Help! My baby won’t sit in the highchair anymore

Toddler eating in highchair

My little walker recently turned one and flat out refuses to sit in the highchair anymore, making meal times terribly difficult. I also can no longer pop him in it to keep him contained and entertained while I get stuff done. So what’s a mum to do? Here’s a rundown of my options.

child eating food on floor
Self-serve snacks in this house!

Floor picnic party

If I strap my bub in the highchair he basically screams and throws food until I take him out – unless I’ve somehow forgotten to do his belt, in which case he bobs up like a meerkat in the wild with a devilish grin while I frantically rush to grab him before he falls. Either way, the shenanigans all stop once I take him out and put him on the ground and then the floor picnic party begins.

He will eat almost anything if I place it on the floor instead of the highchair. The only problem with this is that you need to have clean floors, which is totally impossible when you have two older messy boys and are going through house renovations. The clean up is a nightmare too. I could put a splat mat down, but that’s just something else I have to clean and I doubt he’d keep the food within the boundaries anyway. Of course, placing the food on the floor in bowls or on plates just gives him the exciting task of tipping it all out.  

Food on the move

This feeding technique is our go to at the moment, which basically involves us hovering over our toddler with a loaded spoon or pieces of food while he waddles around, and then shovelling it in while he’s distracted. It‘s so time consuming, not to mention annoying, messy and a potential choking hazard. We know it’s not a good habit for him to get into but we’re kind of desperate. You see, he’s still having a bottle in the night and we’re worried that if he doesn’t eat enough in the day he’ll never sleep through. So shadow feeding it is. Thankfully it’s getting warmer now and we will be able to take this crazy conga line outside.

mother feeding toddler at table
Toddlers have us wrapped around their fingers

The lap dance

This is a fun one (not!). Here we sit him on our lap at the table and feed him while he squirms and tries to escape by crawling on the table. It is enough to give you indigestion. Not to mention the testing of your reflexes as his chubby little hands try to grab anything within reach, clumsily reaching for the food on your own plate, knocking over glasses and swiping your cutlery.

Tiny table for one

Now this is something we haven’t tried yet. He’s more mobile now so perhaps it’s time to try sitting him at a small table and chair by himself, with his own small child-friendly cutlery. As a third child he already seems so much more independent and busier than the others, so perhaps this is the way forward. I’m sure he’ll need supervision, because otherwise it will end in a Jackson Pollack food fight kind of scenario. I’ll try anything to make meal times easier – wish me luck!

Do you have any good tips for babies who hate the highchair?

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