Life Before the Footsi, the Baby Chair Footrest
Now that we have a Footsi footrest for the Ikea Antilop high chair, I couldn't imagine life without it. Our daughter's ability to concentrate and eat increased ten-fold when she sat in the high chair with a footrest in it. Now why is that you are probably asking? Our lactation nurse at the hospital used to bang on about "flexible hips open the lips" in terms of motor skill development in infants, eg; baby latching on, milk transfer from Mum to bub and poor weight gain in baby.
And after trawling through the net, I discovered this can also relate to footrests while eating. There's evidence of a strong link with applying pressure against the feet and flexing the hip muscles, which can intern create very good eating habits for baby. There's a long list of journals dedicated to this stuff!
I mean for example, there can be a strong "foot-to-mouth" connection, and when babies little feet aren't applied correctly to Mum's body, feeding problems may potentially occur (Dr. Colson). And its not just the newborns either. Having pressure against the feet of toddlers is just as (if not more) important.
Now, I always refer to this example from Deborah Waldoks via Dr. Greene, whereby you should think about yourself sitting at a bar, eating your meal and having a drink. Imagine if you were sitting there, with your feet just dangling. It would be pretty uncomfortable. When my little one was sitting at the Ikea Antilop high chair she couldn't tell me how she felt (because she was too little to tell me). All I could do was learn from her while her feet dangled and jangled around while most of her food remained on the plate.
Deborah Waldoks also pointed out that an employee of another (high-end) high chair manufacturer aptly stated that "comfort and ergonomic benefits are not well understood by parents who have a preconceived notion of high chairs as a single use item vs a chair that grows with the child.” This is so true. And Deborah herself "was also insistent that the chair was able to get to the table, but oblivious to the feet-comfort connection."
She makes a good point here, that she was "being oblivious to the feet-comfort connection". I for one didn't think about this at all. I just wanted a high chair that was easy to store, easy to clean and no fuss. I wasn't moved toward the Ikea Antilop high chair because it was the cheapest on the market. I was conscious of the fact, but it certainly wasn't the driving force behind my purchase. I was recommended it by some good friends who had the highchair for some time themselves (with 2 bubs) after trialing another "much more expensive" high chair of which the fabric would stain and cleaning was a nightmare. The Ikea high chair was just user-friendly, however a key feature it lacked (which I didn't really put together when I first bought it) was the missing footrest. It only occurred to me when I was out with another mother who also uses the Ikea high chair and made a comment to me "I just feel so sorry for him with his feet just dangling in the chair like that". Then it clicked to me also. I started the Googling immediately "what to look for in a highchair?" and "what do I need to know about highchairs?" and "the importance of footrest in high chair", with more Dr's and pediatricians making comments about footrests allowing toddlers to increase their gross motor skills, feed better and increase their levels of concentration.
Kristen Yarker notes:
"There’s a very simple technique to help babies learn to eat. It’s something that I always look for when working with individual families. I can’t tell you how often it’s missed by parents. Let’s just say a lot. So, what’s this super simple tip? Make sure your child has their feet resting on something solid. Kids eat best when they have something solid to rest their feet on." And, "the perfect footrest height is the height where your child’s feet are 90 degrees from their legs. In other words, your child is resting flat-footed."
Even with the expensive highchairs that do have footrests, they are generally suited to one age bracket only and therefore don't adjust as your child grows, or work for multiple children. So when your child is young they may not reach the fixed footrest and when they are a bit older (but still using the highchair), their legs may be too long for them to be at 90 degrees.
Then even reading some other Dr's and occupational therapists specialising in childcare, such as Alisha Grogan, she got me really scared with comments like:
"I know it sounds like a minor factor to consider when feeding your child (or baby), but if your child isn’t positioned correctly they may have more difficulty swallowing, and thus be more likely to choke."
This is obviously drastic and not really a reason at all as to why I wanted my daughter to have a footrest in the Ikea high chair. However, I feel it is important knowing this fact now. But, when thinking of my daughter having a footrest, I more saw it as increasing her level of comfort and if she's comfortable, she's probably going to eat more (and eat better) while in the highchair.
Thus instead of buying one of these other highchairs that came with a footrest (but the added maintenance cost), I went ahead and started to put together the one and only Footsi. Now it wasn't exactly an overnight success story, in fact to get to the final product probably took around 9 months of working out the best design that would go with the Ikea Antilop high chair, which would also support babies resting (leg) weight and be adjustable. I also wanted to introduce the whole "portability" factor as well (not just to take to the houses of friends and family), given that many restaurants and cafes carry the Ikea Antilop high chair (probably for similar reasons I have described above). The ability to take the Footsi out and about may buy you some more time to spend with those you're with, given bub may have added concentration while using the footrest and she probably won't mind being seated for longer periods of time.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and please feel free to join into this blog, I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
Baby Chair Footrest
AU Design Registration 201816601