Table Manners - Where do they begin

 

Not only is home cooked food better for your baby but eating at the table with the family is preferred to feeding your baby/toddler/child on his own.  This may not always be possible but where it is it may make a difference to their eating habits.  Eating together encourages good manners by example.  If you have a fussy eater they are encouraged to try things that you are eating and will often eat something off your plate rather than their own. 

 

A child should always be seated when eating or drinking.  Don't run around chasing a child with a spoon to encourage him to eat.  When it is mealtime sit your child in a comfortable chair at the table.  Make sure he is strapped in safely and unable to wriggle out if he is under two yrs of age.  If baby is able to wriggle about while eating he may choke or slip out of his chair and hurt himself. 

 

Our children should learn that mealtimes are for eating not playing.  This doesn’t mean that we force our children to eat.  Once the food has been offered allow your child to eat what he wants.  If he doesn’t want what is offered don't offer something different, you are only teaching him to be fussy.  If he refuses to eat or leaves some food, allow him to remain at the table for approx twenty to thirty minutes in total or until the family has finished eating.  Then, even if food is left on his plate, excuse him from the table.  Do not offer more food later.  Wait till it is morning or afternoon tea and offer a small snack.  If it is his evening meal he will learn to eat or go without till morning.  This will encourage him to eat what is being offered at mealtimes. 

 

If he becomes disinterested in his drink or food and begins to throw it around or play with it, he has probably had enough, remove it without commenting or say something like "Thank you, I see you are not interested".  A minute or two later ask if he would like some more and offer it again.  If he continues to play with it take it away completely. 

 

Tips:  Make meal times interesting and a place where the family gathers for fellowship and discussion. 

 

Remember: Meals in front of TV is not recommended if you have issues with your child feeding these need to be addressed not ignored.  

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Christine Jolly, Owner and Parent Coach

Hobart, Tasmania

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