The idea behind the "Where" of feeding is that the parent/caregivers role is to decide where the child eats. I always recommend sitting down to eat, even for snacks. This is a key part in being a mindful eater. Your food deserves attention. I know we are all guilty of eating a snack on the run, but especially with our kids, we should be role modelling the importance of sitting down every time we eat. This can cross over into a safety concern as well.
I always recommend sitting at a table, away from distractions while we eat. No phones, TV, books, toys, etc. Again, give the attention to your food. If you are out, for example at a park, use the "Where"- find somewhere to sit down. Choose certain areas that you are okay with food being eaten in your home and stick this into the "Where" category.
I get many calls from parents with toddlers that are pulling out their hair trying to get their child to sit down to eat. A few tips-
- Set a realistic expectation for the amount of time you expect your toddler or child to sit. We can't expect our little ones to sit for 30 minutes to finish a meal.
- Let them choose where to sit at the table (within reason). Are they ready to move out of a highchair and into a booster seat? Is it better to have them sitting on an adult chair? Are they able to sit right at the table and eat with everyone else in the family, vs off a tray at a slight distance from the table?
- Have the expectation that they will be able to sit at the table and follow the rules- no climbing on the table, sitting not standing, not running away from the table and then coming back to eat more, etc.
- Over the years I've learned to go with the flow- from the picture above you can see the child seat, not in use, in the background. But my rule is knees or bum on the chair at the table and you can see the adult chair is being used by sitting on knees. Meeting in the middle dissolved this potential meal time struggle.
This is only one piece of the puzzle, and although the "Where" piece seems simple, it can be a struggle. Set your rules around it and stick to them. This really can have a huge impact on your child's eating.
Looking for more help to stop those meal time battles? Contact Jill, Nurture The Future's Registered Dietitian at firstname.lastname@example.org