family meals with 12 month-old---help! - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-09-2006, 02:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This summer I was away some evenings for a class, and when my husband would eat dinner alone with our 12 month-old daughter, she sat in her high chair for the meal (say, 10-15 minutes), eating a little table food. In other words, she does very well with him at mealtime---she eats and does not cry.

However, when I am present, she sits for 2 minutes, toying with her food, and then she wants out of the high chair, and she extends her arms to me and cries. I must admit, I am not very firm with her. It's so hard for me when she turns to me with teary-eyes and pouty face.

I feel that I MUST be firm with her at dinner, though. It seems that she's good for dh because he is firm with her, but she sees me and knows I'm a "softy"...

Is 12 months too young for her to sit for 10-15 minutes with us at dinner-time? (What she wants is to be sitting in my lap while I eat, which does not work very well for me.) I wouldn't think that only 10 minutes is too long, but then why does she cry? Is it because I am not firm enough?

Mama to dd born 7/2005, dd born 12/2007 and dd born 11/2009.
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Old 08-09-2006, 03:17 PM
 
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We are not great examples in this situation as I am not sure my wife or I could sit still for a 15 minute dinner.

What are you after? Family time? Peace to eat your dinner?
Are you and her open to lap feeding?

What is she after? Mama time? getting "out" of the highchair? Keeping you from eating?

Just a word of caution. Food power struggles can get sooooo out of hand. My 7 year-old nephew has power struggled with my sister (his mom) ever since I can remember. It is really tough on them, and often ends up in a huge fight for no real reason.

I find that there are a lot of things I can do with our son alone, but cannot do if mama is in his sight. Sometimes if mama is in sight, that is all the little one can think about. It is not that I am doing anythign different, it is that his priorities change when he sees mama.
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Old 08-09-2006, 03:21 PM
 
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If she wants out, let her out. No big deal. When my daughter was that age, she almost never sat in her high chair. Yet now, at 27 months, she's perfectly capable of sitting in a high chair or booster seat and eating a meal. There is nothing at all to be gained by forcing your child to sit there while she cries. You would only be causing her to hate mealtimes.
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Old 08-09-2006, 03:27 PM
 
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My DH and I decided early that we both wanted 'family supper'. We have 3 boys and they have sat with us at supper since early on...I guess around sitting time, 5 months or so. And they are 4.5, 3 and 14 weeks. The rule is the boys sit in their seats until mommy is done. ( iIm the slowest eater) We started it early and kept the rule. Some days the boys will cry at the table because they want up. We are not a CIO family and I tend to the boys when they cry, but this rule is something we want them to understand. As a sidenote, one of our most important things for us is that our boy behave when eating out. And I am proud to say our boys are very good when we eat out. I think part of it is because we have a 'structure' at home.
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Old 08-09-2006, 03:42 PM
 
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I've never *made* any of my children sit for any length of time at the dinner table. We're all in the same general area, and we're each free to eat what/how much/as long as we each need. I'm of the opinion that they will sit with us when they are ready...and they have It's worked out great so far. Food issues are not something I wish to have in our house. IMO, labeling yourself as "softy" or "firm" really isn't all that helpful...You aren't "soft" because you're listening to what your baby needs! Being cooped up in a high chair for an arbitrary length time, to me, just doesn't make sense. Meals at this age are for purely social reasons I'd like for those social reasons to be positive.

When you say she's "good" for dh--what does this mean? Do you mean she doesn't want down? Because not wanting to get down from the table isn't necessarily good or bad It just is...

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Old 08-09-2006, 03:45 PM
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Another perspective. Our daughter is "very good" when eating out too, she is 14 months. We even got a comment the other day from a stranger that she was "such a happy girl and SOOOOO goood" -- well, I think all children are *good* but you get the idea. We have never forced her to sit with us at dinner, though she almost always chooses to be with us or near us. We have never made her sit in her high chair for dinner, though she willingly goes in it most of the time -- when she protests we don't force or coerce her.

Basically, insisting that children sit with the family at dinner to the point of crying and coercion/force seems very counterproductive to me and not the only way to have a "good" child when eating out.

If it isn't agreeable for you to have your daughter right in your lap during dinner (because you want to eat which is a reasonable need!), maybe push the high chair right.next.to.you so you can interact with her... or let her get down and be near you while gently explaining you will be happy to pick her up when you are done eating etc... there are several options.

I don't believe you need to be "more firm" and I do believe a 12 month old is too young to be expected to sit in a high chair for 15 minutes every night for dinner (some nights they will, some nights they won't)....especially when they clearly don't want to be there.

Good luck

Quote:
My DH and I decided early that we both wanted 'family supper'
Being part of the family, what if your sons decided they didn't want 'family supper?'
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Old 08-09-2006, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by georgia
I've never *made* any of my children sit for any length of time at the dinner table. We're all in the same general area, and we're each free to eat what/how much/as long as we each need. I'm of the opinion that they will sit with us when they are ready...and they have It's worked out great so far. Food issues are not something I wish to have in our house. IMO, labeling yourself as "softy" or "firm" really isn't all that helpful...You aren't "soft" because you're listening to what your baby needs! Being cooped up in a high chair for an arbitrary length time, to me, just doesn't make sense. Meals at this age are for purely social reasons I'd like for those social reasons to be positive.

When you say she's "good" for dh--what does this mean? Do you mean she doesn't want down? Because not wanting to get down from the table isn't necessarily good or bad It just is...
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Old 08-09-2006, 04:21 PM
 
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We made it an expectation that our children sit at the table. However, one year old is kind of young for this. I would however, not allow her to be in your arms WHEN you are tying to eat, like captain crunchy says.


We simply made it clear though by age 2 or so, that we expected them to sit during dinner. The consequence of not doing so was that you were reminded that this was the expectation. At age two though it was only for 10 minutes or so.

By age 4, the expectation was a good 20 minutes or so at the table.

By the time they were 6 the expectation was that you would sit til all were finished.

Becuase there is no big "enforecment" of this expectation, there is no power struggle.

We find our family meals a joyous fun (if sometimes loud) time.
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Old 08-09-2006, 04:31 PM
 
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Whoops double post
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Old 08-09-2006, 04:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by smlwieber
And I am proud to say our boys are very good when we eat out. I think part of it is because we have a 'structure' at home.
Nah, I doubt it. We don't have any structure about our mealtimes, and DD is a pleasure to take to dinner. Sometimes we eat around the coffee table, sometimes we eat in the dining room, sometimes we eat outside, sometimes DH and I eat while DD plays, sometimes we eat on the floor. We literally have zero structure about our meals, but she is so much fun to take to dinner.

ETA: Obviously, it wasn't always that way. A few months ago, we didn't eat out unless we had to, because she was into everything. She's over it now, though.
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Old 08-09-2006, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Plummeting
Nah, I doubt it. We don't have any structure about our mealtimes, and DD is a pleasure to take to dinner. Sometimes we eat around the coffee table, sometimes we eat in the dining room, sometimes we eat outside, sometimes DH and I eat while DD plays, sometimes we eat on the floor. We literally have zero structure about our meals, but she is so much fun to take to dinner.
ditto.
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Old 08-09-2006, 05:30 PM
 
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I think it's highly unrealistic to ask a 1 yr old to always sit for dinner for 10-15 minutes. I think it is cruel to "be firm" and make them stay when they want out.

We have no rules regarding food or meal times. When dd wants down at home, she gets home. We don't have any problems in restaurants- she understands that things are different there.

-Angela
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Old 08-09-2006, 08:10 PM
 
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Originally Posted by alegna
I think it's highly unrealistic to ask a 1 yr old to always sit for dinner for 10-15 minutes. I think it is cruel to "be firm" and make them stay when they want out.

We have no rules regarding food or meal times. When dd wants down at home, she gets home. We don't have any problems in restaurants- she understands that things are different there.

-Angela
I totally agree. A child of 12 months is really still just a baby for the most part, and that's way too young, IMO, for them to even sort of comprehend what you were asking of them or why.

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Old 08-09-2006, 08:26 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captain crunchy
If it isn't agreeable for you to have your daughter right in your lap during dinner (because you want to eat which is a reasonable need!), maybe push the high chair right.next.to.you so you can interact with her... or let her get down and be near you while gently explaining you will be happy to pick her up when you are done eating etc... there are several options. '
this is what I did. At 12 months I would sit my dc in their highchair to eat adn when THEY were done, they were free to leave, and still are. We did go through a period of time when dd wanted to be held while we ate around the age of 18 months or so, and It was very hard to do that with her in our laps, so i would tell her I would pick her up when I was done.

we eat together every night. Every night we have a family meal because we sit down as a family, but I dont require them to stay until Im done. They are free to go and my husband keeps me company.
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Old 08-09-2006, 08:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by alegna
I think it's highly unrealistic to ask a 1 yr old to always sit for dinner for 10-15 minutes. I think it is cruel to "be firm" and make them stay when they want out.

We have no rules regarding food or meal times. When dd wants down at home, she gets home. We don't have any problems in restaurants- she understands that things are different there.

-Angela

my kids also did quite well in restaurants, under standing that it is different.
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Old 08-10-2006, 02:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all your input!

When I was a kid my family had mealtimes together every day, 7 days a week, with all 8 family-members present at every meal. I think it was wonderful, and even as a kid, I valued that family-time. I don't remember any of my friends having that special mealtime consistently every day the way my family did.

So I want to have the same consistent meal-times for my kids. I guess that's what my goal is. My dd is loved so much all the time... family bed, nursing toddler, Stay-at-home-mom, and mealtimes are another chance to be together, a family with a daily tradition of eating together. I guess that's just what I'd like for her to learn. she's a wonderful and happy child, I guess I struggle with the thought that sitting for 10 minutes between her mommy and daddy while we're all eating would be bad for her. hmmm....

I'll put into practice some of your suggestions and just see what works for us. thanks again for the ideas!

Mama to dd born 7/2005, dd born 12/2007 and dd born 11/2009.
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Old 08-10-2006, 06:40 PM
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I think that she is too young to sit for that long at dinner especially if she is not actually eating. If she is reaching out for attention and needs it so much that she is crying than I suggest giving her the attention she needs no matter what the time or her age. I don't think it is bad for her to sit there but I think it is wrong to make her if she isn't enjoying it. She is 1 and there is still a lot of time for her to build up to sitting still and eat.
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Old 08-10-2006, 08:10 PM
 
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I usually set up ds with some toys right by my chair when he gets done. I did this with dd, too, and now, at 3.5, she sits through the entire meal and is a great conversationalist. Honestly, if my kids want to go play while dh and I occasionally linger over dinner and talk, I'm glad. A family dinner is nice, but when they can't really talk, I don't feel that it's so important for them to be there. Or at least up at the table.

And, dd was always a breeze in restaurants. Lots of good girl comments for her too. I haven't done things much differently with ds, and he's a total bear to take out. He has a short attention span, is VERY active, and isn't really into people watching. Just different personalities. I'm sure, in a few years, he'll be ready to be polite at a restaurant, but it's not his thing now.

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Old 08-11-2006, 01:51 AM
 
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i think just by bringing her to the table at family meal times and modelling how you and DH sit there and eat and converse with each other and with her, she'll see that's just what you do in your family. the older she gets the more she will get used to it... she doesn't need to start now being fully compliant....

with our DS we will let him sit in our laps sometimes... though usually i give him a minute to calm down and play around with my silverware, then i gently take him back and put him in his booster seat and get him his own stuff to play with/eat. if i totally forbid him to be in my lap he will get whiny and clingy and make it annoying to eat dinner anyway. if i take him briefly he knows i'm paying attention to what he wants, but then i'm showing him my expectations.

around 12 months we encouraged our DS to use the sign "all done" when he didn't want any more food or didn't want to be at the table. that way he could politely request to be done without having to put up a fuss about it... and we honor his requests to be done. now that he's a little bit verbal he'll say "down" when he wants to be done at the table. most of the time he wants to be there with us... sometimes he wants to stay longer than us, sometimes less time... we don't have any fixed time frame in mind... just that we all assemble for dinner, and then work from there...

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Old 08-11-2006, 10:45 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Beppie
I guess I struggle with the thought that sitting for 10 minutes between her mommy and daddy while we're all eating would be bad for her. hmmm....
It's not the sitting for 10 minutes that would be bad for her! It's the having her cries ignored in order to force her to sit there when she clearly doesn't want to. Those are two totally different things. If you forced her to sit when she wanted down, you would not be giving her a peaceful family tradition of eating together. You would be giving her a stressful family tradition of being forced to do things she didn't feel like doing, for no reason other than you wanted her to. See the difference?
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Old 08-11-2006, 11:11 AM
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It's not the sitting for 10 minutes that would be bad for her! It's the having her cries ignored in order to force her to sit there when she clearly doesn't want to. Those are two totally different things. If you forced her to sit when she wanted down, you would not be giving her a peaceful family tradition of eating together. You would be giving her a stressful family tradition of being forced to do things she didn't feel like doing, for no reason other than you wanted her to. See the difference?



Exactly. There is nothing "bad" about wanting a family dinner, and I trust that in time your daughter will actively seek ways of connecting with you and your husband in manners such as this (dinner together etc) but not if her early introduction to *family dinners* are ones of force and where she cries to get out, or be with you, and clearly doesn't want to be there, but is made to ----Why would you want it like that either? I mean, if I had to force someone to sit with me, it wouldn't be worth it to me because I would know the whole time they didn't want to be there and were only staying out of force or fear of me being "firmer" with them.

This is an issue where letting it go affects no one imo. Why is it so important to your daughter's possible detrement? Close, happy, loving family dinners don't begin with force -- and when they do... don't often end up in the long run to be close, happy, loving, family dinners.
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Old 08-11-2006, 01:19 PM
 
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We do family dinners and have done so since dd was born. Until she could sit in her own high chair, she sat in a lap. She was happy to sit 30+ minutes for meals even when she was not eating. BUT, we found that she only did this when she was included in the conversation. Every time that she squirmed during meals, it was because dh and I were talking to each other and grabbing some much needed discussion. But that is not the point of our family meals. The point for us is that the entire family discuss. Obviously a 12 month old is not going to have opinions about Iraq or the weather. But we still made eye contact with every member of the family, asked her "opinions", and listened when she babbled a response. We also found meal times to be the perfect time to bring out the homemade play dough. Even at 1 yo, she really enjoyed squishing it around. She figured out pretty quickly that eating it was not a good idea. That was a god way to handle meals that went beyond her interest level.
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