Ah, the restaurant high chair. Depending on whether or not you’re a parent, it either looks like a disgusting wooden/plastic sculpture you wouldn’t even touch with rubber gloves on, or a bastion of civilization that makes it possible for you to enter polite society once again. My kids were almost out of their car seats before I realized that you can flip most high chairs upside down and put the car seat right in there—mind-blowing.
I’ll also never forget the time when both twins gleefully hurled their breakfast from their respective restaurant high chairs—so violently that when we finally packed them up and pulled away from the table, our fellow diners actually gasped. With twins, I was never one of those moms that systematically wiped down ever public high seat with a baby wipe, although that probably would have been a good idea. But except for various giant messes and subsequently having to say goodbye to restaurants I would be too embarrassed to darken the door of ever again, I can’t recall any other public high chair mishaps.
But maybe our family was one of the lucky ones. Nation’s Restaurant News reports that “from 2011 through 2016, there were an estimated 18,500 high-chair-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms.” Of those, an estimated 1,600 occurred in restaurants. Most of these were related to falls as children tried to climb in or out of the high chair, as well as “tipping over or a failure of the restraints, tray or lock.”
So this summer the Consumer Product Safety Commission approved new standards for high chairs, including “more restricted leg openings; a warning label about tipping hazards, a passive crotch restraint system, and a three-point seat belt, also designed to prevent the child from trying to climb out.” NRN points out that as millennial consumers have more babies, and millennials are more inclined to eat out, an increase in restaurant high chairs may be needed, as well as improved ones.
Yes, some of you may be opining that parents should just watch their kids—but you can watch them 24-7 and you would still be shocked at the superhuman strength and skills they possess to be able to, oh, wriggle out of a perfectly good high chair. Constant improvements of this valuable parental tool can only be a good thing. Bonnie Yatkeman, brand manager with Koala Kare Products, makers of high chairs and also those fold-up changing tables you see so often in restaurant bathrooms, stated “there are compliant chairs available now, and more are coming down the pike.” Good news for parents ready to re-enter polite society, even just for a single restaurant meal.