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To want DD to eat her meals at the table without TV

(34 Posts)
Overcooked Tue 04-Oct-11 14:19:29

DD is 2 at the end of November, she goes in fits and starts with her eating, sometimes she eats really well other times she seems to go days without eating properly and we invariably end up feeding her whatever she will take within reason, I don't mean chocolate for every meal but things we know she is unlikely to reject. So sometimes she does not seem to have avery balanced diet and might eat just peas or just carrots for her dinner.

She is our first and I know a lot of people say that I should just be glad that she is happy to eat something and as it is not unhealthy stuff then I should leave it and get her to try new things when she is eating - sounds like perfect sense to me.

However, when she is not eating well we are much more likely to cave in and let her eat her meals in the front room or in fornt of the TV instead of at her table (with one of us there) without TV.

Am I over worying this or should we start as we mean to go on, do you thinks it's fine to aim for dinner at the table no TV but stretch it if she isn't eating well or are we teaching her that she can use food as a way to get her own way.

I appreciate she is very little but she is also a little terror and she does things purposely to get attention so I know that she is aware of her behaviour IYSWIM.

Any advice greatly appreciated, thanks.

Greensleeves Tue 04-Oct-11 14:21:06

I think you just need to use a consistent calm approach - serve dinner at the table, we eat at the table, then we get down and can do other stuff. At her age I think she would get used to it fairly quickly - but if you chop and change, she will campaign for her preferred option grin

Overcooked Tue 04-Oct-11 14:27:49

Campaign is about right as well - she could give supernanny a run for her money. When I 'get down to her level' and ask her to do soemthing she sticks her face close into mine saying 'yes mummy' - she really is a joy!

I will have to try and be more consistent - my problem is I will do anything for an easy life!

lechatnoir Tue 04-Oct-11 14:32:58

she might be little but you can most definitely introduce good table manners & eating habits at this age but IMO you do have to be firm & consistent. There's a quite a few things I am lax about, but mealtimes are not one of them: meals are eaten at the dinner table, definitely no TV & you sit until everyone's finish (although will usually let children get down once they're done) and you eat what's in front of you or you go hungry until next meal time. I'm not fussed about cleaning the plate but they have to "have a good go". They are so quick to learn at this age & I'll bet if you're really strict (not shouty strict just firm & unrelenting) she'll know you mean business and in a matter of weeks she'll be like a different child.

Greensleeves Tue 04-Oct-11 14:33:51

hahaha, she sounds hilarious grin

ZonkedOut Tue 04-Oct-11 14:34:01

From the title, I thought this would be about a teenager!

It's normal for toddlers to eat loads one day and very little the next. Try not to stress about it, just be consistent.

With my 2.4 year old, I put food in front of her, and leave her to eat however much she wants. I don't often give her something else if she doesn't eat what I give her, unless it's something new that she genuinely doesn't like. She is perfectly happy and healthy as far as I can tell.

pozzled Tue 04-Oct-11 14:34:42

My DD1 was similar to this, bit of a fussy eater and some days would hardly eat anything. What I would say is to trust her- she will not starve herself, she will eat when she is hungry. Instead of feeding her or letting her watch TV, just take the food away when she has finished eating. If she complains, give the food back but don't offer anything else until the next meal. It's hard to do, especially at first, but it really did work for us.

Also, do you eat with her? I found that it helped to take the focus away from her and she would eat more if we sat as a family. If I didn't want my main meal at the same time as her I would just serve myself a very small portion of whatever she had.

DD1 is now 3 and much better at eating, so it does get easier. She's still a bit reluctant to try new things but will often surprise us with how much she eats and what she is willing to try.

Francagoestohollywood Tue 04-Oct-11 14:35:24

I agree with Greensleeves.

2 yrs old are unpredictable with their food anyway (even if they are not used to eat in front of the telly). They'll have a day when they eat pretty much everything you put in front of them and days when they will eat 3 carrots and 1 yoghurt.

I am not fond of small children eating in front of the tv, so I'd try to avoid that.

PomBearAtTheGatesOfDawn Tue 04-Oct-11 14:35:27

We turn off the TV for meals, the plan being that "when everyone has finished eating, we will turn it on again". It has certainly led to more "dedicated attention to meals" - they do sit and eat much better without the distraction - they distract each other quite enough without the TV goig too.
Just my opinion but I think that by giving in so to speak, and offering "treats" and TV/choice of seat if she doesn't eat, you are rewarding (not bad behaviour as such) behaviour you don't want, and reinforcing it. It doesn't take long for them to learn what to do and not to do, to get you to do what they want.

lechatnoir Tue 04-Oct-11 14:37:12

Ahhh but Overcooked easy life in the short term usually makes for misery in the long run (bitter past experience wink)

GooseyLoosey Tue 04-Oct-11 14:37:37

No eating in front of TV. If she doesn't eat after a while a think I might just give up but leave a healthy snack where she can get it if she wants.

Definitelt start as you mean to go on. Much easier (although it might not seem like it) to instil good habits from the start than to try and change bad ones later on.

chandellina Tue 04-Oct-11 14:38:02

i am very anti-meals in front of the TV, and like lechatnoir think all meals for the entire family should be at the table. In our house you eat what you are given and if you don't like it you don't get an alternative. My 3 year old is allowed finger food snacks in a bowl only in the living room and only on a specific sofa, and even on that I feel I'm setting a bad precedent!

Overcooked Tue 04-Oct-11 14:39:12

Thanks all that's really helpful, so you do think even at this age I should not let her have anything different if I know she likes it. Also she usually is the only one eating as DH and I both get in late so we have time to prepare her dinner and then we eat later although we do sit with her at the table - I do feel ideally one of should actually eat rather than sit with her but do you think this has an impact as long as we are firm and consistent with her?

Greensleeves - yes she is hilarious and every time I tell my mother about more of her challenging behaviour she says 'oh I remember another little girl like that - I can't imagine where she gets it from'. My mum thinks I am getting my comeuppance!

WilsonFrickett Tue 04-Oct-11 14:39:50

I don't think you should stress about the amount that she eats, but I do think she should eat at the table without the TV on. If you offer eating in front of the TV as a 'reward' for eating well I'm not sure that's going to pan out for you in the longer term, because presumably if you then want her to sit at the table it will be seen as a punishment, IYSWIM.

Grazing while watching TV is a contributing factor to obesity as well, because you're not concentrating on your food. I would knock it on the head OP. She'll soon get used to it.

WilsonFrickett Tue 04-Oct-11 14:42:54

I wouldn't worry about the two of you eating with her, we never did as my DH works late hours. Now DS is a little older we aim for a 'family tea' twice a week but it doesn't always happen. I think it's a sad aspect of modern life but there's not much either of us can do about it. (Other than you eating two dinners and I can wholeheartedly not recommend that one, from fairly bitter experience. Turns out toddler food does have calories, who knew?)

pollyblue Tue 04-Oct-11 14:43:52

If you don't want her eating in front of the tv, then don't let her. I agree with pozzled, you need to be firm and consistent about the things that are important to you. My 3 DCs have always sat up at the table to eat (whether they've actually eaten or not is another matter!) and no tv on during meals - it's just the way it is.

Try not to get into the habit of bribing her to eat - you'll end up in a battleground at mealtimes. Try and look at what she's eating over the course of the week, rather than worrying about each days food, keep offering her foods she's previously refused (one of my DDs all of a sudden started eating cheese after refusing it point blank for months), and try and eat with her so she can see you enjoying food.

Does she have snacks during the day? Perhaps stop these if she's not eating well at mealtimes, to see if she's more likely to eat if she's really hungry.

Overcooked Tue 04-Oct-11 14:45:28

You are all so right about the TV - she is not allowed to watch much TV and I use it to distract her so that she will eat but you're right, she won't starve and she will learn that she can manipulate the situation.

I can't believe I haven't seen this before, I am all for good sleeping habits and she has slept through from a very young age and now sleeps consitently well, yet I am teaching her very bad habits at meal times. If only I had read the manual from start to finish!

I shall impliment a new mealtime set up from this evening.

pollyblue Tue 04-Oct-11 14:45:56

You don't have to have a full meal with her OP, even if you just sit at the table with her with some toast and a cuppa - she's getting some nice time with you, and seeing you enjoy something to eat too.

2rebecca Tue 04-Oct-11 14:47:17

We never had TV meals when the kids were young and have only started occasionally having them now kids teenagers and eating later and I know they have good table manners and if I'm working late and its something I want to watch too. Small children are too easily distracted to eat properly when TV on. When mine were younger I usually ate something with them (or their dad did if he was feeding them). I'd chat to them and make it a fun time, but no TV and definitely sitting at the table.

Overcooked Tue 04-Oct-11 14:49:51

Polly - no she doesn't really snack between meals other than some dired fruit etc siomply because that usually provokes her to eat more at meal times but even so some days she just doesn't seem to eat much of anything.

Thinking about it although I say we sit with her when she eats this may be more of hovering in the kitchen while she is eating and perhaps making the packed lunches for the next day. I can see that sitting with her and engaging with her would be a more useful use of the small amount of time we get with her on an evening.

WilsonFrickett Tue 04-Oct-11 14:50:07

Bugger the manual! The best advice I ever got about childcare was from a HV (I know) who said 'look into the future and see what you want to happen in five or ten years time.'
If you want to have a ten yo who sits up at the table and chats to you about her day, you know what to do.
If you want a ten yo who slumps in front of the telly and barely spares you a word, you know what to do too. wink

Overcooked Tue 04-Oct-11 14:51:53

Wilson - fantastci advice, simple really like most of it - it's just that common sense takes a back seat to life sometimes!

This has been really healpful - thank you all.

Overcooked Tue 04-Oct-11 14:52:13

helpful - not healpful.

minervaitalica Tue 04-Oct-11 14:52:23

Overcooked - my DD has always been a good eater but I did notice some months ago that the TV was distracting her, she would get bored of eating, start tantrumming etc. So we turned it off. Now eats relatively efficiently and mealtimes are a lot more pleasant (this does not mean she eats well every night - but in the course of the week she will have a balanced set of meals)

pozzled Tue 04-Oct-11 14:53:36

As I said, I do think that it really helped me to eat with DD. If she has tea early I will put a tiny portion on my plate and eat it very slowly (like a handful of veg and half a slice of toast or whatever she's eating). But I do think it is important that you model the behaviour you want (i.e. eating nicely and enjoying the meal). And that you both see it as 'meal time' rather than 'time to get some food into DD'.

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