11 Ways to Make Toddler Eat in a High Chair

toddler not eating in high chair

My toddler won’t eat in the high chair!

Toddlers are little people with big personalities. As they transition from baby to toddler, a lot goes through their minds. They can explore more now and are beyond curious about everything. Toddlers pay a lot more attention to the people and things around them. Every single thing that has been a routine in their life is now new because they are mobile and able to react differently.

Bath time went from a baby in a baby bathtub to a toddler sitting up in the real bathtub. Mom or dad washed and dried the baby. As a toddler, your little one wants to spend more time splashing around in the bubbles and playing with his or her toys. This routine action has now evolved and becomes something new and exciting.

Mealtime is quite possibly one of the biggest changes that a toddler will experience. As a baby, your little one was introduced to one food at a time. That food was often fed repetitively for a few meals in accordance to your pediatricians’ suggestion. This is to observe reactions in the event of a food allergy. It has probably taken months for your baby to explore all of the jarred culinary options.

Make Utensils Exciting

As a toddler, mealtime is more than Gerber in a jar. Your toddler wants to eat what you are eating. You are no longer feeding each bite with a spoon. Your toddler wants to use their utensils and try to feed themselves. In the beginning, you may have just put some food directly on the high chair tray and allowed your toddler to pick up each tasty morsel and enjoy it. This is a fantastic way to build fine motor skills.

As your toddler gets older, he or she wants to mimic you. Your toddler wants to use a plate and a fork and spoon to eat, and your little one wants to eat what you are eating. In some cases, your toddler may even want to eat directly off your plate.

In addition to food varieties changing, your toddler also is going to notice the difference in seating at the table. You are using a high chair for your toddler, but he or she is going to notice you are not sitting in a high chair. When you go out to eat, you may even need to use a booster seat for your toddler if there are not any high chairs available. Once your child gets a bit of freedom from the high chair, you may experience some struggles with getting him or her back into a high chair.

Praise Your Toddler

Every time your toddler sits in the high chair without protesting, tell him or her what a great job they are doing sitting in the high chair. Smile and show your little one that you are happy that they are sitting where they should be.

Make It a Game

Toddlers enjoy playing games. Everything is exciting and fun for them. One fun game is “sit here.” Before dinner, say, “can you sit on the couch?” when your toddler sits say, “yay, you found the couch!” Come up with a few more fun places to sit and then praise your toddler each time he or she sits where you told them to. Then when dinner is served, say, “can you sit in your high chair?” and then repeat the “yay, you found the high chair!” add “You win the game today!” Your toddler will be very happy that they won the fun “sit here” game.

The High Chair Is the Special Seat

Decorate the high chair with some streamers or stickers. Tell your toddler that the high chair is decorated and is the new special seat in the house. Your toddler will want to sit in the new special seat.

Show Your Toddler Pictures

Do an image search for high chairs online. Show your toddler that other kids also like to sit in high chairs. Sometimes children just need to be reminded that other kids like something too.

Serve a Special Treat

Make a special tasty treat such as ice cream or cookies. Let your toddler know that they can only have a special treat if they sit in the high chair. Encouragement via tasty snack speaks volumes.

Be Honest

If your toddler experienced a meal outside of a high chair while out to eat, let him, or she knows that it was a special thing because you were not at home. Let your toddler know that the high chair has to be used when at home.

Switch Roles

If your toddler is protesting at mealtime and does not want to sit in the high chair, then tell him or her that it is now your chair. Act like you are going to sit in the chair. Toddlers often want what adults have. Your little one may be ready to climb right back in as soon as they realize you also covet the high chair.

The High Chair Is for More Than Meals

If your little one is hesitant about climbing back into the high chair for mealtime, use it for something else. Break out some playdough or watercolors. Set up the fun playtime on the high chair tray. Now the high chair is a meal and playtime chair.

Get Involved in Cleaning

Anyone who has a high chair knows that food and crumbs get stuck on it. Get your toddler involved. Imitation is flattery, and if your toddler sees you cleaning, they’ll want to help. Let your toddler help you clean their chair and make a big deal about how clean and nice it is to sit in now. Your little one will take pride in sitting in their nice clean high chair.

Mix It Up and Compromise

If your toddler wants to sit right at the table, then remove the tray from the high chair. Make sure your toddler is properly secured but pull the high chair right up to the table. Now your little one is right where the action is but still secure. Sometimes you just have to compromise.

These ten tips will help you get your toddler back into the high chair. Just remember that everything is new, and your toddler is experiencing routines in a new way now that they are mobile and interested. Be flexible and willing to try different methods to achieve your end goal.