Tray Play: 10 Fun High Chair Activities for Baby

If you’ve only used your high chair for meals, get ready to knock your parenting game up a notch. With these easy ideas for high chair activities, your baby will be safely contained and entertained, giving you a chance to whip up dinner, make a quick call, do some cleaning, or finish your own meal.

Videos From Tinybeans

Stirring the Senses

Bradley Gordon via Flickr

Sometimes, around-the-house items like a wooden spoon or spatula can serve as the best toys or distractions for baby. Hand one over while you're cooking and let baby chew, touch and bang to their heart's content.


Magnetic Magic

torbakhopper via Flickr

Place a small metal pan and a handful of magnetic letters, shapes or animals on your child's high chair to keep baby busy with sliding and touching the different shapes. Choose large items with securely affixed magnets to avoid a choking hazard. If the pan goes crashing down from the high chair, the magnets should keep the items from going flying. 

Flour Power

Amberlei Hellewell via Flickr

In the middle of baking? Let baby get involved by sprinkling a bit of flour on the high-chair tray for them to push around...and probably get all over themselves.

Banish Boredom with Beads

This classic wooden-bead maze toy, the Melissa & Doug First Bead Maze ($13.99), comes with attached suction cups that make it perfect for high chairs. (Bonus: You can tote it to restaurants to keep babe entertained before the food comes.)

Musical Chair

Dano via Flickr

Turn off the tunes and let your little one make the music instead. Tiny maracas, cymbals or a xylophone are all great ways for baby to shake or bang out a catchy beat from the comfort of the high chair.

Golden Globe

Hello Bee

Who isn't mesmerized by a snow globe or its DIY equivalent? Fill a water bottle with water or oil, glitter and small items such as shells, buttons or beads to create your own baby-safe snow globe or sensory bottle.

It's in the Bag

Can Do Kiddo

Unleash your baby's inner Picasso with mess-free painting. Slip a piece of construction paper into a resealable bag, squeeze in a few drops of paint, and seal it up. Tape it to the high chair's tray and watch the masterpiece come to life.

Turn on the Water Works

The Imagination Tree

If baby's high chair has a tray with a tall lip, you have the perfect spot for baby to splish and splash. Take a cue from Chasing Cheerios and add a drop of food coloring to up the fun factor. Note: This will get messy. Put on the right bib (check out our favorite bibs for every occasion) and maybe save this idea for a warm day when you can park the high chair outside. Or a day when you'd planned to clean your floor.

Pipe Play

elizabeth weislak via Flickr

To keep baby's brain and hands active, reach for a handful of pipe cleaners and an empty water bottle (for older babies) or a wide-mouthed plastic jar (for younger ones). First, twist pipe cleaners in half to soften pointy ends. Then, show baby how to fit the cleaners into the bottle or jar and watch those motor skills grow.

Stick With It

Chasing Cheerios

For the DIY-inclined, this Velcro board is a great way to keep baby's hands busy. To make this board, the Chasing Cheerios blog advises that you sand a wooden board, then affix strips of sticky-backed Velcro to it. Cut smaller pieces of Velcro to affix to blocks or other small toys. Your little one can attach the different items to the board and explore that satisfying telltale Velcro sound when they pull them off. Velcro will also help keep the toys on the high chair tray.

Do you have any tips for keeping babies entertained in their high chair? Share them in the comment section below. 

— Suzanna Logan


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