High chairs were seen as early as the 1600s in homes with children. Between the 1600s to the early 1800s, high chairs were custom made from wood and based on a scaled down version of an adult chair with long legs. They were usually made in England at this time and shipped to various locations for the wealthy as other families could afford to purchase these specialized pieces of furniture. Now, high chairs are accessible across the world, as they are universally manufactured products. As a result, it is crucial high chairs adhere to the consumer safety specifications and test methods detailed in ASTM F404-21: Standard Consumer Safety Specification For High Chairs.
What Are the Risks of a High Chair?
By far the most common injury the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) identified from high chairs resulted from children falling when they were able to stand up on the seat of the high chair because they were not secured by the restraint system. Other high chair related injuries were due to tray disengagement, entrapment between the tray and the seat, and tip over (when the chair tipped over as a child pushed back or rocked back and forth while seated in the high chair). Falls from high chairs can be especially dangerous because high chairs are typically used in kitchens and dining areas, which often have hard flooring such as tile or wood. If a child falls head first onto these hard surfaces, serious injuries can occur:
- Head Injury
- Neck Injury
- Broken Bones
- Mouth Injuries
- Broken Teeth
High Chair Injury Statistics
Since 2003, studies have reported significant injuries associated with hair chair use:
- A 2013 study about high chair safety found that 24 children a day (9,400 children a year) were treated in a U.S. Emergency Room for high chair related injuries. (The study was conducted in the years 2003 through 2010).
- Between January 2011 and September 2017, CPSC received a total of 1,842 incident reports related to high chairs, including 271 injuries.
- From 2015 through 2016, there were an estimated 18,500 high chair-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments, according to CPSC’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS).
Due to these substantial reported injuries from hair chair usage, adhering to the manufacturing requirements specified in ASTM F404-21 is critical to ensure durable, safe high chairs for young children.
The ASTM F404-21 Standard for High Chairs
ASTM F404-21 covers test methods and requirements to ensure the satisfactory performance of a high chair: a free-standing chair for a child up to 3 years old that has a seating surface more than 15 inches (38.1 cm) above the floor and elevates the child, typically for eating. This standard provides guidelines for high chairs created by using a high chair conversion kit (i.e., an accessory or component used to convert or modify a product so that it can be used as a high chair) and component(s) from another product.
The objective of this consumer safety standard is to minimize injuries to children resulting from normal usage and reasonably foreseeable misuse or abuse of high chairs.
History of the High Chair
The modern high chair, complete with a tray, was seen around dinner tables in the 1820s. Foot rest features were seen in the 1830s. By the late 1800s, high chair designs became more intricate with beautiful wooden carvings, turned spindles, and rounded edges. For example, antique high chair designs included a rocker to soothe a child and/or wheels so the chair was portable between rooms. The prime of the antique wooden chair came in the 1920s to 1950s before mass-produced chairs became popular.
By the late 1900s, plastic became widely used and a popular choice of material for many families when they bought a high chair. Many designs from this time were tough to keep clean as there were lots of nooks and crannies for food to disappear into.
Today, high chair designs have become more streamlined as they are easier to clean, made from wood or plastic (or a hybrid of material designs), and adhere to the consumer safety specifications in ASTM F404-21. This means, for instance, the chairs have three points of restraint and a piece in the seat to keep the child from slipping out. Where do you see the future of high chair designs going?
ASTM F404-21: Standard Consumer Safety Specification For High Chairs is available on the ANSI Webstore.