Friday, August 7, 2015

High Chair Hygiene

Brought to you by Jess Miller of Parent Guide

For a baby, meal times are an exploration of new life experiences and development of motor skills. It's a time of tastes and smells – some they will love and some they certainly won't.

When you're feeding a baby with a spoon, there will be some times of mess. But once they are perched in their high chair and have progressed to finger food or table food, this is where they will test out every nook and cranny as to how dirty they can make it with their meal. Part of their development will include the feel and texture of their meal and not only in the mouth. Little hands will want to explore what happens to the food when pulled and squeezed and what can be done with it – other than eat it. The result will be a dirty high chair.

Cleaning a high chair is very important; there are lots of bacteria that could be harmful to a young child and even if it looks clean, there could well be food tucked down sides of cushions or under the tray. So knowing how to tackle high chair hygiene is part of day to day parental life.

Hygiene risk of a dirty high chair

Some of the bacteria that can be harboured in a dirty high chair include:

- e.coli
- Staph aureus
- Enterococcus faecalis

These can be the cause of stomach upsets to a baby. Coliforms can also be present in high chairs that aren't subject to regular cleaning. This is a bacteria that is formed from unwashed vegetables, raw meat or fecal matter.

The main areas to look at are the tray, the straps, the cushions if the chair has them and the foot tray. Hidden crevices and easy collection points will be the main places bacteria will want to hide and grow.

How to clean a high chair

Whilst many parents may say they know how to clean a high chair, for other it's a new experience and may not be sure about where to start – or what to use.

A combination of products is helpful as it gives you all the options to clean each surface. You'll need some non-toxic ‘safe to use with babies’ wipes and then some mild detergent mixed with hot soapy water in a bottle or in a spray bottle.

Start with the tray. Either just spray it down or remove the tray and wash in the sink. It's then time to look at all the crevices that are in many high chairs; particularly if the seating area has padded, sewn sections where sticky food can easily get into. Thoroughly wipe it down and spray it well so the liquid gets into all areas. Underneath the arms is somewhere to pay particular attention to as it's where children often place their fingers. As there's bound to be spills and drips, the next places to clean are the legs and the bottom of the frame. And don't forget the foot tray as this can be particularly messy, as it's a place where everything can collect. If there are fabric cushions, pop them into the washing machine and dry thoroughly before replacing.

Using restaurant high chairs

It's not always easy finding high chairs in restaurants, but even if they are available, it's vital that you check how clean they are before the meal is served.

A survey carried out once found that some restaurant high chairs have as much as 1200 bacteria per square centimetre – more than that found on a toilet seat.

Whilst it's not possible to take apart high chairs in a restaurant and start washing the trays or removing cushions to clean them, have a good look at the state of the chair when you are offered it for any visible signs of dried on food, splashes of previous meals or a generally grubby condition. If it's obviously dirty, ask for another or for it to be well-cleaned and returned to you at the table.

Even if the chair looks clean, it's good to be on the safe side so always keep a packet of gentle cleaning wipes with you that can be used on surfaces your baby will be in contact with. Wipe the tray all over – including underneath, as well as the straps and crotch post. If the seat is plastic or wood, wipe well and if it's material, remove it and shake for hidden crumbs. The best design of high chair in a restaurant is one that has completely wipe-clean surfaces and no integral cushions.

Help to keep baby clean at meal times

To keep the clean-up operation to a minimum, always cover your baby as much as possible. Use a receiving blanket and a bib so large pieces of food can be caught. Wipe their fingers as they eat to try to stop them smearing the food around the chair – as well as all over themselves.

Be sensible but be clean

Keeping a baby chair clean doesn't mean becoming obsessive about every little splash and mark and immediately reaching for the cloth during each meal. Babies will get dirty and messy and so will the high chairs. The important thing to think about is basic hygiene. Keeping everything wiped after a meal means there’ll be no problems. A baby covered in spaghetti sauce is all part of the fun of them growing up so be ready with the wipes, but also have a camera to hand to take photos to record the memory to show them when they're older!

For more information relating to high chairs and answers to all your questions see the frequently asked questions section on my guide here:



Anne D. said...

Great info:) I don't have a baby anymore, but interesting info! I actually never let my kids use the highchairs in restaurants when I had younger kids.

Jolleen Ruiz said...

This is great. My son, who just turned 1, is in this stage and it is so hard to keep his high chair clean. I mean, kids can seriously get those things dirty.

Inspiring Kitchen said...

So important to have a clean space for your child to sit and eat. Appreciate the tips.

Mama to 5 said...

Cleaning my little one's high chair is one of my least favorite things to do but she is so messy. It is a must to clean it after wash use!

Claudette said...

Really, really great information! I will be passing this on to my daughter!

Shann Eva said...

Great tips! I'm always concerned with germs and my twins, so this is really great information. I often either bring my own portable high chair to restaurants or bring a cover. They gross me out! :)

Dagmar Lesher said...

This advice is so awesome!! My highchair gets so gross and I never know the best way to clean it

Talin Ishkhanian said...

So much useful information. I've resorted to feeding my son on his bumbo to avoid the cleaning process of a highchair. It's time to finally purchase a highchair.. And clean it correctly!

Keri said...

Crazy to think how many germs a high hair can have!! Very eye opening.

Laurie Nykaza said...

Great information I will pass onto my niece with her new little boy she could use it!

Julie Wood said...

Keeping the high chair clean is so important because baby makes a mess and some of the food can get in places you do not think.Making sure to clean the tray and chair is so important. Great tips!

Elena said...

I remember cleaning my baby's high chair many times a day. It was so important to keep it clean from germs.