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Correct Chair Height for Children

Updated February 16, 2017

Sitting momentarily in an adult-size chair won't cause lasting harm, but children need chairs that fit their bodies for studying, drawing, playing games or working on the computer. Sitting in a chair that is too large can cause neck and back strain, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association. Set up a small table in the playroom or a child's bedroom with child-size chairs. A small, cosy rocking chair offers a comforting place to read stories or play quietly.

General Recommendations

General guidelines for chairs are developed by looking at international averages for children's growth. These guidelines offer a starting point when selecting furniture, but don't account for individual differences. In general, toddlers and 2-year-olds need chairs 6 to 8 inches high. Purchase 10- to 12-inch chairs for preschoolers through first grade. Upper-elementary age children need chairs that stand 14 to 16 inches high.

How to Measure

To determine the correct chair height for an individual child, have the child sit on a surface that allows his feet to rest flat on the floor, while the knees are at a 90-degree angle. Measure from the floor to the bottom of the seat to determine the correct height.

Benefits

A properly fitted chair allows children the postural stability they need to complete fine motor tasks, such as drawing and using scissors. Children are less fidgety and may stay longer at the table. When children's feet dangle from chairs, they fatigue quickly and feel unsteady.

Considerations

When buying chairs for groups of children, such as a preschool class, order at least two different sizes to account for variances in growth. Look for chairs with rounded corners, a stable base and a nonporous surface. Plastic or sealed wood is durable and tolerates sanitising. Place a stool under large chairs so the children's feet don't dangle.

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About the Author

Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."