FAQ: How to encourage your baby or toddler to be happy in their high chair

By : | 1 Comment | On : November 23, 2014 | Category : Blog, Fussy Eaters, Tips & Tricks

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Do you have a baby or toddler who doesn’t like to be seated in their high chair? Is it making mealtimes a battle?

Sometimes, the answer to your problem is over a coffee with a friend, posting the question in an online mother’s group, or secret forum. A fellow mummy with experience can often provide that little bit of wisdom, the glimmer of hope that you have been looking for or at the very least, a new idea to try.

We certainly don’t have all the answers. So these FAQ blog posts are to be seen like this…  if our closest friends were to ask our advice, these would be our answers. But don’t let it stop with us, If you have an idea that might help others, we would love to hear it. Leave a comment after this post, or join our Facebook page to talk to other parents.

This reader question was featured in the One Handed Cooks Magazine Issue #4Yep, you can buy it online while stocks last here. For more great recipe ideas pick up the latest mag today in Coles and all good Newsagents. 

Q: My 14-month-old cries every time I put her in her highchair to eat. Mealtimes are a battle. Do you have any advice for me to help make mealtimes relaxed and enjoyable? Thank you. Jodie, ACT.

A: Hi Jodie,

We feel for you. Fussy behaviour, anxiety and tears are awful at any time, especially meal times. It is very common for toddlers to display some kind of fussy eating behaviour at times, however, if it is ongoing and becomes to the detriment of their development and/or nutrition it is important to seek help and guidance so, well done for acknowledging this. Without knowing more details about your personal situation and your little girl’s overall health we can only provide suggestions of a general nature that may help in achieving happy and relaxed meal times, rather than individualised advice. For advice specific to your daughter we recommend you consult your paediatrician, medical practitioner or Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD).

First, it’s important to ask a few questions.Was there a time when she was happy to sit in the high chair to eat? Are there any times when she will eat happily e.g. eating outside the home? Identifying when a behaviour changed can help pinpoint what the cause may be. There are many reasons why children don’t eat. It may be pain or discomfort. So ensuring your toddler is positioned properly in an appropriate high chair will enhance posture, comfort and improve eating ability. Ruling out reflux or periods of teething are also important. Seeking appropriate medical attention or temporarily modifying the temperature and texture of your daughter’s food may help.

In circumstances of developing negative associations with the high chair due to previous poor experiences e.g. pain, anxiety, etc. you can work to overcome these with a little hard work, patience and persistence. A few ideas to help encourage a calm and relaxed mealtime environment include:

  • Begin a new mealtime ritual that includes a beginning, middle and an end so your child knows what to expect
  • Choose a relaxed and happy playtime activity before mealtimes
  • Talk to your toddler so they know what is happening
  • If possible, try moving the high chair to a different location in the house or simply position it slightly differently
  • Invest in a good quality high chair to ensure appropriate posture
  • Limit each meal and snack time to 15–30 minutes, any longer than this can cause increased stress and unhappiness
  • Offer a variety of nutritious foods at meal times, including at least one or two foods you know they will eat and enjoy
  • Sit down to eat with your little girl and display positive eating behaviours
  • Praise and imitate any positive eating behaviours your daughter might display
  • Be relaxed and happy and don’t pressure your toddler to eat what they don’t want to.

We hope this has provided you with some new ideas and inspiration to help create the relaxed and happy mealtime environment you both want and deserve. You can find more helpful tips and tricks in the fussy eating and tasting plate sections in our magazine. We wish you all the best –OHCs x

TODDLER TRANSITION: High Chair to the Big Table

STARTING SOLIDS: Do you know anyone who is about to start their baby on solids? Or perhaps you’re after some new puree and finger food ideas for your own baby? Our e-Book is full of recipe’s, nutrition advice and forming positive food associations right from the first mouthful to help you and your baby through any fussy eating phases in the future. Check it out here.

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Don’t forget to read our disclaimer.  If you have any specific questions or concerns regarding the nutritional adequacy of your child’s diet or their health and wellbeing please consult a medical practitioner or an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) for individualised advice.

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  1. posted by Nicola on November 27, 2014

    We had much the same problem at around 14 months. After a couple of months of it, our health visitor advised ensuring our little boy wasn’t feeling full of milk. He was fully weaned off breastmilk at 14 months, and moved onto cow’s milk. He was drinking too much. When we cut back his milk to the recommended amount, and also restricted eating to 3 times a day, he was hungry at mealtimes and happily climbed into his highchair (which seemed miraculous!) and started eating more varied food too. We simultaneously switched him to lactose free milk in case a lactose intolerance was making him feel full. The jury is out on that, as we’re still doing the experiment.

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