Whether you’re a new parent or have one (or a few!) already, shopping for your little one can be stressful, especially when it comes to furniture. When we buy these bigger items for our children, we expect the items to be 100% safe for them. However, there’s an alarming increase in the number of high chair and booster seat injuries.
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One study found a 22% increase in high chair-related incidents in children ages 3 and under, says pediatrician David Shafran, MD.
“This may reveal safety issues with the chairs themselves,” says Dr. Shafran. “Or it may reflect that parents either are not using the restraints or they are not using them effectively.”
Most of the accidents are falls that happen when the child stands in the chair and result in head, neck and facial injuries, including bruises, cuts or concussions.
The best way to keep your child safe is to use the three- or five-point harness system that comes with the chair. Dr. Shafran recommends the following safety tips:
- Make sure that the crotch strap is well secured so that your child sits snugly and is not wiggling around in the chair.
- Establish a routine of using the high chair only for meals. Do not let it be used for playtime.
- Use the restraint system that comes with the chair. The lap table is not an effective restraint.
- Don’t leave your child unattended in the high chair. Always keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t choke or try to get out of the chair.
- Don’t allow your child to stand or climb in the chair.
- Make sure the high chair is far enough away from countertops and tables so kids can’t use their legs to push the chair over.
- Before and after buying a high chair or toys, periodically check for recalls.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) approved a mandatory rule that says high chairs must meet requirements for stability and restraint systems. When shopping for a high chair, CPSC recommends finding one that was manufactured on or after June 2019, which is when the safety standard went into effect.
“Avoid the emergency room by not letting your children stand or play on chairs or use them as ladders to reach high things,” he says. “Keep the area around the high chair clear of sharp silverware or anything else that your child can grab, too.”
Furniture safety for small children
While it’s normal for children to explore, it’s important to not let them stand or climb on furniture where they can fall or hurt themselves. Chairs and tables can tip or topple over, and kids can fall onto hard surfaces and objects, or heavy objects, like TVs, can fall onto them. The CPSC reports that a child is sent to the emergency room every 43 minutes as a result of furniture toppling onto them.
To further help prevent big items from falling over onto your child, anchor your furniture, keep cables out of reach and keep toys off of furniture where your child can climb up on.
Don’t forget to clean the high chairs regularly because food gets stuck in and mold can develop on open services in the cracks.
“It’s crucial to be diligent in watching small children when they play and to teach them from an early age about the boundaries of what is safe,” says Dr. Shafran. “This helps the behaviors to become ingrained as they get older.”