Turn restaraunt high chairs upside-down to hold infant car seats

Leah wrote in with a hack I’ve seen used in restaurants all over. It never worked for us — our car seat never fit securely enough. Your mileage may vary, but it’s worth a try as long as it’s safe (check for a strap to buckle the seat onto the stand):

We have a two month-old, and just learned something that I want to share with the world: if you turn the wooden restaurant highchairs upside down, they accommodate an infant carseat! Safely! they are meant to!! Now, it could be that everyone knew this except us, but I told a friend and she didn’t know, either.

Safety note: Lots of Parenthackers commented that this is not safe, and there was even one instance of a waitress knocking into the chair and bumping the seat off its stand. Please be extra, extra careful should you decide to try this.

Related: Extra spoons as restaurant entertainment for baby


  1. Amy says

    I’m always a little troubled by this idea. We didn’t flip the highchairs over when our son was younger, because we didn’t want to get floor goo on the areas that kids touch when eating. Now that he’s sitting in those seats as a chair, I hate knowing that they’ve been face-down on a restaurant floor. I’m not a germ freak, and we always wipe them down first, but it gives me the willies.

  2. Dave says

    I don’t think they are designed for this.

    Many of the high chairs I’ve seen lately have stickers on the bottom (so you see the sticker when you flip the chair) warning against this very practice.

  3. Lemon says

    I’ve done this a few times with my first two, and if I’m ever lucky enough to get to go out to eat again… I will definitely do it. The alternative of leaving the baby on the floor in the carseat isn’t exactly safe either (trip, step on, spill on) and although the wait staff had warned me against it, the chairs I used were sturdy. And I wouldn’t go to a restaurant with goo-ed up floors anyway.

  4. says

    Yeah, plenty of them have a “don’t do this” sticker on them. But I’m of the common sense camp, and decided on my own whether or not it was safe. Only once have I had a high chair that it didn’t feel safe enough in.

  5. says

    Ack! Don’t do this!

    The top part, where the baby sits, is narrower than the base that is supposed to go on the floor. So when you flip it over, you’ve got the wider part at the top. That’s just a recipe for disaster.

    Not to mention the fact that, having been a waitress, this makes it very difficult to get to the table. You do not want someone passing hot coffee and hot food over your baby who is at the end of the table on a top-heavy, unsteady base.

    Similarly, do not put your infant car seat over the kid seat on the shopping cart. Again, this makes the cart extremely top heavy, and it can flip.

    I know people do this all the time, but people smoke all the time, too. Doesn’t mean it’s safe.

    As an alternative, simply put the infant bucket into one of those strollers that are designed for this… You have a safe place for baby, you can wheel her out of the way of the wait staff, and you don’t have to carry the huge God awful bucket. At the grocery store, since you can’t push a cart and a stroller, try a sling or a Bjorn or some other baby carrier. But please don’t do this. It’s just not safe.

  6. Marcy says

    Another chime in from the not safe camp. In fact, many restaurants will actually tell you that you can’t.

    Look at the structure, it makes it waaaay too top heavy. That narrow base is nowhere near steady enough to make that safe.

  7. Elizabeth says

    We tried the high chair trick when our kid was little, and our car seat doesn’t work. It was a Graco SafeSeat and I think they intentionally made them not compatible with flipped high chairs and shopping carts to stop people doing it.

  8. Brian says

    Speaking of high chairs at restaraunts.
    Why don’t most places have high chairs with a nice back support.
    Seems they all have these lousy wood chairs with no back. Our son is too big for his infanct car seat but doesn’t have the back support to sit up in these ugly chairs. Which chain restaraunts actually have good chairs with a back?

  9. sara says

    I’m sorry but the high chair is not meant to hold the bucket.
    When I worked at a restaurants we had to tell people not to do that.
    The baby can fall over its not safe way too top heavy.

  10. Florabora says

    I know for a fact that the combi seats won’t work. I actually got in an argument with a restaurant owner over this – he wanted me to use the flipped over high chair instead of on a seat.

  11. Cate says

    Yeah….Add me to the “Don’t do this!” category…
    Babies have suffered injury from doing this…and as mentioned before, most restaurants won’t allow you to do it.

  12. sarah says

    When my son was in an infant car seat we would take him to restaurants all the time (he loved the noise and would fall asleep!). We always made sure to ask for a booth. The car seat fit in perfectly in the booth next to us and was too big to slip through to the floor. He was out of the way of hot beverages/the waitstaff, and we were close to him so we could give him his bottle, etc without leaning way over. I remember one time a woman stopped at our table and commented on how quiet our son was being… she said we should enjoy it now because once he is a toddler we wouldn’t be able to have a quiet conversation in a restaurant while he was with us. It’s been two years since then… and how right she was!

  13. says

    I definitely wouldn’t do this for all the reasons mentioned above. Anyway, if your baby is too small for a highchair, try a sling. A few times I had my infant son in a sling while I ate at a restaurant. Baby is right there for feeding and soothing. Car seats are for the car. Why lug them around?!

  14. David says

    Lemmon, Brian, to solve the goo and size high-chair issues we got one of those shopping cart/high chair covers. This one in fact: http://www.floppyseat.com/index2.html

    It works pretty good. It covers the whole high chair and and any shopping cart so you don’t have to worry about germs. It also gives them a little more to lean back on since it’s so big. There’s a lot of material to stuff back behind them. It’s also got a seat belt and it’s machine washable and it’s got a pouch sewed onto the side so you can stuff it into itself for easy transportation.

    I think it’s a must have once your child starts sitting up on their own.

  15. jill says

    I know someone who did this and it didn’t turn out well. The waitress tripped, the high chair went sprawling, and the baby actually landed upside down in her carrier. The setup was NOT sturdy. Thankfully, the baby was fine, since she was strapped securely into the carrier, and the floor was carpeted. But it scared the heck out of my friend and everyone else in the restaurant. I’m usually pretty laid back about these sorts of things, but this one is a big NO in my book.

  16. Parent Hacks Editor says

    Parenthackers have spoken! Thanks all for your comments — I’ll post a stronger safety note on this hack.

  17. Lisa says

    This is seriously a terrible idea. This is about as bad as putting a stroller onto an escelator (yes, i’ve seen parents do this too). More than a few times, a waitress will offer a wooden high chair and turn it upside down for us and i always decline. Those high chairs are simply not designed for turning upside down. When they are used as they should be, the bottoms are wider, giving the support they need. When you turn them upside down, the bottom is now narrower making the entire thing top heavy when a carrier is placed on top. Even if you did have a strap to keep the carrier to the seat, it can still easily tip over. To be fair there are SOME restaurants that DO have highchairs specifically designed to convert to a carrier holder. Denny’s and I believe Carrierra’s Italian restaruant. But if it’s a traditional wooden one, please don’t!

  18. Ashley B says

    PLEASE do NOT do this! It is VERY un-safe! I was in a restaurant once, and a server bumped into another woman’s highchair set up like this, and not only knocked it over, but the waitress spilled the drink tray on the frightened infant! And, I tried it once before that, and my wiggly son moved the chair some. Not a good idea.

  19. Jill says

    Recently at a restaurant, the server told me it’s actually illegal to do it that way now… I suppose the manufacturer of the chairs doesn’t want the liability.

    THey now have “slings” that are designed for putting the infant car seat in them.

  20. MrsC says

    Add Perkins Restaurant to the list of places with special high chairs designed to accomodate baby carriers. The high chair doesn’t flip over, the bucket-seat does. This way the floor parts only ever touch the floor, and with the bucket seat flipped over, the carrier sets down into the top of the high chair securely and doens’t wiggle around. There are even helpful diagrams under the bucket seat to show you which way your infant carrier should face. We love it. And our local Perkins has enough of them that even when the restaurant is packed we never have trouble getting one for each of our twins. Bonus!

  21. Whitney says

    We never flip the highchair over with our son either. You can just tell how unsturdy it is. We usually ask for a booth and slide his carseat in the booth or put him on a chair scooted up to the table, then we ask the waitress to serve food and drink on the other side, so nothing is passed over him. We also asked to be sat somewhere that if he is on the chair there isn’t going to be waiters walking right by him with food or drinks.. usually they are very helpful and willing to do this, if not.. we go somewhere else.

  22. Rebekah says

    I worked at a restaurant, and we wouldn’t allow people to flip the highchairs. You wouldn’t believe the complaints I got when I explained that it just wasn’t safe!

    Applebee’s has a convertable highchair. Not sure how it works, but I saw them use it at the table next to us, and it was pretty cool (and better yet, perfectly safe)!

  23. says

    Friendly’s (New England, only, I think) has convertible high chair that holds our Graco32 great. Cheesecake factory has the slings. We’ve tried the flipped over thing a couple times and it felt too unsafe and at the wrong angle. We’ve also tried just setting the seat on the high chair. That works sometimes. Mostly we get booths and slide him in. I don’t want him to grow up too fast, but I look forward to when he can sit up in a highchair.

  24. says

    Applebee’s has the plastic high chairs that convert into an infant seat holder that you can securely strap them in.

  25. Eric says

    Do Not Do This!!!!

    The high chairs are NOT meant for this! I’ve seen them fall over before. This is not safe, please parents you should not be doing this. Any restaurant that allows this is in for trouble, they should not allow people to do this. Trust me, I work in restaurants and I’ve seen them fall many times. The highchair becomes very top heavy.