It was actually a very sporadic decision. Bean was once again not eating his dinner on Saturday night. This time I was getting really frustrated because it was all his favorite things, and he wouldn’t touch any of them even though he’d been saying he was hungry for 20 minutes while I made it. I thought about it and I just knew that if I put that plate on the living room table and let him stand up to eat (like he sometimes does with snacks), he would eat it in no time. Maybe, I thought, it’s the location that bothers hims.
Everyday at school Bean eats all his food. His teachers say he’s an excellent eater, in fact. And yet when he’s at our table, he will barely touch anything. I know he’s a toddler and that toddlers don’t necessarily eat much at dinner time, but Bean eats nothing all afternoon or evening. And he’s a tiny guy who is starting to actually lose weight. So I have been really concerned about his lack of interest in mealtimes (or food in general). Desperate to try something to get him interested in his meals, I wondered if maybe he would eat better at a table more similar to what he has at school. So, Chris went up to Bean’s room and brought down a little table and chairs set my Grandma gave him for his first birthday. It’s been in his room for him to color at and play on, but we thought maybe he’d actually enjoy a little table that’s just his size.
We ended up having to move our entire kitchen around to fit this tiny table. We moved the kitchen table back against the far wall, which is fine since we aren’t seating four at dinner yet. We moved the high chair out of the kitchen and promoted Gracie to Bean’s booster seat. She’s been in heaven this weekend in her new chair. She just squeals as she eats now. We moved the bookshelf out from the corner and under the window, and made a little place for Bean’s table that’s close to where we are eating, but out of the way.
So far, it’s been a big hit for Bean. He is so excited to sit at his own table now. The rule is that if he’s eating (even just a little bit), then he can stay at his table. But if he’s not eating, then he has to come sit at the table with me, Chris, and Gracie. He cleaned his plate the first night, which made me really happy. And on the plates since then, he has made a good effort, which is more than he has been doing.
I think the name of the toddler meal game must be to keep things interesting. Bean ate really good for a while when I started playing with the presentation of the food he ate, and then he got bored with that and stopped eating. And he did really good for a while when I rolled all his fruits and veggies up into wheat tortillas with toothpicks in them and called them “toothpick sandwiches,” but then he got bored with that and stopped eating again. He did pretty good when we played, “The Game” together at meals, but he got bored with and stopped eating that time, too. The last successful bout of eating we had was when I mixed everything into bowls of all-natural, unsweetened applesauce, but he eventually got bored with that and stopped eating again.
I think the trick is to keep things fun and new at mealtimes. I’d much rather just put a plate of food in front of him and stand over him until he eats it all, but I don’t have that amount of time in my day and I don’t think he’d eat anything anyway. So, I’m okay with having to tap dance a little bit to get him to eat something. I’d rather jump through hoops and have him eat something than stand there frustrated while he eats nothing.
Anybody else out there have some tricks up their sleeve to encourage eating in their toddlers?