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Mia loves to eat out at a cafe or restaurant.
It’s a real treat for her and I think it’s because she loves being wined and dined!
I have to say my wife and I have rarely faced a situation when a restaurant hasn’t had any high chairs.
There have been occasions when there hasn’t been one available as they were all being used by other families, but usually we haven’t had an issue.
Even more surprising when here in the UK, according to Which, in many restaurants at summer holiday destinations, there are a shortage of highchairs.
Anyway, it got me thinking..
Are restaurants actually required to have high chairs? Is there are law about this anywhere?
When can your baby use a restaurant high chair?
Most high chairs in restaurants are fairly basic, without the option to recline and they usually don’t fold up.
Therefore, you can use restaurant high chairs just like most options you buy for your home, once your baby can support themselves sitting up, which is usually around 6 months. However, as a parent you’ll know when your baby is ready.
What is the age limit?
It depends on the size of your child, rather than an actual age limit, but usually it’ll be around 3 years old.
If the safety belt is too tight or if you’ve got the food tray pulled out as far as it can go and it’s still a tight fit, it’s fairly obvious your child is too big for the high chair.
Also, your child might give you some signs they are uncomfortable. If they’re squirming or fidgeting a lot, it’s clear they don’t want to be in the high chair any longer.
My daughter is almost 4 and we generally stopped using high chairs in restaurants just under a year ago. She is quite tall for her age though, but quite slim.
However, it’s clear there’s an in between stage. Sometimes the adult chairs are too low for Mia to sit in comfortably, and the high chairs are a bit too small. I guess you need to bring your own booster seat or hope the restaurant has something!
Are restaurants required to have high chairs?
The simple answer is no, there is no legal requirement for restaurants to have high chairs.
Therefore it’s best to call the restaurant in advance and ask if there is one available beforehand.
Better this than turning up and finding out you’re out of luck as your walk through the door!
Another sign there should be high chairs is if there’s a kids menu available when you check out the restaurant online.
But the safest approach is just to phone up, book a table and mention that you have a baby or toddler, and ask about high chair availability.
Of course, some restaurants may choose not to have high chairs if they don’t wish to cater to young families, but rather a different demographic.
Are restaurant high chairs safe?
You’d hope so, but sometimes they are in a poor condition with old looking straps, and bits of food in between the various crevices.
In a random sample of 10 restaurants in the US, 40% of high chairs had a broken clasp and 30% were dirty.
Ok, this is a small sample size, but from what I’ve seen I wouldn’t be surprised to see similar statistics if a lot more restaurants were surveyed.
Restaurants are so focused on hygiene and ensuring they pass all the necessary food safety laws, the quality of high chairs are often overlooked.
From my experience, I’d certainly say high chairs usually aren’t that clean, so you’ll likely need to bring some antibacterial wipes or just ask a waiter or waitress to give it a clean before putting your baby or toddler inside.
What are the regulations for high chairs in restaurants?
The rules and regulations on using high chairs in restaurants are similar to having one in your own home.
The onus is on the manufacturer to ensure high chairs are safe to use and meet all the necessary safety standards.
That being said, in 2019, the CPSC approved a new federal safety standard for high chairs intended for use at home and in restaurants.
The guidelines state that although restaurants might not need to replace existing high chairs if they conform to these standards, it might be wise to invest in new ones just to avoid any risk of liability in case of an accident.
Older high chairs that are no longer safe have to be replaced. This includes ones with loose screws, tattered looking straps which are beginning to fray, broken frames and anything else which could be deemed unsafe for a baby.
Why don’t you just bring your own high chair to a restaurant?
I’ve personally never entertained this idea as it seems a bit of bother once you arrive at a restaurant to worry about setting up a portable high chair.
Having said that, some travel high chairs are very easy to attach to dining high chairs. They are small, and some you don’t even need to fold or unfold.
You can also purchase hook-on high chairs which attach to the table.
Does Starbucks have high chairs?
The short answer is it depends. Looking though various forum threads, it seems Starbucks will most likely have high chairs, but not in every outlet. It’s best to make a call beforehand and find out.
Graham runs the place around here. He likes making a “little noise” about all things to do with tennis and parenting. Check out his about page to learn more.