Toddler Transition: Highchair To The Big Table

By : | 1 Comment | On : November 5, 2014 | Category : Fussy Eaters

Moving from the highchair

Just when you think you have mastered the whole feeding and eating stage you will be hit with yet another toddler transition: the move from a highchair to the big table. Perhaps your toddler is wriggling out of his chair and it’s getting dangerous, your child’s eating posture is being compromised, or there is a behavioral problem you think it might solve. There are many reasons why you might be making the switch. Read our great article about the importance of eating posture.

There are many chairs to choose from and your choice should depend on your child’s age and the type of dining table you have. Follow our simple guide for correct eating posture to make this decision easier. Once you have your chosen seat you will want to make the transition as seamless as possible. Many parents find that transitioning their child too quickly or before they are ready results in some new negative eating habits such as throwing food, getting down constantly from the table or sudden loss of appetite.  A seat at the big table A simple, natural transition from highchair to big chair might go something like this:

  1. Continue to feed your baby or toddler or offer a tasting plate in the highchair for as long as you are both comfortable. So long as posture is not to blame, it is often easier to tackle any existing fussy eating problems while they are safely strapped in a highchair as moving them too early could result in a range of new problems
  2. Before you make the move, work on some basic table manners, such as saying or signing ‘all done’ and moving unwanted food to the corner of the tray – rather than throwing food on the floor. This method can be done successfully from a very early age
  3. The second table manner to teach your child before transition is asking or signing to be ‘excused’. This will become a very helpful rule when your child is seated in the big chair and can climb down on their own
  4. When you think your toddler is ready and depending on your brand of chair, remove the tray and push the high chair towards the dining table. Try this for a few meals, particularly when your toddler isn’t too tired and can model behavior on other family members
  5. The final step is removing your child from the highchair and seating them at their new chair
  6. Once your child is comfortable sitting in the new chair you might want to go over the table rules before each meal. Keep safety high on the list, so no standing on chairs or throwing of food or utensils.

By the time you move your child to the family table you want them to have some basic manners to eat well and stay at the table throughout the whole meal. As with all new milestones young children will push the boundaries and often play up to test you. You can keep the highchair around for a few weeks and if any undesirable behavior begins, simply place them back in the highchair with no other reaction, as a simple but clear reminder.

Top tip: try to eat as many meals together as a family. Simply by watching adults and older siblings eat young children will naturally want to mimic the behaviour. This is where they will see how you scoop around a bowl, twirl spaghetti and use a knife to push food onto a fork.

Note: there are no rules on when to transition your child to a high chair. The decision should be based on your child’s development and your preference. Many will start considering the transition between 18 months and 3 years. Always look at the age and weight limit on your high chair to find the manufacturer’s recommendations.

The full article was first featured in our Winter Warmer issue of our Magazine. To find out more about our popular magazines or to purchase online see the links below:

Launch magazine 

Back to School Magazine 

Winter Warmers Magazine

Spring 2014

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  1. posted by kellie on March 2, 2016

    Do you have any suggestions for the type of chairs I should be looking at? My 2yo is def too little to reach the table from a normal dining chair so I’m not sure what the in-between options are?


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