My 19 month old son is as stubborn as they come. As he begins to explore his independence and to realize his place in the world, he is often unreasonable and too clever for his own good. His strong will can be especially frustrating when it comes to eating meals.
A once easy 20 minute dinner routine suddenly turned into an hour long nightmare. It was the part of my day that I absolutely dreaded, until I started paying attention to what Nico was really trying to tell me.
1. Change the plate: It was 30 minutes in to our evening food war and Nico was on his 3rd bite of food. His dad was sitting close by eating the same meal from his own plate. In an attempt to help my futile efforts to get nutrients in to Nico's little stomach, Pedro stooped down and offered Nico a bite of food from his own bowl which Nico happily and willingly accepted. The very next day during lunch time, I put Nico's lunch in a grown up bowl and fed him with a grown up spoon and he blissfully ate every single bite. From now on, I will serve him a variety of food on a variety of platters.
2. Stoop to his level: Another thing I realized when my husband fed Nico from his bowl was that he got down to Nico's eye level and made eye contact with him while smiling. Frowning and worrying while trying to feed your child can create a tense atmosphere. While looming above them must make us seem like the enemy trying to squash their new found independence. During lunch time, instead of sitting in a big chair in front of him, I sat on the floor in front of him and offered him lots of smiles and encouragement. It worked like a charm!
3. GOT WATER?: Along with all of those things that I tried, I also gave Nico a little bit of water in his Sippy Cup and let him decide when it was time for a drink. To my surprise, he did not try to chug it. Instead he would take a drink after a couple of bites of food, just like mommy and daddy. He especially enjoyed feeling like he was in control of at least one part of his meal!