Adult experience with chairs is usually very boring – you sit, you get up: the chair stays right there. Most chairs are sturdy pieces of furniture with no electrical connections or moving parts: we don’t think of them as dangerous. But highchairs are a special type of chair for which there are some important safety considerations. Highchair safety should be the most important consideration when buying one.
Ease as a safety feature? You bet! A tray that can be put in place and removed with one hand means that your other hand is free to keep control of your child. A child who is scrambling to get out of the chair, even with safety belts fastened, will be more secure with one of your hands holding onto him or her.
If you have a folding highchair, make sure that it is easy to set up, and that it is locked securely each time. Be aware of the high chair as a piece of furniture that the child may climb to try to access other things that are out of reach: folding the chair and storing it between uses is one way to prevent this.
The tray should be easy to clean, and the high chair should not have nooks and crannies where food scraps or crumbs can be trapped and discovered later by a curious child. Also, consider the locking mechanism and ask yourself if it is the type least likely that your child will one day get his or her fingers pinched by.Sturdiness
The highchair should have a wide, stable base. This is an important aspect of highchair safety, and will make the tray less likely to tip. You should also be sure to place it where the child can’t reach any surface (such as a wall, counter, or table) to push off against, possibly knocking the highchair over. If you purchase a multisystem highchair that converts into other baby furniture, test it after each conversion to be sure that all parts are solidly connected as they should be, and that the seat portion cannot be dislodged.
Falls resulting in head injuries are common highchair-related injuries. In addition, a small baby who is not well-restrained and left unattended can slip under the tray, with his or her head becoming trapped. There have been deaths reported with similar accidents. Highchair safety depends upon a good restraint system, which will have a crotch post, as well as safety belts that fasten securely. A five-point harness, which combines a lap belt with a crotch T-strap and shoulder straps, is recommended as the safest. This will both prevent the child from standing up in the high chair and from sliding under the tray.
Highchair safety begins with good supervision, because no matter how safe the restraint system and how sturdy the structure, never leave a child in a high chair, nor let the child climb up the highchair to get in it—children should always be lifted in.
Highchairs have been recalled due to: pieces breaking off and causing a choking hazard, a reclining seat creating a space in which the child could become entrapped, separation of the high chair legs from the seat, breaking restraint bar, a faulty strap system, and other causes. For additional information on highchair safety, heck the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission or Keeping Baby Safe web sites for details about highchair recalls.
Written by Mary Elizabeth
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