How to stay safe
Look for the label BS EN 14988 which will mean that the highchair should meet a basic level of safety.
A child in a highchair is a long way above the ground so any fall can result in serious injury. Accidents are most likely to happen if the child stands up on the seat or slips forwards out of it and on to the floor.
Other danger times are when the child moves around vigorously - in excitement or in a temper. So it is important to watch children closely when in the highchair.
Do's and don'ts of highchairs
- always use the harness, either the one fitted to the highchair or a separate one clipped on to the highchair.
- adjust the harness to fit snuggly around the child's middle, so they cannot stand up.
- make sure they always have a leg each side of the crotch strap to stop them slipping forward.
- put the highchair where the child cannot reach harmful objects, such as hot drinks or sharp knives.
- make sure that the child cannot push against any solid object like a table or worktop with their feet and possibly tip the highchair and themselves backwards.
- put the brakes on if the highchair has wheels otherwise an older child may move the baby somewhere dangerous.
- use only a highchair with a reclining backrest for babies who cannot sit unaided.
- check the highchair regularly for any damage and defect that may make it unsafe. If found, only use replacement parts from the manufacturer or supplier. Follow any maintenance instructions.
- check that any securing locks are in place after folding the highchair. If there are no securing locks, put the folded highchair where a child cannot unfold it.
- check that the highchair is stable enough not to tip over if your child has to climb into it. Wherever possible, discourage children from climbing into the highchair.
- check that a child is not underneath the seat when adjusting the height.
- check that any locks to hold the seat in place are secure before putting the child in.
- adjust the seat height with your child in the highchair.
- leave your child unattended in a highchair.
- leave the child in the highchair for lengthy periods, even if it has a reclining backrest and the child is snoozing.
- leave the harness dangling down towards the floor as a crawling baby may get entangled in it.
Table mounted chairs
These clip or screw to a table surface. They are only for children who can sit unaided and weigh less than 15 kg. Look for the label BS EN 1472 which is a European safety standard.
- use them only on the maximum and minimum thickness of table surface stated by the manufacturer.
- make sure that the table surface is dry, clean and free from grease.
- check the clamping screws each time the chair is used, tightening them if necessary.
- fit the chair where a child might use its feet to push against the table, another chair or anything solid: this could force the chair off the table.
- use them with a tablecloth.
- use them on glass topped tables, tables with loose table tops, table leaves, single pedestal tables, card tables or camping tables: they might not be strong or stable enough.
Other safety measures are the same as with a conventional highchair. Always use the harness and crotch restraint, making sure they fit snugly and that the child has a leg each side of the crotch strap. Put the chair where the child cannot reach harmful objects. Never leave the child unattended.
Booster seats and harnesses
Remember that the seat will be only as stable as the chair to which it is attached. Some booster seats are for a child who can sit unaided, others are suitable only for older children. No child should be left in them unattended. Make sure that the seat is firmly attached to the chair so it cannot slip sideways or tip forwards. Also make sure the child cannot push their feet against anything solid and tip backwards. Take all the precautions needed with conventional highchairs.
Take great care if you use any kind of harness fitted on to an ordinary chair. The chair will not have specified anchorage points, so the child may not be properly restrained. Material harnesses must be used under constant supervision. Unless they prevent movement sideways, backwards and frontwards, the child could tip the chair or slump down in the harness and possibly cut off their air supply.
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