It is an amazing breakthrough when your toddler can take their rightful spot at the family table. However, it is not an achievement that will happen overnight. Instead, your toddler must be ready to keep their head straight and stay in one place without toppling over. In this article, we will talk about everything that needs to take place before your toddler sits at the table and how to help your child reach this milestone.
- Your child should be able to begin sitting in a high chair at six months.
- Your child can usually move to a regular chair between 18 and 36 months.
- Your toddler needs to be able to keep their head up on their own before they can sit in a chair of any kind at the table.
How Long Until Your Toddler Sits at the Table?
So, when will your child join you at the table? There is technically a two-part answer. The first step will be when your toddler is able to sit up on their own in a high chair without toppling over. They should generally hit that step by six months. However, your child will typically be able to transition from a high chair and start sitting at the table in a regular chair between the ages of 18 months and 3 years old.
Parents will need to be patient until their toddler gets to that point. Your child will start by keeping their head up on their own, and then they will move to a high chair, and then finally comes the big kid seat.
The Steps Your Toddler Will Go Through Before They Can Sit at the Table
As you may imagine, it will take a number of months until your child can stay up, keep control of their body and sit without toppling over. Let’s talk about the journey they will go through.
Your Toddler Can’t Sit Anywhere Until They Can Keep Their Head Up
The first step that your toddler needs to achieve before they can sit at the table is to keep their head up on their own without support from anyone else. That will typically happen between four and six months of age.
If your child is still at that age but they cannot yet keep their head up, then don’t fret. The best way to get them to that point is to encourage a lot of tummy time. Your child will have no choice but to lift their head and keep it there for longer. If your child is unable to keep their head up on their own by eight or nine months, it's worth contacting your pediatrician.
Next, Your Toddler Sits at the Table in a High Chair
Now that your child has a strong neck and they can sit with their head straight, they can start sitting at the table in a high chair. Typically, they will reach this milestone at six months old.
Tips for Success When Sitting in a High Chair
Your toddler will join you at the table when they get their first high chair. In order to ensure their success, you will need to find the right chair and verify that it is safe and secure. Consider these tips.
It is an exciting moment when you choose your toddler’s first high chair. When you select a model, start by ensuring that it is easy to clean. Many high chairs will have removable and washable covers so you will not need to take the chair completely apart after every meal.
You should also look at product and customer reviews before you commit to a high chair. The key to look for is durability. Since your child may not be sitting at the table until they are 3 years old, you will want to find a high chair that will stand the test of time. If a sturdier chair will be more costly, then consider the investment. On that note, you should also consider a high chair that is adjustable so your toddler can continue to use it as they get older.
Consider a Safe, Mobile Chair
A good high chair will also be mobile. You never know when you will need to travel, and if you want your child to be able to sit at the table when you do, then look for a chair that is easy to fold up and store. Also, consider a high chair with wheels so you can move it around while multitasking around the house.
Finally, the most important consideration to make when buying a high chair is the safety features. At a minimum, the chair should have a strong strap to keep your baby secure and in place. The best security comes from a five-point safety harness, so your child is never in danger. Also, make sure that the chair does not have small areas and gaps where your kid could pinch their fingers.
When you buy and begin putting your baby in their high chair, make sure to use it responsibly. Never sit your child in the chair and walk away unless they are completely strapped in and secured. If the chair has a locking mechanism, make sure it is in place so the chair won’t fold up unexpectedly. Also, make sure it is stable so it won’t tip over. Finally, even if you do all of the above, never leave your child unattended.
Getting Your Child Used to Sitting in the High Chair
While you may be excited for your toddler to join you at the table, they may not be able to sit calmly at the table the first time around. Instead, you may need to help them get used to this new situation. If you sit down for lunch and your toddler is a ball of energy that is trying to shake their way out of the chair, then consider these tips:
Sit Them Down at the Last Minute
Since you may only have a good 10-15 minutes of sitting time before your toddler throws a fit, consider waiting to sit them down until the last minute. Wait until all of the food is on the table, and then buckle them into the chair.
Have Playtime Before Dinner Time
If your toddler sits at the table and starts moving and shaking, then you may need to help them get that energy out before they sit. Ten minutes before the meal is set to start, consider some play time by running around or rolling a ball back and forth with them. The activities will make them tired, so they are less likely to rock and roll once they sit down.
Make Sure That They Are Comfortable
Sometimes, your toddler may start to wiggle and squirm because they are trying to get comfortable. Once you strap them in, make sure they are sitting up straight, that their arms or legs aren’t stuck, and that they can reach their plate, cup, and utensils, so they don’t struggle to reach it all once they are sitting down.
Don’t Keep Them There Forever
Once your child stops eating or they continuously push their plate away, it is likely a sign that they are done with their meal. Consider getting them out of the chair at this point. If they haven’t finished their food, then they will likely eat the rest during a snack or later meal. If you keep them there, then they will just start squirming. As an extra tip, make sure to clean off any crumbs they may have on their shirt before letting them go free, or else it will all fall on the floor!
The Final Transition to the Big Kid Chair
At any time between 18 months and 3 years of age, your child will be ready to move on from the high chair and sit in their own seat. There are several signs that your toddler wants to sit in a regular chair:
- Your child is becoming increasingly fussy when sitting in their high chair.
- They push the regular chair around or try to climb on it a lot.
- He/she has increased dexterity to use utensils and an increased desire to feed themselves.
- They are simply too big for the high chair.
Depending on the height of your table, when your toddler sits at the table, they will either be able to sit in a regular chair or on a booster seat. The great thing about a booster seat is that it is mobile, and it can cover your chair, so it doesn’t get covered in crumbs and messy food. Ensure that your booster seat can strap to the chair for safety.
If your toddler does not require or want the booster seat, but they are still too short to sit at the table and be high enough to eat and reach their plate, then you might consider buying a smaller kid-sized table and chair set where they can sit down and eat like mommy and daddy.
Once you begin allowing your child to eat at the table, it's important to teach them appropriate manners. Make sure to teach the manners that your child is capable of learning at their age, and teach more as they get older. Some examples of manners you'll want to teach your child include:
- Avoid screaming or yelling at the table.
- Use utensils to eat your food. Only use your hands for finger foods, such as fries or sandwiches.
- Don't throw food at others or on the floor.
- Ask for more food instead of demanding it or trying to grab it.
- Encourage your child to sit patiently at the table.
As you can see, having your toddler go from the high chair to the booster seat to the regular chair will be a gradual process. Let your little one take the time that they need, and they will be joining you at the dining room table sooner than you think!