Baby Suddenly Hates High Chair? 7 Solutions You MUST Try!

Author Image By Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH •  Updated: 04/25/23 •  Behavior / Behavior Tips

We all know that when your baby suddenly hates their high chair there is no amount of willpower, mental patience and strength in the world that can get them to stop wailing, crying and making mealtimes a nightmare…

But babies hating their high chairs are a very common problem that many new parents will face at some point, so don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed.

Reasons Why Baby Suddenly Hates High Chair

There could be a number of reasons why your baby suddenly hates high chair time. These can include:

  1. They’re bored.
  2. They’re not hungry enough.
  3. They have associated being in the highchair with being alone.
  4. There is a lack of a mealtime routine.
  5. They don’t want to be spoon-fed.
  6. They are ready to have the tray removed and sit up at the table.
  7. The high chair is uncomfortable.
  8. They’re overtired.

Looking to get your little one to sleep quickly and effortlessly to prevent overtiredness? Check out my Bedtime and Nap Cheat Sheet and master the art of making daytime naps and bedtimes as seamless as possible.

What To Do When Baby Hates Sitting In A High Chair?

So what can you do if your baby suddenly hates high chairs?

What To Do When Baby Hates Sitting In A High Chair

1. Reduce Boredom

As your baby grows, they might find that sitting in a highchair is very boring. Especially if they are crawling and walking and feel they are being dragged away from something fun in order to be stuck in a high chair.

Therefore, try offering them some toys to play with when they’re in the high chair.

Toys with suction cups that can stick onto the tray are great for highchair play as well as playing with play dough or mini activity centres.

These quirky suction toys from Sassy Developmental Toys are a great option to help develop hand-eye coordination and provide lots of high chair entertainment before and during meals.

Sassy Fishy Fascination Station 2-in-1 Suction Cup Toy

Designed with a strong suction base, this lovely toy from Sassy Fishy will encourage your baby to reach, tug, and bat, watching for reactions. Ideal for strengthening hand-eye coordination and for having lots of fun, this toy makes an ideal high chair companion.

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Having certain activities that they play with on their highchair will mean that they will not only associate their highchair with sitting down for a meal but it will encourage them to sit and concentrate on fun things too.

2. Ensure Baby Is Hungry Enough

Timing is key if your baby hates being in their high chair and by ensuring that your baby is hungry and ready for food before putting them in a high chair, you will reduce the number of mealtime battles you encounter.

If they are not hungry, your baby will just see sitting in the highchair as an interruption to their playtime.

3. Don’t Let Baby Get Lonely

If your baby associates being put in their highchair with being alone, they will start to resist being put in there. So, be sure to keep talking and interacting with your baby when they are in their highchair by playing with them, making meals fun and eating family meals together.

4. Have A Pre-Mealtime Routine

I am always going on about the importance of routines for babies and toddlers as they love to know what is coming up next in their day…So, having a pre-meal routine that allows your baby to be ready for eating is vital when helping your child to sit in a high chair with a positive association.

An easy 5-step pre-mealtime routine can include:

  1. Telling your little one that mealtime is coming up in 5 minutes,
  2. Tidying away whatever toys they have been playing with,
  3. Washing your hands together,
  4. Then put them in their high chair with specific high chair toys.
  5. Make sure you have some food ready to go almost straight away so your baby is not waiting too long to eat (non-filling snacks such as crisped rice cereal is a great option until their dinner is ready)

5. Give Baby Some Freedom Over How They Eat

As your baby becomes more independent they may want to be in control of how they eat. This can mean that they no longer wish to be spoon-fed by you.

Try encouraging them to feed themselves finger foods to help them to re-engage with mealtimes and feel that they are more in control.

If you’re worried about the mess, there are some great easy-clean floor mats that you can place under baby’s high chair to catch any dropped and spilt food which makes cleaning up after meals a breeze.

Extra Large Baby Splat Mat - Anti Slip, Washable, + Baby Bib with Sleeves

Your all-in-one clean mealtime set!

Designed to keep baby clean and your floors free from sticky messes, this set from The Kids Department is a mealtime must-have. Everything is waterproof and machine washable so even the most enthusiastic of eaters cannot ruin your lovely floors. And the mat is also non-slip ensuring your baby is safe at all times when sitting in their high chair on top.

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6. Let Baby Sit Up At The Table With The Rest Of The Family

Taking off the tray and moving your baby up to the table to eat with the rest of the family may solve your baby’s high chair resistance.

Some babies reach a stage when they feel pressured to eat if they are eating alone with you watching them. Eating with others will make your little one feel more included and help take the focus off their eating.

7. Make Baby Comfortable

As your baby grows you need to make sure that their high chair is a good fit and that they are feeling comfortable.

If your baby is in an uncomfortable position for any reason, mealtimes will soon become a chore and you will need to look at a new seating option.

Just like us… if we’re not comfy, we can get quite agitated.

3 High Chairs Alternatives

If all the above fail to solve the problem of your baby’s sudden dislike of their highchair, then you do have some other options which can take the place of the conventional highchair.

1. Convertible High Chairs

A great high chair alternative is an all-in-one high chair that converts and adapts to the different seating needs as your child grows.

How Do Convertible High Chairs Work?

These chairs can be used from the moment your baby can sit, all the way through the early years, or they can be purchased when you want to move from a conventional high chair to the next stage.

They offer a versatile all-in-one solution to your baby’s changing needs and desire for independence, starting as a conventional high chair, then a toddler chair and finally a booster seat or chair for life depending on what model you buy.

Pros of Convertible High Chairs?

Cons of Convertible High Chairs?

Our Top Pick
Graco EveryStep 7 in 1 High Chair

From an infant high chair to a full-size high chair, infant and toddler booster seat, and youth stool the Graco High Chair will be there for it all. Ideal for families who are looking to save money in the long run, keep their child safe and adapt to anything life (and sticky hands) can send their way.

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2. Booster Chair

Another alternative to high chairs to keep your child safe while they sit and eat a meal with the rest of the family is booster seats.

How Do Booster Seats Work?

A portable chair booster can be strapped to a regular chair that allows your baby or toddler to eat at the table. Some are height adjustable and others can also be used on the floor.

Pros of Booster Seats?

Cons of Booster Seats?

If you choose a booster seat, here is one of my favourites on the market at the moment. I love the sleek design and self-storing feeding tray.

Ingenuity Baby Base 2-in-1 Booster Feeding and Floor Seat with Self-Storing Tray

Perfect for families with limited space and who travel occasionally this baby booster chair will serve all your little one's dinner needs. With a dishwasher-safe tray, you won't have to fight the sticky messes by hand any more! And the unique base design will fit 99% of chairs meaning your baby can safely join you at the table no matter where you find yourselves.

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3. Clip-On Seats

Finally, a clip-on seat (also known as a hook-on high chair) is a fab alternative to high chairs that travel well and help your baby feel included at every table, no matter where you are.

How Do Clip-On Seats Work?

Clip-on seats attach to your dining table and can be used as a substitute for a highchair if your baby suddenly hates their high chair.

Pros of Clip-On Seats?

Cons of Clip-On Seats?

If you choose to invest in a clip-on high chair, here’s my top pick from Toogel (which is certified safe).

Toogel Clip on High Chair - Portable Baby Feeding Seat

With its quick and easy one-step installation, this baby clip-on chair is brilliant for families who travel light and need a foldable high chair without the bulk. The non-slip handles and 2-year guaranteed clamps will ensure your baby is in the safest of hands (or chair!)

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Frequently Asked Questions About Why Baby Suddenly Hates High Chair

Looking for more information about why your baby suddenly hates high chair time? Find the answers to the most common questions here.

When Should You Stop Using A High Chair?

Typically, a baby will outgrow their high chair any time between 18 months of age and 3 years old. They will then transition onto booster seats and toddler stools so that they’re tall enough to reach the table during meal times.

Do Babies Need High Chair Cushions?

Deciding whether to have a high chair cushion is completely optional. If your baby is comfortable and fits well in their high chair, you should not need a cushion. However, if their legs are a little too short and they want to be closer to the table or be propped up, an old cushion you don’t mind getting messy can help your baby enjoy being in a high chair.

What Is The 90-90-90 Rule?

The 90-90-90 rule is a general guideline to ensure your baby’s hips, knees and ankles fall at 90 degrees to one another when in a suitable high chair. 

Why Are Footrests Important On High Chairs?

If your baby has a footrest and they’re sitting comfortably, you will find they can then focus their efforts on learning how to bite, chew and enjoy their food. Their motor skills will improve, allowing them to feed better and improve their levels of concentration

Should You Use The Straps On A High Chair?

Yes. You should always use the safety straps on a high chair to secure your baby. This includes the crotch strap. Safely securing your child will prevent them from slipping down, which could cause serious injury or even death. And remember, never allow your child to stand in the high chair either.

Need More Parenting Help?

Author Image Bio
Paula McLaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and a highly qualified childcare expert with over 40 years of experience as a Norland Nanny. She holds a BA (Hons) in Early Years Development & Learning (0-6 Years) and the prestigious Norland Diploma. Paula has worked as a night nanny, run a successful daycare center in London, and helped raise countless children using her tried and tested developmental and guidance methods.

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