Baby at the Dinner Table

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Dec 2000

My almost 4 mo. old is too young for a high chair, but is getting too big and active for our current method of having him join us at the table: putting him in his quilt-lined bathtub (with a reclined back) on a non-skid pad on the table.

We like to have him at that height so we can converse with him and enjoy his company when we're at the table or doing chores nearby, although he happily spends time playing on the floor at other times. He already spends time in the bjorn or sling but what we want here is something different.

Not only is the bathtub seeming unsafe, he tries and tries to sit up in it, even though he can't yet, just as he does in his car seat. It looks uncomfortable to be in a perpetual sit-up! So ideally the solution wouldn't be at that carseat type angle, but maybe this is impossible and I just have to wait until he's old enough for the high chair.

How do other people include babies this age in life at the table or in the kitchen? Thanks, Charis

Have you checked out bouncy seats? They are certainly not completely upright, but a lot if not most of them are at an angle from which the baby can see and interact without having to strain. My son lived in his--I finally reluctantly gave it up way past when I was supposed to (when he could sit up by himself) because it was the best way to keep him nearby and yet safe. They all have straps of some kind, so there's no danger of a non-mobile infant getting out, and they are sturdy; they only become a hazard, theoretically, when the baby can sit up enough to tip one over. But, as I said, mine was so happy in his that it was not a problem until he was crawling. I could keep him with me this way when I showered, cleaned house, etc. The bouncy was one of the few baby items my one child actually wore out.

Our son is almost 5 months old, and beginning at around 4 months we also wanted him to be at the table with us or higher up off the floor while we were working in the kitchen. He seemed/seems happier that way, and at 4 months was already thrashing around in his bouncy seat and giving us the impression that it was unsafe to put him in that up on the table or counter. So we did actually switch to a high chair at that point, albeit a reclining one. We bought a Chicco Mamma, since it had both wheels (to move him around if we weren't eating), and a seat that reclined to several positions while leaving the tray in a flat position. We've kept it reclined so far, and give him toys to play with while we eat. That way he's up with us, but not sitting straight up. He really seems to like it. Heather

When my son was this age I put him in his stroller and kept this next to the table. Although not at eye level, I still talked to him quite a bit and interacted with him. Also, from the stroller's roof I hung (using those plastic links) various small toys for him to play with. Perhaps this will work for you. Dianna

Our son started joining us at the table before he was ready for a conventional high chair in one of those chairs you attach to the table. It clamps onto the table and has an extra secure seatbelt with a strap that goes between the legs. He's very secure in there and it's great to have him with us during meals or when we're hanging out in the kitchen. I think we started him in it at about 4.5 months. Good luck! Elizabeth

My now 14 months old daughter sat with us on the table until very recently in the chair of a baby swing (Graco in our case) The seat is very rigid so she couldn't move it and confortable enough. You could also go for a reclinable highchair (Peg Perego makes one for instance) that can be used right away even if your baby doesn't seat up yet. I agree with you that it is very pleasant- and important- to share the meal time with baby at the table... veronique

We used a bouncer which is a little cloth seat with a seat belt for newborn to about 25 pounds, and this works great. You can get them at Target- I just bought a super delux model for a friend for $28. There are some for less. -Lisa

Two things we did: in the carseat, with straps over the arms so the baby can't wiggle out. And in a bouncy chair -- the wire frame seats, with cloth covers, some come with a battery to vibrate which can sooth a getting-fussy baby. The angle is similar to the car seat, so maybe that doesn't solve your problem. There ARE high chairs that recline for very young babies. I think the expensive models like Peg Perego offer this. Might not be worth the money to you for the short time you'd need that feature. See the book Baby Bargains to find out more about these high chairs. Mary

We dealt with this by buying a high chair that had a reclined for infants option (ours is the Cosco 5-in-1 high chair). This high chair has the foot rest come off and the chair reclines to an angle like a car seat, but still on the high chair frame so you can easily feed them at the table or from a chair. Their belted in which is comforting, and at some point you just simply switch it to regular high-chair mode. You could also use one of those baby carrier car-seat kind of things, but that too will only last a little while until they are wiggling more and more. Good luck! Michael

I used a bouncy seat to feed my son at that age. It's a lightweight fabric seat on a light metal frame that bounces when the baby kicks his legs and has a small battery powered vibrating motor that always put him to sleep. It also has a seat belt to hold him in. It was a life saver when he needed to take naps and wanted to hang out with me. I could set it on the table and do dishes or whatever while it to lulled him to sleep. You have to be very careful when placing it on a table because if you have an active baby he could kick so hard he scoots himself off the edge of the table. My son never did that but you never know. Anyway, I think it's made by Fisher-Price and it's called a vibrating bouncer. Every mom I know had one. MW

When our daughter was about 4 months old, we made a major investment and bought the prima pappa high chair that reclines (it is very expensive). That way she could join us at meals as she was able to sit in the chair in the reclined position. We do not regret buying the chair. It has wheels and we roll her around to different areas in it, it folds easily so we were able to bring it with us to a beach house this summer, and the tray comes off very easily for easy clean-up. The only down-side we have found with the chair is the cost, and the nooks where our now 9 1/2 month old daughter hides dozens of cherrios and various other foods. Lisa