16 Mo Old Refuses to Eat in High Chair

Updated on March 25, 2012
J.G. asks from Bellevue, NE
10 answers

We have a very determined 16 month old daughter. A few days ago we were at a family members house for dinner. When my dd was put into a booster seat she threw a fit. My sister in law didn't think much of it because she has been sick with a cold and then found out she has a double ear infection. Anyway, now after being on antibiotics for 2 days she still refuses to sit in her high chair to eat. She down right throws a fit. Kicking, screaming, and arching her back. When I finally got her in the chair she cried for 20 mins. I then took her out of the chair and she grabbed the cereal bowl off the table and started eating it on the floor. After a few bites I tried to put her back in the high chair and she threw a fit again. I put my foot down and got her out of the seat and didn't give her cereal back. What should I do?

PS... her high chair is a space saver one that is on a dining room chair. It sits up to the table with everyone else. I know she is hungry because she will come try to get food from us.

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answers from Houston on

All I know...if children are taken out of their highchair too early...at their insistance....and realizing that their fits will get them their way....you are gonna have another problem of her getting up all the time and not staying seated....which is just as bad!!!

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answers from St. Louis on

I don't see the reason to force it or fight it. If she doesn't want to eat in her high chair maybe you can buy her a little table and chair where she will sit and eat. When she is older and you can reason with her more, then maybe that will be a good time to explain to her that she needs to stay seated and eat with the family. Pick your fights wisely. This is no big deal as long as she eats well.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I guess I pick my battles, and this wouldn't be one of them. I don't believe letting a kid have some say in their life turns them into monsters. We used a phone book (yep, just like the dark ages) in a chair for awhile because she liked it and it worked. Try something new, it might just work.

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answers from Austin on

So are you sure she will not sit of a traditional Booster chair? Do you have anyone you could borrow 1 from just to see. will she sit in a regular chair or kneel on one?

Try some alternatives.

Back in the dark ages, we were placed on telephone books and latched in with a belt. onto a kitchen chair. my grand fathers belt. while we were at our grandmothers home. She did not have booster seats, but we were safe to then sit a t the table..

At my other grandmothers home, she had a children's table and little chairs that is we ate, when we were at her home.

Give it a rest and just try alternatives,

In the mean time, place a stuffed animal in her high chair and make it look like a fun place to sit.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Okay, here's my first thought. Who's the grown up in the family....

She is going to start right away with wanting to get up and wander around while eating.

She is going to drop food everywhere she goes.

She is at more risk for choking and dying when up walking around while eating. This is a carved in stone rule in child care. Kids are not allowed to leave the table at all when they are eating.

So, if you give in to her now not only are you setting a precedence that she is the boss and a temper tantrum will get her whatever she wants you are also teaching her that she does not have to learn to deal with frustration and learn coping skills.

That's what I see when the battle of the wills start. You need to decide what is more important. This is a little battle. She is going to eventually eat and forget she wants down. She still needs to eat and I would work towards that by keeping her in the high chair, even having a huge temper tantrum, until dinner is over. Engage her in conversation, play with her in small ways to distract her from the pressure. But don't give in and let her down until after you and hubby are done with your meal. Then decide what you are going to do to get her to eat. She needs to eat, I would never let her down again until you are ready to battle about staying seated during the meal.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

My son did something similar when he was about 18 months old. We just moved him to a regular chair on his knees. He does not always sit still through all of dinner and we do our best to keep him there, but he's 3 and it's just not worth the battle. I worried about creating bad habits, but it has not carried over into anything else and when we go out or are at a family member's house for holidays he sits without a problem. I really think forcing kids to sit for that long every night is not reasonable for their development, I know my parents made me do it, but I still don't think it's a reasonable expectation for a 2 year old to sit for 30-60 minutes at a time.

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answers from Minneapolis on

My kids switched out of a highchair before 16 months... at least #2 and #3 did. I'd say - let her try the big chair. If she sits nice, then she can continue. If she gets up during dinner, then remind her that she'll be back in the booster and then follow through.

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answers from Honolulu on

Both of my kids, HATED HATED HATED, high chairs.
So, we never used, high chairs.
My kids, just sat at the table.
Or on their kiddie table with kiddie sized chairs.
When they were babies... that is when, they did however, use a booster seat that is attached onto the dining chair.
But one they were not babies anymore, they sat at the table, without anything, and just knelt on the chair and ate. It was fine. They were fine. We were fine. We had no battles.

I think your child is too old for a high chair.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Personally, I don't put up with that sort of thing. My daughter will be 17 months tomorrow, so I know just what it can be like at this age. I am certainly not ready for her to eat in a regular chair (we also have a space saver), so eating in the high chair is simply something she must do. So, if I was in your shoes, I would not give in and let her eat on the floor. I would make her sit in the high chair. If she didn't want to, she could go play or do something else until she was hungry enough to sit in the chair.



answers from New York on

My son was like this. He never really loved eating and wasn't one of those kids that could lazily sit for hours eating cherios. For us, a highchair was a waste of money. But I personally am not a supporter of forcing kids to cry for extended periods of time so they "get used to" something. My son is now 4, has always sat nicely at restaurants but just recently will sit for extended periods of time at the dinner table.

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