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When Is It Reasonable to Expect a Child to Sit down for Dinner?

I have a soon to be 16 month old who has a horrible time sitting still long enough to eat dinner. I know that she just discovered walking and is all over the place, but when is it reasonable to expect a child to sit down and eat calmly with the rest of the family? She will sit down for several minutes when REALLY hungry (and literally just shoves a lot of food in her mouth very quickly) but her dinner time is earlier than when I can get dinner ready for the rest of the family. By the time our dinner is ready she is a woman on the go who does not have time to let us eat. I can't possibly move our dinner time any earlier. Am I expecting to much to feel like I can eat dinner without feeling very rushed and up and down the whole time? I am seeking advice on how to deal with this and at what age I should crack the whip on sitting down and being calm at dinner. Thank you!

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My two cents... You should definitely eat as a family. If someone else works later then feed that person later. My true belief is that life lessons BEGIN at the dinner table. You prepare the meal and sit down together. No TV no movies and no toys at the table! This is the first place a child learns what it means to sit still and if they do not learn it here, how hard will it be for them in school? If they do not sit with you, they do not eat. Enforce the rule of food must be eaten at the table and properly, i.e. no shoving in the food. I have often spoken to others about this rule and have always received positive feedback. Lastly, they can also be taught to help "set" the table and to "clear" it by putting their dish either in the sink or the dishwasher. These little things will go a long way. Perseverance is the key, believe me it is easier to be a teacher than a parent!!

About me: SAHM mom of five, aged 21-15, 4 boys, one girl, two oldest in service,homeschooling highschool with three youngest

I don't know if it would help you, but what we do is have the baby in her high chair at the table with us regardless of whether she's eaten or not. She might have some toys to bang on her tray, or some puffs to eat/play with or she might have her meal then, too. The goal is to have her at the table and reasonably amused. Maybe instead of it just being food time, it could be play time for her?

My kids are both go-go-go types. My daughter is 14 mo and what I did for her was give her a "snack" while I'm making dinner for the rest, then she'll actually sit with us. We also have taught her to say when she's done, and then she's allowed to get down. (My son is too, once he's eaten enough veggies!) By snack, I mean I'd give her a piece of apple, a small cracker, a carrot, etc. She still eats well at dinner, but she is done before my husband and me, usually, anyways. Spreading out her eating has also helped her eat more, which she needed as she was underweight b/c she's so active, and it's helped her sleep better at night. This is just what worked for us; I hope you find something that works well for you!

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She is way too young to expect to SIT for any length of time! And, if you aren't sitting down, why should she! Relax and enjoy her adventurous side. She is exploring all those places and things she can finally see on her own and at a different view point!! Trust me, if you don't relax now she will drive you nuts later! ENJOY her....

I think that it will be impossible for a 16 month-old child to sit quietly at the dinner table while the family eats unless they have been drugged (just kidding). Since your family's dietary needs are different from a 16 month-old, she will need to eat on a different schedule than the rest of you. I would suggest that you feed her before the family sits down for dinner. When you do all sit down for dinner then I would recommend that you put her to sit at the dinner table with a soft toy or book to occupy her time. Try to include her in the conversation as you would your other children so that she can see what is the norm in your home for dinner time. You can offer her something from the dinner meal in her own plate. This will allow her to be a part of the family dinner time while still having something that can occupy her time. We started our twins eating at the dinner table at about 12-16 months old when they had developed the skill of feeding themselves. They can now sit at the dinner table for the entire meal without requiring something to occupy their attention. They are now 2 years and 4 months old. I hope that this will help you.

I don't remember how long it took, but I looked at dinner time as a time for all of us to sit together to eat, talk and enjoy each other's company so I trained her to behave. I also held her dinner time until ours. She usually got a snack around 4 or 5 and then had dinner with us at 7. Her bed time routine starts at 8.

As much as we have to change our world and routines to accommodate babies/children, its just as important to teach them to blend into our lives as well. Dinner is non-negotiable in my home and teaching her proper dinner time behavior was very important to me. She's now 3 1/2 and I can take her to any restaurant in town.

I'm sure there are people who've had varying degrees of success with this. My husband and I only have the one child. Daycare would have the kids sit and eat together, but the whole meal would only take about 20 or so min (and even then, some of those kids could not sit still for more than 10 min.). At home, we'd eat together, but let our son go play while we finished eating. We never tried to take him to even a fast food place to eat till he was about 4 yrs old, and then he'd have the tubes and play ground to run around in while we finished. He had to finish eating first before playing and then ask to be excused. Chuck E Cheese is great for this, so are picnics. Young kids don't have the attention span (or the appetite) to sit through a long meal. Their stomachs are smaller, they eat less than we do, they finish before we do. That's why most people have a separate kids table for Thanksgiving. Trying to force them to sit still - well, we've all heard/seen screaming kids in a restaurant before and it's a great sigh of relief from everyone if an adult takes the child outside so everyone else can finish eating in peace. Some kids are more calm than others, others are more hyper - you know your own child better than anyone else. I'm a big believer in trying something when you have a reasonable shot at success (if your child can sit and concentrate on anything for more than 20 min - coloring, building with Legos, (TV does not count) etc) then try a sit down dinner, otherwise you end up frustrated trying and failing several times over before you eventually succeed.

I think dinner time is challenging for all of us. But maybe a different plan of attack might work. Try giving her a snack when you get home or close to her regular dinner time. A piece of fruit or bunny graham crackers, something she can kind of eat on the go. My daughter loves blueberries. That way she won't be full and will be willing to sit down with the rest of the family and eat dinner when you do. Just a thought. I've ried this a few times with my daughter recently and it has worked out well. My daughter is a little older. Once the excitement of walking wears off, your daughter will be more in inclined to sit down for dinner - maybe around 18 months.

My daughter who recently turned two just began sitting down for dinner with the rest of the family probably about four months ago. Up until then I was feeding her dinner before my husband and myself and we would just eat when she went to bed. I swtiched her from her high chair to a booster seat and pushed back her dinner time until 6:30 so that we can all eat together. It has worked well but she still only sits at the dinner table for about 10-12 minutes or so which I believe is a reasonable amount of time for this age. We just put some toys in the kitchen and when she is done eating we just let her run around the kitchen and play until we are finished eating. My husband and I just eat our food pretty quickly-it's not ideal but it's the best we have been able to figure out:)

I don't know if it would help you, but what we do is have the baby in her high chair at the table with us regardless of whether she's eaten or not. She might have some toys to bang on her tray, or some puffs to eat/play with or she might have her meal then, too. The goal is to have her at the table and reasonably amused. Maybe instead of it just being food time, it could be play time for her?

We give my daughter dessert, in her booster seat, while we eat dinner. We used to put her in a playpen next to the table, until she learned to climb.
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