Messy eating?

August 26, 2015 by Louise Pearce

A toddler learning to feed themselves is a messy experience. But how they are sitting can directly affect how easy it is for them to learn to feed themselves rather than spilling it on the table or floor! this can also be applied to other fine motor skills such as learning to write and draw.

For your child to learn to feed themselves they need to coordinate and master a combination of different skills. To feed themselves for example a piece of apple they need to control their eyes to look at it, move their head into position, maintain their sitting balance, coordinate firing of their arm and hand muscles to reach out, open and close their fingers and apply the correct pressure to hold onto it ……. and this is only picking it up.

Now I want you to think of what it feels like sitting on a kitchen stool with your feet dangling and no back support, if you were asked to write in your neatest handwriting would you be able?<

How can a highchair help?

High chair image

The key is having a stable trunk (back and tummy). This provides support to the head and arms to coordinate movement in a smooth and controlled way. A supported head helps us move our eyes with greater ea
se to look in the direction we want and it helps us when we are learning to control our mouth for activities like chewing and swallowing (which is all new for your baby and toddler).  A stable trunk helps us with the fine movement we require in our hands and fingers to manipulate objects such as food and toys.

Trunks stability is influenced by having our back supported, feet flat on a stable base,  knees should be positioned at around 90° degrees. If we can move the height of our tray or choose a table that allows our elbows to rest on i,t this will further help our finger and hand control.   Unfortunately toddlers grow very quickly and if you plan to use the same highchair from when you first plan to introduce solids at 6 months, you will most likely still want to be able to use it when they are  1- 2 years old. Therefore try and choose a highchair that can grow with your child or apply these principles when progressing them on to a table and chair set.

What to features to look for in your highchair ?

  • Adjustable seat height
  • Adjustable foot plate (to help keep the feet flat and knees at 90° degrees)
  • Adjustable table/ tray height- and if it is removable it can be an added bonus if you want to use it at the table for family meal times.
  • Curved tray to wrap around their body and adjustable depth (distance from child’s chest)
  • Harness or safety straps to prevent falls
  • Easy to clean
  • Lip on table to prevent sliding of plates/ pens etc.



Our practice philosophy is to promote strength and development through play and exercise. We provide a holistic and comprehensive approach that is backed by clinical experience. We can create a tailored individual program to be implemented at home, childcare or school to help meet your child and family’s goals.

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