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Toddlers who won't stay in a high chair

All feeding and high chairs are designed to be secure, but what if your toddler just won't get in them in the first place?

Posted: 16 September 2007
by Laura Lee Davies

It's a vicious circle: toddlers don't like high chairs because they get strapped into them and they can't wriggle around, but they get strapped into them because they wriggle around! You only have to read our Buyer's Guide to Feeding Chairs to see that there is plenty of style and variety out there, but can any of them tempt your toddler to sit still?!

Ooh ooh ooh, I wanna be like you-ooh-ooh
Newfound experiences like walking and talking inevitably bring about a strong sense of independence in toddlers, and being strapped into anything hampers this.
Moreover, toddlers suddenly feel they are on equal terms with you. They are probably eating a chopped up version of your meals, or certainly those of older siblings, and they can see that you don't have to sit in a special seat to reach the table. They don't want to sit in a chair they associate with BABIES!

Troubleshooting at teatime
If your feeding chair has a removeable tray, try taking it away and pulling the chair up to the table so they feel more involved with what else is happening with everyone else.
If your chair is already one which you pull up to the table, try to use it at times other than meals. Mealtime, when everyone is hungry and often therefore fractious, can be a tricky time to negotiate in any circumstance, but if they associate their high chair with playtimes too, it might help.
If you think your child will fall for it (some do!), try referring to the chair as your child's special chair or throne, one which other people aren't lucky enough to use.
Think about your own behaviour when your child is in the chair. Do you plop your child down and then roam around the kitchen getting other things done? If so, it might seem more like its a place to restrain him rather than a place he sits when he's joining you to eat. Try to only put him in the chair once you are all ready to sit down at the table.

Other options
You can try buying a booster seat if your child no longer enjoys sitting in a feeding chair. These simply attach to a normal chair and raise your child (still secured) to the height of the table like everyone else.
You might find that your child likes to sit on your lap to feel involved. This is fine, but make sure you have time to eat your food enjoyably too, and act as a team if another parent or adult is there to share the lap-sitting duties!
If your child has a play table in the dining area or one which can be easily moved, you could try allowing him to sit at that for his meals, if it furthers his sense of independence.

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