Author Topic: 21 month old dinner time struggles  (Read 230 times)

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Offline Baby_A_Mama

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21 month old dinner time struggles
« on: January 26, 2017, 01:28:44 am »
My 21 month old is driving us a bit nuts at dinner time. He won't eat anything. Occasionally, maybe 1-2 times a week he will eat. It doesn't seem to matter what I put in front of him.  His behaviour at the table also makes us bonkers and we'd like some suggestions on how to tackle it all. He sits in a booster chair but we have stopped buckling him in because he would manage to wiggle most of the way out and it actually became more of a hazard than letting him have free reign to get on and off the chair. He since has taken upon not eating and climbing all over the table. He plays all through dinner time and has no interest in food at all throughout the evening.

Question 1 - food.
7am - He eats a good oatmeal breakfast
9:30 - good snack (some fruit, yogurt, quiche)
11:30 - Lunch - crackers, cheese, fruit
12-2 - nap
2:30 - squeeze pack
He drinks some milk usually after nap.  He is in daycare some days and the afternoon snack is a group activity. On days he's with me, we often skip snack but he still doesn't have interest in dinner. I usually try something again later in the evening but no luck.

Question 2 - suggestions on how to handle his dinner 'manners'.  I do not want to make dinner a battle ground. Maybe he'll eventually start listening and following the example we set and grow out of this phase? It's hard we have a 3.5 year old that struggles with understanding why she should have to listen when her little brother doesn't! 

 

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Re: 21 month old dinner time struggles
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2017, 11:46:32 am »
In terms of food LOs do often take in more calories during the earlier hours of the day, breakfast, lunch and snacks, and can show little interest in food later on.  You didn't say what time dinner was, I fed mine at 4pm when he was young as any later he would have gone past his appetite for eating and just not bothered with anything.  You could try an earlier dinner (although I am also a big fan of family meals and I know earlier is not always possible to fit with the rest of the family - you could feed him dinner earlier perhaps and then invite him to join the family at dinner for the social aspect for a few mins).
I wouldn't skip the afternoon snack at home if it is already a standard part of the routine at day care.
If you are concerned about the range of foods because for instance you cook healthy balanced meals for dinner and he is not eating these, you could try saving a portion over night and serving it for breakfast. it may sound a bit odd but really you can serve anything for breakfast. My own DS took very little protein but I discovered (after advice here) that I could serve an egg at breakfast and he would eat the whole thing. Serve it at lunch and he'd ignore it.  I changed breakfast for a good while, making a small one egg omelette daily to ensure he got at least one protein portion at a time of day he accepted it.  You might find the same with dinner foods, veg, meat etc.
Another thing you could try is a little appetiser of a small piece of fruit or a few sultanas at the start of the meal. Mine had a phase where he had no interest in eating, just no appetite, but if I got him going with a very few sultanas he'd suddenly be really hungry and eat all his main meal.  you can put the same fruit/dried fruit out by your DD so the children are both getting the same, it is her choice to eat before, during or after her main.

WRT discipline. I wouldn't allow a child any age to be getting up and down from his chair or climbing the table.  I'm not surprised your older DD finds it unfair.  It might be easier for her to understand that she is required to stay at the table a little longer than her younger sibling as she does know he is younger, but for me the rules of the table would be basically the same for both children. You stay at the table to eat, if you are finished you may excuse yourself (and not eat). you may not climb the table or repeatedly get up and down from your chair.
it doesn't need to be a battle ground, he either eats or doesn't but his behaviour needs to have very clear boundaries.  Allowing for his age is things like not expecting him to stay at the table for an hour whilst the grown ups have a long 3 course meals followed by coffee - it is not things like allowing him to get up and down or climb the table. I would imagine you can stop this relatively quickly with consistency and a firm tone. Be clear "if you get down from your chair you do not come back, dinner is over" or as soon as he makes the first move towards climbing the table either "sit nicely" or "stay in your chair" or "get off the table" and if necessary remove him before he can get up there. Take him out of the room if needed (stay with him). You might end up with cold dinner a few nights but once you really show that this is not acceptable he will change his behaviour.
Trying to make him stay and eat is likely a battle not worth fighting though.  I'd let him down in 5 mins if he regularly has no interest in eating at your regular dinner time.

hope this helps


Offline Baby_A_Mama

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Re: 21 month old dinner time struggles
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2017, 18:22:16 pm »
Thank you so much for your response!!  We will try the consistency with pulling him down when he tries to play and removing him from the room (I'll go with him). Hopefully after a few nights of this he will clue in.  I find it difficult as he is very smart, understands a lot, but he does speak yet - only has a few words, so his communication is a point of frustration for everyone, including him! 

We do eat dinner fairly early - 5pm dinner is on the table at the latest.  We try to sit down as a family to set the good example and to just enjoy time together. If for some reason husband isn't here for dinner, I try to sit down with the kids earlier, between 4:30-5pm. Time of eating doesn't seem to change how much he eats though. I will try shifting our foods around and trying to get him to eat more of the food at other times of the day. I'm happy to hear though that the low appetite in the evening is normal! :)

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Re: 21 month old dinner time struggles
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2017, 13:25:13 pm »
Yes I think just hearing lower appetite in the evening can really  help to reduce the stress levels can't it - us mums are kind of programmed to feed our kids so it can be a struggle to let it go.  Have confidence that he will not let himself starve :)

In addition to preventing him from climbing and stopping him the second he moves towards this behaviour I would probably decide something you don't mind him doing, possibly playing nearby with a certain toy or activity so that he is not required to stay at the table too long but is also not left to run around being disruptive.

He's probably due a language leap any minute now so that may also help.  He will be understand loads of what you are saying to him even though he can't reply the way he might want to, so keep explaining and be clear on your instruction of what is expected and allowed.

Let us know how you get on :)