How to Handle Toddler Transitions
Helping kids say goodbye to their bottle, binky, crib, and more
Heaving the High Chair
As is the case with many toddler transitions, your child will often send out clear signals that he’s ready for a change. Dr. Betts agrees, “I think the transition from a high chair to a booster seat or regular chair depends less on age and more on a child’s size and when he or she can sit at the table without constantly wanting to get up and down.”
If your daughter successfully behaves in a booster seat at a restaurant or friend’s house when no high chair is available or starts refusing her high chair and clamoring up into a chair like Mom and Dad, give it a try. Some clever kids figure out how to undo their straps or kick the tray off with their feet—a sure sign that they’re ready to graduate to the big table.
If your child is large for his age, stuffing him into that little seat locked down with a big tray is tantamount to torture after his second birthday, so a change is in order! Although many children will test their new freedom by leaving the table and roaming the room during meals, resist the temptation to strap them down again, especially since that idea will most likely be met with resistance by your budding big kid. Instead, calmly return your freedom fighter to her chair and say, “If you want to eat, stay in your seat.” Sacrificing food in favor of exploring the kitchen will become boring after a few nights, and her hunger will most likely lead her back to her chair to eat like the grownups.
True Life Tale: We’ve never used a high chair. Much like a toddler bed, which is just a crib with smaller rails—kind of redundant—high chairs are basically bulky, difficult-to-wash booster seats on stilts. Our babies went straight into a $20, portable, lightweight booster seat with a tray that was removed at about 18 months when we just pushed them up to the table.
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