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Toddler mealtime frustrations

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
My 16 month old is becoming increasingly difficult to feed and I am starting to feel a little nutty about her eating habits, I fear mealtimes because it is often pretty upsetting....my instincts are telling me to just back off and take the attitude of "if she eats the meal great, if not, no big deal" but for some reason it's really hard for me. I'm so sad about the amount of food that gets wasted.
So, what's happening is this....I make our meal and we sit down to eat (she will often indicate that she is ready to eat by signing "eat" or standing by her highchair and asking to go in) so within 5 minutes of sitting down...after she has maybe taken 2 or 3 bites she tells me she's finished and starts yelling and trying to stand up and get out of her seat....sometimes I try to get her to eat a few more bites, sometimes I make funny sounds to get the food in, sometimes I say in a neutral voice "ok, you're finished" and sometimes I say "fine, don't eat then" it is SO frustrating for me when she won't eat....I don't really know what to do. I would like for us to eat meals together, not her running around while I finish my meal. I try to give her healthy snacks throughout the day and she has NO problem eating while playing, or with me holding her etc. but she will not sit at the table and peacefully eat. So, this is my problem....I have some choking fears and don't feel safe letting her eat and then play, because she runs around and that makes me nervous. I would really like our mealtimes to be more peaceful and enjoyable. I've thought about getting a booster seat, but don't want to waste any more money on something that is not going to get used. Is this a phase? Is this a power struggle developmental thing? Any BTDT advice?
post #2 of 10
Booster seat. I hate walmart but i got one there for 23 dollars fisher price. It travels too.

I was totally in your shoes. So frustrating!

Somehow sitting right at the table really helped and now mealtime is good again. My dd just wanted to eat at the table with us.

Sometimes toddlers don't want to eat And they waste food. Try not to make a big deal over it. AVOID the power struggles -you won't win and will be miserable. Try having someone else feed her and offer finger foods. Good luck!
post #3 of 10
Try letting her feed herself. DS (15 months) dislikes to be spoon fed. I give him his own spoon to hold while I feed him if it's something like a soup.
I noticed a lot has changed since I keep his little hands busy by either feeding himself or giving him things to hold on to. Naturally, I bend down a few times during a meal to pick things up, but at least he is eating. On rare occasions when he really doesn't want to eat- big deal, off to play he goes, at least we can enjoy our meal.
post #4 of 10
my twins are also 16 months, and one of them sounds like your dd. i typically cook one thing for their meal and arm myself with backups. i find that he gets bored, eating only a few bites before wanting to get down. i usually start with whatever veggie we're having, and don't bring the next food to the table until he's "ready". i finish off the meal with yogurt (plain or with a little bit of honey) and some fruit.

both my boys refuse for me to feed them at all now, which makes for a very messy, fast-paced dinner.
post #5 of 10
It sounds like she doesn't like the highchair. I do snacks in ice cube trays and we do sit down to eat, but I also let them eat on the fly. I cut the food so that hopefully they won't choke and if it happens (which only did once when my oldest was 10 months), I am confident in my ability to dislodge. Every child is different, but 16 months is definitely an age of discovering one's independence.
post #6 of 10
We've been here too. I agree with a couple of the previous posters that self-feeding can help. We just got a cheapo shower curtain that we put down under his chair (my DS is 16 mo.). Also we've found offerering dips (like honey, ranch, ketchup, yogurt) makes a few more bites go down the hatch. Like you, I also am not a big fan of running around the house with food for choking reasons as well as sanitation. I just figure he'll eat if he wants and if he's truly hungry, he'll eat at the table. We just kind of try to stick to no pressure options. I know this time is extremely frustrating for all parties involved, so I wish you luck.
post #7 of 10
I woudl try booster seat right at the table, and just a few bites on the plate at a time of diffreent pieces....as she takes the last bite of one thing, get excited about putitn gthe next thing on her plate, "Ooooh look, some X for you now!"

Honestly, mealtime = sitting, family, conversation time for us too, so I understand why it's valuable for you to not have her running around. I'd slowly work your way up, in very small increments. I'd extend her sitting by 1 min past when she's "done" the first few days, then 2 min the next few, then 4, etc. etc. until she's sitting the whole meal (or 10-15 min, depending on how fast you eat - we eat fast, so I expected the kids to sit the whole time since we only took 10-15 min to eat and I didn't feel that was asking too much with food and conversation).
post #8 of 10
IMO if she is gaining weight appropriately you should back off and let her explore foods on her own. Just watch for choking, but letting her feed herself wil let her satisfy her need to experiment and practice.
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
So, the booster seat does seem to be helping some...but not alot. Family meal times are important to me...so sitting down to eat together is part of how we spend time together....however, I'm not sure how to balance that need with her need to be in constant motion. I'm not a slow eater...and like I said she wants to be up within 4 or 5 minutes. I'm thinking of bringing some books or markers to the table and if she is finished eating that is fine, but she needs to learn to wait until we are also finished eating...may or may not fly, but I'm going to try it. Also, what has been happening is she will eat one or two bites at the table and then a few minutes later start signing "eat" and looking around in the pantry pointing to things that she wants to eat....so I will bring them out and by the time I have the ready for her she doesn't want it....it makes me want to tear my hair out! She is very confusing. I really don't know what's going on with her lately. She has also started acting really hungry...asking to eat something and then chewing it and spitting it out...
she is still nursing a few times a day...however, my supply is low for half of the month...from ovulation until my period is over...I probably wouldn't worry as much about he solid intake if I knew she was getting adequate breastmilk. She asks to nurse all.day.long...including dring mealtimes. I really don't know how to handle these behaviors...oh and she also recently stopped napping....she's 16 months. that's a different thread though...unless they are conected somehow? I don't see any molars coming in
post #10 of 10
Originally Posted by Evelynmia'smom View Post
I'm thinking of bringing some books or markers to the table and if she is finished eating that is fine, but she needs to learn to wait until we are also finished eating...may or may not fly, but I'm going to try it.
I think this is a great idea...in the beginning I would only expect them to buy a couple more minutes, and just keep extending that expectation until she's at the table as long as you guys are. I never did the up down up down thing with my kids (and they are both VERY ENERGETIC : ) and they learned pretty quickly that mealtime is mealtime and we sit for it, and when we're really done eating (not just wanting to play for a couple minutes) we get down from the table and play again. I won't say that it was always seamless or without protest, and we were never angry or harsh with them (were calm and firm, but gentle and sympathetic), and they both got used to it pretty quickly.
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