Dr. Mona's Mom Blog

High Chair Refusal

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This can be frustrating, but here are some tips!

Lots of young toddlers reject the high chair at some point — in all honesty, it doesn’t mesh well with their desire for independence to have to be strapped in.

There are two things I want to mention first when it comes to high chair refusal.

First, it is important that you are very consistent in what you choose to do to navigate this phase. While, I know it can seem easier to have them in your lap, I get it, it will create a precedence that is just not sustainable.

If it’s a one off that’s okay. But it’s crucial to stay consistent.  

Second, is it comfortable? This is more of a concern with a new chair, but you can consider if they are feeling comfortable. I’m most concerned about this if it’s a new chair. If your toddler is feeling uneasy or swinging their their legs back and forth, you can consider a foot rest for your high chair. Not all children need it, but it can help them feel more stable if they are bouncing around.

Remember, that optimal seating positions are not just important for creating a safe eating environment and safety but for comfort and stamina in the chair. When babies and toddlers have to use a lot of core muscles to sit comfortably in a chair they will fatigue easily and tire of the meal.

So here are some tips to help you stay consistent and help you through this high chair refusal phase!

  • Avoid distractions, for example the TV – these can be crutches for them.
  • Serve food right away including safe foods—(take a quick second to think about this: are they just in a picky phase and they don’t like the food so becoming more resistant in the high chair?)
  • Make it fun and interactive. Sit with them and eat as well. Feed them and have them feed you.
  • Positive reinforcement like – “Great job sitting in your chair and filling your belly”, rather than getting frustrated or yelling when they’re not in it.
  • Finally, consider other options such as: 
    1. Dining booster seat where elevated up and not strapped in. 
    2. For non-family meals that they typically eat solo, a separate toddler/kids table and chair set is a great option.

And remember, this can just be a phase of refusing the high chair, but whatever method you choose to use to navigate this – you have to be consistent.

Checkout this podcast episode where a mom calls in for Monday Mornings with Dr. Mona regarding her 15 month old refusing their high chair!

P.S. – Don’t forget to checkout my amazon storefront where I have a whole section for meal times & feeding!

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All information presented on this blog, my Instagram, and my podcast is for educational purposes and should not be taken as personal medical advice. These platforms are to educate and should not replace the medical judgment of a licensed healthcare provider who is evaluating a patient.

It is the responsibility of the guardian to seek appropriate medical attention when they are concerned about their child.

All opinions are my own and do not reflect the opinions of my employer or hospitals I may be affiliated with.