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Ultimate Guide to High Chair Footrests for Kids

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Inside: Wondering which highchair with a footrest will be the best option? I’ll show you what to look for when picking out a highchair for babies or toddlers

“Dinner is ready, everyone come to the table” I call at 6:00pm every night. My hungry boys sit down at the table. They scarf down a few bites of the meal I spent 30 minutes preparing. Mutter “I’m full,” and hop off their chairs, insisting on going back to play. I know if I try to go get them and bring them back to the table, I’ll have to deal with a tantrum. I’ll also risk not finishing my own meal. If I let them go play, they’ll probably come back to the table in a few minutes to take more bites. They will be eating, yes. Will they be eating well? No. Will they wake up at midnight asking for some milk or a snack? Highly likely.

Kids need proper support to eat well and stay at the table during meals. Even as a baby, the right high chair support can make a huge difference in your child’s eating.

I have spent years trying different ways to give my children the support they need at meal time. I’ve done this during different stages of their lives, and I am sharing that with you today! Here is my ultimate guide to why high chair footrests promote the best eating for children of all ages.

How to Choose Your Baby’s First High Chair with a Foot Rest

Often new parents are picking out their chair options before baby is born. Most don’t use it until their child is starting solids. This makes it incredibly difficult to know what type of high chair with a foot rest will best suit your child. They’ve already grown and changed so much by then! Here is what is important to look for in your baby’s first highchair with a foot rest.

1. Adequate back and body support

My #1 recommendation for babies, is adequate back and body support. Our bodies naturally want to stabilize when in the sitting position. As children or adults, we may seek out this support by crossing our legs or planting both feet firmly on the ground while sitting. This doesn’t come naturally to babies, so they need help to learn this skill. When looking at options, seek out highchairs that come with a liner or supportive insert. You should also ensure there is an appropriate high chair foot rest. It is important to ensure that the chair offers stability your baby will need as they become an independent sitter.

If you have a highchair with a foot rest that you love already, but isn’t offering much in the way of support on the back/sides – that’s okay! You can use a rolled up blanket, towel, or sweater to create that needed support around your baby’s sides and back while seated.

2. Highchairs with a proper footrest

Footrests are super important for baby highchairs. Once your baby is strong enough to sit in the highchair, you should ensure their feet are supported. This helps babies learn to feel stable in their chair while building up their confidence! Sometimes, the high chair footrest doesn’t reach your baby’s feet yet – no problem. A stack of books or an empty box can fill in the gap between their feet and the high chair foot rest.

Maybe you have a high chair without a good foot rest. You can make one by wrapping something around the legs where your baby’s feet can rest comfortably. You can use a band or towel to create the perfect high chair foot rest! This will be key to developing good eating skills. Your child will comfortably rest closer to the tray having an easier time investigating the food in front of them.

3. Practicality

It can be cost effective to find a highchair that can grow with your child. I have definitely had that laugh out loud moment when you go to pick your child up out of the highchair, their cute chunky thighs get stuck and… the chair comes right up with them! I like highchairs with multiple functions and high chair foot rest options because with a simple swap out or adjustment you’re good to go and don’t have to wait to get a new chair when your child grows and gets stuck in the first one (like mine did)!

child sitting in an ergonomic chair with a high chair foot rest

Changing Your Toddler’s High Chair to One with a Foot Rest May Help Them Sit Longer

Anyone else have squirmy children at the dinner table who haven’t been able to sit for more than 60 seconds since they learned to walk? Been there!! You try to reel them back to the dinner table with conversation. You play games with the food to keep them interested. Instead, they just throw their food on the floor and your child’s not eating.

Surprisingly, finding the best toddler highchair with a foot rest can change the game for parents of wiggly littles. With their feet planted flat on the ground, a stool, or an attached high chair foot rest can seriously reduce meal time fidgeting. These can also help to keep your child at the table, longer. What does that mean? They’re more likely to focus on the meal in front of them and end toddler food throwing.

First you will want to make sure that the footrest on the highchair you have or want to buy will reach your child’s feet. I find that toddler highchairs with adjustable footrests are the most practical. There is a benefit to being able to lengthen them as your child grows taller. If your favorite chair has a foot rest but your child can’t quite reach it yet you can totally hack it! Try strapping the following items to the high chair foot rest to make it a better height:

  • Tissue Box
  • Cardboard Box
  • Stack of Books
  • Pool Noodle
  • Zip Top Bag Box

You may already have a chair that you or your child prefers, but there isn’t any foot rest at all. Totally workable, and you don’t even have to buy anything new! You can tie something around the bottom like an exercise band, rope, old hoodie, etc. that your child can rest their feet comfortably on.

Image of toddler boy sitting at the table eating his dinner with a sand timer and a high chair foot rest to show tips for getting your toddler to sit at the table

Related: Need More Tips on Getting Your Kids To Sit? Download My Free 14 Page Child Feeding Guide!

So What’s The Deal With Booster Seats and Foot Rests?

Are they necessary? Some children love them and others don’t. They are intended to be a tool to aid in the transition between a high chair and an adult chair. Booster seats help bring children who have grown out of highchairs, to the proper height at meal times. This is important for many reasons.

Kids should be the right distance from the table

Children of all ages should be sitting close up to the table. That way, they can easily reach their food and lean forward when they are ready to dig in! If your child is too short to have both arms rest comfortably on the tabletop, they need some sort of lift in their chair. You want to try to get them as close to the ideal eating position as possible. You can opt for a booster seat that is adjustable and straps to your kitchen chairs. If you are strapped for space (I can relate), you may need an easily foldable choice.

Add a foot rest to your booster seat

This brings me to my second tip for transitional seating like boosters. Most I’ve seen don’t provide adequate foot rests by design. When using booster seats like these in your home, you will want to ensure there is a place for your child to rest their feet. Bringing a bench or ottoman under the table to place against the chair is one option. Maybe it doesn’t match the rest of the kitchen décor but hey, kids! Sacrifices will be made for a peaceful meal time. You can also use other types of foot rest strategies.

Your child should sit comfortably with suitable upper body support

Lastly, no matter what booster you choose, you should always make sure that your child can sit comfortably with a 90 degree angle at their knees. They should also be well supported around their back. Just like with a highchair with a foot rest, you can add a liner or use a rolled up towel to fill in any gaps along the sides or back to make up for any lack of built-in support.

Related: 5 Secrets for Turning Any Meal into a Meal Your Toddler Will Eat.

Here’s What We Use In Our Home for a High Chair with Foot Rest

child sitting in an ergonomic chair with a high chair foot rest

I have to say, back in the day when I was thinking about what type of mom I’d be, never would I have imagined being the one that buys a special chair for my kids. Turns out it was important in allowing us to enjoy our family meals together again.

For us, it was the right time to get the Stokke Tripp Trapp chairs for my boys when they were 5 and 7. They are more expensive chairs and I couldn’t find them used before that. I could tell that my kids were having a hard time with being supported, despite trying boxes and stools under their feet. When we finally did make the swap to an ergonomic chair with a foot rest, the change was immediate. Both kids sat so much better! For one child it completely eliminated his “up and downs”. For the other child it eliminated about 60% of his “up and downs.” It was a huge win for us.

You can also grab this chair in the high chair version. It has adaptable parts that allow it to span through the baby stage, all the way to adulthood! If you find your baby needs more back and side support in the highchair, you also have the option of adding a liner to the baby seat. You can also make your own body support or liner if you need to!

Choosing a seat that provides stability can be such a huge benefit to picky eaters. Have you tried changing your child’s seating arrangement to see if it helped with any of your meal time battles? I would love to hear about it in the comments.

Jennifer Anderson

Jennifer Anderson is a registered dietitian with a masters of science in public health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is the founder and CEO of Kids Eat In Color - the world’s leading resource for helping get kids on the path to eating better without the mealtime battles.

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