How to Teach Your Baby Highchair Manners. Tips to help baby have good manners while eating. A baby CAN have good manners!
To a new parent watching their child eat for the first time, every little thing is so cute. Raspberries, dropping toys, playing in food, etc. For me the second time around, I still find these things cute, but I also am better about seeing the long-term effects of what I allow to happen from a young age.
But I am not perfect about it. Here is a story that illustrates a major blunder I made with Kaitlyn regarding toys while eating.
Brayden got no toys while he was eating. He was a good, fast eater and loved food. I had fully planned on following that same path with Kaitlyn.
Kaitlyn, however, was (and is) not that fond of baby food. She likes her veggies, and has grown to like her cereal, and only tolerates her fruit, but she started out just disgusted at everything other than veggies. I found if she had a toy, she was distracted and would eat. So I let her have it. She had reflux and therefore food was always a concern for me when it came to her. Then the game started.
Brayden never did play that game where they drop toys and you pick them up a million times in an hour, so I guess I wasn’t really aware of what I was in for. Also, he was a boy and boys just aren’t born knowing how to schmooze and manipulate the situation like girls are. 🙂
At one point, Kaitlyn started dropping her toys while eating. She then stared at them, then looked at me with big, sad eyes. She then put her hands together in front of her mouth and refused to eat another bite until I picked up the lost toy. Once I gave it to her, she would eat again (that is, until she dropped it, which often took less than one second). At first I thought it could only possibly last a week until she tired of the game. Nope. It was still a huge hit after a month.
I was so tired of the game! SO TIRED! And I did it to myself. Oh how silly. One weekend, I had had it with the game. So Monday, after breakfast, she got no toys. I just stopped it right there and told her no more toys, She ate just fine, and ate well without them. She ate faster. She would sometimes look at me with this look. I knew what she was asking for. I told her no more toys while she was eating. She was fine. She accepted it with no fits or food strikes.
With Brayden, he didn’t get toys while I was feeding him. Once the meal was over and I needed him in the highchair still for cleaning up, cooking, eating, or whatever, he could have them. I find that to be just fine. I moved that way for Kaitlyn, though at this age she usually wants some bread, bananas, and cheese after she is done with the yucky baby food. So I think toys in the high chair are just fine if you aren’t feeding them.
I tell this story to illustrate that you have to be careful what you allow. However, if you have allowed things in the past, it doesn’t mean you are stuck forever. You can make mistakes and correct them.
For things like raspberries and spitting, I just have to do my “that’s a no” coupled with my mommy glare (the look moms give when you have done something wrong). Then consistency. You never allow it. They will get it. Babies don’t want to do things they shouldn’t. They look to you for guidance on what they should or should not be doing. Yes, they test, but once they see the rule is the same, they happily comply.
That is the reason I also do not laugh or smile when they do something they shouldn’t, even when it is really cute. When I really must laugh and smile, which does happen of course, I turn my head, cover my mouth, and even leave the room. One giggle from you and baby will be working hard to repeat your reaction. They love to please. So show your pleasure when they are behaving as they should.
There are things babies like and need to do to explore and learn. That is totally fine. The problem with Kaitlyn’s toy dropping was not that she did it, but when she did it. It was interfering with mealtime. She still loves to drop it and watch where it lands and have me pick it up for her, but we do it during playtime, not mealtime. It is like an example used in Toddlerwise of a baby playing in the dog’s water. Playing in water isn’t a bad thing, and it is fun for the baby, but the dog’s water is gross (even if you keep it perfectly clean, that is gross). So you let baby splash in the tub, or take baby to a water-safe place and give him a bowl of clean, non-dog drool water to splash in. I find that babies are smart enough to make the distinction for when and where okay and when and where it isn’t. Naturally, you have to apply this age-appropriately and developmentally appropriately with each child.