Most parents will use a high chair at some point for their children. Given how common they are, you would think we would know if a lot of kids were injured while using them, right? Maybe not. Our new research shows that every hour in this country a child is treated in an emergency department for an injury related to either a high chair or booster seat. Every hour. Who knew?
So how do you know if you are using the high chair the right way and that it is safe?
Make sure your child is buckled in EVERY time you use the high chair. The biggest mistake people make is to not use the safety restraints. The vast majority of injuries occur when a child falls from the chair. Using the safety restraints can help prevent this. It is also important to use all the straps. Many parents leave the crotch strap unbuckled. Don’t do it. Your child could slip down and either get stuck or slide to the floor by falling through the bottom. To keep your child safe, use the restraints and make sure they fit snugly enough that your child cannot wiggle out of them.
Keep the area around the high chair clear. Children are naturally curious and will grab things in their reach. Make sure tablecloths, placemats, sharp silverware, plates. hot food and liquids are out of reach. Also be aware of where you put the high chair. If it is too close to the table, a counter or the wall, the child may knock the chair over by kicking their feet into these objects.
Stay with your child during meal time. While it can be tempting to try to get some household chores done while your child is eating, an unsupervised child is more likely to try to escape from his/her high chair and can also be more likely to choke on his/her food. Meal time is a good time to spend quality bonding time together.
Check for recalls. Millions of unsafe high chairs have been recalled during recent years. Make sure the one you are using does not have any known injury hazards. Check www.recalls.gov to see if your high chair has been recalled.
Don’t forget to follow these guidelines when your child is away from home as well (visiting a grandparent, eating at a restaurant, etc.). Making sure the high chairs are stable, have working safety restraints, and are placed away from high traffic areas will help keep your child safe even when he is not at home.
Tracy Mehan is the manager of translational research for the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
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