Me Do It – Independence and high chairs

We did not implement Montessori into our home until Joshua was around 6 months old. We were blessed to have a wonderful gentle birth but the lead up to Joshua’s birth was stressful and I found it overwhelming to be a new parent, mainly the basics in learning how to care for Joshua and meet his day to day needs, including snatching much needed sleep. We followed the modern route of purchasing a high chair for Joshua that admittedly has been very easy to clean and a wonderful chair to use but ultimately after implementing Montessori into our home I became unhappy with it. Joshua became dissatisfied with it too. He was unable to climb into it, unable to get out of it. This limited his independence and this started to make mealtimes unpleasant.

So what does Montessori thought say about high chairs?

This is not a traditional high chair that a child must be put into and taken out of by the adult. We must keep in mind the child’s strong need to be independent and use a chair that the child will be able to get into and out of without our help as soon as he is able to walk and climb.
– Susan Mayclin Stephenson, The Joyful Child, Montessori Global Wisdom for Birth to Three

So with this in mind I decided to take Joshua out of the old high chair (he had tried to climb out of his chair which poses obvious safety risks) and put him on a normal chair with a phone book to boost him up closer to the table. We put a step stool at the base of the chair so that he could get up onto the chair and sit himself at the table which seemed to satisfy his independence in getting in and out of his seat himself however I wasn’t happy. We have a booster seat by the way. I wasn’t particularly pleased with the booster seat as it never really seemed to sit properly on the chair. Joshua didn’t seem to enjoy sitting on it either. So we used the phone book as a booster for a short while as Joshua was too short to sit on the chair properly and I don’t think that kneeling at the table is very comfortable or very good for posture. (Just to note – I would never allow Joshua to sit somewhere without being properly supervised.)

I did some research to see what else was available to meet this need. One of the first suggestions that came up (and the best from what I could find) was the Stokke Tripp Trapp high chair. I had been against getting one as I felt that they were not needful but as time goes on things change and we have to keep adapting the environment to accommodate these needs. The importance of the prepared environment has become more obvious to me as time goes on and this is one of his needs. I was also convinced by a friend who loves hers and they came very highly recommended from her as well as great reviews online.

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So I sourced a chair online and we put it together and this shows how Joshua gets up and down from his chair himself. This epitomises independence, freedom of movement and exercising of the will.

Getting up to his chair:

Joshua getting up on chair

Getting down from his chair:

Joshua getting down from chair

The first few times Joshua realised he could do it on his own he looked at me quite excitedly. Mama me do it!

This chair promotes great posture and independence. The foot rest allows Joshua to place his feet firmly and can be adjusted to whatever his needs are. The old high chair did not promote the best posture, I noticed that Joshua used to put his arm up on the side and lean a little as well as have his feet dangling. This is a solidly build, structurally sound chair (my husband is an engineer and is fanatical about safety) and beautiful. Joshua can get up and down it easily. He will not fall off it as he is quite a confident climber at 22 months.  No safety strap is required as he is old enough now to get in and out of his chair. The chair itself is beautiful, the colour is a contrast to our other furniture but that’s fine with me, it makes the chair obviously his and a special addition to the dining area. This chair can be used for years and is a wonderful addition to the kitchen table. I would recommend buying it second hand as we did, it is much cheaper and you can get a good number of years use out of it. I am a convert to this chair and would definitely get it again. It can be used into adulthood and I would recommend it to anyone.

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