 16 weeks but no later than six months.

They have also pointed out that studies are increasingly showing that delaying the introduction of solids may increase the risk of allergies, the exact opposite of the advice given to parents a few short years ago and in fact still offered by some health professionals.

These studies support the advice I have been providing for several years, which is based on my own assessment of medical research as well as working with thousands of babies and parents. I believe that by following my advice parents will be following guidelines that have stood the test of time.

So if introducing solids at 16 weeks what high chair do you need?

The answer is none, well not yet anyway. When you are first introducing your baby of 16 weeks to solids I recommend not using a high chair unless you have one that can be reclined into a cradle position like the Bloom Fresco high chair pictured below.  If you do not have this style of high chair I would recommend you feed your baby in a bouncy chair shown below.

Choosing the right highchair

•    You’ll need a highchair that is easy to clean. A baby will vomit at least once or twice in her highchair and you want to be able to clean up and not have to worry about vomit getting in cracks or onto material. Plastic highchairs with a seat insert (sometimes cushioned) that pulls out to easily be cleaned are ideal.

•    When looking at highchairs also look at the size of the tray. When you first start feeding your baby all you have to put on the tray is a bowl. But it’s amazing how many highchairs on the market, including expensive ones, have tiny trays. As soon as you put a bowl, plate, spoon, knife and a fork there is no room for a cup. Make sure the tray is big enough to hold a cup, bowl, plate and a fork and spoon.

•    Check the restraints won’t catch your baby’s skin. In warmer weather you might put your baby in the highchair dressed in just a nappy so you don’t want the clip catching on her tummy when you are fastening it.

•    Some highchairs that fold flat can be very dangerous. With these chairs it is very easy to put your baby into the chair without realising the chair is not properly extended and it collapses with baby in it.

•    The highchair should have a high back that supports your baby’s head and neck. Some parents buy a compact chair, which is basically like a swing seat with no back support. These are not suitable for babies and toddlers younger than one year who don’t have the strength to sit upright without support.

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