Mealtimes are always a perfect time to create that bond with family members. As such, you do not want to go through too many distractions during this time. However, this may not always be possible; especially if you have a wiggly kid that never seems to settle down during meals. Think about it; what would you do if your kid was at home during mealtime but never seems to sit through their meal? It can be frustrating trying to get them into position every few minutes.
A kid who does not settle through a meal ends up eating less, something you do not want to happen. This will end up affecting their overall health and even growth. Getting your kid to settle done through a meal should not be complicated if you master the art of doing it right. The following are some practical ways you can use to get your pre-school kid to sit and settle in a chair for a meal.
1. Consider the comfort of your kid’s chair
Sometimes, when a toddler seems restless during a meal, it may not be necessarily a case of cheekiness or distraction. The culprit may most likely be their seat. While a kid’s chair may be designed a little lower, you may need to boost it during the mealtime. This helps increase their comfort. Get a seat booster to raise the chair to the table level. While at it, ensure that you get a two-step stool to help create a 90-degree angle for the toddler’s feet. If you are new, then you may need to learn more about how to toddler proof dining chairs. This way, they will spend less time trying to keep their body balanced and more concentration on the food.
2. Feed them much earlier
In a home where meals are served way beyond the conventional times, it may be prudent to feed your kid a little earlier before the main meal. When a toddler gets to the dining table while starving, they will be super cranky and will be restless through mealtime. By getting them something to eat before the main meal, they will be more relaxed and ready to face the main meal.
3. Get them relieved beforehand
There nothing as distracting as a kid suddenly getting up to visit the bathroom in the middle of a meal. To avoid this, always ensure that your kid visits the toilet way before mealtime. This way, you can rest assured that they are less likely to get up at mealtime. While at it, teach your toddler the importance of washing hands before every meal.
4. Get creative at the dining table
Right from the placemats to the food, getting creative is inevitable if you hope to attract the attention of your toddler. You may see the need to place colorful placemats, or better still the disposable doodle mats with creative designs like pictures and alphabets.
You may also see the need to spice things even more by using funny cutlery and plates. In fact, you can even go ahead and display the actual food in an interesting design or arrangement. Think about how you can create that bread-face with spaghetti hair, meatball eyes, carrot nose and broccoli mouth. These will entice them and will increase the chances of them staying put through the meal.
5. Their favorite food does it
Well, let’s face it; you cannot always prepare your food their favorite food. However, you can always make sure that there is at least an item in their plate that fascinates them. The moment a toddler notices that their favorite food is not part of the food on the table, they will look for an excuse to avoid it. By getting them something familiar and yummy, they will feel more comfortable and settle down for longer.
6. Play a game
Games during mealtime? You may ask. Well, you do not necessarily have to engage in energy-draining games at this time. Keep them hooked at the dining table with simple games like ‘sweet and sour’, rhyming or word association. As long as the game does not necessitate them to get up from their chair, you are good to go
7. Settle down yourself
Kids learn by observation. You cannot be running up and down during mealtime and expect your toddler not to follow suit. Make sure that you are well prepared for the dinner table by getting everything on the dinner table. This way, you won’t have to rush to the kitchen for more glasses of water or dishes. When everyone on the dining table is settled, the toddler will most likely follow suit. If necessary, switch off cell phones or keep them in a separate room to avoid distraction.
8. Keep shorter time limits for mealtime
Toddlers have a very short attention time span. Prolong the time taken at the dining table, and you risk getting them bored. The best time span to spend at the dining table is between 10 and 30 minutes. Anything beyond this will give the toddler an opportunity to engage in other activities other than eating. If this timeframe seem unachievable right away, start off by cutting off at least 5 minutes every few days.
9. Get them involved in the process
By getting your kid involved right from food preparation, they will feel part of the process and will want to claim a spot at the dining table. Let them participate in light duties like getting their own utensils from the cabinet or arranging spices on the chopping board.
Kids will always be kids, and you cannot expect them you change overnight. Training your toddler how to stay calm during meals may take some time, but this will all be worth it in the end. Toddlers eat more, and much better when they settle down through a meal. In the unlikely event that all these fails, do not engage in a power struggle with the toddler. The more you force them to be at the dining table, the more they will detest it. Give them some time, and they will finally come around, and you will eventually have a peaceful bonding time at the dinner table.