What you need to know about highchair safety

Many children are injured because they're not strapped in securely

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Every hour, a child is taken to hospital because of an injury incurred by their highchair – usually because of a fall.

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So say US experts, in a study published in the journal Clinical Pediatrics.

And the main causes of highchair-related accidents? Children slipping out of a highchair or booster seat because they haven’t been strapped in properly or children trying to climb onto highchairs on their own. 

Obviously, this is US research but the findings are certainly something that should make us UK parents sit up and listen. Especially in the light of the tragic death of a 15-month-old toddler in Wales, who slipped in his seat when his mum popped out of the room for a few minutes and was asphyxiated between the table and the high chair. 

“Families may not think a lot about the dangers,” says Dr Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, who conducted the research. “But highchairs are typically used in kitchens and dining areas. So when a child falls from the elevated height of the highchair, he is often falling head first onto a hard surface, such as tile, with considerable force. This can lead to serious injuries. Plus children can wriggle around and get stuck in positions where it’s difficult to breathe.”

The most common injuries children get from falling out of their highchair are concussion and internal head injuries, followed by bumps, bruises and cuts.

“The number one thing parents can do to prevent injuries related to highchairs is to use the safety restraint system in the chair,” says Dr Smith.

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What are the top highchair safety tips?

  • Your child should always be strapped into a highchair. The safest highchair restraint is a five-point harness – rather than the three-point harness in the picture above.
  • Teach your child that her highchair is for mealtimes only, and not for climbing or playing on at other times. Tuck it into the table between meals to make it inaccessible or less attractive to climb on.
  • At mealtimes, make sure that all hot food and sharp objects are out of reach.
  • Before purchasing a highchair, make sure it’s sturdy, and get one that reaches the minimum European safety standards.
  • Stay with your child during mealtimes; don’t ever leave her alone in her highchair

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