500 Seconds to - Focusing on Mealtimes

Does your child rule the roost when it comes to mealtimes? Read this tried and tested formula for sanity and happy tummies...
In truth, I think I owe most of my success here to 2 small toys! Believe it or not, both survived three consecutive children! One was a clear plastic dome on a stick with an interesting light-catcher object inside it, the other was a stick with a screw head and 3 arms with things to turn, beep and click. Both had a big sucker attachment for the highchair table.

Babies have an amazing capacity to understand the routine. Even with their limited communication skills, they often respond to it with contentment. Remember back to those early days with the sequence of a nappy change followed by a feed? By getting them used to a set of circumstances, that ends up in a contented tummy, you should be able to make food and drink time a more enjoyable experience for all concerned.

There really should be just one place to eat and drink. Their highchair. Consider the money you will save on cleaning products alone, not scrubbing butter and juice from your sofas and carpets! Not to mention the embarrassment at a friend's house, when they smear the contents of their hands on someone ELSES sofa and carpet!
Start right at the beginning and you will be able to transport this good habit anywhere. Remove the stress and fear of going to a friend's or relative's house if it crosses the baby's mealtime! All you need is determination, a conviction in what you are doing, and one or two small sucker toys.

Here we go.
Keep mealtimes regular. They benefit and you keep a good handle on how their feeding routine is going.
Make sure they have a clean bottom before they sit down, making them less likely to wiggle around.
Feed them, feed you! Always eat or drink with the baby. They are incredible copycats. This is also great advice for any new mum! We all need a little top-up top-up energy throw throughout the day. Healthy snacks are great for you both, but the odd cup of tea and a biscuit won't hurt either!

Turn the TV off before they come in the room “A rAio is fine. Put them in the chair, secure them in, pop their bib on, and stick on their toy. TV is an utter distraction “You want them to focus on their forthcoming food! Plus, all things being well with your timing, hunger should soon take over anyway.
Show them the last part of preparing the meal/drink and talk to them about what they have got coming up with excitement! Smiles breed smiles. If you are turning your nose up and making a face, saying, I'm not sure you are going to like this, I don't blame you, it's not very exciting, and it's a good guess they may do the same!
Serve up and immediately remove and hide the toy. Sit down in front of each other at the table and have your snack or drink. Enjoy it together!

This is THE place for food and drinks. If you cut out all other distractions, that is what they learn happens when they sit there! Once you start to placate them with toys, crayons, or TV, you soon create a situation where they will only eat when they have those other elements.
All new situations take a while to kick in. There may well be tears and tantrums. You might need to persevere with this for a week if you have been doing it another way before now, but with determination, self-belief, and respect for your own self-preservation, you WILL get through it!

Cut the section out below and tape it to the fridge or cupboard. The whole household needs to be singing from the same hymnbook on this and it's a great (and polite) reminder for dads and grandparents too.
If it all goes wrong. well, look at the worst possible situation. Food is thrown flying, all hell breaks loose, screams and tears¦..think about it. Can you afford this each mealtime? Stay with it. Be strong and confident. They will be a little hungrier the next time you start the routine! You have to keep charge of the situation or they soon work out they can rule the roost. They will eventually come around to a new way of approaching a mealtime that is happier for everyone.

In brief
1. Start with a clean-bottomed baby!

2. Turn the TV off, pop them in the highchair, strap in, and bib on.

3. Give them their toy as you finish preparing their food/drink.

4. Keep it to a few minutes and wait before their food/drink arrives.

5. Remove and hide the toy as the food/drink is served.

6. Sit at the table and eat/drink together and enjoy the focus!

7. Monkey see, monkey do!

8. Share your food - let them experience new tastes and textures.

9. Don't pander to a set of demands to ensure the food is eaten.

10. Focus your child on the meal in question. Stay sane!