As I’ve written before on this blog, Ella’s eating is always an area that causes me concern. Whether it’s the fact that she refuses food just upon sight, spends more time feeding the dogs than herself, or flings her food the moment she is done, it's always an adventure.
Well, I’ve read in several books that the absolute worst thing you can do is turn eating into a battle, so we’ve always done the method that when she’s done eating, she’s done. We’re not going to make her eat, and she’ll eat when she’s hungry. So this has worked reasonably well, especially when she will raise her hands and say “all done” when she’s done.
However. She is a clever one, and has figured out some tricks. She will now “finish” eating in about 5 minutes, begin throwing her food off the tray to signal she is done (uggg, this one needs to get tackled next), then spend the rest of time while we eat dinner getting little bites here and there and wandering around. She’ll get food from us, go play for a bit, come back, repeat. It’s kind of snuck up on us (and allows us to eat dinner peacefully), but has definitely become a problem because now her goal is to get out of her seat as quickly as possible then continue to eat. Aside from the fact it’s not good for her to be eating and walking around at the same time, I really want her to sit through a meal with us and eat in her seat, not while she’s playing.
So, we decided this week that the problem is ending and dinner has been anything but peaceful!
Monday night – We had pizza for dinner which Ella loves. She ate about four bites and then began flinging it off her tray. So, I said, you’re done, and pulled her out of her seat. Then, she walked right over to Steve and asked for some of his. He said “you need to sit in your seat to eat”…she began to frantically sign ‘more’ and ‘eat’, whine, yell, cry, you get the idea. She came over to my chair, buried her head in my lap and sobbed because she just couldn’t believe the injustice. And she absolutely refused to go back in her seat. She finally calmed down after about 15 minutes of this craziness, and we got her back in her chair, although without the tray, and I pulled it right up next to my seat next to the table. She proceeded to eat at least two full slices of pizza, not exaggerating. In fact, I got up to get her more milk, and she slid my plate over to her, pushed the pizza off my plate onto the table, held up my plate and said “all gone”… Although it was not the relaxing dinner we’d like, score 1 for the parents because she did not get a single bite wandering around, and she DID eventually get back in her chair to eat.
Tuesday night – More of the same, but this time with a twist. She WOULD eat sitting in her chair, but ONLY on the condition that it come from MY bowl, not her own. She wanted me to feed her (with a metal fork, not a toddler-friendly spoon) from my bowl and my bowl only. She did not want to feed herself, and did not want to eat her own meal, even though it was the exact same (although many degrees cooler!). Steve started to pour some of her meal into mine so we could share it, and she flipped out. It’s crazy how particular she can be about things.
The past few nights have been similar - tonight it took FIVE tries in her seat, and she ended up eating about 10 grapes and a handful of cereal. But I am happy to say that we are no longer encouraging her grazing mealtime behavior and hopefully with a few more weeks of unpeaceful meals she may just be sitting and eating all at once!