Kitchen safety with a booster seat

Remember when you put Baby in their highchair to try that very first bite of solid food? It seems like just yesterday, but it may be time for yet another baby-to-toddler transition, as most tots are developmentally ready to ditch the highchair in favor of a booster around the 18-month mark. Read on for tips on booster seat selection.

When is my child ready for a booster?

There is no solid answer on when to transition, besides “Before your toddler exceeds the size limit on the high chair.” Booster readiness is determined by a number of factors. Some toddlers may be perfectly content in their highchairs, while others may become squirmy, and want to eat at the table with the rest of the family. Booster seats are great for wiggly toddlers who aren’t quite ready to sit in regular chairs, as they pull right up to the table and offer belts to keep little ones strapped into their seats. Some models even hook directly onto the table, and can be used as soon as a child can sit unassisted, although for these, it’s important to make sure the table in question is steady, solid, and able to support that kind of unequal weight distribution without tipping.

Tips for choosing the right booster seat

  • Check the weight limit: Some boosters, especially the models that clip onto the table, have a maximum weight limit (usually around 35 pounds). Each seat will vary, so be sure to read the manual if you’re unsure of whether it’s safe for your child.
  • Be sure it’s steady: Much like a car seat, you’ll want to be certain you install your child’s booster correctly, and each model’s recommendations differ. For example, some boosters require being attached to a chair with no pad. Boosters that attach to chairs should only be used on sturdy chairs with hard backs, and you’ll want to make certain the booster has straps to attach to the dining chair. When using a hook-on booster, be sure the table is sturdy to avoid tipping. Tables with four legs, instead of one middle one, are generally safer bets for this type of booster
  • Ease of use: Mealtime is something that happens several times a day, so you’ll want a chair that is both easy to use and easy to clean. Booster seats don’t take up very much space, are portable, and easy to scrub down. If your family travels frequently, or eats out a lot, this may be the better choice for you. Hook-on chairs are also travel-friendly, can be put anywhere at the table, and take up far less space than a standing chair.

Choosing the right seat for Baby largely depends on the layout of your home, and the way your family eats. Always read your seat’s manual to guarantee proper installation, and keep Baby strapped in and monitored at all times. Keep the chair away from walls, as they may be able to kick the seat over easily if they push off with their feet. As long as Baby is safe, secure, and comfortable, rest assured you’ve made a savory choice!

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